8 November 2018

Katie Stanton

8 November 2018

Good morning,

Yesterday’s “revelation” that President Donald Trump could possibly have been more thoughtful in his rhetoric, while blindingly obvious to most of us, came from a surprising source.  

It seems the man himself – that same man who impersonated a disabled journalist, promised to unleash “fire and fury” on his enemies, and separated immigrant children from their families – has had a change of heart.  

When asked if he has regrets about his attitude in the past, Trump told a reporter that he could have used a “softer tone” at times. In almost the same breath he referred to himself as a “great moral leader”, shortly before shouting and wagging his finger at journalists at a news conference. He later withdrew access to the White House from CNN reporter Jim Acosta. 

Trump was responding to midterm election results that bolstered the Republican majority in the Senate, while giving the Democrats a majority in the House of Representatives for the first time in eight years. Rural, conservative voters rallied to boost Trump’s position, while minority, female and suburban voters united to challenge his leadership. He called Tuesday’s results “very close to complete victory”, offering little humility on his losses in the House.   

Still, some of his comments demonstrated his apparent swing to sensitivity. Promising a “beautiful bipartisan type of situation”, Trump vowed to work with the Democrats to “negotiate bills on infrastructure, environmental regulation and healthcare”, spurred on perhaps by the prospect of increased Democrat scrutiny. In fact, the president ventured that it might actually be a good thing that they won control of the House. 

The highest ranking House Democrat Nancy Pelosi offered to work with the president, but guaranteed “due oversight of his administration” now that her party has secured control of lower chamber panels that can investigate Trump’s business affairs and tax returns. Given the chance to demonstrate that new, softer approach, Trump instead pledged to adopt a “war-like posture” in response to any such action from the Democrats.  

Shortly after that combative press conference, the president retreated to his safe place, Twitter, to announce that he had fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions. A long-time adversary of the president, Sessions suffered a barrage of abuse for recusing himself from the investigation into collusion between Trump’s presidential campaign and Moscow. Trump promised to wait until after the midterms before “deciding” on the Sessions issue and he did, just.  

Democrats were outraged by the decision, fearing that Mueller’s investigation may be compromised. A permanent replacement will be nominated at a later date and his chief of staff, Matthew Whitaker, will replace Sessions temporarily. 

If a new era of bipartisanship and softer tones is to blossom from here on in, you have to feel that it will be in spite of, rather than thanks to, the tone set on day one. 

News

Two takeaway bosses have been jailed for unlawfully killing 15-year-old Megan Lee after she had an allergic reaction to a meal in spite of informing staff of her dietary requirements. The owner of the Royal Spice takeaway in Lancashire, Mohammed Abdul Kuddus, and manager, Harun Rashid, are accused of a “litany of failings” in the kitchen, including poor hygiene and a distinct lack of procedure when managing allergen control.  

Cabinet ministers have told Theresa May that any Brexit deal must not give undue concessions to the EU as she edges towards a deal. Referring to it as a single market “by the backdoor”, ministers are increasingly concerned that the prime minister is about to reveal “that Britain will be forced to stick with EU rules on state aid, workers’ rights and the environment”. Ministers understand this to be the price of an EU customs agreement as part of the Northern Ireland backstop. (£)  

Prince Charles has quashed concerns that he would be a “meddling King”, declaring: “I’m not that stupid”. Speaking in a BBC documentary to mark his 70th birthday, the comments are his “strongest ever on the subject of his kinghood”. He reasoned that there is a difference between a sovereign and an heir to the throne and vowed to change his behaviour in accordance with the constraints of the role. 

Business & Economy 

Telecoms provider Three has announced that 5G mobile data will soon become so reliable that most homes will no longer need a separate home broadband connection. The UK chief executive told BBC News that there would be enough capacity on 5G to cope with demand, enabling households to reduce outgoings by ending their fixed-line contracts. In theory 5G could offer download speeds of up to 10GBps, and with rivals Vodafone and O2 also investing in the technology, consumers could see the launch of 5G as early as the middle of next year.  

