Daily Briefing: 31st October

by Lyle Hill

Good morning,

For me, Halloween is less about guising and more about family celebration. The 31st October is my father’s birthday and last night we went out in Glasgow for a celebratory meal. The conversation turned to politics, as it often does, and the revelation over the weekend that the FBI is looking into a new cache of Hillary Clinton’s emails.

Clinton reacted with fury on Friday evening as the news broke, holding a press conference demanding that FBI chief James Comey explain himself. Apparently, Clinton and her team of loyal advisers were at 30,000 feet when the intermittent in-flight wi-fi sprung into life, alerting the throng of reporters on “Hill Force One” (as an aside, can we please stop with these terrible names for planes?) that the FBI Director, a Republican appointed by Barack Obama, had sent a letter to Congress announcing that the Bureau was investigating Clinton again. Democrats, in their anger, have even suggested his intervention may have broken the law.

To add insult to injury, it emerged that these new emails had been found on the laptop of none other than serial sleaze Anthony Weiner, who the FBI is investigating for “sexting” and sending pictures of himself to a 15 year old girl. Commentators declared throughout the weekend that this could be an “October Shock” that turns the race upside down. Before this revelation, Clinton’s poll lead was narrowing, but she was still ahead nationally and in key swing states. This could be the announcement that tips her into negative territory. Consolation for Clinton lies in the fact that almost 20 million Americans have already voted and there are far fewer undecided voters than in July.

My dad has long been convinced that despite Trump being “deplorable”, he will win the election. I disagreed and even placed a £20 wager with him. I haven’t changed my mind yet, I still think sense will prevail; but after this weekend, my safe-as-houses bet looks like it might be built on some faulty foundations. On the wider betting markets, apparently the US election is following a pattern eerily similar to Brexit: a larger volume of cash is being placed on Clinton, but more individual bets are being placed on Trump. Only time will tell what that implies.

NEWS

The Times is reporting this morning that Russian president Vladimir Putin is set to launch a full scale military attack on the city of Aleppo in Syria. Western intelligence suggests that this attack could even take place as early as this week. The Russian leader is set to exploit the political impasse created by the US presidential election to strike decisively and secure victory for the Assad-led government forces by mid-January.

Volunteers at the Calais “jungle” have told The Independent that the camp has become reminiscent of the book Lord of the Flies. More than 1,500 children are said to be unsupervised at the complex adjacent to the old camp, which is still being used to house migrants in shipping containers. Campaigners say that these children are forced to sleep bare in these containers and are free to roam the remains of the “jungle” where French authorities are dismantling the old camp using heavy machinery.

Prime Minister Theresa May has been accused of lying about the reported £10 billion extra in funding that is being directed towards the NHS in England, according to a cross-party group of MPs. In a letter, signed by two Conservatives on the group, the MPs warned that underfunding in the NHS is so severe that “it may soon trigger rationing of treatment and hospital unit closures”. This news follows the report from Audit Scotland last week on the poor health of the Scottish NHS.

Thousands of people have spent the night in temporary accommodation after a fourth earthquake in three months struck central Italy. The most recent earthquake, measuring 6.6 on the Richter Scale, was the largest to hit Italy in decades.

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

The Financial Times is this morning reporting that Mark Carney is set to serve his full term of eight years as the Governor of the Bank of England. The move will defy Eurosceptic Tory critics who remain angry at what they deemed to be the lies Carney told in the referendum campaign about the danger Brexit posed to the economy. Carney is believed to see a vital role for himself in steering the British economy through Brexit.

Canada and the EU at long last signed the trade deal that had been subject to massive delays. The deal, signed at the weekend, had been blocked by the obscure Belgian region of Wallonia, which only agreed after it was assured Belgium could assess the deal’s environmental and socio-economic impacts. The EU will be thankful that the deal is finally done, as EU president Donald Tusk had warned last week that the EU would not attempt free trade negotiations again if the deal failed.

France is poised to set up a team of top corporate leaders and senior political figures tasked with luring business from London to Paris in the aftermath of Brexit. The cross-party initiative, which includes Valérie Pécresse, the centre-right MP for the wider Paris region, and Anne Hidalgo, Paris’s socialist mayor, will seek to target firms at risk of losing their passporting rights. The efforts will be led by Ross McInnes, an Oxford-educated Franco-Australian, who is currently the chairman of the multinational technology group, Safran.

MARKETS

Finals 
Wey Education

Interims 
Berkeley Group Holdings (The)

Q3 Results 
Novolipetsk Steel GDS (Reg S), Nord Gold SE GDR (Reg S)

AGMs 
Edinburgh Worldwide Inv Trust, Myanmar Investments International Ltd, Red Emperor Resources NL (DI), Sacoven

UK Economic Announcements 
(09:30) Consumer Credit, (09:30) M4 Money Supply, (09:30) Mortgage Approvals

International Economic Announcements 
(07:00) Retail Sales (GER), (10:00) Consumer Price Index (EU), (10:00) Gross Domestic Product (EU), (12:30) Personal Consumption Expenditures (US), (12:30) Personal Income (US), (12:30) Personal Spending (US), (13:45) Chicago PMI (US)

COLUMNS OF NOTE

Our own Kevin Pringle discussed the plight of the Chagos islanders in his Sunday Times column yesterday. He calls for Scottish parliamentarians in both Westminster and Holyrood to stand up for the Chagossian people, who wish to return to the homeland from which they were forcibly removed half a century ago.

Edward Luce argues in the Financial Times that Hillary Clinton has a noose around her neck. If she wins the presidential election, she will be the first president to start life in the Oval Office with a trust deficit. He argues that James Comey’s decision to send a letter to Congress announcing the FBI was once again looking into Clinton’s emails was actually due to the febrile climate created by this election, as if he had not acted in such a way he would have been accused by Republicans of working for Clinton. It was a lose-lose situation.

ON THIS DAY

In 1941, the Mount Rushmore sculpture depicting four former US presidents was completed in South Dakota. The sculpture had been commissioned in 1927 to represent the first 150 years of American history. It took 400 stone masons to complete the 60 foot carvings of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt.

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS

House of Commons 
Oral Questions 
Home Office, including Topical Questions

Legislation 
Cultural Property (Armed Conflicts) Bill [HL] — 2nd reading — Karen Bradley

Adjournment 
Local authorities and regulation of social housing — Rushanara Ali

House of Lords 
Introductions 
Lord Ricketts and Lord Llewellyn of Steep

Oral Questions 
Encouraging drivers to have their sight checked regularly — Viscount Simon 
Promoting oral health for children — Baroness Benjamin 
Government policy on directly elected mayors — Lord Grocott 
Reform of the supervision of offenders under the Transforming Rehabilitation programme — Lord Ramsbotham

Legislation 
Investigatory Powers Bill — 3rd reading — Earl Howe 
Wales Bill — Committee stage (day 1) — Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth — Committee of the Whole House

Orders and Regulations 
Education (Pupil Information) (England) (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2016 — motion to regret — Lord Storey

Scottish Parliament 
No business scheduled

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