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DAILY BRIEFING

Dalai Lama drama

Written by Katie Armour, senior associate
Edited by Tom Gillingham, associate partner

4 August 2021

Good morning,

When Ben Rhodes, Obama’s former speechwriter, was staying in Shanghai in 2017 he was woken up in the night by Chinese government officials.
 
They warned him that Obama, whom he was travelling with, shouldn’t meet the Dalai Lama as he was planning to on a later leg of the tour that would take him to India.
 
That meeting hadn’t been announced, and the arrangements were still loosely formulated in an email chain, but officials weren’t shy in acknowledging they knew what was being planned and weren’t keen on it happening.
 
The Dalai Lama is usually viewed as a figure of calm, peace and serenity, but the factors behind his selection and appointment are increasingly the opposite. This night time intervention was an early example of the trouble to come.
 
Historically a new Dalai Lama has been chosen via a long and complex process. Senior monks follow the guidance of the last leader, interpret signs in nature and are guided by the direction the smoke blows at the cremation.
 
Buddhist leadership isn’t strict about the birthplace of their Dalai Lamas – the fourth one was found in Mongolia and the sixth in Arunachal Pradesh in India – but what matters is that it’s conducted in line with this tradition.
 
The Chinese government has now enshrined in law a self-appointed right to approve all reincarnations of senior Buddhist Lamas and intend to pull the next name from a golden urn. New reports suggest the CCP have set up a 25 strong committee to begin preparing the selection process.
 
In last week’s rolling series in the Guardian on the Pegasus investigation it was revealed that the Dalai Lama’s inner circle were identified as targets for the spyware product by the Indian government. It seems they are similarly aware of the geopolitical ripples of this appointment and want a slice of the action.
 
At this point those of us who took the odd module in medieval history might hear faint bells ringing, for the same power struggle happened in the papacy in the 14th century.
 
The western schism was a period of 40 odd years when there were two, and then at one point three, popes taking up residency in Europe.
 
Tibetan expert Robert Barnett sees that as likelihood here. He predicts there will be two new and separate Dalai Lamas with, “one selected on the basis of instructions left behind by His Holiness” and “one chosen by the Chinese Communist party”.
 
We may be worrying about all this prematurely. The current (14th) Dalai Lama just turned 86 but has had clear visions that he won’t die until he’s 113. He’s dropped hints he may return as a woman, or, be reincarnated “living in a free country” but says he’ll confirm more details when he’s 90. But what this shows is the vultures are circling already.
 
A Chinese government intent on strengthening its control feels forever threatened by the popularity of this exiled Tibetan leader. Anything that can be a rallying point for nationalism or opposition is crushed or controlled and figures that don’t comply now risk being written out of history.

News

Sources have informed the media that the SNP are on the “brink” of formalising a cooperation agreement with the Scottish Greens. The arrangement would “cement a pro-independence majority” at Holyrood and is rumoured to mean Green MSPs could take up ministerial positions. Key discussions are believed to be around the following policy areas: spending, climate, conservation, transport and local government.

 

President Biden has called on Democratic New York mayor, Andrew Cuomo, to resign after a “damning” independent inquiry concluded he had harassed multiple women. Cuomo has continued to deny any misconduct and could now face impeachment, as well as a separate criminal probe.

 

Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed that children aged 16 and 17 could be given access to covid vaccinations in the coming days. The news comes after government sources revealed the JCVI was reconsidering its advice for young people. During a press conference in which she confirmed the easing of restrictions on 9 August, the first minister highlighted that 16 and 17 year olds may soon be mixing with older young people who are vaccinated in college or university settings.

Business and economy

Mike Ashley is set to step down as chief executive of Sports Direct and hand over day-to-day control of his company to his prospective son in law, Michael Murray, as he becomes deputy chairman of Frasers Group. (£)

 

The UK government is considering the future of Nvidia’s planned $40bn takeover of Arm, the British microchip designer firm. It is understood that an assessment of the deal made by the Competition and Markets Authority highlighted “worrying implications for national security”. (£)

 

Rolls-Royce has arranged funding to build a “new generation” of mini nuclear reactors. The company has secured the £210m it needed to unlock matching government funding for its small modular reactors. Tom Samson, chief executive of UK SMR, said the consortium offered a “transformational clean energy solution”. (£)

Columns of note

Hannah Zeavin writes in the Guardian that once therapy became available on zoom it should have been available to all but it hasn’t. She stresses that good quality remote treatment is proving to be “expensive and in short supply” and talks about the concept of the “uberisation” of mental health as people turn to online sources for support. 
 
Matt Ridley critiques the new parliamentary bill on animal sentience in The Times today and urges ministers to put the ineffective legislation “out of its misery”. He suggests the ministers are trying to portray the bill as both a “dramatic change” and an “empty gesture” to different audiences and argues that the only thing it achieves is setting up an animal sentience committee – a move which doesn’t require primary legislation. (£)

Cartoon source: The Telegraph

Markets

What happened yesterday?

London stocks closed in a positive state on Tuesday, which rested on well-received earnings from companies including BP and Standard Chartered.

The FTSE 100 ended the session up 0.34% at 7,105.72, while the FTSE 250 was up 0.35% at 23,289.65.

Sterling was also positive, trading 0.15% higher against the dollar at $1.39. It also rose 0.24% against the euro, changing hands at €1.17.

In company news:

BP closed 5.64% higher after it confirmed it planned to buy back about $1bn of shares each quarter and increase its dividend over the next five years.

Precious metals mining firm Fresnillo saw its shares rise 1.9% after announcing a jump in interim dividend and revealing reported earnings were up by 59% in the first half of the year.

Shares in Dominos pizza chain rose by 2.43% after it posted a 28% jump in pre-tax profits and expanded its plans for share buyback.

What’s happening today?

Interims
Ferrexpo
Hiscox
Legal & General
Morgan Sindall Group
Taylor Wimpey

Q2 Results 
Bank Pekao Sa

AGMs 
Argentex Group
Cadence Mineral
CML Microcircuits
Ninety One Plc
Sequoia Economic Infrastructure Fund

EGMs 
Sdic Power

Final Dividend Payment Date   
Aveva Group
TR Property Trust

Interim Dividend Payment Date  
Bluefield Solar
Crystal Amber

UK Economic Announcements    
(09:30) PMI Services

International Economic Announcements   
(08:55) PMI Services (GER)
(08:55) PMI Composite (GER)
(09:00) PMI Composite (EU)
(09:00) PMI Services (EU)
(10:00) Retail Sales (EU)
(12:00) MBA Mortgage Applications (US)
(14:45) PMI Composite (US)
(14:45) PMI Services (US)
(15:00) ISM Prices Paid (US)
(15:00) ISM Services (US)
(15:30) Crude Oil Inventories (US)

Source: Financial Times

did you know

Rhode Island might be the smallest US state in terms of land area, but Wyoming is the least populated. (Source: Sporcle)

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons

The House of Commons is in recess. The House will next sit on 6 September 2021.

House of Lords 

The House of Lords is in recess. The House will next sit on 6 September 2021.

Scottish parliament 

The Scottish parliament is in recess until 30 August.

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