19th December 2019

Written by Sabina Kadic-Mackenzie, Associate Partner

Edited by Kevin Pringle, Partner


Good morning,

On this day 21 years ago, President Bill Clinton was impeached when the House adopted two articles accusing him of perjury to a grand jury and obstruction of justice.

This small club of shamed presidents, the other member being Andrew Johnson in 1868, grew by one last night following emotional and impassioned speeches from both sides as Donald Trump was impeached.

Patrick Conroy, the chaplain of the House of Representatives, opened the session with a prayer to the powers above to help the powers elected to “help them and help us all.” This was before the real battle began as Republican after Republican took to the podium, using the president’s own catch phrase of “witch hunt” and accusing the Democrats of having their sights on impeachment since the day Trump took his oath of office.

Earlier in the day, before proceedings began in the House, Nancy Pelosi received a six-page insight into what we can expect from Trump in the coming days.

Despite last night’s proceedings, the President and his supporters still insist that his phone conversation with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine was a "perfect call." But the wider American public is not so sure. They remain divided over whether Trump should be removed from office, but one thing is clear. There is strong agreement about whether or not it is okay for the president to ask a foreign government to investigate his political rivals.

A poll this week by Fox News found, by a 60% to 24% margin, that voters say it is not acceptable, with only 22% agreeing that it’s something all presidents do.

Whatever happens next, Donald J. Trump, the 45th President of the United States, will carry impeachment with him forever. A period of reflection may be called for, but somehow I don’t think he’s going to stay quiet.


News

The Queen is set to outline the Conservative government’s agenda for the year ahead following last week’s election win. Legislation to take Britain out of the EU on 31 January will be among more than 20 bills announced during today’s state opening of parliament. Other measures include guarantees on extra health service funding and longer sentences for violent criminals. A seven-day state of emergency has been declared in New South Wales as a heatwave threatened to exacerbate the Australian state’s ongoing bushfire crisis. Around 2,000 firefighters were battling about 100 blazes, half of which remain uncontrolled, with the support of the country’s defence force. Nicola Sturgeon is today expected to put forward the “clear democratic case” for another independence referendum. In a paper called “Scotland’s Right to Choose”, the first minister will argue for the transfer of powers needed to hold another vote from Westminster to Holyrood – otherwise known as a Section 30 order.

Business and economy

According to The Times, hedge funds have been eavesdropping on the Bank of England’s press conferences before they are officially broadcast after its internal systems were hijacked. The Bank has discovered that one of its suppliers has been sending an audio feed of its press conferences to high-speed traders, who hope to profit by acting on the governor’s comments before the rest of the world. (£) Britain’s largest trade union, Unite, is seeking assurances over around 2,600 manufacturing jobs at Vauxhall after the carmaker’s parent company, PSA, announced a £38 billion merger with Fiat Chrysler to create the world’s fourth-biggest carmaker. Bet365 chief executive Denise Coates is expected to be the world’s best-paid female boss this year after securing £320 million. Coates, who founded Bet365 in a mobile cabin overlooking her father’s original Stoke-on-Trent betting shop, is understood to have been paid a £277 million salary in the year to March, while taking home half of the company’s £92.5 million dividend pay-out. (£)


Columns of note

The New York Times editorial board takes on the discrimination exposed by Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s new citizenship law. On the face of it, the law might seem quite reasonable: it offers expedited citizenship for migrants of minority religions from neighbouring countries. But, for India’s Muslims – around 14% of the population – the law misses out a key group. Accelerated citizenship is offered to members of the Hindu, Christian, Buddhist, Sikh, Parsee and Jain religions — but not to Muslims. The neighbouring countries named in the law are all majority Muslim. Therefore, the overwhelming message is that Muslims cannot be refugees, even though some – such as Rohingya Muslims fleeing brutal repression in Myanmar – clearly are. Amy Crawford explores a massive new database for connecting billions of historic records in the Smithsonian. The online resource will tell the full story of American slavery, offering vital details about the toll wrought on the enslaved. One of the biggest challenges in slave studies is the idea that people were “unknowable”. But in reality we have lots of information; it’s just dotted around in journals and takes a lot of time to amalgamate. This tool will have the potential to show that, even in the context of slavery, there are still threads that hold people’s lives together.

Source: Evening Standard

Markets

What happened yesterday?

Sterling fell again yesterday after the recently re-elected Conservative government signalled that the end of 2020 is a hard deadline for London and Brussels to strike a new trading partnership. The pound has shed as much as 3.3% since it soared to a 19-month high of $1.35 last week, when it became clear that Boris Johnson would win the biggest Tory majority in a general election since Margaret Thatcher in 1987. Sterling was trading at $1.31 this morning, up ever so slightly on the previous session. Johnson will this week publish Brexit legislation that would prohibit him from extending the standstill transition period with the EU beyond December next year, potentially creating a cliff-edge scenario if no deal is in place. For markets this means uncertainty and a dampening of the recent optimism. The FTSE 100 closed up 0.21% after a small flurry in the afternoon. The mid-cap FTSE 250 remained in the red, dropping 0.12%. 


What's happening today?

AGMs Egdon Resources Fragrant Prosp. Haydale Parkmead Skinbiotherap. Smart (J) & Co Transense


EGMs Air China Etalon S


UK Economic Announcements

(09:30) Retail Sales (11:00) CBI Distributive Trades Survey (12:00) BoE Interest Rates Decision


Intl. Economic Announcements

(13:30) Current Account (US) (13:30) Continuing Claims (US) (13:30) Philadelphia Fed Index (US) (13:30) Initial Jobless Claims (US) (15:00) Existing Home Sales (US)


Source: Financial Times

Did you know?

Vladimir Putin still uses Windows XP.


Parliamentary highlights

TODAY

House of Commons State Opening of Parliament

Swearing in of Members of the House of Commons

House of Lords State Opening of Parliament

Scottish Parliament

General Questions

First Minister Questions

Stage 3 Proceedings:  Referendums (Scotland) Bill

Business Motions

TOMORROW House of Commons No business scheduled. House of Lords No business scheduled. Scottish Parliament No business scheduled.