8 May 2019

Javier Maquieira

8 May 2019

Good morning,

The clock is ticking. And it has been for some time now.
 
Monday’s thorough report published by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) offers new, alarming data showing the extent to which human activity is endangering life on Earth.
 
The threat posed by climate change is even more urgent when one looks at the loss of biodiversity, with species becoming extinct tens of hundreds of times more quickly than in the past – a trend that has led some scientists to anticipate the beginning of the ‘sixth mass extinction’.
 
Man-made land degradation is one of the causes, translating into the loss of around 12 million hectares of tropical forest in 2018. According to the IPBES study, 66% of the oceans are experiencing increasingly damaging impacts, and 85% of wetlands have vanished since the year 1700. Through deforestation, plantation, and urban expansion, humans are exposing the life-support systems on which human life itself depends.
 
Policymakers aren’t ignoring the facts as much as they used to. The British Government, for instance, has commissioned the University of Cambridge to conduct a study into the economic case for biodiversity as part of its objective to lead conservation initiatives at home and abroad.
 
Despite the apparent interest of governments in halting climate change and biodiversity loss, environmental activists have warned about the general inaction of leaders and institutions. Greta Thunberg and the Extinction Rebellion protesters are only two examples amongst those calling for a change in consumption patterns and human lifestyles in wealthy countries in order to avoid environmental and human catastrophe. 
 
The extent to which state and non-state actors across the world will listen to these voices, however, remains to be seen.
 
And so there’s far more beyond Brexit and political instability elsewhere in the world that should be worrying us. The time for speculating over the now inevitable consequences of our past behaviours is well and truly over.

News

The PM’s de facto deputy David Lidington conceded that the UK will have to take part in the European elections, as a Brexit deal is not expected to be reached by 23 May, which marks the date that legally obliges the UK to participate in the EU-wide poll and send MEPs to the European Parliament in Brussels. Mr Lidington regretted the impossibility of finishing the process and said that the government would try to shorten the delay as much as possible.
 
Iran plans to announce its partial withdrawal from the nuclear agreement signed in 2015 with global powers, after US President Donald Trump had stepped back from the deal only a year earlier. Tehran insisted that the announcement will not convey a complete withdrawal and may include a deadline for the EU to implement its obligations before further decisions are made, with France warning that the bloc will have to sanction Iran economically if it finally decides to pull out of the agreement.
 
NHS practitioners are working on average 11 hours a day, with eight hours devoted to care and three hours to paperwork, new research by Pulse magazine for BBC’s Panorama programme found. The survey concluded that one in ten GPs in the UK are seeing twice as many people as they should, dealing with approximately 41 patients per day. This has led overtired practitioners to openly admit that they are making mistakes, with 50% of respondents saying that their workload on a normal day is beyond safe levels.

Business & Economy

Facebook announced its decision to establish its base for building a payments function on WhatsApp in London. Most of the software engineers will be hired in the UK capital with further operations staff in Dublin, as the social network aims to attract a multicultural workforce of about 100 people from countries like India, where the messaging app is widely used. The new centre will focus on moving into payments and developing safety and anti-spam products on the app, and is expected to boost London’s ambition of becoming a global fintech hub (£).
 
Uber drivers in UK cities plan to protest outside the company’s offices today, joined by their American counterparts in US cities. The protests come after Uber listed its shares on the New York Stock Exchange, with hundreds of drivers expected to stage a nine-hour boycott of the app between 07:00 and 16:00. The United Private Hire Drivers Branch of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) wants to reduce the commission that goes to companies like Uber from 25% to 15% and increase the fares from £1.25 to £2 a mile.
 
The UK’s 40 biggest companies saw their average profits increase by 11% in Q1 year-on-year, whereas those outside the group experienced a fall of 18%, showing a clear division between ‘frontier firms’ and ‘laggards’. Economists attribute this contrast in performance to the access to superior technology and opportunities enjoyed by the top 40, which includes companies such as HSBC, Diageo, and British American Tobacco. In general, big players in the banking sector like Lloyds, Barclays, and HSBC sharply increased their earnings, with banking profits more than doubling in the first quarter.

Markets

What happened yesterday?
Global markets suffered one of their biggest declines of the year after the White House accused China of defaulting on its trade commitments, with President Donald Trump threatening to raise tariffs on Chinese goods from 10% to 25% as early as Friday. Chinese officials, including vice-premier Liu He, plan to travel to Washington for fresh trade talks.
 
London stocks were not immune to the escalation in trade tensions between China and the United States, with the FTSE 100 closing down 1.63% at 7,260.7 and the pound 0.1% weaker against the dollar at 1.3088 and 0.1% stronger versus the euro at 1.1686.
 
Financials exposed to Asia like Standard Chartered (down 2.51%), HSBC (down 2.7%), and Prudential (down 3.65%) were amongst the stand-out losers, while stocks in Domino’s Pizza (down 1.46%) fell after the company announced ‘disappointing’ performance in its international business despite a 4.5% increase in group systems sales for Q1.
 
Telecoms company Vodafone (down 0.04%) partly resisted the downward trend following its agreement to supply high-speed broadband to Telefonica Deutschland, as it seeks to address the European Commission’s concerns regarding its merger with Liberty Global in Germany and Central Europe.
 
In the US, President Trump’s threat to intensify its trade war with China caused Wall Street to experience its worst day in four months, with the S&P 500 and Nasdaq down 2.1 per cent and 2.2 per cent respectively.

