Charlotte Street Partners

DAILY BRIEFING

DAILY BRIEFING

Offence and defence

Written by Maria Julia Pieraccioni, associate 
Edited by David Gaffney, partner
21 April 2021

Good morning,

It is hard to remember a time sans Covid, with Britain on the verge of Brexit, and Boris Johnson its foreign secretary. A time when campaigning on that referendum was briefly overshadowed by Johnson’s—at best insensitive—comments about former American president Barack Obama, accusing him of removing a statue of Churchill because his “part-Kenyan” ancestry made him sensitive to British colonialism. Admittedly, at the time it escaped me why Obama, a sitting president, would bother to respond to such petty comments, instead of focusing on more pressing domestic issues.

It dawned on me later that the diplomatic impasse was about icons, legacy and language.

The United States and the United Kingdom have a long relationship, in many ways akin to that of siblings: constantly bickering and making-up, for the good of their shared origins. Like siblings, they share an original birthplace, a language, and an “Anglo-Saxon” mentality.

However, just as they are observed to be divided by a common language, so the cultural differences across the Atlantic are often stark.

The latest such apparent misunderstandings occurred in sequence this week. First, plans were leaked of the creation of the Super League, a breakaway football competition formed by some of Europe’s biggest clubs. Manchester United, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool, and Italian club, AC Milan are all owned by American corporations or funds, many of whom are thought to be the driving force behind the creation of the ESL. Critics of the plans—which include practically everyone outside the clubs involved and even many within them—have questioned the role of American owners and a model that appears to be based in part on the equal redistribution used by the American National Football League (NFL).

The league’s mis-launch was inevitable after the backlash by fans and the UK government, which threatened regulatory action to ban English clubs from joining. The tawdry affair serves to highlight, among other things, the deep-rooted cultural differences between the UK and the US, particularly when it comes to sports as pleasure versus sports as a source of commercial revenue. Fans here instinctively abhorred the plan, invoking their sense of powerlessness and rupture from an iconic tradition that means much more to fans than the business it is for its owners.

As the ESL unravelled last night, 10 Downing Street announced it was scrapping plans for White House-style press briefings. After an eye-watering £2.6 million was spent on renovations to accommodate the US-inspired media briefings, the government has apparently admitted that what is good for the US goose is not necessarily so for the British gander and that it is another cultural gap not so easily bridged.

Football is as popular and as politically populist as it gets. However, as a court in Minneapolis delivered a popular verdict and one welcomed by President Biden and countless others around the world last night, there are reminders here that not everything translates so happily from one common language to another.

News

Derek Chauvin, the former police officer who is responsible for the death of African-American George Floyd in Minneapolis, has been found guilty of murder. After a highly publicised three-week trial, the 12-member jury took less than a day to unanimously reach a guilty verdict on all three charges: second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter. Chauvin will be sentenced in around eight weeks’ time and faces decades in jail.

The European Super League is vowing to reshape, after all six English clubs withdrew from the competition following intense backlash from fans and threats made by the UK government. Allegedly, two out of the three Italian clubs are also considering jumping ship, although spokespeople for clubs that chose to remain in the ESL insisted they are still going ahead with the plan. (£)

Thirty years after the Hillsborough stadium disaster, the trial against ex-South Yorkshire police officers Alan Foster and Donald Denton and solicitor Peter Metcalf has finally resumed and heard the trio had altered statements to mask police failings. Prosecutors are determined to ascertain culpability for the avoidable tragedy in which 96 people lost their lives during the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest. The trio are charged with intending to pervert the course of justice. (£)

In an ongoing row over breaches in ministerial code, Sir James Dyson’s texts to Boris Johnson have emerged, revealing the prime minister assured Sir James he would “fix” the tax status of his employees. Dyson wrote to the Treasury seeking to be assured his employees that relocated to the UK during the pandemic to make ventilators would not have to pay extra tax.

Business and economy

Netflix shares dropped by more than 10% in after-hours trade, with the streaming firm’s stock climbing a meagre two per cent this year, underperforming against its peers and its own record growth of 60% last year. The tech giant saw profits skyrocket during global lockdowns, and in particular in North America, its main consumer market. However, as restrictions are eased, it remains to be seen whether Netflix will maintain its lead over the competition as customers once again have the option of seeking entertainment outside their homes. (£)

Copper and lithium are set to become the “new oil” at the centre of global commodities market. Lithium is a key component for batteries in electric cars and as governments worldwide scramble for strategies to combat climate change, analysts suggest demand for it will rise in the next years. With the prospect of an environmentally unsustainable global recovery looming, confidence in lithium remains high, as evidenced by the Orocobre and Galaxy $3.1 billion merger to create one of the biggest lithium companies in the world.

Anne Longfield, a former children’s commissioner for England has launched a “landmark case” against Tik Tok, the Chinese video-sharing app. Longfield is alleging the app is in breach of the UK’s and EU children’s data protection law. The case against the tech giant echoes the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office existing investigation into Tik Tok’s handling of children’s personal information.

