31 October

@scottreid1992

Good morning,

Rising like a monster from the (yet-to-be-drained) swamp, the first charges of corruption in the ongoing investigation of collusion between the Trump presidential campaign and Russian officials have set the stage for one particularly scary Halloween nightmare for the president.
 
Right at the top, President Trump’s former campaign chief, Paul Manafort faces twelve criminal charges, including an indictment that he moved $75 million from pro-Russia political groups in Ukraine through a constellation of offshore accounts. Like a bad horror movie, you couldn’t make it up – at least $1 million was allegedly channeled through an antique rug store and another $850,000 through a New York men’s clothing store.
 
Whilst the Trump administration has sought to deflect the allegations, pointing to the fact that they address a period between 2006 and 2016 before Manafort led the campaign, it’s hard to deny the fact that Trump is in hot water over this latest revelation. The FBI’s lead investigator, Robert Mueller, has had his first taste of blood over Trump’s links with Russia and looks unlikely to relent.
 
Perhaps more worrying for the president then was the unexpected admission that a former foreign policy adviser and Trump-avowed ‘excellent guy’, George Papadopolous, had lied to the FBI about his contact with Russian officials – the first time a direct link has been made with the Trump campaign. According to US prosecutors, a Kremlin-linked academic had told the adviser that the Russian government had ‘dirt’ on Hillary Clinton leading Papadopolous to attempt to broker a meeting between Trump and Russian president Vladimir Putin.
 
Trump took to increasingly frustrated tweets as the news unfolded, off-loading blame to ‘the Dems’ and stating that, ‘there is NO COLLUSION!’. With guys like these, something tells me that ‘Crooked Hillary’ and her email chain might not be the go-to Halloween villain this year.

News

Government ministers could face being sacked under new anti-harassment rules to be introduced within days the leader of the House of Commons confirmed yesterday. Andrea Leadsom pledged ‘very swift’ action to strengthen protections for victims of sexual harassment, prompting fears of a ‘witch-hunt’ at Westminster. Six cabinet ministers are said to be embroiled in the scandal, causing two female staff members of one of the ministers to leave their jobs in response to inappropriate behaviour.
 
The ousted leader of the Catalan government, Carles Puigdemont made a dramatic flight to Brussels yesterday in speculation he may claim political asylum from the EU or start a separatist government in exile. Puigdemont travelled with five of his ministers following the return of direct rule from Madrid in Catalonia, and is to become the first Spaniard in four decades accused of rebellion and sedition following his government’s declaration of independence.
 
The European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, held private talks with a cross-party group of senior Remain-voting UK politicians yesterday on speculation they were planning to stop Britain’s departure from the EU. Former Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, the Labour peer Lord Adonis and the former Conservative chancellor and current MP, Ken Clarke, met Barnier who stated his intention ‘to listen to different points of view’.

Business & Economy

The Bank of England has speculated that up 75,000 finance jobs could be lost in the wake of Brexit. According to reports to the BBC, senior figures are using the number as an estimate under a ‘reasonable scenario’, particularly if there is no specific deal for financial services on the UK’s departure from the EU.
 
Lloyd Blankfein, chief executive at Goldman Sachs, and Stuart Gulliver, outgoing CEO of HSBC, have suggested London could remain Europe’s financial capital after Brexit but emphasised the need for a trade deal to be secured as soon as possible. Gulliver speculated that HSBC could move up to 1,000 to Paris in the event of a ‘hard’ Brexit, while Blankfien stated that the success of Brexit was purely up to government.
 
Former prime minister Gordon Brown has launched a scathing critique that the British banking system has still to learn its lessons from the 2008 financial crisis. In a new memoir covering his time in office entitled, My Life, Our Times, Brown suggests more bankers should have faced prosecutions for their actions in the crisis and that he was prepared to leave office should the sector have rejected his demands for reform.
 
Former executive with Sainsbury’s and current chief operating officer, Roger Burnley is set to become CEO of Asda in January and is tasked with turning around fortunes at the grocery retailer as Sean Clarke steps aside. Asda saw its worst quarterly performance on record in August last year, when like-for-like sales tumbled by 7.5 per cent as a price war led by challengers, Aldi and Lidl, set in.

Markets

What happened yesterday?

