Charlotte Street Partners

DAILY BRIEFING

DAILY BRIEFING

Futile borders

Written by Katie Armour, senior associate 
Edited by Tom Gillingham, associate partner
18 March 2021

Good morning,

In 2017 in a leafy corner of Surrey, music producer Nick Hartley asked his gardener to trim the laurel hedge that straddled the boundary of his tennis court and his neighbour’s back garden.

The neighbour, one Julia Lofthouse, was having none of it. She sued him for breach of privacy and branded it a “land grab”.

Four years later she has been left with a bruising judgement from a county court judge, a red face and a £50,000 bill.

The story captured my attention because it’s a cautionary tale of a fight that quite clearly went too far.

In Brussels yesterday, a comparable story seems to be unfolding.

EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen made a speech demanding “reciprocity and proportionality” in vaccine trade and threatening to use emergency powers to ensure Europe gets its “fair share”.

Von der Leyen said it was tough to explain to European citizens why so many vaccines produced in the EU were heading elsewhere. Presumably ‘we ordered pretty late on’ isn’t cutting it as an explanation.

EU officials have been instructed to explore measures that would put the EU on a “war footing” and von der Leyen menacingly stated that “all options are on the table”. Those options include waiving intellectual property rights and patents, confiscating factories and banning exports.

UK foreign secretary Dominic Raab struck back accusing the EU of brinkmanship and its leaders of “acting like dictators” over vaccine exports. He also said it would be wrong for the EU to interfere with “lawfully contracted supply”.

This supply, it now seems, is putting our whole recovery plan in peril. A letter went out to vaccination sites yesterday telling them to close any unfilled bookings for the week beginning 29 March and not make any more bookings for April.

The World Health Organisation has looked on at the rows in Europe in despair. A senior adviser to its director general warned that vaccine nationalism is only going to make more room for mutations and stressed that “the world is going to have to collaborate to get out of this”.

The speed with which new variants from Kent, Brazil and the Maldives have whipped round the earth shows just how futile it will be to try and complete the vaccination process in isolation.

As global neighbours, none of us are out of this until we all are. 

News

The Scottish government has announced Scotland’s train services will be taken over by a public sector body from the end of March next year. The arm’s length government company will take over from Dutch firm Abellio, which has run the ScotRail franchise since 2015 but attracted widespread criticism over performance and cancellation levels. The Transport secretary told the Scottish parliament he believed this approach would provide “a stable platform” and certainty for passengers and staff.

Home secretary Priti Patel is expected to publish new plans to overhaul Britain’s asylum and immigration system next week. The update is expected to include details of a consultation on changing the law so that migrants can be sent to “processing centres” in other countries. The Times has suggested that Gibraltar, the Isle of Man and some Scottish islands are under consideration to accommodate the centres. (£) 

A 21 year-old male suspect has been charged with murder after killing eight people at massage parlours in Atlanta, Georgia. The attack is believed to be racially motivated and targeted Asian women. The shooting prompted a vigil in Chinatown, Atlanta, and president Biden condemned attacks against the Asian American community. 

Business and economy

National Grid has agreed a £7.8bn deal to buy Britain’s largest electricity distribution business, Western Power Distribution. It has also announced plans to offload the UK national gas transmission system as it moves to focus on electricity. The sale process for this will be launched in the second half of the year. In a separate transaction the it will also sell off its Rhode Island based utility business to Narragansett Electric Company for £2.7bn. Chief executive of National Grid John Pettigrew said: “These transactions will be transformational for our UK portfolio… establishing National Grid as the leading electricity transmission and distribution operator in the UK will strengthen our long-term growth prospects.”

The Bank of England and city regulators are among a number of financial institutions that failed to meet targets to increase the number of women in senior roles. 44 of the companies who agreed to meet ambitious targets to increase female representation in leadership positions have failed to do so. Some of the employers pointed to recruitment pauses during covid as the reason for stalling progress. (£) 

The Federal Reserve has signalled there will be no interest rates rise until at least 2024 despite improved growth expectations. The central bank expects the US economy to expand by 6.5% this year due to the stimulus package and the vaccine rollout. The bank’s preferred measure, personal consumption expenditure inflation, is expected to rise to 2.2% which is above its 2% target. (£) 

Columns of note

Alice Thomson compellingly argues in The Times that sex crime victims need their day in court. She talks about the effect of the low rate of rape conviction on victims’ mental health and perpetrators’ ability to commit more offences. While welcoming the increase in funding for CCTV and lighting, she suggests money is desperately needed at the other end of the system to ensure that the “complex process of prosecuting these cases is properly funded”. (£)

Stephen Dorrell suggests in The Guardian that Westminster’s resistance to calls for a Covid-19 inquiry this week are a clear reason to hold one. He catalogues ministers’ objections to the inquiry starting soon and argues learning lessons is important for the future of good government, not just an exercise in writing history.  

Cartoon source: The Telegraph

Markets

What happened yesterday?

London stocks closed on Wednesday in negative territory as investors were wary about the latest policy announcement from the US Federal Reserve, which was made later in the evening.

The  FTSE 100 ended  the session down 0.6% at 6,762.67, while the FTSE 250 was down 0.95% at 21,588.55. Sterling was also weaker, trading down 0.21% against the dollar at $1.39. It also slipped by 0.2% against the euro, to €1.16.

