Daily Briefing: 13 January

By Adam Shaw

Good morning,

The UK has been dragged into the Donald Trump ‘dirty dossier’ row as claims that officials in Whitehall had sight of the document and gave permission to the FBI to speak to the author emerged. The Telegraph says it was told that Christopher Steele, the former MI6 officer who compiled the dossier, considered his findings so sensitive that he passed the information to the FBI and MI6, and was later allowed to speak to the FBI.

Similarly, The Times has former British Ambassador to Moscow Sir Andrew Wood on the record as saying that he flagged concerns about Trump’s relationship with Russia — “a subject that needed investigation” — with US Senator John McCain at a security conference in November. It was after speaking to Sir Andrew that McCain passed the dossier to the FBI. However, Sir Andrew says he did not give the dossier to McCain and that he had never even seen a copy of the report.

The suggestion that Russia has any kind of leverage over the man due to be inaugurated as President a week today would certainly be cause for concern, and you’d be forgiven for thinking that we are watching the manifestation of a John Le Carre novel, rather than just another day in American politics.

If, like ‘The Night Manager’, they decide to put the story on the big screen, Alec Baldwin gets my vote to play Trump.

News

Downing Street confirmed that Prime Minister Theresa May will give a speech on Tuesday which will “set out more” on the government’s Brexit plans. However, according to BBC political correspondent Chris Mason, Mrs. May is wary of promising more than she can deliver, or being so specific about her aims that other countries could set the price impossibly sigh for achieving them.

Seafront residents in the village of Jaywick near Clacton-on-Sea in Essex have been evacuated as a precaution in anticipation of gale-force winds, large waves and possible flooding. The Environment Agency also warned costal towns in Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex to brace themselves for the rough weather. The Met Office has issued severe weather warnings across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland for combinations of high winds, snow and ice caused by a polar air mass that originated over northern Canada.

Outgoing President, Barack Obama, has awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom with distinction to his Vice-President Joe Biden as recognition for a lifetime of service. The two men have a well-documented ‘bromance’ but the announcement was a surprise to everyone, including Biden himself who was visibly emotional.

Business & Economy

Fiat Chrysler has been accused of cheating emissions standards by the US Environmental Protection Agency. The allegations surround the installation of software on some diesel models of the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Ram trucks that has them emitting more pollution than allowed under US law. It is thought this could affect 4,000 Jeep owners in the UK.

The number of first-time buyers getting onto the property ladder was higher in 2016 than any year since 2007. According to Halifax, there were 335,750 first-time buyers in 2016. However, this is still below the pre-crisis peak of 402,800 in 2006 and the average deposit required to buy a first home is now £32,000.

Men on low pay are now four times more likely to be working part-time than in the 1990s, according to a survey by the Institute for Fiscal Studies. Twenty years ago, one in 20 men aged 25 to 55 worked part-time with low hourly wages but today, one in five of this group works part-time.

Markets

The FTSE 100 closed at a record level for the 11th consecutive day — something never seen before. The main share index finished the day up 1.88 points to 7,292.37.

Many retail updates were released on so-called ‘Super Thursday’. Associated British Foods, owner of Primark, was down 4.52%.

Dixons Carphone, Next, Shire and Carnival were the other big fallers.

M&S shares were up 1.3% after better than expected sales in its clothing division.

On the currency markets, the pound ended the day down 0.04% against the dollar at $1.2206 and down 0.81% against the euro at €1.447.

Trading Announcements
 Mitchells & Butlers, SIG, XP Power Ltd. (DI)

AGMs 
Catalyst Media Group, Funding Circle SME Income Fund

International Economic Announcements
 (13:30) Produce Price Indiex (US) 
 (13:30) Retail Sales (US) 
 (15:00) Business Inventories (US) 
 (15:00) U. of Michigan Confidence (Prelim) (US)

Columns of Note

Writing for The Times, Philip Collins states his view that by using the term ‘humanitarian crisis’, the Red Cross devalued the debate surrounding the NHS. He argues that it encouraged the fallacy that the crisis is sudden and government inspired, when actually it is a chronic situation that requires bold action.

BBC Media editor Amol Rajan uses his own experience as an editor to explore whether Buzzfeed was right to publish the dossier which alleged that Russia had compromising information on President-elect Donald Trump. He outlines the considerations that editorial teams take when deciding whether or not to publish a story and examines the intentions and consequences of Buzzfeed’s decision.

On this day

1993: US, British and French aircraft carry out a series of bombing raids over southern Iraq due to repeated breaching of the “no-fly zone” established after the Gulf War.

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons

Business

Consideration of Private Members’ Bills

Legislation

Broadcasting (Radio Multiplex Services) Bill — 2nd reading — Kevin Foster 
 Civil Partnership Act 2004 (Amendment) Bill — 2nd reading — Tim Loughton 
 Workers’ Rights (Maintenance of EU Standards) Bill — 2nd reading — Melanie Onn 
 Protection of Family Homes (Enforcement and Permitted Development) Bill — 2nd reading — Steve McCabe 
 Registration of Marriage Bill — 2nd reading — Edward Argar 
 Modern Slavery (Transparency in Supply Chains) Bill [HL] — 2nd reading — Maggie Throup 
 Vehicle Noise Limits (Enforcement) Bill — 2nd reading — Kevin Foster 
 Kew Gardens (Leases) Bill — 2nd reading — Mr Ian Liddell-Grainger 
 Health and Social Care (National Data Guardian) Bill — 2nd reading — Jo Churchill

Adjournment

Night schools and adult education — Mr David Lammy

House of Lords

No business scheduled

Scottish Parliament

No business scheduled