4 June 2019

Katie Stanton

4 June 2019

Good morning,
 
Now I’d be lying if I told you I hadn’t thought of taking the easy route this morning.
 
A piece likening Donald Trump to a Love Island contestant: a witty preamble about the president of the United States genuinely fist-bumping the Queen, before segueing into a more serious comparison of the diplomacy tactics of Trump and a 20-something Love Island “hottie”. 
 
But alas, I promised a more international perspective and you’re going to get it.
 
Civil war continues to rage in Sudan. Just yesterday, heavily armed Sudanese militia and police launched a crackdown on unarmed protesters in the capital, Khartoum. The incident has reportedly left at least 30 people dead and scores injured.
 
The offensive in Khartoum is just the latest sign that the ruling generals who ousted Omar al-Bashir as president two months ago are determined to cling on to power, regardless of the cost to human life.
 
Witnesses said that troops blocked exit routes, before opening fire on crowds attempting to dive for cover. Opposition leaders have since called for demonstrators to flood the country’s villages, towns and cities to defend the revolution. This will only set the scene for further bloodshed.
 
Britain’s ambassador in Khartoum called for immediate restraint: “no excuse for any such attack. This. Must. Stop. Now.”
 
Now the military is calling for a snap election amid protests, scrapping all existing agreements with the main opposition, as they face mounting international pressure for the violent attack.
 
But, among these and other horrific tales of slaughter and bloodshed from across the world, there are groups that seem noticeably absent from reporting.
 
Scenes of children running from disaster flood our newsfeeds; men and women fighting, injured and bloodied; families in desolate camps flash up on TV screens in real time. But the wider impacts of conflict on the elderly tend to be largely ignored.
 
Older people naturally seem to be at the periphery, watching from the side-lines, more likely to go about their business as usual without complaint and so, left out of the story.
 
A piece by the BBC shone a light on this recently.
 
Olga Malchevska examines the killer queues of Ukraine; a deadly by-product of the simmering war with Russian-backed fighters which holds an inevitable civilian cost.

Around 30,000 civilians cross one of the checkpoints at Ukraine’s front line each day. And eighteen civilians, mostly elderly, have collapsed and died crossing the front line since December, according to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
 
These deaths are not from landmines or enemy fire; they are a result of the sheer exhaustion of queuing. Many older people are required to cross the line to claim their pension: a mundane chore with a very human consequence.
 
The socio-economic impacts of conflict on critical infrastructure such as healthcare and transport tend to disproportionately effect the elderly.
 
Perhaps they’re not the first group we’d talk about when discussing a conflict but, surely, they’re an equally worthy one.

NEWS

Donald Trump will meet the prime minister today for “substantial” talks. Foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt will be among the senior ministers present at the talks, where issues such as climate change are expected to be discussed. Meanwhile, large-scale protests are planned in several UK cities, including a demonstration in Trafalgar Square. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is expected to address protesters at the London rally later today.
 
Waitrose has announced plans to start selling loose cereals, pasta, coffee and other products in a trial to see if shoppers really are prepared to ditch the plastic. A “refillable zone” will be introduced as well as a “pick ‘n’ mix” frozen fruit section and borrow-a-box scheme. The trial, Waitrose Unpacked, is initially being introduced at the company’s Oxford store, but will be rolled out to other stores if successful. (£)

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

Neil Woodford has suspended his flagship fund as a rising number of investors ask for their money back. Yesterday Woodford said that “after an increased level of redemptions”, investors would not be allowed to “redeem, purchase or transfer shares” in the fund. Investors have withdrawn about £560 million from the fund over the past four weeks.
 
Greybull Capital, the private equity firm ridiculed over last month’s collapse of British Steel, is preparing a bid for the UK’s operations in France and the Netherlands. According to people briefed on the plan, Greybull will ditch the British parts of British Steel three years after acquiring the group from India’s Tata Steel for £1 and weeks after it fell into insolvency. (£)
 
Shares in construction contractor Kier have plummeted by 41 per cent after a surprise profit warning yesterday. Kier’s biggest investor is Woodford Investment Management, according to filings, and short-sellers continues to bet against the shares despite the substantial drop. Yesterday’s falls took another £185 million from Kier’s market capitalisation. (£)

MARKETS

What happened yesterday?
The FTSE 100 closed up yesterday, after a rocky start. The index closed 0.32% higher at 7,184 after the US trade war with China hit early trading. 
 
Marks & Spencer was a big faller and is now perilously close to being booted out of the FTSE 100 this week for the first time since the index was launched in 1984. Its shares have plummeted by almost a fifth over the past six months as sales and profits have come under pressure. But it is likely to be spared an embarrassing demotion in this week’s FTSE reshuffle thanks to its £601 million investor cash call.
 