Finals
Cyanconnode Holdings
JZ Capital Partners Ltd
Keystone Law Group
Osirium Technologies
Smartspace Software
Vertu Motors

Interims
Jyske Bank A/S
Elegant Hotels Group
Imperial Brands

Trading Announcements
Direct Line Insurance Group
ITV
Travis Perkins

Int. Economic Announcements
(07:00) Factory Orders (GER)
(07:00) Industrial Production (GER)
(12:00) MBA Mortgage Applications (US)
(15:30) Crude Oil Inventories (US)

Columns of Note

Writing in The TimesRoger Boyes lays bare the paradoxical nature of American foreign policy under the current administration after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned that China could turn to the previously ice-prone Arctic Ocean, now seen as strategically critical. Following Pompeo’s conversation with his Russian counterpart, Boyes argues that the US is seeking an unlikely ally in Russia to join forces against Beijing in the north while it rejects climate change and global warming. He concludes that Washington should rely on multilateral diplomacy if it wants to re-set Russia and contain China in all domains (£).
 
On the 20th anniversary of the Scottish Parliament, Alan Cochrane argues in The Telegraph that the reason why Holyrood looks better twenty years after devolution is because Westminster got worse. Although Cochrane acknowledges the positive impact of decisions being taken locally, he concludes that the pressures on health and education and Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon’s emphasis on independence have precluded Scotland from making devolution work (£).

Did you know?

According to new research, there are more germs in men’s beards than in dogs’ fur.

Parliamentary highlights

TODAY
 
House of Commons
 
Oral questions
Scotland
 
Prime Minister's Question Time
 
Ten Minute Rule Motion
Pension Charges - Ms Angela Eagle
 
Opposition Day Debate
Subject to be announced - unallotted half day
 
Adjournment
Full time social action - Ben Bradley
 
House of Lords
 
Oral questions
Grounds under which a dyslexic candidate's Education, Health and Care plan is deemed insufficient for a second assessment for the Disabled Students' Allowance - Lord Addington
 
Production of a comprehensive list of, and the reasons for, movement between the UK and the EEA countries under Freedom of Movement and related provisions, as defined by the Treaty on the EU, the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU - Lord Lea of Crondall
 
Requirement for employers to publish action plans relating to their gender pay gaps - Baroness Gale
 
Introduction of a consent form to allow police to access mobile phone content and how proportionality will be achieved. - Lord Morris of Aberavon
 
Orders and regulations
Common Agricultural Policy and Market Measures (Miscellaneous Amendments) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 - Lord Gardiner of Kimble
 
Trade etc. in Dual-Use Items and Firearms etc. (Amendment) (EU Exit) (No. 2) Regulations 2019 - Baroness Fairhead
 
Draft Companies (Directors’ Remuneration Policy and Directors’ Remuneration Report) Regulations 2019 – motion to approve - Lord Henley
 
Architects Act 1997 (Swiss Qualifications) (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 - Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth
 
Short debate
Correspondence between the Competition and Markets Authority and the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy setting out proposals on legislative and institutional reforms to safeguard the interests of consumers and to maintain and improve public confidence in markets - Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town
 
Short debate
Governance of English football - Baroness Taylor of Bolton
 
Scottish Parliament
 
Parliamentary Bureau Motions
 
Portfolio Questions
 
Scottish Labour Party Debate: Scotland’s Future
 
Scottish Labour Party Debate: Health
 
Business Motions
 
Parliamentary Bureau Motions
 
Decision Time
 
Members' Business — S5M-16822 Miles Briggs: Scotland, a Nation of Lifesavers
 
TOMORROW
 
House of Commons
 
Oral questions
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (including Topical Questions)
 
Church Commissioners, the House of Commons Commission, and the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission
 
Business Statement
Business Questions to the Leader of the House - Andrea Leadsom
 
Backbench Business
Debate on a Motion on Acquired Brain Injury - Chris Bryant, Sir John Hayes, Liz Twist
 
General Debate on the 25th Anniversary of the death of John Smith, former Leader of the Labour Party - Ian Murray, Margaret Beckett, Stewart Malcolm McDonald, Stephen Kerr
 
Adjournment
A14 Cambridge - Huntingdon road upgrade - Daniel Zeichner
 
House of Lords
 
Oral questions
Increasing diversity in public appointments - Lord Holmes of Richmond
 
Recent developments in Nigeria, with particular reference to attacks on civilians by Fulani militia - Baroness Cox
 
Provision of suitable social housing for older people - Baroness Kennedy of Cradley
 
Debate
Issues facing people with disabilities and the potential for improved treatment and outcomes in the next 50 years - Lord Borwick
 
Conduct of debate in public life; the divisions which result from that in society; and the case for addressing such divisions. - Lord Harris of Haringey
 
Legislation
Holocaust (Return of Cultural Objects) (Amendment) Bill – Second reading - Lord Sherbourne of Didsbury
 
Orders and regulations
Syria (Sanctions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019; Chemical Weapons (Sanctions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019; Russia (Sanctions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019; Republic of Belarus (Sanctions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018; Zimbabwe (Sanctions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 - Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
 
Scottish Parliament
 
Parliamentary Bureau Motions
 
General Questions
 
First Minister’s Questions
 
Members' Business — S5M-15570 Kenneth Gibson: Changes to Pension Credit Could Cost Mixed-age Couples £7,320 Annually
 
Parliamentary Bureau Motions
 
Ministerial Statement: The Scottish Government’s Response to the Sturrock Review
 
Portfolio Questions
 
Stage 3 Proceedings: Vulnerable Witnesses (Criminal Evidence) (Scotland) Bill
 
Parliamentary Bureau Motions
 
Business Motions
 
Decision Time