9 July 2018

Stuart Taylor

9 July 2018

Good morning, 

It took a little over 48 hours but Theresa May’s ultimatum to her Cabinet ministers that they either back her plan for a ‘soft Brexit’ or resign from government claimed its first casualty last night, handing the prime minister one of her biggest challenges since last year’s botched general election campaign.
At just before midnight, news broke that David Davis had resigned his position as Brexit Secretary, claiming that he could no longer support the approach agreed on Friday during the Cabinet away-day at Chequers. In a scathing resignation letter, Davis said he would not be a “reluctant conscript” to the plan, concluding that it was “certainly not returning control of our laws in any real sense”. To add further disarray, fellow Brexit ministers Steve Baker and Suella Braverman swiftly joined Davis in announcing their departures.
It has been no secret that Davis has felt frustrated for some time, with his frequent threats to resign becoming a long-standing joke within Westminster. However, his departure is a blow as it comes at a time when the prime minister is seeking unity from her team as she prepares to negotiate with Brussels.
The danger for May - who has seen six Cabinet members resign since last autumn - is that other high-profile names decide to follow suit. All eyes are, once again, on Boris Johnson, who decided to keep his powder dry on Friday despite apparently having reservations over the prime minister’s plan.
Attention is already turning to the big decision of who will replace Davis and take charge of one of the most important briefs in government. One option is to grant full responsibility to her top Brexit official, Olly Robbins, who had an integral role in the development of the strategy presented to ministers on Friday. Michael Gove is another contender. The environment secretary toured the TV studios yesterday to say that he was a “realist” and backed the approach as it gave the best chance of a "proper" exit from the EU. The fact that he has pitched himself as the Brexiteer that "remainers can do business with" may also rule in his favour.
The prime minister will tonight attempt to give the hard sell for her Brexit approach in a potentially turbulent address to Conservative MPs and peers. She can only hope that the tables are not turned and it is her that is given the ultimatum that she either change tack or face the prospect of a challenge to her premiership.


The mission to rescue the remaining eight boys and their football coach from a cave in Thailand is expected to restart later today. Four boys were rescued yesterday before the mission was paused for air tanks to be replaced. 
A murder inquiry has been launched after a woman exposed to nerve agent Novichok in Wiltshire died. Dawn Sturgess, 44, died in hospital on Sunday evening after falling ill last month. Theresa May said she was “shocked and appalled” by the death. Charlie Rowley, 45, who was also exposed to the nerve agent in Amesbury, remains critically ill in hospital.
Police are planning the biggest mobilisation of officers since the 2011 riots as thousands of people prepare to protest against the arrival of Donald Trump on Thursday. Thousands of officers will be deployed across the country in order to contain demonstrators as the US president prepares to visit London, Windsor and Scotland during the two-day trip.


Business & Economy 

Mothercare has plans to ramp up its rate of store closures, along with proposals to raise £32.5m through a share placing. The troubled retailer, which saw its shares fall by more than 70% over the past year, announced plans to close 50 shops and cut rent on a further 21, as well as the decision to place its Childrens World division into administration.
BlackRock and Citigroup have expanded their Paris operations in what is viewed as vindication for Emmanuel Macron’s charm offensive to win business from the City of London ahead of Brexit. BlackRock has plumped for Paris over London to house its new base to provide alternative investment services across Europe and Asia, while Citi has added dozens of new staff in the capital. The French leader promised to cut taxes and red tape for financial services companies who choose to invest in Paris. (£)

The collapse of Carillion exposed “fundamental flaws” in the government’s approach to contracting with companies for the provision of public services, a report by MPs has found. The Commons public administration select committee concluded that the government focused on cutting spending while making contractors take on unacceptable levels of financial risk. The report warned that the situation could happen again if lessons are not learnt. (£)


The week ahead
Xiaomi, the world’s fourth-largest smartphone maker will begin trading in Hong Kong today. It will begin trading with a valuation of $54bn, barely half of its $100bn target just six months ago, and the move will be seen as a gauge of investor appetite in a sector where a number of other Chinese tech firms prepare their own IPOs.
On Tuesday, there will be keen interest on the latest consumer and producer price indexes in China as a trade war with the US continues to loom large, and the UK Office for National Statistics is set to introduce a new publishing model for gross domestic product that means forecasts are not straightforward.
As we reach the midway point of the week, Nato leaders will gather in Brussels for a summit that is expected to be dominated by difficult talks over defence spending. On Thursday, US inflation figures are released as Donald Trump heads to the UK on his first official visit as president.




Int. Economic Announcements
(07:00) Balance of Trade (GER)
(07:00) Current Account (GER)
(20:00) Consumer Credit (US)


Columns of Note 

Alex Massie gives his take on Friday’s Cabinet meeting at Chequers in today’s Times. Massie argues that the failure of Brexiteers to come up with a coherent plan for life after Brexit means they cannot complain about the plan that Theresa May has come up with. He says that the proposals make some kind of sense for Britain but could struggle to get the support from the other 27 countries of the EU. (£)
In yesterday’s Sunday Times, Kevin Pringle says that Jeremy Corbyn still has the potential to save the country, but only if he wants to. Pringle argues that the Labour leader should take a long view of the country’s best interests and back a second referendum on the terms of the exit deal secured by the UK. (£)

Did you know? 

An annual conference is held in London on ‘boring things’. In the past people have given talks on barcodes, sneezing and the sounds of vending machines. Its creation came about following the cancellation of the Interesting Conference in 2010.

Parliamentary highlights 


House of Commons
Oral questions
Defence (including Topical Questions)

Northern Ireland Budget (No.2) Bill - proceedings

House of Lords
Oral questions
Plan to build the A303 Stonehenge tunnel - Baroness Pidding
Discussions with the European Commission including a solution for trade across the Irish border and a commitment to the UK’s membership of the Single Market and Customs Union - Lord Dykes
Strategy for the elimination of hepatitis C - Baroness Randerson
How UK based broadcasters will be able to maintain their UK media hubs if Brexit happens - Baroness Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury

Scottish Parliament
Recess until 3rd September


House of Commons
Oral questions
Justice (including Topical Questions)

House of Lords
Oral questions
Safeguarding children at risk of being taken abroad and forced into marriage - Baroness Burt of Solihull
Government funding for homes for rent on social rents - Lord Kennedy of Southwark
When the stake on fixed-odds betting terminals will be lowered to £2 - The Lord Bishop of St Albans
Assessment of comments from the Chair of the Law Commission on reductions in its funding - Lord Beecham