Daily Briefing: 27 March
By Stuart Taylor
This morning, a number of newspapers lead on Amber Rudd’s call for encrypted messaging services to be accessible to police and intelligence agencies, with WhatsApp bearing the brunt of the Home Secretary’s criticism.
The Telegraph report that Rudd has vowed to “call time” on the internet firms who give terrorists “a secret place to hide,” after it emerged that police and security authorities will be unable to get sight of the final message Adrian Ajao sent on WhatsApp only three minutes before he launched his horrific attack in Westminster on Wednesday.
Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show yesterday, the Home Secretary confirmed that she has summoned several tech giants including WhatsApp, Facebook and Google to the Home Office on Thursday to implore them to do more to combat terrorism, with the prospect of new legislation to tackle the issue very much on the table.
It’s not only Amber Rudd that has a busy week ahead of her. Ahead of triggering Article 50 on Wednesday, Theresa May is faced with a Scottish showdown today as she meets with Nicola Sturgeon, where she is expected to make clear to the first minister that Brexit will strengthen the union and there will be no independence referendum before Britain leaves the EU. The Scottish Parliament is expected to vote in favour of a second vote tomorrow.
Finally, it’s not only the Daily Briefing that has a new look today. The makeup of the House of Commons was altered over the weekend after Douglas Carswell quit UKIP to sit as an independent MP, ending the party’s near three-year brush with Westminster recognition.
The deadline for the formation of a new power sharing executive in Northern Ireland is expected to expire at 4pm today after talks between the DUP and Sinn Fein collapsed on Sunday night. Secretary of State James Brokenshire is now obliged to intervene. He is faced with the choice of calling fresh elections, imposing direct rule from London or extending the time for discussion in the hope that a compromise can finally be found.
Eight high school students are feared dead and another 30 people injured after they were caught in an avalanche at a ski resort in Japan.
Angela Merkel appears to have emerged unscathed from her first challenge from a resurgent German left after Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, nicknamed ‘Mini-Merkel,’ romped to an emphatic victory with her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party. Although the victory came in state elections, they are widely considered to be a crucial bellwether ahead of federal elections in September.
BUSINESS AND ECONOMY
BT has been hit with a record fine totalling £42m from regulator Ofcom after they failed to pay other telecoms companies proper compensation for delays in installing high-speed lines. The telecoms giant has “apologised wholeheartedly” for the mistakes and set aside £300m to repay providers affected.
Britain is expected to remain under the remit of some EU agencies after Brexit, after officials close to the negotiations conceded that the UK does not have the time or expertise to replace European bodies with a new British regulatory regime within two years. (£)
Sir James Dyson has tried to dampen fears that a “hard Brexit” could harm the UK economy by arguing that World Trade Organisation tariffs have not stopped his technology company from achieving record financial results.
Elecosoft, X5 Retail Group NV GDR (Reg S), GLI Finance Limited, Gama Aviation, Green & Smart Holdings, Inspired Energy, Matomy Media Group Limited (DI), Robinson, SpaceandPeople
Temple Bar Inv Trust, Toople
Int. Economic Announcements
(08:00) IFO Business Climate (GER)
(08:00) IFO Current Assessment (GER)
(08:00) IFO Expectations (GER)
(08:00) M3 Money Supply (EU)
COLUMNS OF NOTE
Kevin Pringle gives his thoughts and memories of Martin McGuinness, and concludes that the generous spirit of reconciliation shown so starkly at the former deputy first minister’s funeral should be cause for Scotland to reflect on our own style of politics.
In The Times, Conservative Clare Foges has a radical approach to saving a parliamentary democracy she feels continues to be under threat: to join the Labour party. Foges has called on Conservatives and supporters of other parties to sign up and strengthen the party of opposition at a time of acute national importance.
DID YOU KNOW?
If all the LEGO bricks ever manufactured were clipped on top of one another, they would make a tower ten times as high as the distance to the Moon.
House of Commons
Work and Pensions, including Topical Questions
Bus Services Bill [HL] — Report stage — Chris Grayling
House of Lords
Safety regulations and procedures in the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea ensuring the evacuation of ships carrying over 5,000 passengers and crew — Lord Berkeley
Plans for the large-scale rollout of the GovCoin trial later this year — Lord Holmes of Richmond
Boosting and sustaining the pool of skilled workers from the UK in the digital technology sector — Lord Cromwell
Encouraging gene editing in agriculture and medicine — Viscount Ridley
Strengthening the UK’s relationship with the Commonwealth, ahead of the UK hosting the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 2018 — Baroness Anelay of St Johns
No business scheduled
House of Commons
Foreign and Commonwealth Office, including Topical Questions
The Conflict in Yemen
House of Lords
Introduction of a deposit return scheme to reduce plastic bottle waste and increase recycling — Baroness Jones of Whitchurch
Continuation of Scottish Government Debate: Scotland’s Choice