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DAILY BRIEFING

DAILY BRIEFING

A right honourable rescue

Written by Katie Armour, senior associate
Edited by Scott Reid, associate partner

12 November 2021 

Good morning,

The situation in Afghanistan captured the attention of international audiences for several weeks in August and September. Then, as quickly as it had come to dominate the nightly news, it largely disappeared. But this week there were fresh harrowing reports from the BBC’s world affairs editor, John Simpson, who has bravely travelled back to Bamyan province, to the west of Kabul, to report on the desperate struggle to survive under drought and sanctions, and the horrors ahead. The veteran journalist issued emotional warnings of a tough winter and an imminent famine that could affect up to 23 million people in a collapsing economy. Comparing the situation to a slow-moving car crash, he noted expert warnings that it’s “going to be hell on earth” and pleaded with international actors not to “wait until the skeletons are in the streets”. The warning was startling and the demands are clear. Foreign powers with the means and responsibility to act need to do so now and avert the crisis. We can’t wait until this becomes “the worst crisis on earth” to step up our aid offering. Stripped back aid budgets and distracted leaders won’t make that easy. So as a humanitarian crisis unfolds, what can we do? The task ahead made me reflect on what President Truman once said: “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”   It’s in that spirit I want to take a second to celebrate the tireless, quiet work of Baroness Kennedy. The Glaswegian barrister has single-handedly masterminded a rescue scheme that has secured the safe passage of more than 100 female judges and their families out of Afghanistan. A hugely successful operation which she’s conducted largely out of the spotlight. “Clandestine” was how some reports put it. Working with a team of lawyers offering their services pro bono, Kennedy has raised more than £1 million, chartered multiple planes, and convinced the Greek president to take these people in and the Georgian government to let them transit through. But she didn’t stop there. When the Greek government ran out of council flats she sought support from Airbnb to house the evacuees for a fortnight. It even fell to her to buy half a sheep for the wedding of a Taliban commander’s daughter in order to get people without passports through a checkpoint. Talking about the operation, Kennedy said “this is Schindler’s List time” because “these women were in mortal danger”. The story, and the spirit with which she’s made mountains move to get people out, had me in awe. If we could bottle up Baroness Kennedy’s resolve to take practical action, the world’s many problems would look a lot smaller. When the Foreign Office considers its role in warding off this famine I hope they channel some of that same energy in getting resources to where they need to be. Similarly, if Cop26 does run over into this weekend, as it is tipped to do, delegates will need to prioritise practical steps and delivering commitments. Even in post-Brexit Britain, we should hold to John Donne’s 17th century wisdom: “No man is an island… any man’s death diminishes me because I am involved in mankind.” A timely thought for both Cop26 and the families of Bamyan.

News

The Cop26 summit in Glasgow enters its final day, amid fears from activists and delegates that the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5C is unlikely to be met. UN secretary general António Guterres told the media that “promises ring hollow when the fossil fuels industry still receives trillions in subsidies”. A draft agreement has softened government requirements to reduce the use of coal and other fossil fuels, but has stronger language on supporting poorer countries to fight climate change.

Iran’s deputy foreign minister has stated the UK has said it cannot pay its £400m debt to Iran because of restrictions on bank transactions caused by international sanctions. The payment of this debt has become inextricably linked to the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, whose husband is on day 20 of a hunger strike aimed at pressuring the government to act.

Buckingham Palace has confirmed the Queen will attend the Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph following a period of medically recommended rest.

Business and economy

Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko has threatened to cut gas supplies to the EU if it imposes sanctions on the country over  the escalating migrant crisis at its borders. After a scathing attack on European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, Lukashenko said “we should not stop at anything to defend our sovereignty and independence”. (£) The UK government has rejected plans for a 305m high tower, christened ‘The Tulip’, in London, ending a protracted battle over the future of the city’s skyline. The Brazilian developer behind the project intended the building to be a restaurant, viewing gallery and “classroom in the sky”. (£) BAE Systems is set to buy battlefield simulation company Bohemia Interactive Simulations for an undisclosed sum. The Orlando based company develops training tools for fighter pilots and its largest customer is the US military. (£)

Columns of note

James Forsyth writes in The Times that “levelling up is the next Tory fault line” and discusses the fury among red wall MPs about the handling of the Owen Paterson affair. He suggests they are demanding “tangible progress” to safeguard their new seats. (£)

Simon Jenkins writes in The Guardian that the first step to ridding Britain of corruption should be reforming the House of Lords. He outlines popular models of reform, such as drawing more members from the devolved nations and regions.

Markets

What happened yesterday?

London stocks closed in a positive state on Thursday, after a strong performance from the mining sector and as investors considered the latest UK GDP data.The FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 both ended the session up 0.6% at 7.384.18 and 23,574.05 respectively.

Sterling was in a more negative state, trading 0.14% lower against the dollar at $1.34 and down 0.05% against the euro, changing hands at €1.17.

In company news

As aforementioned, mining companies saw a near universal boost to share prices. Anglo American was up 5.87%, BHP added 3.89%, and Rio Tinto advanced 3.42%, while Ferrexpo gained 5.34% as iron ore prices also grew.Auto Trader Group saw its share price grow by a staggering 14.16% after achieving its highest ever six-monthly revenue and profits.Shares in Burberry dropped by 5.36% despite the luxury fashion firm reporting revenue had returned to pre-Covid levels.

What’s happening today?

InterimsCastingsIntosol Holdings

Q3 ResultsAstrazenecaCablevision Ho.Ote AdsElectrica RegsRomgaz S

AGMsDfs FurnFalcon OilGalliford TryRedrow

Final Dividend Payment DateJPMorgan Emerging Markets Investment TrustJPMorgan Mid CapNccWilmington

Interim Dividend Payment DateAir PartnerBaillie Gif. ChBioventixCurtis BksFinsbury Growth

HaysKerryKingfisherNb GlobalOctopus Aim 2SpectrisSpirax-SarcoTaylor WimpeyQuarterly Ex-Dividend DateSeplat Energy

Quarterly Payment DateTufton Oceanic

Special Dividend Payment DateBioventixHaysOctopus Aim 2

International Economic Announcements(10:00) Industrial Production (EU)(15:00) U. of Michigan Confidence (Prelim) (US)

Source: Financial Times

did you know

The deepest known area of the Earth’s oceans is the Mariana Trench. It’s deepest point extends 11km below the surface. (Source: National Geographic)

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons

The House of Commons is in recess until 15 November.

House of Lords 

The House of Lords is in recess until 15 November.

Scottish parliament 

There is no scheduled business.

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