Daily Briefing: 25th January

by Ania Lewandowska

Good morning,

The UK Government plans to introduce a fast-track bill to get formal Brexit negotiations underway — it is being reported that this could be tomorrow. Meanwhile, a number of Conservative MPs join Labour in asking for a White Paper on the government’s negotiating objectives, arguing it will allow for a fuller debate on Brexit.

The swift action comes after the government lost its Article 50 appeal in the Supreme Court. The court ruled by a majority of eight justices to three that MPs and peers must give their consent before the government can trigger Article 50 and formally initiate Brexit.

Acting without delay, the Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to push emergency legislation through both the House of Commons and House of Lords by the middle of March, allowing her to stick to her original timetable and trigger Brexit by the end of that month. The Brexit saga continues.

Meanwhile, La La Land hit all the right notes with Academy voters this year and racked up 14 nods, tying records held by Titanic and All About Eve. To the delight of its director, Damien Chazelle, best actor nominee, Ryan Gosling and best actress nominee Emma Stone, the joyful musical about two struggling artists in Los Angeles became one of the most nominated films of all time.

La La Land’s main competition comes from Moonlight, a low-boil drama looking at a gay man in the inner city, and Manchester by the Sea, a shattering family tragedy.

The Academy continued its love affair with Meryl Streep, handing her an unprecedented 20th Oscar nomination. Should Streep pick up the statuette for Florence Foster Jenkins next month, we can be almost certain President Donald Trump will get an unwanted mention in her acceptance speech.

The 2017 Oscars will take place on February 26 at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles.

Good morning,

The UK Government plans to introduce a fast-track bill to get formal Brexit negotiations underway — it is being reported that this could be tomorrow. Meanwhile, a number of Conservative MPs join Labour in asking for a White Paper on the government’s negotiating objectives, arguing it will allow for a fuller debate on Brexit.

The swift action comes after the government lost its Article 50 appeal in the Supreme Court. The court ruled by a majority of eight justices to three that MPs and peers must give their consent before the government can trigger Article 50 and formally initiate Brexit.

Acting without delay, the Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to push emergency legislation through both the House of Commons and House of Lords by the middle of March, allowing her to stick to her original timetable and trigger Brexit by the end of that month. The Brexit saga continues.

Meanwhile, La La Land hit all the right notes with Academy voters this year and racked up 14 nods, tying records held by Titanic and All About Eve. To the delight of its director, Damien Chazelle, best actor nominee, Ryan Gosling and best actress nominee Emma Stone, the joyful musical about two struggling artists in Los Angeles became one of the most nominated films of all time.

La La Land’s main competition comes from Moonlight, a low-boil drama looking at a gay man in the inner city, and Manchester by the Sea, a shattering family tragedy.

The Academy continued its love affair with Meryl Streep, handing her an unprecedented 20th Oscar nomination. Should Streep pick up the statuette for Florence Foster Jenkins next month, we can be almost certain President Donald Trump will get an unwanted mention in her acceptance speech.

The 2017 Oscars will take place on February 26 at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles.

NEWS

President Donald Trump is expected to take executive action today and direct federal resources toward building a wall on the border between the US and Mexico. Trump will make the announcement during a visit to the Department of Homeland Security. The actions, part of a multi-day focus on immigration and further measures are anticipated to include the “extreme vetting” of people coming from seven predominantly Muslim countries in the Middle East and Africa, restricting refugee access.

Forcing women to wear high heels at work remains a “widespread” practice, according to a UK parliamentary report that calls for a change in the law governing what employees wear in the office. The report from two parliamentary committees, for Petitions and for Women and Equalities demands the government enforces the law properly to ban sexist dress rules at work that discriminate against women.

The Times reports two nuclear submarines crashed off the coast of Britain during the Cold War in an incident so serious that it could have started World War Three. Official CIA documents have revealed that a US submarine collided with a Soviet vessel when it was maneuvering in waters off the coast of Holy Loch in Argyll, Scotland. The naval incident took place in 1974, when the two nations were locked in a fierce political stand-off.

BUSINESS & ECONOMY

Nearly £8 billion was wiped off the value of BT yesterday, with its shares tumbling nearly 21% after the telecoms giant announced a £530 million hit from the fallout of accounting irregularities at its Italian division. It follows an investigation, which revealed improper accounting practices and a “complex set of improper sales, purchase, factoring and leasing transactions”. It is expected the scandal would further affect its results for the next two years and Corrado Sciolla, the president of BT’s Continental European operation, is to resign.

President Donald Trump took steps to advance construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines. The move infuriated environmentalists and tribal leaders, who condemn Trump for “pledging allegiance to oil companies and Wall Street”. Both pipe projects had been blocked by Barack Obama’s administration, partly because of environmental concerns.