Columns of note

In response to the culture secretary’s announcement that the union flag should be flown from all UK government buildings every day, Nesrine Malik writes in The Guardian that “the more that a society is preoccupied with its symbols, the more insecure it has become”. Malik’s commentary is a catch-all for the ongoing culture war that sees revisionists and traditionalists at odds over the role and legacy of the UK’s past. In a period of post-Brexit stabilisation, the flag has become symbolic for liberation—albeit from “fictional forces”, argues Malik—and from the Union.

National icons range from flags to monuments and even to first ladies, suggests Amy Davidson Sorkin in The New Yorker. Since the second half of the twentieth century, the role of the first lady has become both “public and private, superficial and serious”. What do we want in a first Lady? A question that begets a discussion into the supporting role of those intimately and privately close to heads of state. We want them to be involved, but not too involved, well-poised but approachable. What do we want from those whom we do not elect? That is, I think, the question.

Cartoon source: The New Yorker

Markets

What happened yesterday?

Global stock markets took a collective hit on Tuesday, with the UK’s FTSE 100 leading the drop, closing two per cent down on the previous day. The Stoxx Europe 600 index also closed in negative territory, down 1.9%. The decline followed a report from the European Central Bank (ECB), released ahead of its next monthly meeting on Thursday, showing that European lenders may restrict access to credit in the second quarter of this year. Several analysts forecasted that the lack of confidence displayed by the ECB is due to European governments’ lack of a clear strategies for the recovery.

Likewise, the ECB’s report sent shock waves in the United States, which saw the S&P 500 index fall by 0.7%, followed by the Nasdaq Composite closing at 0.9% less than the day before.

Sterling lost ground against the dollar yesterday, trading at $1.3933, 0.4% less than Monday.

In company news

As global coronavirus cases continue to rise globally, shares of travel and leisure companies are taking the biggest hit. Goldman Sachs estimated that an index of stocks which stand to gain the most in a reopening scenario, fell by 2.6%. Growing coronavirus cases affected the shares of hotel operator Marriott International, which declined four per cent yesterday and American Airlines, the airline operator, falling five per cent.

What’s happening today?

Finals

Distrib. Fin.

Pennant International

Wentworth Res.

Interims

Carrs Group

Trading announcements

Antofagasta

BHP Group

Quilter

Rio Tinto

AGMs

Alliance Trust

Biome Tech

Bunzl

Drax

Dukemount Capi.

Ep Global

Hunting

Rtc Grp.

Serco

Zhejiang Exp’h’

EGMs

Dp Eurasia

Final dividend payment date

Toc Property

Special dividend payment date

Invesco Inc Gth

UK economic announcements

(07:00) Producer Price Index

(07:00) Retail Price Index

(07:00) Consumer Price Index

Int. economic announcements

(12:00) MBA Mortgage Applications (US)

(15:30) Crude Oil Inventories (US)

Source: Financial Times

did you know

According to the Italian police, about half of all the Extra Virgin Olive Oil on shelves in Italy is fake or has been adulterated by the ‘Agromafia’. [source: QI Twitter Feed]

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons

Oral questions

Northern Ireland

Prime Minister’s Question Time

Ten Minute Rule Motion

Fur Trade (Prohibition) – Taiwo Owatemi

Motion

Motion to Approve a Statutory Instrument relating to counter-terrorism

Consideration of Lords amendments

Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Bill

Debate

Debate on the Sixth Report from the Committee on Standards Relating to Confidentiality in the House’s Standards System and the Seventh Report from the Committee on Standards Relating to Sanctions in Respect of the Conduct of Members

Motion

Motion Relating to the Membership of the Parliamentary Works Sponsor Body – Mr. Jacob Rees-Mogg

Adjournment

Carbon monoxide safety, testing and awareness

Westminster Hall debate

UK’s accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership – Mr Steve Baker

Health inequalities and the covid-19 outbreak in West Yorkshire – Jon Trickett

Promotion of electric vehicle usage – Nick Fletcher

National Stroke Programme and aftercare and rehabilitation services for stroke patients – Sir Robert Neill

House of Lords 

Oral questions

Emergency alert system for users of mobile telephones – Lord Harris of Haringey

Engaging with countries in Latin America as part of the UK’s future foreign policy – Baroness Coussins

World Obesity Federation report: COVID-19 and Obesity: The 2021 Atlas – Lord Robathan

Impact of government guidance on Visits out of care homes – Baroness Jolly

Legislation

Domestic Abuse Bill – consideration of Commons amendments – Baroness Williams of Trafford

Debate

Case for the integration of policymaking in national, and local, government to achieve net zero carbon emissions in the UK – Lord Teverson

Scottish Parliament 

The Scottish parliament is in recess ahead of the election on 6 May

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