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DAILY BRIEFING

DAILY BRIEFING

Blame it on climate change

Written by Javier Maquieira, senior associate 
Edited by Iain Gibson, associate partner
20 July 2021

Good morning,

“The German language knows hardly any words for this devastation”. That’s how chancellor Angela Merkel summed up the deadly floods that wreaked havoc in parts of Germany and neighbouring countries last week.
 
She was visiting affected towns in the western state of Rhineland-Palatinate on Sunday, where she held the hand of a grieving Malu Dreyer, the state premier and senior figure from the Social Democratic Party (SDP), making sure her voice was heard.
 
The image of both women is especially poignant in that it captures a moment of compassion and empathy in the face of disaster. It also is a lesson of leadership that contrasts with the behaviour shown by other senior government officials, chief among whom was Armin Laschet, the candidate to succeed Merkel from her own Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in the September federal election.
 
As the soon-to-be elder stateswoman was meeting with survivors and volunteers, Laschet had to apologise after television footage showed him laughing in the background while the German president, the SPD’s Frank-Walter Steinmeier, was giving a statement in North Rhine-Westphalia, the state of which Laschet is the premier.
 
But while reaction to catastrophic events may vary from leader to leader, there’s something most frontrunners for the chancellorship appear to agree on, and that’s the role global warming has played in the disaster that has left at least 165 people dead.
 
In this vein, an election with climate change at its heart could benefit the Greens, who have so far stayed away from making political hay out of the crisis but likewise refrained to visit flood-ravaged areas, arguing that “rubbernecking politicians just get in the way in such situations”.
 
This shows as much prudence as it shows political savviness from the Greens and their candidate, Annalena Baerbock, who knows the party could end up holding all the winning cards if it managed to use its competence in environmental and climate issues to mobilise voters.
 
On the other hand, although the CDU’s Laschet has recognised that Germany needs to pick up the pace on its path towards carbon neutrality, the centre-right politician has strongly opposed parts of the Greens’ agenda and the EU’s new common carbon emissions policy, saying that they could compromise the country’s status as an industrial powerhouse.
 
It’s too soon to make any electoral predictions, but there’s no denying the devastating consequences of the floods are already rearranging Germany’s political picture as the focus on climate change sharpens.

News

Boris Johnson has announced people attending nightclubs and other crowded venues will need to be fully vaccinated from the end of September. In a move that has provoked a strong reaction from Conservative backbenchers and the entertainment industry, the UK prime minister told reporters that Covid-19 certificates would become mandatory in England once all adults have had the chance to receive two jabs.
 
The UK, US and EU have accused the Chinese government of sponsoring a major cyber-attack on Microsoft Exchange that affected at least 30,000 organisations globally earlier this year. In his statement attributing the campaign to China, the UK foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, said that Beijing “must end this systematic cyber sabotage and can expect to be held [to] account if it does not”.
 
Dominic Cummings has told the BBC that the prime minister held out on reimposing nationwide lockdown last autumn because “the people who are dying are essentially all over 80”. According to new WhatsApp messages released by the former aide, Boris Johnson allegedly texted his adviser “I no longer buy all this NHS overwhelmed stuff”.

Business and economy

An official parliamentary inquiry by the Treasury select committee has found that the intensive text message lobbying of ministers and senior civil servants carried out by David Cameron on behalf of Greensill showed a “significant lack of judgement”. The committee’s report concluded that the former prime minister did not break lobbying rules but his behaviour highlighted a “strong case for strengthening them”, to prevent ex-prime ministers from accessing serving ministers in search of personal economic gain.
 
Ben & Jerry’s will stop the sale of its ice-cream products in the “Occupied Palestinian Territory”, arguing it is “inconsistent with our values”. The move, which the company says reflects the concerns of “fans and trusted partners”, has been criticised by Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett, who said the decision is “morally wrong”.
 
Toyota has decided not to run Olympic-related adverts on television because of the apparent lack of public support for the Games in Japan. The carmaker, which is one of the biggest sponsors of the Olympics, said it will not send senior executives to Friday’s opening ceremony either, but will continue to support the roughly 200 athletes affiliated with the brand.

