We woke to hear that Donald Trump has ordered the destruction of an airfield in Western Syria, launching over fifty Tomahawk missiles from Navy war ships. The airfield was an important one for the Assad regime and was allegedly used to carry out Tuesday’s chemical weapons attack.
The President said last night it was vital that America deter the use of chemical weapons and urged “all civilised nations to join us in seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria”.
The airstrikes took place less than an hour after Mr Trump finished dinner with the Chinese president Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago, his private club in Florida – overshadowed now by the news of the military action.
The UK government has described the action as an “appropriate response”, however the airstrikes have elicited condemnation from Russian politicians, who have said that it could undermine efforts to fight against terrorism in Syria, and warned that military cooperation with the US could end as a result. Russian politicians have called for a UN Security Council meeting to discuss events.
The hope is that the action will provide a turning point in the six -year war, and that we will, at least, see no more chemical attacks carried out against innocent people.
Theresa May welcomed European Council President Donald Tusk to Downing Street yesterday, eight days after giving him formal notice of Britain’s intention to leave the EU. The Prime Minister’s office was keen to stress that the meeting had been “good and friendly” and the two leaders are understood to have agreed on the need for an early deal on migrants’ rights to give EU citizens in the UK and Britons living in the EU certainty about their future. The Prime Minister also told Tusk that Gibraltar’s sovereignty is not up for negotiation.
Mark Reckless, the former Tory MP who defected to Ukip, has quit the party to support the Conservative group in the Welsh assembly. Reckless’s decision follows the move last month by Douglas Carswell, who defected to Ukip from the Conservatives and remains an MP, to then quit the party and sit in the Commons as an independent.
Teachers will be breathing a sigh of relief that the supreme court yesterdayupheld the ban on parents taking their children out of school for family holidays during term time. In a unanimous decision, the justices upheld a fine imposed on a father for taking his daughter out of school for an unauthorised seven-day break in April 2015. Parents and school heads are now calling for a cap on the price of summer holiday packages to be imposed.
BUSINESS & ECONOMY
Norway’s $910bn oil fund - the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund – ispushing for an overhaul of CEO pay, and will start pressing for an end to long-term incentive schemes, instead forcing chief executives to own substantial stakes in their companies for periods of at least five and preferably ten years. It will also urge boards to name a ceiling for pay. The fund owns, on average, shares in 1.3 per cent of every listed company in the world, and the intervention is highly significant as it is one of the world's most influential investors.
Unilever has announced a series of significant changes to its operations and financial structure in the hope that it will see off any future approaches from Kraft Heinz. Changes include a sale of the unit that sells Flora margarine, a 12 per cent rise in its dividend and a 5billion euro share buyback this year. It is also reconsidering its long standing dual legal structure in the Netherlands and the UK – Unilever is now expected to follow the path of Royal Dutch Shell and become a single legal entity. Kraft-Heinz’s opportunistic bid highlighted that while Unilever’s long term investment model does generate growth, it may not be doing so fast enough.
Safe haven assets including gold and government bonds soared in response to news of the US airstrike on Syria. Oil prices rose more than 2 per cent to a one-month high this morning, and later dropped back as their seemed no immediate threat to oil supplies. The strike on Syria has the potential to impact oil markets, as Syria’s location in the Middle East raises worries about the impact of conflict on any shipments.
European markets have been impacted, with the FTSE expected to open down 14 points, the Dax down 37 and the Cac down 11, according to CityAM.
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UK Economic Announcements
(08:30) Halifax House Price Index
(09:30) Balance of Trade, Industrial Production, Manufacturing Production, Retail Price Index
International Economic Announcements
(07:00) Balance of Trade (GER); Current Account (GER); Industrial Production (GER)
(13:30) Non -Farm Payrolls (US), Unemployment Rate (US)
(20:00) Consumer Credit (US)
COLUMNS OF NOTE
The FT predicts what Donald Trump will discuss wit China’s Xi Jinping when they meet to discuss official matters today. If last night’s dinner went well, the two statesmen would have established a rapport before they tackle more serious issues – although the meeting may have been overshadowed by news of the Syrian air-strike. For Donald Trump, the meeting today will be an opportunity to demonstrate that he can play tough – but both parties stand to gain from an amicable outcome. The article predicts that Mr Xi will have to be flexible on trade -other top-of mind issues will include North Korea and the South China Sea.
Deliveroo calls its staff “independent suppliers” who agree availability instead of accepting shifts and go to work in “kit” or “equipment’ rather than uniform. The Guardian asks what the jargon really communicates and suspects it is more about fending off claims that couriers are employees, a growing issue given the legal challenges to gig-economy companies. The Guardian’s scrutiny is a small reminder to pay attention to the language we use at work.
DID YOU KNOW?
Research has shown that octopuses edit the messages sent from their DNA instead of following them almost exactly like most living things usually do. Scientists believe this may directly contribute to their remarkable intelligence.
House of Commons
In recess until 18th April.
House of Lords
In recess until 18th April.
In recess until 18th April.