Charlotte Street Partners



Ripping up the rule book

Written by Katie Armour, senior associate
Edited by Tom Gillingham, associate partner

19 July 2021

Good morning,

It’s the summer of staycations and the temperature in parts of the UK has surpassed 30 degrees.

People across the country spent the weekend in search of the perfect spot to enjoy it.

The beach, the park, the lido were all good escapes.

A ten bedroom manor house with its own pool in the rolling Chiltern hills, you’d imagine, would have the same appeal.

The prime minister’s country home at Chequers is the sort of place you’d actively like to spend ten days in isolation. But this weekend that’s exactly what Boris Johnson was trying to avoid.

The prime minister and chancellor of the exchequer were both earmarked by the NHS as close contacts of the health secretary, who tested positive for coronavirus on Saturday.

500,000 Brits faced a similar fate last week, being asked by the app to isolate at home, so as a nation we know the process pretty well.

Which is why the surprise, dismay and disgust at the suggestion neither Johnson nor Sunak intended to comply with isolation requirements was all too easy to predict. One commentator described it as a “political blunder you could see from space”.

Number 10 traversed a rollercoaster of sharp U-turns yesterday but the opposition were quick to note they’d created a “special VIP lane” to get round the rules they made.   

Unlike the Barnard Castle incident, the retraction came swiftly, but has the damage already been done? No matter how much ministers have pushed the need for cautious and careful behaviour from today onwards, this brazen attempt to circumvent the rules obliterates that message.

A new poll by Savanta ComRes found one in three 18-34 year-olds have admitted to deleting the NHS app and another third planned to follow suit after reaching ‘freedom day’.

It’s today that Britain enters unchartered waters. England is ripping up the rule book and Scotland is moving to level zero. Wales and Northern Ireland have more relaxations on the way.

The country is buckling under a tsunami of new pings and that number seems only likely to rise. Shops, car producers and rail operators are warning of closures because of the “exponential” rise in the number of staff who have to stay off.

International experts told the Sunday papers that Britain’s unlocking plans were a “threat to the world” as they could allow vaccine resistant strains to develop.

In charting the tricky balance between the seemingly unstated goal of herd immunity and maintaining the path of irreversible freedom (a course that has been reversed in Holland and Israel) the tone set at the top is increasingly influential.

The rest of the world is again watching the British experiment with anxiety. Leadership has never been more important.


Labour leader Keir Starmer is planning to “purge” far left factions from the party membership. The National Executive Committee will be asked tomorrow to vote on a motion to expel several groups that continue to be vocal supports of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. The move is expected to inflame internal tensions ahead of the party’s conference in Brighton.
The Guardian has published the results of its ‘Pegasus Project’ into the global abuse of cyber-surveillance which has found that spyware sold to authoritarian regimes was used to target activists, politicians and journalists. Pegasus is a malware that infects iPhones and Android devices, allowing operators to extract pictures and messages as well as secretly record users.
Max Verstappen has accused Lewis Hamilton of being “disrespectful” and “unsportsmanlike” after their collision in the British Grand Prix. Verstappen was taken to hospital after the race for precautionary checks and later cleared.

Business and economy

Opec and its allies have reached an agreement to increase oil production in response to “soaring” prices. They have set a target for the end of 2022 to restore the output cut during the pandemic. The “modest pace” of increasing output reflects lingering concerns about the credibility of the global recovery.

Online retailer Ocado is facing a week of disruption after a second fire in a matter of three years ripped through its warehouse in southeast London. The fire was caused by three robots colliding while handling orders. (£)

Billionaires Bill Gates and Geogre Soros have joined the buyout of UK covid testing company Mologic, which is based in Bedford. The pair will invest more than $30m into supporting work on tropical diseases and blindness. (£)

Columns of note

Frances Ryan writes in The Guardian about how minister’s unlocking decisions are “forcing vulnerable” people to shield again, but with no support this time. She argues that by promoting personal responsibility the government is pushing the burden onto all those at highest risk and voices concern that previously shielding people feel “worryingly exposed”.

Libby Purves urges us all in The Times to channel the practices of Florence Nightingale and “fling open those windows” as she stresses the importance of focusing on ventilation after restrictions ease. She jokes about altering fashion trends to encourage being outdoors, details Co2 levels in different rooms and debates room temperature requirements. (£)

Cartoon source: The Independent


What’s happening this week?

There will be a focus on space travel this week, with billionaire Jeff Bezos seeking to make up lost ground after Richard Branson managed to be the first rocket company owner to make it to the edge of space. Bezos’ trip is expected to take place this week and expect the subsequent commentary to be climate and tourism focused.

The official opening ceremony for the Tokyo Olympics will take place on Friday evening but is expected to be a quieter affair that previous iterations’ spectacular curtain-raisers.

Vodafone is expecting a positive first quarter trading update on Friday after a drop in roaming revenue last year.

What’s happening today?


Trading Annoucements 
Parsley Box

Arricano Real
Axiom Euro
Comptoir Group
Inspecs Group
Live Company
Remote Monitor

Oil&gas Regs

Final Dividend Payment Date  
Charles Stanley
Helios Underw

Special Ex-Dividend Date 
Kkv Sec Loan C
Kkv Sec Loan

Source: Financial Times

did you know

Lasting only 38 minutes, the Anglo-Zanzibar War of 1896 is generally considered to be the shortest war in history. (Source: Sporcle)

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons

Oral Questions
Housing, communities and local government 

The Nationality and Borders Bill 

Department for environment, food and rural affairs office in Melton under the Places for Growth programme 

Westminster Hall debate
Petition relating to cervical screening
Petition relating to an amnesty for undocumented migrants

House of Lords 

Oral questions
Plans to designate the UK’s cash infrastructure as critical national infrastructure
Aligning requirements for vaccination
Creating an office of the hydrogen economy in the department for business, energy and industrial strategy
Salary for the new post of Director of the Brexit Opportunities Unit  

Transport decarbonisation

Skills and post-16 education bill

Scottish parliament 

The Scottish parliament is in recess until 30 August but will be recalled on 3 August for a Covid update.

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