Daily Briefing: 16 February
Donald Trump held a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday in which he appeared to reverse the long standing American policy supporting a two state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.
In a continuation of his “America First” rhetoric, he argued that while he believed a two state solution may be the best option, he would leave it up to the two parties to decide how to proceed.
The two leaders seemed to be singing from the same hymn sheet during the press conference, praising each other throughout and agreeing on the need to tackle “radical Islamic terrorism”. It is no secret that Obama and Netanyahu did not see eye to eye and Israel see the new administration as a fresh slate on which to continue the “unbreakable bond” between the two nations.
While it was all smiles between Donald and Bibi, it wasn’t such a happy day for Andrew Pudzer. Trump’s nomination for labor secretary withdrew from consideration only a day before the Senate was due to vote on his confirmation.
Pudzer’s decision came after the first GOP revolt against a Trump Cabinet pick, caused by the CEO of CKE Restaurants employing an undocumented immigrant housekeeper.
The UK has been threatened with court action and given a final warning after continually failing to meet EU air pollution standards. Fines could reach hundreds of millions if the European Commission takes the matter to court. Britain is among five countries that have been issued with the warning, Germany, France, Italy and Spain have also failed to meet the required standards.
The General Synod of the Church of England has voted against adopting a gay marriage report compiled by the church’s Bishops. The controversial report was struck down by the House of Clergy by a vote of 100 to 93. The House of Bishops and the House of Laity both backed the report. A new report is expected to be compiled, but may be at a vastly reduced cost in order to speed up the process.
The G20 foreign ministers will meet in Bonn today to discuss the ongoing crisis in Syria and also the role of Nato. The meeting comes after General James Mattis, the US Defence Secretary, held a joint press conference with Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, in which he argued that the United States was committed to Nato but would reduce its burden if it believed its contribution was disproportionate to other members.
New research published by the British Medical Council argues that taking Vitamin D supplements could spare more than three million people from the common cold and flu each year. Vitamin D helps strengthen bones and the immune system. While Public Health England recommends taking supplements, it argues that the findings of the report are inconclusive.
Business & Economy
After the precedent set by Nissan’s sweetheart deal, Theresa May is being urged to save 3,500 jobs at risk from the proposed Peugeot Citroen takeover by General Motors European division. Len McCluskey, general secretary of Unite, is demanding urgent talks between GM executives and the government. After recently unveiling the government’s industrial strategy, the move puts Theresa May in a difficult position.
The government has named 360 businesses that are failing to pay either the National Minimum Wage or the National Living Wage. Subway, Lloyds Pharmacy and Debenhams are amongst the well known firms named. In light of the findings, more than 15,000 workers have been paid back nearly a million pounds between them.
A record 10.8 million people filed their tax returns before the January 31st deadline, with over 33,000 filing within the last hour. The percentage of people missing the deadline fell from eight to seven per cent, but this still represented 840,000 people. Revenue and Customs urges all people with a “reasonable excuse” to apply and it would consider waiving the fine.
There were gains across many of the major stock markets across the world yesterday. The FTSE 100 was helped to a modest gain over the day by banking stocks that rose significantly.
RBS, Barclays and Lloyds all rose after Janet Yellen’s announcement that the Federal Reserve could raise interest rates soon.
On the currency markets, the pound was lower against the dollar by 0.16% at €1.1768. Against the dollar, sterling remained largely unchanged at $1.2465.
Coca-Cola HBC AG (CDI), Drax Group, Lancashire Holdings Limited, Primary Health Properties, Shire Plc
Watkin Jones, Zytronic
Int. Economic Announcements
(07:00) Wholesale Price Index (GER)
(13:30) Building Permits (US)
(13:30) Continuing Claims (US)
(13:30) Housing Starts (US)
(13:30) Initial Jobless Claims (US)
Source: FTSE100, The Financial Times
Columns of Note
Philip Stephens, writing in the Financial Times, argues that Trump is quickly finding out he cannot act as he pleases in the role of president and that Russia, much to its dismay, is quickly discovering this too. With sustained leaks from the “deep state”, Trump is being constrained from within and Mike Flynn’s resignation may only be the beginning.
Iain Martin, writing in The Times, argues that Ukip is on an inevitable slide to irrelevance as Brexit looms. This should, he suggests, open up a space in which the Conservatives and Labour can gain votes. The party’s decline is a symptom of its success in achieving its main aim of the UK leaving the European Union. Paul Nuttall stumbling in the Stoke-on-Trent Central by-election is the perfect example of Martin’s argument.
Cartoon Source: The Guardian
Did you know?
The shortest war in history was the Anglo-Zanzibar War. Zanzibar surrendered to the Britain after just 38 minutes.
House of Commons
In recess until 20 February
House of Lords
In recess until 20 February
In recess until 20 February
Charlotte Street Partners