21st October 2019

Written by Javier Maquieira, Associate

Edited by Tom Gillingham, Associate Partner

Good morning,

One of the recurring myths concerning my generation and the next is that young people don’t care, engage, or vote. The narrative goes that “millennials are independent and apolitical”, and deeply disenchanted with politics altogether. However, the number of teenager and young adult-heavy protests that have been raging across the world suggests the alleged lack of political enthusiasm of youngsters is unfounded.  There is also rising interest in political academia as well as activism. According to the UK’s Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, there has been a28% rise in applications to politics courses since 2016, going up from 34,275 in 2013 to 47,445 in 2018. The UK’s decision to leave the European Union, Donald Trump’s presidency, and protest movements like Extinction Rebellion all seem to have had a big impact on student numbers. And for those more passionate about the debate around Brexit, this past weekend must have felt like a rollercoaster. On Saturday, prime minister Boris Johnson suffered a new defeat after parliament voted for an amendment that delayed approval of his deal until the detail of the withdrawal agreement bill is agreed by MPs, thus forcing Johnson to ask Brussels for an extension on Brexit under the so-called Benn act. Johnson reluctantly sent an unsigned letter to the president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, requesting a further Brexit delay beyond 31 October. But the request was accompanied by a second letter (signed this time) arguing against it. As it happens, Johnson’s government is committed to leaving the EU by the end of the month whatever it takes. While foreign secretary Dominic Raab appears optimistic about having the numbers to get their Brexit deal through this week, Michael Gove has triggered the contingency plan known asOperation Yellowhammer to cope with a no-deal Brexit in case the EU fails to grant another extension.  Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of protesters joined the People’s Vote march in London on Saturday wearing blue and yellow and waving EU flags in what they called “the final say”, asking for a second referendum on Brexit with more urgency and purpose than ever. No-one can deny that these are exciting times to be studying politics – as long as the next generation of politicians understand phenomena like Brexit as an example of messy politics rather than as a negotiation model for the future.


US president Donald Trump has reversed plans to use one of his resorts in Florida to host next year’s G7 summit after bipartisan critics said the idea was evidence of the president using his position for personal gain. While the White House denied the claims of Democratic and Republican lawmakers in Congress, Trump tweeted that he was abandoning the idea because of “crazed and irrational hostility.” At least seven people have died during protests in Chile, despite president Sebastián Piñera reversing a subway fare hike imposed two weeks ago that prompted the violent demonstrations. The riots were at its peak on Sunday, with some protesters looting 40 supermarkets and other businesses, leading Piñera to extend a state of emergency to cities in the north and south of the country. Kurdish troops of the Syrian Democratic Forces have withdrawn from the key border town of Ras al-Ain as part of the 120-hour ceasefire deal between the US and Turkey. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned that Turkey’s offensive would resume if the US fails to deliver on its guarantee to get Syrian Kurdish fighters out of what Ankara calls a “safe zone” along its border in northeast Syria by Tuesday night.

Business & Economy

According to Sky News, RBS chief executive for personal banking, Les Matheson, is planning to step down from his position at the bank as incoming CEO Alison Rose finalises her senior leadership team. Matheson’s departure comes after a turbulent decade for RBS and appears to be part of a shake-up of senior staff and strategy to be unveiled by Rose next year. Australian airline Qantas successfully completed the first-ever nonstop flight between New York City and Sydney on Sunday after 19 hours and 16 minutes in the air. The airline, which also plans to test a nonstop flight from London to Sydney in the coming months, used the feat to conduct research into how pilots, cabin crews, and passengers coped with the long flight time. A study by property website Rightmove shows that Britain’s house prices registered their lowest October rise since the financial crisis more than 10 years ago as a result of Brexit uncertainty. The study also revealed that some parts of London continue to see prices fall, in contrast with the “autumn bounce” experienced every year over the last decade.


The week ahead

British politics will continue to revolve around Brexit this week as the prime minister aims to pass his withdrawal deal at the House of Commons. In market news, the UK focus will turn to the big banks when Royal Bank of Scotland and Barclays provide business updates. Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau will seek to hold on to power in today’s federal election with his star dimmed and his political future in jeopardy. Argentina also holds the first round of presidential elections next Sunday, with Peronist opposition candidate Alberto Fernández likely to secure outright victory. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is due to testify before the US House financial services committee on Wednesday, facing growing scrutiny over the social media’s planned cryptocurrency Libra and other issues including advertising policies. It will be a quiet week for economic data, with central banks showing little sign of any rate changes. Mario Draghi will host his last European Central Bank meeting before handing over to Christine Lagarde. Turkey will also set rates as Donald Trump’s threat to “obliterate” the economy hangs over Ankara.

Source: FTSE 100, Financial Times

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Columns of Note

Comparing the approaches of US senator Elizabeth Warren and EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager to big tech companies, John Harries writes in The Guardian that big tech’s appearance of invincibility is dwindling. While Warren has hardened her intentions to tackle the power of corporations like Apple, Google, and Facebook, Vestager is set to prioritise people’s control of their data, insisting that EU use of artificial intelligence must be within the kind of ethical guidelines absent in the US and China. Writing in The Sunday Times, Kevin Pringle argues that inertia is by far the most powerful force keeping Scotland in the Union, with Brexit posing the biggest threat to the economic, transactional case for Scotland’s place in the UK. Pringle concludes that a post-Brexit trade agreement between Britain and the EU negotiated by Boris Johnson would harm the Scottish food and drink sectors through tariffs and regulatory burdens, leading to further disregard of Scotland’s interests. (£)

Cartoon source: The Guardian

Did you know?

Because identical twins have identical DNA, their children will be genetically equivalent of half siblings, not first cousins.

Parliamentary highlights


House of Commons Oral questions Defence (including Topical Questions) Debate on the Address 5th day of debate on the Queen's Speech: The NHS Adjournment Further education provision in St Austell - Steve Double House of Lords Introduction(s) Baroness Penn and Lord Woolley of Woodford Oral questions Reviewing the visa system for non-European academics and musicians visiting the UK - The Earl of Clancarty Tackling the shortage of psychiatrists - Baroness Parminter What impact assessment has been carried out on the effects of Babylon’s GP at hand app - Baroness Thornton Plans to ban or restrict frequent flyer “airmiles” schemes - Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb Debate on the Address Home affairs, justice, local government, devolved affairs and constitutional affairs - Lord Keen of Elie, Baroness Williams of Trafford Scottish Parliament The Parliament is on recess until 27 October 2019. TOMORROW House of Commons Oral questions Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (including Topical Questions) Debate on the Address Conclusion of the debate on the Queen's Speech: The economy Adjournment Decommissioning of the former SSI steelworks site - Anna Turley House of Lords Introduction(s) Baroness Sanderson of Welton and Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Oral questions Changing the law in respect of the offence of rape - Baroness Kennedy of Cradley Relationship between the number of police officers and the level and types of crimes committed - Lord Kennedy of Southwark Placing a duty on large public venues to assess the risk of an attack and put appropriate measures in place - Lord Harris of Haringey Impact on rural communities of Barclays Bank's decision to end Post Office cash withdrawal services - The Lord Bishop of St Albans Debate on the Address Health, social care, education, culture, welfare and pensions - Baroness Barran, Baroness Blackwood of North Oxford