Charlotte Street Partners



Re-carving the earth

Written by Katie Armour, client manager
Edited by Tom Gillingham, partner

31 March 2022 

Good morning,

The plum pudding in danger” is one of (vintage cartoonist) James Gillray’s most famous works. It shows former British prime minister William Pitt sitting opposite Napoleon Bonaparte both carving up chunks of the world for their dinner.

It’s an analogy that has been copied again and again in modern cartooning, the tussle between states and empires, characters and criminals. Cameron vs Sarkozy on LibyaMay and Juncker on EuropeMacron vs Johnson on vaccine supplies etc. Struggles for land, power and influence is an age-old problem that is and alive and kicking today.

While all eyes are on glued on Russia and its brutal and brazen territorial land grab in Ukraine, more subtle power expansion efforts by other superpowers continue in the background.

This week, Australia was feeling the threatening chill of an unexpected new neighbour when it was announced the Solomon islands had made a controversial new security pact with China.

A leaked draft of the arrangement showed Chinese naval vessels would have the ability to visit the Solomon Islands for “logistical replenishment” as well as “stopover and transition” support. China would also, if requested, provide police or military personnel to the islands for disaster assistance or to maintain social order.

The Solomons’ Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare, told his parliament there was “no intention… of pitching into any geopolitical power struggle”, stressing that his country would not pick sides and warning that he found it “very insulting to be branded as unfit to manage [their] sovereign affairs”.

But Australia and New Zealand are concerned the move, and more militarisation, could undermine the stability and security of the region. Their respective foreign ministers are seeking support from nearby countries including Fiji and Papua New Guinea to pressure the Solomons to withdraw from the arrangement.

The Solomon Islands are only 1500km off the coast of Queensland and since world war two Australia has been their largest aid donor and sole security partner. Australian former diplomat Richard Maude said the outline of the pact “gives the Chinese navy a toehold in the Pacific” and warned “that’s something that Australian defence and strategic planners are right to be very concerned about”.

Concerns about China’s ocean ambitions have pretty firm roots. The country has been making contested efforts to lay claim to new islands or reefs in the South China Sea for years and reports this week suggest it has recently completed military construction on the “big three” reefs – Mischief, Subi and Fiery – which are now home to missile arsenals, aircraft hangars and advanced radar systems.

Some efforts at building up power can be egotistical and obvious, like Kim Jong Un’s bizarre nuclear launch commercial aired last week, but sometimes the dangerous ones are much more elusive. We’d all be wise to stay alert to it and mindful of who’s eyeing up which parts of the plum pudding.


Two senior British judges – Lords Reed and Hodge – have quit their positions on Hong Kong’s top court amid “mounting concerns” about the crackdown on pro-democracy activists. The move puts the remaining six British justices under pressure to do the same amid concerns their presence lends credibility to China’s legal reforms and suppression of dissent. (£) British Airways has suffered a major IT failure and as a result all flights yesterday evening were delayed from departing Heathrow’s terminal 5. Unconfirmed reports suggest pilots were unable to load flight plans. (£) A new report has confirmed that 201 babies and 9 mothers may have died because of the “unprecedented failures” of the NHS trust presiding over care in Shrewsbury and Telford. The review, which examined almost 1,600 cases, is thought to be largest of its kind in NHS history.

Business and economy

President Biden is set to invoke “Korean war-era powers” to boost the domestic supply of the minerals needed to produce large capacity batteries and therefore electric vehicles. The move is part of his government’s attempts to reduce dependence on overseas energy and the Defence Production Act will extend to lithium, nickel, cobalt, graphite and manganese. (£) Highstreet health chain Holland & Barrett has been “left in limbo” over a debt payment held up by HSBC over concerns about the links between the retailer and sanctioned Russian oligarchs. The interest on a €415mn loan was paid last week. (£) It has been revealed Starbucks paid just £5.4m in UK corporation tax last year despite making a gross profit of £95m, after administrative expenses of £78m helped lower taxable profits.

Columns of note

Foreign secretary Liz Truss writes in The Times that China’s repression of Hong Kong has made British judges’ position their “untenable” and stressed that the UK will not “sit on our hands” while Hong Kong’s liberties are “stripped away”. (£) 

In The Guardian, Eleanor Salter bemoans the fact the Met Office will now declare fewer heatwaves after deciding to shift the definition, suggesting the move is a “gift for climate crisis deniers”.


What happened yesterday?

London stocks closed in a mixed state on Wednesday after a strong performance from mining and energy shares, but anxiety remained in some parts over a “so-called curve inversion on US Treasury yields”. An inversion of this type is sometimes cited as an early warning sign of a coming recession.

