10th December 2019
Written by Tom Gillingham, Associate Partner
Edited by Laura Hamilton, Managing Partner
He is the political leader who swept into office on a platform promising bold change and was ultimately rewarded with a Nobel Peace Prize just a few months into his first term. I am, of course, talking about Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopia’s prime minister who will today be lauded for the peace deal he concluded with neighbouring Eritrea last year. The accord put an end to years of bitter conflict between the nations, but issues such as a closed border remain. Ten years after the award went to another first-term wonder in the shape of former US president Barack Obama, a degree of controversy appears to be swirling again. Both Obama and Ahmed were awarded startlingly early in their respective first terms. Is the Peace Prize more of an expression of hope, rather than recognition of achievement in these particular cases? Mild intrigue about another seemingly early award has turned into more vocal concern following the news that Mr Ahmed will not participate in any of the traditional media set-pieces that surround the award itself. Despite his spokesperson’s best attempts, it is hard to fully believe this decision is down to a combination of humility and overwhelming nikhedonia at the prospect of winning one of the world’s most prestigious prizes. Perhaps it is more to do with the surging ethnic tensions in his country, with huge numbers of people displaced from their homes in the past few months. Commentators suggest that Ethiopia is at a very delicate point in its history. While there have been seemingly positive reforms ahead of the upcoming 2020 election, some concerns linger about the stability of democracy in the country amidst apparent government-sanctioned internet blackouts. Mr Ahmed could be concerned that saying anything to the world’s media during the Nobel Prize event risks inflaming tensions further. In 2015, a member of the Nobel committee suggested that Obama’s prize in 2009 had been a mistake, and the venerable organisation will hope that another optimistic endorsement ten years later doesn’t suffer the same fate.
Following the volcanic eruption on White Island, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said there are questions which “must be asked”. It is believed 47 people from various countries were on the island during the eruption. Five people are confirmed to have died, with a further eight still missing.
With A&E waiting times at the forefront of the election campaign yesterday, a study by leading NHS doctors has found that almost 5,500 patients have died over the past three years because they have spent between six and 11 hours on a trolley in an A&E unit waiting for a bed in overcrowded hospitals. The study concluded that these deaths were entirely and solely caused by the length of wait, and not by the patient’s condition.
At 10pm tonight The Times will release the final version of the YouGov MRP general election poll. This model correctly predicted the hung parliament in 2017, and all eyes will be on this latest version ahead of polling day on 12 December to see if it reflects the current expectation of a Conservative majority government.
Business and economy
Drax, which generates 5% of the UK's power at its huge power plant in North Yorkshire, has set out plans to capture more carbon than it produces by 2030. The power station is already largely powered by renewable fuel such as wood pellets having converted four of its six units to burn biomass rather than coal. Morgan Stanley is cutting about 1,500 jobs - or two per cent of its global workforce - including several managing directors, as part of a renewed efficiency push. Investment banks around the world have been reviewing staffing levels amid a prolonged slump in trading revenue and the expectation that a move to more electronic platforms will require fewer people. The £5 billion bidding battle for Just Eat - between takeaway.com and South African technology giant Naspers - is dragging on, with both interested parties under increasing pressure to improve the terms of their competing offers (£) for the food delivery group. Nasper’s initial bid of £5.1 billion has already been knocked back by Just Eat shareholders.
Columns of note
Writing in the New Statesman, Chris Stokel-Walker looks at why - in the final days of the general election - the Conservative party has been throwing money at YouTube. He argues that this is all about a new route to viewers who may be actively avoiding political messages. YouTube is increasingly the starting point for voters’ media consumption or the lens through which they consume content from other channels, and its proliferation on smart TVs and other connected devices means there is a lower likelihood of ad-blockers filtering the adverts out. Isabel Hardman’s piece for the Spectator suggests that the battle to become Jeremy Corbyn’s successor is already well under way within the Labour party. Should the veteran leader fail to become prime minister, she suggests John McDonnell is already planning to take over as interim leader. While Rebecca Long-Bailey has long been positioned at the heir-apparent, she argues that others in the leadership mix include Laura Pidcock, Emily Thornberry and Keir Starmer.
What happened yesterday?
London stocks fell slightly on Monday, as investors considered the busy week ahead. It includes rate decisions from the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank, the UK general election and the important Sino-US trade deadline. UK-headquartered Tullow Oil had the most challenging day, with its shares sinking more than 70% as the oil and gas exploration company announced the departure of its CEO, cut production guidance and scrapped its dividend. The FTSE 100 finished the day down 0.08% at 7,233.90 while the pound was up 0.12% against the US dollar at 1.32 and up very slightly by 0.1% versus the euro, at 1.19. In the US, stocks closed lower as investors again awaited further updates on US-China trade talks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.38% at 27,909.60, while the S&P 500 was also down, by 0.32% to 3,135.96. The Nasdaq Composite finished the day 0.40% weaker, at 8,621.83.
What's happening today?
Finals Driver Group Nexus Infrastructure Oxford Biodyn RWS Holdings Interims Begbies Mind Gym Photo-me
AGMs Ashley House Bellway Upland Resource
UK Economic Announcements
(09:30) Index of Services (09:30) Industrial Production (09:30) Gross Domestic Product (09:30) Balance of Trade (09:30) Manufacturing Production
Did you know?
All Nobel Prizes are awarded in Stockholm, Sweden, except for the Nobel Peace Prize, which is awarded in Oslo, Norway.
TODAY House of Commons The House will next sit on Monday 16 December 2019 House of Lords The House will next sit on Monday 16 December 2019 Scottish Parliament Ministerial Statement: Queen Elizabeth University Hospital Oversight Board Update Ministerial Statement: Performance in Scottish education – the PISA 2018 Results and Achievement of Curriculum for Excellence Level 2018/19 Statistics TOMORROW Scottish Parliament Portfolio questions - Justice and the law officers First minister’s questions