Charlotte Street Partners



I want to break free

Written by Katie Stanton, associate partner 
Edited by David Gaffney, partner
20 October 2020

Good morning,

Breaks are not what they used to be – at least not in Wales, where a national “firebreak” lockdown will be in place from Friday until 9 November, or Northern Ireland, which has been subject to a “circuit breaker” lockdownsince last Friday, or Ireland, which is moving to a good old fashioned lockdown at midnight on Wednesday.
They are no longer a time to rest and reset, to meet friends, travel, think nice thoughts, watch 12 hours of Come Dine with Me and then take a nap.  
Now, when we take breaks, we are taking them with a side order of saving lives. Our breaks have become life and death, do or die – do as in “do you want to kill your granny?”, die as in “yeah, that’ll happen if you even think about the inside of a pub.” They are associated with fires and circuits, sharpness and deepness, and they exist only to temper that swirling inferno of viral load just itching to set up camp in your lungs.
The theory is that we all sacrifice a couple of weeks under intense lockdown as a means of stopping the rampant spread of the pandemic and, after that, we’ll be grand. It’s a one-stop shop, a silver bullet which will ultimately save the day. When it’s done, we can probably go out again.
Except, of course, that is not the case. While we’re being told that a short and snappy break will help the cause, we’re also being told that we’re in this for the long haul, to expect a miserable Christmas and a crappy new year.
This narrative of immediacy, intense urgency and panic may well provide short-term relief from climbing case numbers; but, set against a dreary background of long-term restrictions, the risk is that it will be followed by a period of complacency, a ‘job done’ mentality.
Because for months our leaders have weaved an enduring tale about living and functioning with this virus as part of our lives, and we have invested; we bought the hand sanitiser, we learnt to open doors with our elbows. Now they are ripping it apart with cries of emergency, crisis, and death knocking at the door.
Getting people to comply with this rollercoaster of messaging will require heavy policing – which will no doubt compound the problem. Sometimes it feels like what we most desperately need is a circuit break from this anxiety-inducing, discombobulating narrative.


Greater Manchester leaders have been given a deadline of midday to reach a deal with the government over moving to tier three Covid restrictions. Local councillors, the mayor Andy Burnham, and MPs are concerned that the move will devastate sectors such as hospitality, unless more financial support for workers and businesses is put in place.
A pre-departure rapid Covid-19 testing facilityhas been launched at Heathrow Airport. From today, the facilities in terminals two and five will offer tests to passengers travelling to Hong Kong and Italy before they fly. (£)
British cybersecurity agents disrupted a plot by Russian military intelligence to hack the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the Foreign Office reported yesterday. Russian agents posed as North Korean and Chinese criminals as part of an attempted revenge attack for the doping investigation of the Russian Olympic team. (£)
Each candidate at the final televised US presidential debate on Thursday will have their microphones cut off while the other is delivering responses to questions. The 90-minute debate is divided into six 15-minute segments, with Donald Trump and Joe Biden each granted two minutes to deliver uninterrupted remarks before proceeding to an open debate.

Business and economy

Visa and Mastercard have been accused of charging “excessive fees” during the coronavirus. The British Retail Consortium told the BBC that the scheme fees charged by payment firms have almost doubled in the last two years, and retailers will be forced to pass on the extra costs to consumers.
The City of London wants to reinvent itself and is now encouraging small businesses and those in the arts sector to “re-enter the city centre” to help the UK’s financial capital recover from the economic damage of the coronavirus pandemic. (£)
While the coronavirus may have originated in China, its economy is faring rather better than the rest of the world’s biggest economies. In fact, economists expect China to be the only nation to expand this year, having reported growth of 4.9% since July yesterday.

Columns of note

Writing in The Spectator, Joanna Williams asks: where have all the male teachers gone?It was reported yesterday by the Education Policy Institute that teaching is becoming an overwhelmingly female profession. At the same time, girls have been outperforming boys at school for almost three decades. We talk about female role models, but there is very little discussion of the importance of the equivalent for men and boys andit is time this changed, writes Williams. (£)
In today’s Guardian, Simon Jenkins argues that judges are right to fight back against Boris Johnson. The departing supreme court justice, Lord Kerr, has condemned the prime minister’s persistent abuse of the judiciary as “unbridled power” and a “slippery slope to dictatorship”.

Cartoon source: The Times


What happened yesterday?

Equities wavered yesterday as investors weighed the worsening pandemic in Europe against fresh hopes that Washington could sign off on a US stimulus deal. In the US, the S&P 500 rose 0.5%, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite climbed 0.8%.
Back in Europe, the continent-wide Stoxx 600 gave up the morning’s gain to trade flat by the afternoon and the FTSE 100 slipped into the red, closing down 0.6%. The spread of Covid-19 across the region added to fears that more stringent restrictions could become more commonplace.
Sterling strengthened against the dollar, as traders bet on the likelihood that Britain would secure a trade deal with the EU. The pound rose 0.7% to $1.30.
Meanwhile, encouraging data came from China on Monday, with its gross domestic product growing 4.9% year on year in the third quarter, below expectations for 5.2%, but well ahead of the 3.2% increase in the second quarter.
In company news:
Oil group ConocoPhillips is to buy Concho Resources in a deal worth $9.7bn, as the company gambles on post-pandemic market recovery with a huge bet on US shale.
Flybe, the UK regional airline that went bankrupt in March, has been rescued by Thyme Opco, a company run by secretive hedge fund executive Lucien Farrell.
More than £500m has been wiped off the stock market value of Boohoo after the troubled fast fashion group confirmed that PwC was standing down as its auditor.
Land Securities is to sell off close to a third of its £12.8bn property portfolio, as it seeks to reduce its exposure to struggling sectors such as retail.
Co-op Bank has appointed Nick Slape as its new chief executive to replace the departing Andrew Bester. Slape, currently the bank’s chief financial officer, will assume his new role on 31 October.

What’s happening today?


Tp Grp

Trading announcements

Grc Intl

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

Source: Financial Times

did you know

Scientists who specialise in climate change fly more than other researchers, according to a study by Cardiff University. (The Times)

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons

Oral questions
HM Treasury (including Topical Questions)
Ten Minute Rule Motion
Equal Pay (Information and Claims) – Stella Creasy
Consideration in Committee and remaining stages of the Non-domestic Rating (Lists) (No. 2) Bill
Backbench business
General Debate on Black History Month – Abena Oppong-Asare, Alison Thewliss, Dawn Butler, Jamie Stone, Ms Diane Abbott, Theresa Villiers
Remote education for pupils self-isolating during the covid-19 outbreak – Siobhain McDonagh

House of Lords 

Oral questions
Helping armed forces personnel from Commonwealth countries to settle in the UK – Lord Touhig
How the new cancer taskforce will operate – Lord Rennard
Financial impact on the retail and tourism sector of the decision to withdraw the VAT Retail Export scheme – Lord Vaizey of Didcot
Report by the International Energy Agency World Energy Outlook 2020 – Lord Ravensdale
United Kingdom Internal Market Bill – second reading (day 2) – Lord Callanan
Orders and regulations
Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No. 2) (England) (Amendment)
(No. 5) Regulations 2020 (1029); Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (North of England, North East and North West of England and Obligations of Undertakings (England) etc.) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 – Lord Bethell
Agriculture Bill – consideration of Commons amendments and reasons – Lord Gardiner of Kimble

Scottish Parliament 

No business scheduled.

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