Instead, budget airline Easyjet could face the chop after six years in the index, according to analysts.
 
Meanwhile, in the US Wall Street slid on Monday, suffering under the weight of a sell-off in technology shares that fell amid antitrust scrutiny of Alphabet and Facebook, whose shares tumbled 6.8% and 7.9% respectively.
 
On the currency markets, the pound was up 0.02% against the dollar at $1.26. Against the euro, it was down 0.37% at €1.13.

Finals
AO World
Carclo
Chamberlin
Fulcrum Utility Services Ltd. (DI)
Bluejay Mining
Palace Capital
Vianet Group
VP
 
Interims
Driver Group
Gooch & Housego

AGMs
Albion Technology & General VCT, Arrow Global Group, Destiny Pharma, Ebiquity, The Gym Group, North American Income Trust, Northbridge Industrial Services, Nostrum Oil & Gas, Rockrose Energy, Sagicor Financial Corporation Limited (DI), Sherborne Investors (Guernsey) ‘B’ Limited, Sherborn Investors (Guernsey) C Limited NPV, Tasty, Trufin
 
UK Economic Announcements
(09:30) PMI Construction
 
Int. Economic Announcements
(10:00) Unemployment Rate (EU)
(15:00) Factory Orders (US)

COLUMNS OF NOTE

Writing in this week’s SpectatorMary Wakefield argues that it is unethical for vegans to own cats. She poses that cat ownership goes hand-in-hand with the vegan lifestyle. But, considering most of Britain’s cats are outdoor cats, they are inevitably “psychotic death machines”. Cats in this country kill more than 250 million small mammals a year. Even David Attenborough recognises the threat they pose, so, “if the government had any balls”, they’d call for a cat curfew. (£)
 
The Tories must end their double standards over drugs, rather than flippantly referencing their dabbles with cannabis or opium in their youth and then sticking to the strict party line on drug policy. So says Hugo Rifkind in this morning’s Times. But now, Britain’s most popular party, the Liberal Democrats, believes in the legalisation of cannabis. Times are changing and – if not for our economic benefit, then to stop the criminal industry it supports – it might be time to support regulated legalisation in the UK. (£)

DID YOU KNOW

Canadians apologise so reflexively that in 2009, Parliament passed a law specifying apologising does not mean you have legally admitted fault.

PARLIAMENTARY HIGHLIGHTS

TODAY 
 
House of Commons
Oral questions
Justice (including Topical Questions)
 
Ten Minute Rule Motion
Driving (Persons with Dementia) – Rachel Maclean
 
Legislation
Wild Animals in Circuses (No. 2) Bill: remaining stages
 
Backbench Business
Debate on a Motion on The Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme – Grahame Morris
 
Adjournment 
Transport in Hertfordshire
 
House of Lords
Oral questions
Increasing the number of new homes built for social rent – Lord Shipley
 
Ensuring that Apprenticeship Levy contributions from creative industries are invested in creative industries skills development – Baroness Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury
 
Encouraging more people to use bus services – Baroness Randerson
 
Orders and regulations
 
Debate
Marking the 75th Anniversary of D-Day – Earl Howe
 
Scottish Parliament
Topical Questions (if selected) 
 
Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party Debate: Justice 
 
Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party Debate: Economy
 
TOMORROW
 
House of Commons
Oral questions
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office (including Topical Questions)
 
Prime Minister’s Question Time
 
Ten Minute Rule Motion
Freehold Properties (Management Charges) – Preet Kaur Gill
 
Motions
 
Backbench Business
General Debate on Invisible Disabilities and Accessibility Change – Martin Whitfield, Ruth Jones
 
Adjournment
Regulation of funeral plans – Neil Gray
 
House of Lords
Oral questions
Latest figures for bulling in the NHS – Lord Clark of Windermere
 
War on Want’s report ‘Deadly Investments’ – Lord Hylton
 
Improving the service quality of community rehabilitation companies who deliver probation supervision – The Lord Bishop of Newcastle
 
Legislation 
 
Orders and regulations
 
Short debate
Harnessing the potential of tidal ranges to generate renewable energy and encouraging private sector investment – Lord Cameron of Dillington
 
Report of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Heritage Rail ‘Engaging the next generation: young people and heritage railways’ – Lord Faulkner of Worcester
 
Scottish Parliament
Ministerial statement: Progress on delivering a sustainable aquaculture sector
 
Portfolio questions
 
Stage 3 Proceedings: South of Scotland Enterprise Bill