The FTSE 100 ended the session up 0.55% at 7,587.75 while the FTSE 250 was down 1.02% at 21,272.47.

Sterling was also in a mixed state, trading 0.43% stronger against the dollar at $1.31 but 0.3% worse against the euro, changing hands at €1.17.

In company news:

The rising price of metals meant mining firms Anglo American, Glencore and Rio Tinto saw their shares increase by 4.6%, 4.17% and 3.95% respectively. Major oil players Shell and BP also saw their shares boosted by 4.43% and 3.07%. In less positive moves, metal flow engineering company Vesuvius saw its shares dip by 7.24% after being downgraded to “underweight” at Barclays.

AGMsPressure TechBanco SantanderRed Rock ResourcesAukett SwankeGuild EsportsToople PlcVarious Eat.Bivictrix TheraCloudcoco

Annual ReportOrioleRtw Venture Fu.

Final Dividend Payment DateChemringS & U 6%Pf.Imperial BrandsImpax Asset ManBoot(h) PrfAviva 8 3/8% PfKetystone 5%PfThrogmorton TrustTate & L.6h%pfRights & lss.Nthn.elec.prfMti Wireless

Final ResultsBBGIReach PlcHostelworldS4 Cap.Rtw Venture Fu.ElecosoftProteome

Final Ex-Dividend DateWynnstayMaven l&g Vct5Moneysupermarket.comInterContinental HotelsSmith & NephewQuartix TechGlobalDataAib GroupTravis PerkinsTaylor WimpeyHammersonConvaTecPhoenix Group HoldingsFidelity European Values

Interim Dividend Payment DateGateley HoldingsTemple Bar Investment TrustUtilSpringfield Pr.BMO Capital & Income Investment TrustHenderson DivGenusVpc SpecialityBiopharma Cred.Atlantis JapanAlliance Trust

Base ResourcesSdcl Energy Ef.Bmo Real EstateCrown PlaceBmo Commerical PropertyTritax Big BoxTriple Point BDigital 9Fonix Mob.Interim ResultsGattacaJames HalsteadAptamer GroupRenalytix Plc

Interim Ex-Dividend DateEuropean Small.RIT Capital PartnersSchroder Eur.rSmart MeteringFinsbury GrowthBr.small Co.2Lowland InvestmentsLcg-longbowGames WorkshopJpmorgan Multi.

Quarterly Dividend Payment DateNextEnergy SolarRenewables Infrastructure GroupRaven Prop PAberdeen Di&gHICL InfrastructureDowning RenewablesPremier Miton

Quarterly Ex-Dividend DateViperaContourGlobalBlackrock SaitPrimary HealthMercantile Investment Trust PLC

Special Ex-Dividend DateQuartix TechRotala

International Economic Announcements(08:55) Unemployment Rate (GER)(10:00) Unemployment Rate (EU)(12:30) Personal Income (US)(13:30) Continuing Claims (US)(13:30) Initial Jobless Claims (US)(13:30) Personal Consumption Expenditures (US)(13:30) Personal Spending (US)(14:45) Chicago PMI (US)

UK Economic Announcements(07:00) Nationwide House Price Index(07:00) Gross Domestic Produc(08:00) Current Account

did you know

Some hummingbirds weigh less than a penny. (Source: National Geographic)

Parliamentary highlights

Source: Financial Times

House of Commons

Oral QuestionsMinister for the Cabinet Office

Business StatementBusiness Questions to the Leader of the House

Consideration of Lords amendmentsIf necessary

General DebateThe impact of long covid on the UK workforce

Backbench BusinessDebate on matters to be raised before the forthcoming adjournment 

AdjournmentAmbulance response times in Shropshire

Westminster HallFuture funding of urban transportFood security

House of Lords 

Oral QuestionsGovernment support for businesses to increase exportsReplacing the Behaviour Change for Net Zero working groupSecurity assessment of ministers messaging on personal communications devicesSale of Chelsea football club 

LegislationPolice, Crime, Sentencing and Courts BillJudicial Review and Courts Bill

Scottish parliament 

Parliamentary Bureau Motions General Questions First Minister’s Questions Members’ Business DebateImpacts of benefit sanctions Parliamentary Bureau Motions Portfolio QuestionsConstitution, external affairs and culture Ministerial StatementScotland’s vision for trade – annual report Stage 1 DebateMiners’ Strike (Pardons) (Scotland) Bill Business Motions Parliamentary Bureau Motions

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