30 March

Lyle Hill

30 March

Good morning,

As Theresa May stoically reiterated her Brexit position in the face of tough questioning from Andrew Neil last night, leading figures on the continent were outlining their responses to the triggering of article 50 earlier in the day. May, as ever, was optimistic about Britain's ability to negotiate a favourable deal from the European Union, reassuring all that we would have a different, but not diminished, relationship with the EU.

Donald Tusk insisted in his press conference that it was a sad day for the European community, telling Britain "we miss you already". He argued that the only positive thing to come from Britain leaving was that it had strengthened the relationship between the remaining 27 member states. In much the same manner, Jean Claude Juncker called yesterday a "moment to unite".

Guy Verhofstadt, the chief negotiator for the European Parliament, was more bullish. Speaking in Brussels, he set out a series of demands about the negotiating procedure and the potential content of Britain's final deal, warning the UK not to blackmail the EU over security cooperation.

Whilst Verhofstadt is an important figure in the negotiations, it is Michel Barnier, the chief negotiator for the European Commission, who is David Davis' direct counterpart. Speaking at an EU conference in Malta, he said he was "ready" for talks and the letter started a "long and difficult process".

Finally, Angela Merkel dealt a blow to Theresa May's plans, insisting that talks about the UK-EU relationship cannot run in parallel with the divorce proceedings. Regardless of the negotiators, it will be the leaders such as Merkel who hold much sway, and with elections in France and Germany on the horizon, it is difficult to see much of the heavy lifting in negotiations being completed for quite some time to come.

News

The Government will outline its Great Repeal Bill in a white paper later today. The Bill is designed to repatriate all law designated in Brussels back to the UK. When this is complete, it is argued by the UK government that it will be possible to debate which laws we keep, which we replace, and which we remove. Perhaps most contentiously, it will also be decided which are devolved to parliaments around the UK.

A helicopter has gone missing on its way from Milton Keynes to Dublin. It lost radio and radar contact as it began to cross the Irish Sea. The aircraft had five people on board and it is thought that it was rented out to film crews. Rescue services have begun an extensive land and sea search.

Public Health England is challenging the food industry to cut sugar in its products by 20%. The deadline for the target has been set at 2020, with a 5% cut demanded every year until then. However, experts have questioned whether Public Health England has the ability or resources to successfully enforce the target.

A judge in Hawaii has refused to overturn his injunction on President Trump's travel ban. The news comes a day after Trump signed another executive order that overturned much of his predecessor's climate change policies. In response, China has insisted it is committed to the Paris climate agreements.

Business & Economy

According to the Bank of England, household credit card debt is rising at its fastest rate in 10 years. Credit card borrowing increased by just over 9% in the year to February, up from 8.6% the month before. The Bank of England will now examine whether banks are making it too easy for customers to borrow.

EU regulators blocked the £21 billion merger between the London Stock Exchange and Deutsche Boerse yesterday, citing a fear that the deal would lead to a monopoly. However, The Times is reporting that the firms advising on the deal are set to receive tens of millions of pounds each, despite botching the job.

American firms snapping up smaller European rivals have seen the continent's mergers and acquisitions activity in the first quarter of 2017 reach its highest level since the financial crash.Mergers and acquisitions in Europe were valued at $215.3 billion, up 16% on activity from a year ago.

Markets

What happened yesterday
The FTSE 100 ended up 0.41 per cent at 7373.72 yesterday. The biggest winner was 3i Group, adding 5.7% after a broker upgrade from Morgan Stanley.

The London Stock Exchange Group also fared well, rising by 2.71 per cent after EU regulators blocked its proposed £21bn merger with German stock exchange Deutsche Boerse.

But it was the price of sterling against the euro that most people were watching following Theresa May triggering article 50. The pound cancelled out early losses and reached 0.21 per cent higher at €1.1537. Against the dollar, sterling was not as successful falling 0.37 per cent to $1.2406.

Finals
Amryt Pharma, Anglo Pacific Group, Cathay International Holdings, Polypipe Group, Scisys, Tribal Group

Interims
DFS Furniture, Genedrive, Orchard Funding Group

AGMs
Aberdeen Diversified Income and Growth Trust, Intelligent Energy Holdings, Milestone Group, Starvest, SVG Capital

EGMs
Air China

International Economic Announcements
(06:00) Import Price Index (GER)
(09:00) Consumer Confidence (EU)
(09:00) Industrial Confidence (EU)
(12:30) Gross Domestic Product (US)
(12:30) Initial Jobless Claims (US)

Columns of Note

Philip Stephens, writing in the Financial Times, argues that as the UK triggers article 50, all the power in the negotiations has been ceded back to Brussels. He suggests that the looming negotiations will be somewhat of an uphill struggle for the UK.

Nicola Sturgeon, writing in the Guardian, argues that with the triggering of article 50 and the UK's insistence that it is an act of sovereign self-determination, Theresa May "cannot now preach to Scotland about self-determination".

Did you know?

The average human will walk around 110,000 miles in his or her lifetime. This equates to walking around the globe four times.

Parliamentary highlights

TODAY

House of Commons

Oral questions
Transport including Topical Questions

Business Statement
Leader of the House

Backbench Business
Animal Welfare

House of Lords

Oral questions
Sharing sensitive personal information with other EU member states for the purposes of crime prevention and detection following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU - Lord Paddick
Impact on the UK's economic interests of the end to the jurisdiction of the EU Court of Justice - Baroness Ludford
Supporting independent living for disabled people of working age - Baroness Thomas of Winchester

Scottish Parliament

First Minister's Questions

Ministerial Statement
Mental Health Strategy
Transvaginal Mesh Implants
Unconventional Oil and Gas

TOMORROW

House of Commons

No business scheduled.

House of Lords

No business scheduled.

Scottish Parliament

No business scheduled.