US bank Citigroup plans to make a decision on its Brexit contingency plans in the first half of the year and choose from a number of potential EU counties to relocate some investment banking business. James Cowles, Citi’s Chief Executive Officer for Europe, the Middle East & Africa (EMEA) confirmed yesterday, the bank will shift some jobs out of London to a rival European financial centre. Citigroup employs 9,000 people in the UK, has been in discussions with the authorities in Ireland, Italy, France, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands.

MARKETS

Market news

UK shares closed in negative territory yesterday after rising earlier in the day, as investors reacted to the Supreme Court ruling on Article 50.

The FTSE 100 share index ended the day down just 0.84 points at 7,150.34.

Biggest loser was BT, which plunged nearly 21% after warning of the effects of a major accounting scandal in Italy.

Shares in Easyjet dropped nearly nine per cent after the carrier said the weak pound would hit profits by a larger-than-expected £105m this year.

However, those losses were balanced by rises in mining stocks. The three biggest gainers were all mining companies. Anglo American rose by nearly six per cent, Antofagasta by more than four per cent and Rio Tinto by more than four per cent.

Sterling fell 0.14% against the dollar to $1.2519, but was little moved against the euro at 1.1644 euros.

AGMs

Patisserie Holdings, Henderson Alternative Strategies Trust, Octopus VCT 3, Octopus VCT 4, Polo Resources Ltd. (DI), Renew Holdings, Schroder Asia Pacific Fund

EGMs

OPG Power Ventures

UK Economic Announcements

(11:00) CBI Industrial Trends Surveys

International Economic Announcements

(9:00) IFO Business Climate (GER), (9:00) IFO Current Assessment (GER), (9:00) IFO Expectations (GER), (12:00) MBA Mortgage Applications (US), (14:00) House Price Index (US), (15:30) Crude Oil Inventories (US)

COLUMNS OF NOTE

In The Financial Times today, David Gardner asserts that President Vladimir Putin will create alternative facts for US President Donald Trump in the Middle East. Reflecting on peace talks, which took place in Kazakhstan earlier this week, Gardner writes the US was left out of the regional picture from the Levant to Libya. “Unlike at previous talks in Geneva, convened by the US and Russia under UN auspices, there are mainstream rebel fighters at the table rather than the five-star hotel rebels.” The author claims Putin intends to start the post-Obama chapter in Syria on his terms, confronting the new American administration.

Writing in The Guardian, Rafael Behr refers to yesterday’s judgement by the Supreme Court and agrees with the ruling that Theresa May cannot assume to know the will of the people and she must be held to account. “The judgment does not make Brexit less likely, but it does make Brexit more parliamentary.“ The author also analyses the likely response to the upcoming Brexit bill from the opposition, concluding: “The supreme court has proved it is up to the task. Now it is parliament’s turn.”

ON THIS DAY

The first Winter Olympics games took place in Chamonix, France on the 25th January 1924. The tradition of holding the Winter Olympics in the same year as the Summer Olympics would continue until 1992, after which the current practice of holding a Winter Olympics in the second year after each Summer Olympics began.

PARLIAMENTARY HIGHLIGHTS

House of Commons

Oral Questions

Wales

Prime Minister’s Question Time

Ten Minute Rule Motion

Town and Country Planning (Electricity Generating Consent) — Tom Blenkinsop

Opposition Day Debate

(i) Prisons (ii) School Funding (19th allotted day)

Adjournment

Rifleman Lee Bagley and the MoD duty of care — Mr Adrian Bailey

House of Lords

Oral questions

Commissioning a feasibility study to consider converting the entire Southern Rail network to a roadway for autonomous vehicles

- Lord Lucas

Actions to increase the number of citizens registered to vote

- Baroness Kennedy of Cradley

Promoting the increased consumption of school milk — Lord Lexden

The relocation of child refugees from Italy to the United Kingdom — Bishop of Durham

Legislation

Higher Education and Research Bill — Committee stage (day 6) — Committee of the Whole House — Viscount Younger of Leckie

Commonwealth Development Corporation Bill — 2nd reading — Lord Nash

Commonwealth Development Corporation Bill — Committee stage — Committee of the Whole House — Lord Nash

Commonwealth Development Corporation Bill — Report stage — Lord Nash

Commonwealth Development Corporation Bill — 3rd reading — Lord Nash

Scottish Parliament

Parliamentary Bureau Motions

Portfolio Questions: Health and Sport

Ministerial Statement: UK Supreme Court Judgement on Triggering of Article 50

Scottish Labour Debate: Scottish Budget

Business Motions

Parliamentary Bureau Motions

Decision Time

Members’ Business — S5M-03351 Emma Harper: Celebrating Burns and the Scots Language

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