31 August

@lyle_h_hill

31 August

Good morning,

In yesterday's briefing, we reported that the prime minister had arrived in Japan for a visit to Japan. While factually correct, it was also rather obvious. There will be no such earth moving observations today.

Especially considering the first 'big news' story to come from her trip abroad is a domestic matter. May yesterday stated that she is "here for the long run" and wants to lead the Conservative Party into the next general election.

She was quickly branded "delusional" by Labour, but supported by Boris Johnson, himself on a foreign trip in Nigeria. The foreign secretary said the prime minister could "certainly" win an absolute majority at the next general election and that May had his "undivided backing".

May was hardly likely to announce her resignation in an interview to the BBC on a foreign trip to Japan, but the decision on the timing of her departure may not be hers to make. Boris Johnson will be well aware of that.

More pressing matters continue to mount in Houston in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. At least 33 people have been killed as a result of the storm and now there are fears over the Arkema plant in the area, which has lost refrigeration on its chemical compounds within the plant following the flood.

The company has announced that there is now "no way to prevent a possible fire or explosion" at the plant, adding to public safety concerns amid one of the worst natural disasters the US has seen in recent years.

News

Former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale has accused a journalist of outing her as gay without her permission. She told the BBC that she had discussed her sexuality off the record with a journalist at the Fabian Review, who had then ignored her request to maintain "complete control" of when it came out. Mary Riddell, the journalist in question, has denied that any such request was made.

A building collapse in Mumbai has left emergency services fearing that up to 30 people have been trapped in the rubble. Mumbai is currently recovering from heavy rains and floods which have killed 1,200 people across South Asia. The five storey residential building that collapsed is suspected to be over 100 years old. The building fell early this morning and a team of 43 rescuers are working to save those trapped.

A former Soviet spy, Rinat Akhmetshin, has given testimony under oath in Robert Mueller's investigation into links between the Trump campaign and Russia. Akhmetshin met with senior Trump campaign aides in 2016. The meeting was the centre of the row involving Donald Trump Jr, who had agreed to the meeting after being promised incriminating evidence on Hillary Clinton.

The Park of Keir development in Dunblane, backed by Judy Murray, has been approved, subject to conditions, by the Scottish Government. The development will include 12 tennis courts, a golf academy, hotel and sports pitches in an effort to encourage investment and involvement in sport.

Business & Economy

Dara Khosrowshahi, the new CEO of Uber, has announced in his first meeting with employees that he is looking towards an IPO in 18-36 months. The former boss of Expedia also said he would work had to stem market share losses in the US, where following a string of scandals in its leadership team, Uber has been struggling.

The Co-op Group has entered a period of exclusivity with convenience store operator Nisa, beating our rival Sainsbury's, who had initially pursued a takeover but had recently paused talks. The bid from Co-op is expected to be in the region of £140 million. Sainsbury's is under pressure to respond to the £3.7 billion merger between Tesco and Booker that was announced earlier this year.

Ofgem has told companies that it will fast track plans to freeze energy prices for two million of the country's most vulnerable households. The freeze will take place from January and the plan will be announced officially within weeks. The industry had expected an April start date, but Ofgem wants to push ahead with the plans to cut energy costs during winter.

Markets

What happened yesterday?
The FTSE 100 index finished up 27.83 points at 7,365.26 yesterday after a strong day. However, the Royal Mail is set to leave the blue chip index to the FTSE 250 following the quarterly review conducted by FTSE Russell.

The Royal Mail continues to face tough market conditions and has struggled to maintain its place in the FTSE 100 for some time. Also dropping into the FTSE 250 is struggling lender Provident Financial.

Taking the two vacant spots will be Abu Dhabi-based hospital operator NMC Health and the housebuilder Berkeley Group.

On the currency markets, the pound had a stronger day following its eight-year low against the euro on Tuesday. It rose 0.48% against the euro to €1.0843 and rose marginally against the dollar to $1.2931.

Interims
Churchill China, Jimmy Choo, Eddie Stobart Logistics, Ladbrokes Coral Group, STV Group

AGMs
FIH Group, Highlands Natural Resources, IG Design Group, Simian Global

UK Economic Announcements
(00:01) GFK Consumer Confidence

International Economic Announcements
(10:00) Unemployment Rate (EU)
(13:30) Continuing Claims (US)
(13:30) Initial Jobless Claims (US)
(13:30) Personal Incomes (US)
(13:30) Personal Spending (US)
(15:00) Pending Home Sales (US)

Columns of Note

David Aaronovitch, writing in The Times, argues that we can defeat the Kremlin's strategy of misinformation and lies. He points to his experience in Prague in 1976 as evidence that, eventually, the pretence that Russia is trying to create will fall.

Philip Stephens, writing in the Financial Times, argues that the organising characteristic of Corbyn is anti-Americanism rather than pacifism. He also takes aim at Trump, saying both Corbyn and the American president have contempt and disdain for the liberal world order.

Did you know?

Today is the 20th anniversary of Princess Diana's death. Elton John performed a specially written version of Candle in the Wind at Princess Diana's funeral. It is the only time that he has performed the special version live.

Parliamentary highlights

TODAY

House of Commons
In recess until 5th September

House of Lords
In recess until 5th September

Scottish Parliament
In recess until 4th September