Charlotte Street Partners

DAILY BRIEFING

DAILY BRIEFING

Parlez-vous franglais?

Written by Maria Julia Pieraccioni, associate
Edited by Scott Reid, associate partner

24 September 2021

Good morning,

With soft bulging jowls and a steely look, prime minister Winston Churchill’s resemblance to a bulldog became iconic in wartime propaganda. Sydney Strube, a cartoonist for the Daily Express, was the first to ink Churchill’s bejowled features over the sturdy canine body of a bulldog in 1940, which would soon become representative not only of the British war effort, but of the British people. Unknowingly, Strube had revived the 17th century character of John Bull, who, at the height of the second world war, became a symbol of—and for—the British people.
 
The image stuck like wet on water, and to this day Churchill’s speeches during the height of British resistance in 1940 and throughout the war, have often been described as a bulldog-like approach—relentless, sturdy, strong.
 
That image has been revisited this week after prime minister Boris Johnson brushed aside France’s outrage at being left out of the AUKUS nuclear deal. In front of the press, Johnson pleaded that, “it’s time for our dearest friends around the world to prenez un grip about all this and donnez-moi un break”.
 
Besides the shock value, it is a statement packed with personal and cultural tropes that have not gone unnoticed. Johnson studied for a short while in Brussels when he was younger, spent five years there as a political correspondent and is fluent in French, so why the forced franglais? Perhaps the answer lies in reviving a bit of that centuries-old Anglo-French rivalry, or perhaps it is a return to spectacle, a vehicle of Johnson’s early journalistic and political career.
 
On Wednesday, when speaking at the United Nations General Assembly ahead of COP26, Johnson cited, and contradicted, Muppets character Kermit the Frog’s iconic tagline, remarking that “it is easy to be green”. In the same breath, he then reprimanded world leaders attending the conference, telling them it was “time for humanity to grow up”.
 
This type of straight-talking, reminiscent of Churchill’s bulldog approach, also plays well with Johnson’s electoral base back in Blighty. It is a frill-less, matter of fact, ask-for-forgiveness-instead-of-permission communications tactic. As Ben Margulies writes for the LSE, Johnson’s appeal is based on two populist tools: a willingness to defy conventional manners and ethics, and a rejection of restraint, “that evokes, however distantly, the central populist concept of sovereignty”. In other words, by sticking it to his global peers, Johnson is really trying to convey that he is sticking up for Britain.
 
Although the consequences of certain comments, in particular the ones directed at the French, could yet turn relationships sour, one must wonder whether—through the eccentricity and spectacle of it all—Johnson’s public relations tactics should no longer shock us.

News

Police have opened an investigation into leaked information about the Scottish government’s inquiry into harassment allegations against Alex Salmond. Police are investigating how the Daily Record got hold of the allegations in August 2018, and whether the evidence was collected “lawfully”.  
 
The Office for National Statistics released reports indicating that life expectancy for men in the UK has fallen for the first time since records begandue to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. A male baby born in the period 2015-2017 was expected to live until 79.2, while new statistics show a male baby born between 2018 and 2020 has a life expectancy of 79.
 
Health secretary Sajid Javid is keen to press ahead with plans to add fluoride to drinking water for millions of people across the United Kingdom. Laws are currently going through Parliament to add the mineral in an attempt to avoid tooth decay and increase overall dental health. (£)

Business and economy

The Bank of England predicted on Thursday that inflation is likely to peak above four per cent and will continue to rise into the second quarter of 2022. However, the Bank stressed that no immediate action was needed to counter rising prices, and instead will continue to maintain a “wait-and-see” cautionary approach into the autumn and winter. (£)
 
BP is restricting fuel deliveries to at least 50 of its 1,200 service stations around Britain due to a shortage of lorry drivers. BP’s delivery contractor, Hoyer, is struggling to get enough lorry drivers to transport petrol and diesel, with fuel shortages also affecting a small number of stations operated by Tesco and Esso. (£)
 
Thursday marked the inauguration of a £1.3bn project commissioned by the Defence Department to build the Royal Navy’s five new high-tech warships. The ceremony took place at Babcock’s facility at Rosyth in Fife. The new fleet will undertake a variety of operations including intercepting and disrupting illegal activity at sea, gathering intelligence, and providing humanitarian support.