In the US, Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 0.58% at 33,015.37, the S&P 500 rose 0.29% to 3,974.12, and the Nasdaq Composite was also up, by 0.4%, at 13,525.20. 

In company news:

Online supermarket Ocado dropped 4.84% ahead of its quarter one trading update due today.

TI Fluid Systems share price was knocked down by 4.82% after a downgrade by Deutsche bank.

BT and Vodafone saw a rise of 6.49% and 1.78% respectively after the UK government auctioned off a new tranche of its 5G mobile network.

Serco rose by 1.53% after being awarded a £400m contract to provide support services to a Canadian military base in Goose Bay, Canada.  

What’s happening today?

Finals
888 Holdings
Audioboom Grp.
Capital
Empresaria Group
Eve Sleep
Fevertree Drk
Genel Energy
National Express 
Portmeirion
Restore
Gym Grp

Interims
Dechra
Finsbury Food
Tristel

Interims
Ceres Power

AGMs
Amino Technologies
Bigdish
Drum Inc Reit
Idox Group
Impax Asset Man
Sureserve

EGMs
The Schiehalli

GMs
CML Microcircuits
National World

Final Ex-Dividend Date
Anglo American
CRH
Crh 7’A’Pf
Hikma Pharmaceuticals
Maven Grwth 3
Mti Wirless
Rm
Segro
Spirent

Final Dividend Payment Date
Northamber
Treatt

Interim Ex-Dividend Date
Beeks Fin.cloud
Biopharma Cred.
BMO Managed Portfolio Income Trust
Brooks
Clinigen
Concurrent Technologies
Craneware
Dunelm
Gore Street En.
Jpmorgan Glob
JPMorgan Mid Cap
Livermore
M&g Plc
Nwf
Palace Capital
Tritax Big Box

Interim Dividend Payment Date
FRP Advisory
Jarvis Securities
Murray Inc.tst

Quarterly Ex-Dividend Date
Blackrock Wld
Std Life Priv.
Tew Grove Reit.

Special Ex-Dividend Date
Biopharma Cred.
Spirent

UK economic announcements
(12:00) BoE Interest Rate Decision

Int. economic announcements
(10:00) Balance of Trade (EU)
(12:30) Initial Jobless Claims (US)
(12:30) Philadelphia Fed Index (US)
(12:30) Continuing Claims (US) 

Source: Financial Times

did you know

The sunniest spring ever recorded in Britain was in 1948 when a total of 558 sunshine hours were recorded. (Source: Met Office) 

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons

Oral Questions
Digital, Culture, Media & Sport
Attorney General

Business Statement

Ministerial Statement
Independent Review of administrative law update
DHSC Update

Select Committee Statement
Eighth report of the Public Administration & Constitutional Affairs Committee, data transparency and accountability

Backbench Business
Debate on the UK’s commitment to reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka
Debate on World Water Day

Ministerial Statement
Independent Review of administrative law update

Adjournment
Review of public landmarks in response to recent cultural debates on historical British figures

Westminster Hall debate
Social care reform and the social care workforce
Work Social Work Day 2021

Welsh Affairs Committee
Renewable energy in Wales

EU Services Sub-Committee

Public Accounts Committee
Covid-19: Local Government finance

Defence Sub-Committee
Women in the armed forces

Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy Committee

International Relations & Defence Committee
The UK’s security and trade relationship with China

Economic Affairs Committee

Joint Committee on the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act

International Trade Committee

Scottish Affairs Committee
Welfare policy in Scotland

Communications and Digital Committee
Freedom of expression online

International Development Committee
Humanitarian crises monitoring: Ethiopia Tigray region

Select Committee on the Armed Forces Bill
Armed Forces Bill

House of Lords 

Oral Questions
Chair of the office of communications
Impact on food prices
China’s treatment of Uighurs and entry into Taiwanese airspace
Impact of the UK-EU Trade Cooperation Agreement

Statement
Levelling Up 

Orders and regulations
Public Health (Coronavirus) (Protection from Eviction) (England) (No.2) Regulations 2021
Drivers’ Hours and Tachographs (Temporary Exceptions) Regulations 2021 (SI 2021/58)

Statement 
National Bus Strategy for England

Orders and regulations
Heath and Grass etc. Burning (England) Regulations 2021

Scottish Parliament 

Parliamentary Bureau Motions 

First Minister’s Questions


Portfolio Questions
Economy, Fair Work & Culture

Scottish Government Debate
Local Government Finance (Scotland) Order 2021

Scottish Government Debate
National mission to reduce drug deaths and harms

Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee debate
Changes to private and hybrid bill procedures
Changes in relation to delegated powers memorandums and emergency bills
Changes to the financial scrutiny of bills
Code of conduct – register of interests – gifts threshold

Covid-19 Committee
Legacy report
Oral evidence: Health protection
Subordinate legislation: Health protection

Public Audit & Post-legislative Scrutiny Committee
Oral evidence: Section 22 report – the 2019/20 audit of Scottish Water (two panels)
Oral evidence: Tracking the implications of Covid-19 on Scotland’s public finances (two panels)
Annual report consideration

Social Security Committee
Presentation: Brexit and Scottish social security
Subordinate legislation: Milk and Healthy Snack Scheme
Subordinate legislation: Social security
Subordinate legislation: Carer’s allowance
Subordinate legislation: Disability assistance
Subordinate legislation: Council tax reduction

Equalities & Human Rights Committee
Oral evidence: Scottish government update on human rights
Legacy report 

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