25th September 2019

Written by Javier Maquieira (Associate)

In today's daily briefing, Javier Maquieira reflects on yesterday's two historic Supreme Court rulings in the UK and Spain as they serve to remind us of what any healthy democracy should aim for.

Good morning,

Typical, isn’t it? You wait months for a big Supreme Court ruling then two come along at once.


Eleven judges at the UK’s Supreme Court unanimously ruled that Boris Johnson’s decision to prorogue Parliament was unlawful, with the court’s president, Lady Hale, adding that “the effect on the fundamentals of democracy was extreme.”


Amid calls for his resignation, Johnson was forced to cut short a visit to the United Nations general assembly and travel back from New York to London today, having said that he “profoundly disagreed” with the ruling but would “respect” it. The prime minister also told reporters that the verdict had made getting a Brexit deal with the European Union more difficult, and that he still sees a Queen’s Speech as necessary to precede a new legislative programme.


In the meantime, the speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, said that MPs would reconvene today from 11:30am in a session that could see the Commons hold Johnson to account, although PMQs will sadly not take place, depriving us all of some knockabout fun.


Another unanimous European ruling yesterday – this time by the Spanish Supreme Court – authorised the exhumation of the remains of dictator Francisco Franco from the Valley of the Fallen in Madrid; a huge mausoleum widely seen as glorifying the triumph of fascism after the Spanish civil war.


The decision, which has divided opinion in a country still haunted by its Francoist past, backed the Socialist government’s plan to move Franco’s remains to a less contentious place, with acting prime minister Pedro Sánchez declaring a “great victory for Spanish democracy” on Twitter. As it happens, if the exhumation were to take place by 10 November, it could give Sánchez’s Socialist party a boost in the general election to be held that day.


Taken together, these historic rulings serve to remind us why healthy democracies must make a critical analysis of their past and present to guard against a future in which the voices of the many are silenced by the self-interest of the few.


The speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, announced yesterday the launch of a formal impeachment inquiry into the president Donald Trump over claims that he sought political support from the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to undermine his electoral rival Joe Biden. In a formal address in Washington, Pelosi said that “the actions taken to date by the president have seriously violated the constitution.” Trump later accused Democrats on Twitter of “presidential harassment” and vowed to publish the transcript of his call with Zelensky later today. In his address at the UN assembly in New York, Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, insisted that the Brazilian Amazon is sovereign territory. In a defiant tone, Bolsonaro said that describing the rainforest as the heritage of humanity was a “fallacy” and accused the international media of sensationalist reporting. President Trump appeared to mock 16-year-old Greta Thunberg on Twitter after the Swedish environmental activist condemned world leaders for failing to combat climate change on Monday. Trump, who is a climate sceptic, posted a seemingly sarcastic tweet saying that Thunberg “seems like a very happy young girl” alongside a video of her impassioned UN speech. Thunberg responded in kind. Back in the UK, the leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, is risking a clash with his own frontbenchers after signalling at the party conference in Brighton the he won’t call a confidence vote in Boris Johnson until a no-deal Brexit has been taken off the table. Senior Labour MPs warned Corbyn that it would be “unthinkable” to let the PM go unchallenged after the Supreme Court’s ruling.

Business & Economy

Thomas Cook customers are accusing airlines of cashing in on the holiday firm’s collapse as they face high bills to book replacement flights, with prices tripling in some cases. Analysts pointed out that the prices reflect high demand on routes with few spare seats. With more than 130,000 British tourists still awaiting repatriation, the Civil Aviation Authority said that it aims to bring back all remaining holidaymakers by 6 October. The chief executive of WeWork, Adam Neumann, has resigned following growing pressure from investors. Neumann, who is giving up majority voting rights in the office sharing company, said that scrutiny of his position had become a “significant distraction” and that his resignation was “in the best interest of the company”. Artie Minson and Sebastian Gunningham will take over as co-CEOs while Neumann becomes non-executive chairman in the firm, which delayed its flotation plans this month. Transport for London has given Uber a two-month extension to its licence, which was due to expire tonight. This is the second time in two years that TfL has rebuffed Uber’s application for a full operating licence, arguing that the extension will “allow for scrutiny of additional information.” The two-month private hire operator licence will also have additional conditions regarding passenger safety, insurance, ridesharing, and checks on drivers’ documentation.


What happened yesterday?

London stocks closed in the red last night after the UK’s Supreme Court ruling. The FTSE 100 deepened losses throughout the day and closed down 0.47% at 7,291.43, while the pound was up both against the dollar by 0.43% at $1.2482 and versus the euro by 0.38% at €1.1351. In corporate news, Russian steelmaker Evraz (-5.52%) fell amid falling iron ore prices, while the challenger bank Metro Bank plunged (-35.19%) after pulling a £250 bond sale on Monday having failed to attract enough investors. Also among the fallers were the merchant bank Close Brothers (-1.53%), Auto Trader Group (-3.73%), Royal Mail (-3.77%), and Weir Group (-2.99%). On the upside, the shares of travel operator TUI (+6.46%) rose supported by the Thomas Cook collapse, while it emphasised the forecast of a fall in full-year profits and warned about Brexit concerns. Card Factory (+4.01%) and AG Barr (+3.41%) also closed up following well-received interim results. Across the pond, the dollar index improved overnight, strengthening 0.2%. S&P 500 futures were pointing to gains of 0.2% as Wall Street begins trading later today.

Whats happening today?


Allergy Thera. Netcall NET Prs Reit


Boohoo Ergomed Mi-pay Group Mission Mktg. Wandisco Xlmedia


Adept Tech. Grafenia Hornby Joules Grp Ncc Orient Telecom. Pz Cussons Scholium Group SDI Group Shearwater Tavistock

UK Economic Announcements

(09:30) BBA Mortgage Lending Figures

Int Economic Announcements

(07:00) GFK Consumer Confidence (GER)

Columns of Note

Writing in The TimesRoger Boyes shares his fears over China’s birthday military parade, set to take place next week as the country celebrates 70 years of communism. Boyes argues that the message of the ruling Communist party appears to be that China should not only be respected but also loved. As the leadership plans to display a military hardware designed for deployment, Xi Jinping will attempt to convince the West that a modern global superpower has overcome its “century of humiliation” in an exercise of selective amnesia. (£) The Guardian’s George Monbiot draws attention to the remaining British “rainforest” as he regrets how much of the land in UK national parks is systematically burned to benefit businesses. Monbiot argues that a faster and more effective solution than tree planting is natural regeneration or rewilding – that is, allowing trees to seed and spread themselves. He concludes that by restoring our own lost natural forests, we can make a more compelling argument in the fight against the destruction of the world’s great habitats.

Did you know?

Researchers have discovered that bats address each other as individuals and often get into arguments.

Parliamentary highlights


House of Commons

No business due to prorogation. The House will next sit on Monday 14th October.

Portfolio Questions Stage 3 Proceedings Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Bill Members’ Business S5M-17805 John Mason: The Need for a Product Recall Database


House of Commons No business announced. House of Lords No business announced. Scottish Parliament General Questions First Minister’s Questions Members’ Business S5M-18066 Rachael Hamilton: Congratulates Doddie Weir OBE and Calls for Automatic Access to Blue Badge Scheme for People with MND Stage 1 Debate Scottish National Investment Bank Bill Financial Resolution Scottish National Investment Bank Bill