Charlotte Street Partners

DAILY BRIEFING

DAILY BRIEFING

Volcanic Panic

Written by Katie Armour, Senior associate 
Edited by Adam Shaw, associate partner
12 April 2021

Good morning,

It started to snow in Edinburgh on Saturday evening. The weather was out of place but it prompted some hilarity.

At the same time on the island of Saint Vincent, in the south Caribbean, white flakes were also falling from the sky, but these were from a much darker cloud.

White ash rained down on islanders’ homes and neighbourhoods for hours and left a thick dusting on the runway at Kingstown airport, which officials are desperately attempting to clear. In fact, the ash had an impact as far afield as Barbados, where it blocked out the sun. in the middle of the afternoon.

La Soufrière is a young volcano situated at the north end of the island of St Vincent. Its last major eruption was in 1979, but it’s been rumbling since December and has erupted several times over this past weekend.

Thankfully, there have been no reports of deaths or injuries so far, but more than 16,000 people have had to flee their homes and residents are enduring power cuts and water outages as conditions worsen.

This is not the first disaster to occur during the Covid crisis, but it has shone a light on the challenges for any government trying to balance panic and pandemic.

The prime minister of the 32 islands that make up Saint Vincent & the Grenadines has urged people to keep trying to protect themselves from the virus even while they take steps to move.

Up to 30,000 people living in the red and amber zones require evacuation, either to the southern tip of the island or elsewhere.

Some cruise ships have been remodelled as crisis ships to transport and accommodate evacuees. However, in a statement to the nation the prime minister said that the chief medical officer would identify people who had already been vaccinated to receive a place on board.

Thankfully Saint Vincent’s vaccination programme was going strong before this started, but this method of selection raises big questions about the impact of inoculation on more than just your health. The debate over vaccine passports for pubs pales in comparison.

Just days ago, Greta Thunberg ruled out attending COP26 in Glasgow while vaccine inequality meant others wouldn’t have the chance to go. The situation in Saint Vincent hammers home just how important that fair roll out is going to be.

The great vaccine buy up is a question of both money and morals. As former prime minister Gordon Brown writes The Guardian today, if leaders put their minds to sharing, “the costs may still be in billions, but the benefit will be in trillions”.

News

In an interview with The Guardian, Nicola Sturgeon has said that she does not believe Boris Johnson will oppose a second independence referendum if the SNP wins a majority at the Holyrood election in May. The prime minister is reported to be “adamant” in private that he will not permit a referendum and favours sticking with the message that holding one during a pandemic would be “deeply irresponsible”.

The Queen has said the death of the Duke of Edinburgh has left a “huge void” in her life. Prince Philip died peacefully at Windsor Castle on Friday morning. His funeral will be held next Saturday. Yesterday, former prime minister John Major suggested it would be an “ideal opportunity” for the royal family to mend recent rifts.

Downing Street is reported to be considering holding intergovernmental talks over the rising tensions in Northern Ireland but remains apprehensive that involving Dublin could inflame unionist anger. Boris Johnson may also visit after the official mourning period for the Duke of Edinburgh. The move comes after 14 more officers were injured tackling sectarian violence in Belfast on Friday.

Business and economy

Investors are betting on a “summer spending spree” as high street shops reopen in England today. The FTSE 350 General Retailers Index, which is mostly made up of high street chains, closed at its highest level for almost five years on Friday and has risen by 48% over the last year. (£)

David Cameron has admitted he should have used formal channels to lobby on behalf of Greensill Capital. This is his first statement on the story after fresh revelations emerged that health secretary Matt Hancock met the former prime minister and financier Lex Greensill for a “private drink” in 2019 to discuss a new payment scheme for the NHS. Cameron said: “I have reflected on this at length. There are important lessons to be learnt”.

Columns of note

Louise Eccles writes in The Times about the taboo of admitting that you love lockdown as the UK starts the slow return to normal. She explains that for many people the pandemic has provided the opportunity to pause their busy lives and notes that mental health surveys have revealed 34% of the workforce are worried about returning to business as usual.

Also in The Times, Alex Massie writes that Westminster’s problems with Scotland and Northern Ireland are symptomatic of “20 years of short-term thinking” and urges the prime minister to resist this “very English” form of unionism. He brands this unionist approach as “more muscular” and “suspicious” of devolved administrations and argues that for the UK to have a future it has to be more accepting of its constituent parts.

Cartoon source: The Times

Markets

What’s happening this week?

The UK is expecting a positive week as restrictions begin to ease in England. From today non-essential shops, gyms, hairdressers and hospitality with outdoor areas will reopen to customers.

Spectators will take interest this week in US defence secretary Lloyd Austin’s visit to Germany and further afield in the retiral of 89-year-old Raul Castro in Cuba, who is set to cede power to a younger generation on Friday when the Communist party congress meets.

In corporate activity, investors will be watching closely as JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup report this week. Senior executives at both companies suggested in January that “the tide would turn” as they had healthy pipelines of investment.

Results from Tesco and luxury brand owner LVMH will also be ones to watch this week.

What’s happening today?

Finals

Belvoir

Concurrent Technologies

Elixirr Int.

Instem

Oxford Technology Venture Capital Trust

Xpediator Plc

Trading Announcements

Sirius R.E.

AGMs

Cineworld

EGMs

Ades Int.hdg

UK economic announcements
Duke Royalty

Us Solar Fund

Int. economic announcements
(10:00) Retail Sales (EU)

Source: Financial Times

did you know

Seventy-five per cent of the world’s active volcanoes are positioned around the ‘ring of fire’, a 25,000-mile long horseshoe-shaped zone that stretches from the southern tip of South America across the West Coast of North America, through to Japan and on to New Zealand. (Source: National Geographic)

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons

The House of Commons will reconvene to pay tribute to the duke of Edinburgh today. It returns from recess on 13 April.

House of Lords 

The House of Lords will reconvene to pay tribute to the duke of Edinburgh today.

Scottish Parliament 

The Scottish parliament will reconvene to pay tribute to the duke of Edinburgh today after which it will remain in recess ahead of the election on 6 May.

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