The FTSE 100 kicked off the week with a lacklustre performance yesterday, closing down 17.22 points at 7,487.81 after a broker downgrade from Barclays sent the housebuilding sector into a spin. Shares in Persimmon, Taylor Wimpey and Barratt Developments all ended in negative territory, with Berkeley Group down 1.39%.
 
In the financial sector, shares in HSBC also fell, finishing down 1.5% as investors took advantage of healthy profit margins in the wake of strong third quarter results for the bank. Shares at hardware retailing group Kingfisher were among today’s biggest risers, jumping 2% after Goldman Sachs posted a bright outlook for the firm.
 
Currency markets in London were also particularly optimistic ahead of this week’s meeting of the BoE Monetary Policy Committee, factoring in an 86.7% probability of an interest hike on Thursday. The pound defied last week’s slumps, finishing up 0.63% against the dollar at $1.32 and 0.38% higher against the euro at €1.14.

 

Finals
Egon Resources, Earthport
 
Interims
Great Eastern Energy Corp Ltd. GDR, Ryanair Holdings

Q3 Results
BP, Just Eat
 
Trading Announcements
Just Eat, Plus500 Ltd (DI), WPP

AGMs
Angle, JPMorgan Mid Cap Inv Trust, Kodal Minerals, Maxcyte, Terra Catalyst Fund (DI)

GMs
Altona Energy
Puma Vct 8

International Economic Announcements
(10.00) GDP (Preliminary) (EU)
(10.00) Unemployment Rate (EU)

Columns of Note

Ahead of the Autumn Budget, former Conservative Foreign Secretary William Hague writes in The Telegraph that the Chancellor should build on the successes of George Osborne - prioritising help for small businesses, investment in the Northern powerhouse, housebuilding and infrastructure, including a second runway at Gatwick. Hague warns against potentially divisive spending cuts and tax increases, suggesting that allocation of additional resources to Northern Ireland could leave the Government beholden to the DUP.
 
Writing in the Financial Times, Gideon Rachman comments that the crisis in Spain will present the next existential challenge to the EU’s status as a ‘safe space’ for liberal values. As shifting understandings of national sovereignty, self-determination and the rule of law defy the European norm in Britain, Italy, Poland, Greece and much of central Europe, Rachman questions whether a relaunch of the Franco-German partnership in its current form is really the indispensable step needed to save the European project. 

Did you know?

In Walnut Creek, California, trick-or-treaters require a legal permit to wear a mask or disguise on Halloween, whilst in Alabama, it is illegal to dress up as a priest.

Parliamentary Highlights

TODAY

House of Commons
Oral questions
Justice (including Topical Questions)
 
Legislation
Finance Bill - Report stage - Mel Stride
 
Adjournment
Awareness of Pompe disease - Nick Thomas-Symonds
 
House of Lords
Oral questions
Review of probation contracts - Lord Ramsbotham
 
Legislation to require letting agents to join a registration scheme -Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town
 
Removing Hamas from the list of terrorist organisations, in the light of the reconciliation agreement with Fatah and reports of its willingness to hold new elections and to recognise the international frontiers of Israel - Lord Hylton
 
Legislation
Air Travel Organisers' Licensing Bill - 3rd reading - Lord Callanan
Financial Guidance and Claims Bill [HL] - Report stage (day 2) - Baroness Buscombe 
 
Scottish Parliament
 
Ministerial Statement 
Scottish Greenhouse Gas Emissions Annual Target Report for 2015
 
Scottish Government Debate
The Promotion of Walking and Cycling as Active Travel in Scotland
 
TOMORROW
 
House of Commons
Oral questions
Wales
 
PMQs
 
Opposition Day Debate
Subject to be announced
 
Adjournment
St Mary Magdalene and Holy Jesus Trust (leasehold) - Chi Onwurah

House of Lords
Oral questions
Government consultation on changing the rules relating to overseas development assistance - Lord Collins of Highbury
 
Number of 999 calls to the South East Coast Ambulance Service on 23 September to which no ambulance was sent - Baroness Smith of Basildon
 
Establishing an International Legal Task Force to gather evidence on sexual violence as a tactic of terrorism - Baroness Cox
 
Legislation
Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill [HL] - 2nd reading - Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
 
Scottish Parliament
Portfolio questions
Economy, Jobs and Fair Work
 
Finance and the Constitution
 
Scottish Labour Party Debate
Health
 
Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee
Lobbying (Scotland) Act 2016 (Reporting Procedures) Resolution 2017
 
Members’ Business
Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month – Clare Adamson