The chief executive of retailer Marks & Spencer has said that every aspect of the business is “being scrutinised in an attempt to reverse falling sales”. Every aspect of the business could also be subject to change, following the announcement that the company’s pre-tax profits rose by two per cent to £223.5 million, while sales fell in both the clothing and food departments. He blames the decline on “an ageing customer base, a very wide range, a weak supply chain and an ageing store portfolio”. (£) 

Toshiba has decided to “liquidate its nuclear arm NuGen” as the crisis-hit industrial group looks to minimise any future risks. The firm is attempting to recover from an unprecedented financial crisis triggered by writedowns on Westinghouse, its now-sold, bankrupt US nuclear subsidiary. The decision is a setback in the UK’s progress towards the replacement of coal-fired power stations with nuclear energy over the next few years. (£)

Markets

What happened yesterday?

The FTSE 100 ended on a high yesterday as stocks surged following the “blue ripple” in the US midterms and the suggestion that oil cartel Opec could cut production in 2019. The index closed up 1.09%. Likewise, the S&P 500 in New York rose 2.1% to 2,813 – the highest close for a month following a disappointing October and the benchmark’s best post-midterm performance since 1982.  

Meanwhile, the dollar index fell to a two-week low as the Republicans lost control of the House making it harder for the president to push through any significant tax or spending reforms.  

The pound was up against the dollar, rising a further 0.3% to a three-week high of $1.31 following reports that a Brexit deal could be decided upon by the end of the month. The euro was down 0.2% against the pound at £0.87. 

Oil prices dipped and rose throughout the day, with the price of Brent peaking at $73.55 before settling at $72.07 per barrel, a 0.1% fall. 

Finals
BowLeven
Gattaca
Game Digital
Tracsis

Interims
3i Infrastructure
Auto Trader Group
Burberry Group
Halfords Group
JZ Capital Partners Ltd
National Grid
Renewi
Sainsbury (J)
Tate & Lyle
Wincanton

Q3 Results
Arrow Global Group
AstraZeneca
Coca-Cola HBC AG (CDI)
esure Group
Transgloble Energy Corporation NPV (DI) 

Trading Announcements
Beazley
Derwent London
Hikma Pharmaceuticals
Howden Joinery Group
IMI
Inchcape
Inmarsat
OneSavings Bank
Superdry
TI Fluid Systems

AGMs
Agriterra LD
Clinigen Group
Haynes Publishing Group

EGMs
PJSC Lukoil ADR

Intl. Economic Announcements
(07:00) Balance of Trade (GER)
(13.30) Continuing Claims (US)
(13.30) Initial Jobless Claims (US) 

Columns of Note

David Rednick sets out the next steps for the Democrats following the midterm elections. Writing in The New Yorker, he brings the Democratic Party back down to earth, saying they failed to achieve a “blue wave” victory and that the “powers of the Presidency are undiminished“, with the Senate still in Republican hands. Rednick posits that it is imperative that the Democrats utilise their majority in the House to make life hard for their opponents and focus on policy. (£)

The police response to the Grenfell effigy case was a waste of time, according to Charlotte Gill of The Times. She argues that the clip of five men laughing as they burned an abhorrent cardboard cutout “deserves widespread condemnation”, but does not warrant arrests. The case highlights flaws in the law, where definitions rely on subjective interpretations of individuals and what they find offensive. She concludes with the statement: “free societies should not act like this”. (£)

Did you know?

For its size, Britain has more tornadoes that any other country in the world. 

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons
In recess until Monday 12 November

House of Lords
In recess until Monday 12 November

Scottish Parliament
General Questions

First Minister's Questions

Ministerial Statement: Scotland’s Plan to Improve the Educational Experience of LGBTI Young People

TOMORROW

Scottish Parliament

No business scheduled