31 Aug 2018

Tom Gillingham

31 Aug 2018

Good morning, 

Do you remember that feeling of rising dread as you realised the last few days of the school summer holidays were upon you?

Well, imagine being an MP or MSP preparing to return to Parliament on Monday after what might be described as a turbulent recess.

As people increasingly claim digital technology has ruined their ability to relax while they're away, spare a thought for Theresa May. She's had to suffer the ignominy of her Brit-abroad dancing reaching a global audience. It's also fair to suspect Jeremy Corbyn hasn't enjoyed as much time in his allotment as usual this summer either.

For those with the stomach for it, we're heading for a blockbuster return to session at Westminster next week. With lots of thrilling loose ends to tie up including 'does Chequers really mean Chequers?', 'Will the Lib Dems turn up to vote?' and 'is a Centrist party even feasible?', it's a wonder the rights to this season's PMQs haven't been snapped up by Amazon or Netflix.

There's also the intrigue of guest appearances from evil supervillain Michel Barnier and Nigel 'I'll be back' Farage to keep masochistic viewers entertained.

Meanwhile, audiences north of the border are likely to be more captivated by the local screening of a sequel or perhaps a re-boot, as an old favourite looms large over the Scottish parliamentary term.

Joking aside though, both Conservative and Labour have fundamental issues to deal with as we head towards the important conference season. Labour continues to face accusations of anti-Semitism - with the resignation of Frank Field the latest development, and the Tories are never far away from claims of inherent Islamophobia within the party.

Leaving aside the big constitutional question of the day, we are still in unprecedented political times, and not for the right reasons.

Reflecting on a recess that never really recessed, many weary onlookers might wonder whether this particular drama would benefit from a proper break between series.


Speculation continues over the cause of the deaths of a British couple while on holiday at the Steigenburger Aqua Magic hotel in Egypt (£). The Telegraph reports that two guests evacuated from the same hotel say they have the bacterial infection shigella, while the Egyptian authorities continue to defend their response to the deaths.

Radio 4 favourite Kirsty Young, the voice of Desert Island Discs for more than a decade, is to take a break from the show for several months (£) as she battles the chronic pain condition fibromyalgia. Radio 6's Lauren Laverne will host the show in her absence.

Theresa May's dance moves during her trip to several African countries have sparked a tide of memes, remixes and 'how to' videos online. The Metro wryly observes: "She was there to talk plastics and meet scouts but it seems she couldn’t help catch the beat."

Business & Economy 

Controversial payday loans lender Wonga - which was well known for its high interest rates - has collapsed into administration. It leaves an estimated 200,000 customers owing more than £400m in short-term loans. However, borrowers were told to continue making payments as the administrators are expected to sell Wonga’s loan book to another lending firm.

It's been announced that Costa Coffee has been sold to the similarly alliterative Coca Cola for almost £4bn. Whitbread, which owns the coffee shop chain, said that the deal would allow the company to invest more into its Premier Inn brand, boost contributions to its pension fund and reward shareholders.

Reuters reports on several consumer confidence measures, most notably the GfK Consumer Confidence survey. It finds that UK consumers are broadly defying the "Brexit blues", but that companies are far more worried about the prospect of no deal.


What happened yesterday? 
Sterling had a mixed day yesterday as Michel Barnier and Immanuel Macron's positive early comments on the prospect of a Brexit deal pushed the currency higher against the dollar. The rally did not last, however, with a loss of optimism pushing the price down towards the end of the day.
The FTSE 100 saw a drop at the end of trading, closing 0.6% lower. It was a similar picture for markets across Europe with the Euro Stoxx 50 index closing 0.7% lower.
Concerns about Trump's trade tarriffs on China continue to affect the S&P 500, with the index closing 0.4% down, a trend that was just about countered by the performance of the NASDAQ, which finished the day 0.08% up.

Cathay International Holdings Ltd.
EMIS Group
Old Mutual Limited NPV (DI)
Restaurant Group

Halfords Group          
Northern Bear
QinetiQ Group
Royal Mail
RPC Group
Zhejiang Expressway Co 'H' Shares

UK Economic Announcements
(00.01) GFK Consumer Confidence

Int. Economic Announcements
(07:00) Retail Sales (GER)
(10:00) Unemployment Rate (EU)    
(14:45) Chicago PMI (US)      
(15:00) U. of Michigan Confidence (US)

Columns of Note 

Politics Home carries Frank Field's full resignation letter following his decision to quit the party. He says Labour's leadership is becoming "a force for anti-Semitism in British politics."

The Lex column supports a potential ban on energy drinks in the UK (£) suggesting any campaign in favour of limiting harm to children is a likely vote winner. Lex admits a ban would hurt sales, as children make up seven per cent of the UK's £1.7 billion a year energy drink market. It says that talk of a ban should spur companies to embrace the trend towards healthier drinks, where reformulation of sugary drinks in the past year seems to have succeeded in boosting sales.

In the Guardian, Suzanne Moore writes that Alex Salmond is using his crowd funder to "signal his power". The former First Minister has already raised over £91,000 at the time of writing, and she says "Salmond, innocent or guilty, is signalling his power in a way I find deeply worrying. The message being sent out to women is that if you make accusations you will be up against enormous power and wealth."

Did you know?

As a nation, the UK drinks 165 million cups of tea every day and about 70 million cups of coffee.

Parliamentary highlights 

House of Commons
In recess until 4 September 2018
House of Lords
In recess until 4 September 2018
Scottish Parliament
In recess until 4 September 2018