Columns of note

Sarah O’Connor argues in the Financial Times that nostalgia for manufacturing won’t bring better jobs. Instead, a more durable strategy to help lower-paid workers and their local economies would be to turn the proliferating number of “bad jobs” in the service sector, including care and warehousing, into jobs with better conditions, benefits, and a bigger share of productivity gains. (£)
 
In The Guardian, Nesrine Malik explores how the right’s culture warriors have profited from their opponents’ failure to understand the nature of the culture war and the means by which it is fought, helping the UK government forge an electoral bloc that backs the Tories against their so-called “woke” enemies, real and imagined.

Cartoon source: The Telegraph

Markets

What happened yesterday?

London stocks closed in the red on Monday amid concerns about rising inflation and the spread of the Delta coronavirus variant. The FTSE 100 closed down 2.34%, while sterling was weaker both against the dollar by 0.61% at $1.37 and versus the euro by 0.55% at €1.16.
 
Across the pond, the S&P 500 index closed 1.6% lower and the technology-focused Nasdaq Composite fell 1.1%. In Europe, the threat of the Delta variant handed European bourses their worst session of the year, with the Stoxx Europe 600 losing 2.3% in its biggest one-day price fall of 2021.
 
In company news:
 
AstraZeneca was down 0.4% even after the pharmaceutical company said that its drug to treat extensive-stage small cell lung cancer had been approved in China.
 
Spire Healthcare slid 7.23% ahead of a shareholder vote on its proposed takeover by Australia’s Ramsay Health Care.
 
Biffa closed 2.91% higher after the waste management firm lifted its full-year earnings expectations, following better-than-expected trading in the first three months of the year.

What’s happening today?

Finals
Begbies
Gateley Hldgs
Sosandar
Supreme Plc

AGMs
Aberdeen Japan
Braemar Shipping
Golden Rock
HICL Infrastructure
Landore
Sndrsn Dsn
Wynnstay Props.
Young & Co

UK economic announcements
(00:01) Current Account (EU)

Int. economic announcements
(07:00) GFK Consumer Confidence (GER)
(07:00) Producer Price Index (GER)
(09:00) Current Account (EU)
(10:00) Consumer Price Index (EU)
(13:30) Housing Starts (US)
(13:30) Building Permits (US)

Source: Financial Times

did you know

Until the founding of the Vegetarian Society in 1847, vegetarians were usually known as Pythagoreans. (source: @qikipedia)

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons

Oral questions
Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (including Topical Questions)
 
Ten Minute Rule Motion
Dogs (Protection of Livestock)
 
Legislation
Conclusion of Second Reading of the Nationality and Borders Bill (Day 2)
 
Adjournment
Role of the Lord Advocate under the Scotland Act 1998

House of Lords 

Introduction(s)
Baroness Davidson of Lundin Links
 
Oral questions
Adopting the Council of Europe Convention on Access to Official Documents
 
Making human rights due diligence mandatory for businesses
 
Curtailing reliance on Chinese products and companies linked to violations of human rights
 
Recommendations of the National Food Strategy independent review, published on 15 July
 
Debate
Conduct Committee report: ‘The conduct of Lord James of Blackheath, Lord Kalms, Lord Willoughby de Broke and Baroness Mone’
 
Motion
Conduct Committee report: ‘The conduct of Lord James of Blackheath, Lord Kalms, Lord Willoughby de Broke and Baroness Mone’ – motion to defer
 
Orders and regulations
Medical Devices (Coronavirus Test Device Approvals) (Amendment) Regulations 2021 – motion to approve
 
Medical Devices (Coronavirus Test Device Approvals) (Amendment) Regulations 2021 – motion to regret
 
Legislation
Leasehold Reform (Ground Rent) Bill [HL] – report
 
Orders and regulations
Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2021 – motion to agree
 
Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2021 – motion to regret

Scottish parliament 

The Scottish parliament is in recess until 30 August but will be recalled on 3 August for Covid updates.

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