Charlotte Street Partners

DAILY BRIEFING

DAILY BRIEFING

Green lite

Written by Charlie Clegg, senior associate
Edited by David Gaffney,  partner
17 August 2021 

Good morning,

Patrick Harvie, harbinger of the apocalypse. Perhaps not. But to listen to some in Scottish public life, you’d get that impression.

Along with Lorna Slater, his co-leader of the Scottish Greens, Harvie appears poised to take ministerial office in a deal between his party and the SNP. At the weekend, Harvie claimed a deal between the parties could be expected “very soon”, likely by the end of this week.

For those at the top of the Greens and SNP, this deal is a radical new way of governing. It will also, they hope, strengthen the case for Holyrood’s pro-independence majority to demand another referendum. For opponents, the Greens’ ideological potpourri of environmentalism and diet Marxism risks prosperity and livelihoods across the country.

There is, however, little reason to believe this will be as radical as it’s made out. For a start, a deal will also do little to change the cases for and against another referendum. The re-election of a pro-independence majority in May has done little to dent the slight lead for “No” in independence polling; nor did it shift the UK government’s opposition to a vote. It is unlikely that Holyrood machinations will change these factors; nor are they likely to alter the legal case on either side.

In other policy areas, the SNP does not need the Greens’ votes. Excluding the presiding officer, parliament is divided exactly between SNP and non-SNP MSPs. Most divisions would be unproblematic in any case. Even without a deal, the SNP could be confident of confidence from the Greens’ seven MSPs. The prize is far greater for the Greens, who will enjoy the prestige of government for the first time.

This means the Green tail is unlikely to wag the SNP dog. With the exception of some shop-front issues – of which opposition to further oil extraction may prove one – Green influence is likely to be superficial and limited. More fiscally conservative elements within the SNP – such as finance minister Kate Forbes – could also clash with the Greens’ spendthrift instincts. Proposed reforms to the Gender Recognition Act may also create a stumbling block. It is quite possible that, regardless of a deal’s high ideals, the realities of co-operation could be moderation forged by compromise.

The complexion of Scotland’s government may be turning almost imperceptibly greener. It’s not the end of the world.

News

US president Joe Biden has stood behind his decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan despite the country’s fall to the Taliban. In a speech, Biden said: “American troops cannot and should not be fighting in a war and dying in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves.” His comments come as several more people have died amid chaos in the capital Kabul.

In the UK, prime minister Boris Johnson is expected to unveil a resettlement scheme for Afghan refugees. Johnson is also understood to be collaborating with French president Emmanuel Macron on a joint resolution on Afghanistan at the UN security council.

The UK government has published its long-awaited hydrogen strategy. The report claims three million UK households could be powered by the gas by 2030, supported by £4bn in investment. This comes as a has found burning “blue” hydrogen could have more of a carbon impact than conventional natural gas.

Business and economy

A survey of 500 small and medium-sized UK businesses has found 91% favour moving the beginning of the tax year to 1 January. The move is being explored by the Treasury’s Office of Tax Simplification. (£)

The US’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has launched an investigation into electric vehicle maker Tesla. This comes after 11 accidents and 17 deaths have been linked to the cars’ autopilot feature since 2018. Tesla’s share price dropped 4.3% yesterday.

Mining group Glencore has acquired a stake in Britishvolt, the start-up behind plans to build a “gigafactory” in Britain. A part of the deal, Glencore will provide the Northumberland battery plant, which is currently under construction, with cobalt. (£)

Columns of note

As another deadly wave of Covid sweeps Africa, the world’s wealthiest countries continue to consume over 80% of vaccines. In The Guardian, former prime minister Gordon Brown calls out western countries’ failure to share vaccines as promised. He also charts how organisations like the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust are taking matters into their own hands. He calls on Britain, the EU, and the US to do their part to vaccinate more Africans.

In Poland, reforms and restrictions imposed by the governing Law and Justice party have drawn international ire. The party’s grip on power, however, is not absolute. In the Financial Times, Aleks Szczerbiak, professor of politics at the University of Sussex, shows how the party’s pandemic response and illiberal measures, such as restricting access to abortions, have eroded parliamentary and popular support. (£)

Cartoon source: The Times

Markets

What happened yesterday?

A new wave of Covid infections in China has coincided with a slowing down in the country’s economy. Combined with events in Afghanistan, this has seen international markets slip. On Wall Street, the Nasdaq composite dropped 0.8% and the S&P500 0.4%.

In Europe, the Stoxx600 index dropped 0.8% while the FTSE100 closed down 0.9%. The pound was trading 1.18 against the Euro and 1.38 against the US dollar.

In company news:

The German government will sell up to a quarter of its 20% stake in Lufthansa as the airline showed signs of post-pandemic recovery.

LondonMetric Property has sold its Primark distribution warehouse at Thrapston, Northamptonshire to EQT Exeter for £102m.

Australia’s Wood Petroleum is in advanced talks to buy BHP’s petroleum business for $14.7bn.

What’s happening today?

Finals
BHP Group
Van Elle

Finals
Genuit Grp Plc
Plus500
Electrica Regs

Finals
Electrica Regs

Finals
Eqtec
Esken Ltd
Remote Monitor
Uls Tech

Finals
Ironridge

Finals
Remote Monitor

Finals
(07:00) Claimant Count Rate
(07:00) Unemployment Rate

Int. Economic Announcements
(10:00) GDP (Preliminary) (EU)
(13:30) Retail Sales (US)
(14:15) Capacity Utilisation (US)
(14:15) Industrial Production (US)
(15:00) Business Inventories (US)

Source: Financial Times

did you know?

                                    Of the 15 teams in Greece’s Hellenic Cricket Federation, 13 are based in Corfu.

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons

The House of Commons is in recess. The House will next sit on 18 August.

House of Lords 

The House of Lords is in recess. The House will next sit on 18 August.

Scottish parliament 

The Scottish parliament is in recess until 30 August.

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