Columns of note

The recent Aukus agreement has garnered a lot of attention lately—and with good cause. John Bolton, former American national security adviser under President Trump, writes a case for the comeback of hard power in the Indo-Pacific region. In The Economist, Bolton argues the limits of American soft power to counter Chinese expansionist efforts, and that the agreement is the first concrete step towards bringing geopolitically important territories such as Australia and Taiwan closer to the West. (£)
 
And in The Guardian, Mark Blyth authors a thoughtful piece on the tightening squeeze of the home ownership crisis on the upper middle class. Blyth points to the diminishing returns of a college education over time, and how a degree no longer secures the means to home ownership. He concludes by asking: will it make a difference to the political elite now that the issue affects the upper classes?

Cartoon source: The Telegraph

Markets

What happened yesterday?

The FTSE 100 inched down 0.07% on Thursday, amidst growing concerns for the employment market. Investors in the UK eyed the Bank of England’s position on consumer price inflation. Despite keeping interest rates at a record low of 0.1%, the central bank warned inflation was expected to rise slightly above 4% by the end of the year, prompting investors to expect a hike in interest rates by February 2022.
 
Elsewhere, in Europe, the Stoxx 600 index closed up 0.9%, as investors ignored the slowdown in Eurozone business growth in September fuelled by struggling property developer China Evergrande and struggling inflation.
 
Across the Atlantic, the S&P 500 index was outperforming its European counterparts mid-afternoon trading at 1.5% more than the day before. However, on Wednesday the Fed anticipated it would increase interest rates next year and signalled it was prepared to taper its pre-pandemic bond-buying programme in November.
 
In currency markets, sterling gained 0.8% against the dollar, trading at €1.373, while the euro rose 0.5% to €1.175.

What’s happening today?

Interims

Judges Scientfc

AGMs

Accrol Gp
Bh Macro Gbp
Fusion Antibody
In The Style G.
Otaq.
Sme Credit Real

GMs

Bacanora Lithi.
Eden

Final dividend payment date

Auto Trader
Currys Plc
Down. 4 Health
Down. 4 Vent
Foresightgr
Redde Northgate
Solid State
Speedy Hire

Interim Dividend Payment Date

Aberdeen Emic
Abstd Equityinc
Abstd Euro Log.
Anglo American
Arbuthnot
Ariana
Athelney Tst.
CLS Holdings
Cppgroup
Dominos
Genuit Grp Plc
Ground Rents
Henderson Opportunity Trust
Jlen Env
Jupiter Emerg.
Keystone Pos.
Mom Mult Tst
Reach Plc
Riverstone Cred
Rotork
Segro
St James Place
Utilico Em.mkts
Vector Capital

Quarterly Ex-Dividend Payment Date

Gen.electric   
 
Quarterly Payment Date

Blackrock Wld
BP      
Diversified En
Rm Infra Inc   
 
Special Dividend Payment Date

Anglo American
 
UK Economic Announcements

(00:01) GFK Consumer Confidence
 
Int. Economic Announcements

(09:00) IFO Current Assessment (GER)
(09:00) IFO Expectations (GER)
(09:00) IFO Business Climate (GER)
(15:00) New Homes Sales (US)

Source: Financial Times

did you know

The French word ‘ça’ (‘it’ or ‘that’) as in ‘Ça va?’ is a shortening of the word ‘cela’, which itself is a shortening of the Vulgar Latin phrase ‘ecce hoc illac’, meaning ‘look this over there’.

(source: @qikipedia)

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons

The House of Commons is not sitting and will next sit on 18 October 2021.

House of Lords 

The House of Lords is in recess and will next sit on 11 October 2021.

Scottish parliament 

No business scheduled.

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