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DAILY BRIEFING

Wind of Change

Written by Javier Maquieira, senior associate 
Edited by Scott Reid, associate partner
22 April 2021

Good morning,

It’s been a momentous week in Germany’s “super election year” (Superwahljahr), which began in mid-March with two state elections and will reach its peak on 26 September with the Bundestag general election – and the end of Angela Merkel’s 16 years as chancellor. 
 
On Monday, Annalena Baerbock became the Green Party’s candidate – and likely the only woman in the race – to take over from Merkel after September’s election. The 40-year-old MP, who is part of the centre-left party’s more moderate wing, was anointed after a “smoothly organised” and disciplined process that reflects the Greens’ ambition to become a party of government.
 
In contrast, Germany’s ruling conservatives – which includes Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian ally, the Christian Social Union (CSU) – have been engulfed in chaos amid rows and briefing leaks over who should lead them into the election battle.
 
It was on Tuesday that Armin Laschet, the CDU leader and premier of North Rhine-Westphalia, finally gained the support of 77.5% of the party board at an internal meeting. His rival, CSU leader and state premier of Bavaria Markus Söder, conceded defeat soon after.
 
Yet Laschet’s candidacy is far from the formidable option to take Merkel’s mantle that the conservatives have been under pressure to present. And that could come at a cost. 
 
The most recent survey, carried out over the two days during which both the Greens and the conservatives named their candidates, shows one of the sharpest swings in modern German history. The Green Party is in first place at 28% of the vote for the first time, while 21% of voters would support the Union, which has gone down from more than 40% in the summer.
 
Although the Greens have historically over-polled and underperformed on election day, Germany has changed after 16 years of a distinctly anti-emission chancellor Merkel. And so have the Greens: while the party’s origins were characterised by a more radical and aggressive stance towards industry, it has now moved to a more mainstream political position with clear views on foreign policy.
 
Under Merkel’s leadership, Germany became Europe’s most influential country, as well as its financial anchor in the aftermath of the eurozone crisis. Now, Green leadership in Germany could lead the continent towards stronger climate policies and a more hawkish stance towards Russia and China, whose leaders the Greens oppose on human rights principles.
 
There’s still a long way to go before September, but if Baerbock and the Greens eventually win this election, we can expect the wind of change to blow far beyond German politics.

News

The UK prime minister has insisted that agreeing to “fix” Sir James Dyson’s problems with tax was “the right thing to do”, as the businessman offered to help the government supply ventilators for hospitals at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. Downing Street has denied that Boris Johnson broke Whitehall rules, but the Labour party has said there was evidence the private message exchanges may have breached the ministerial code.
 
In other news, the prime minister plans to create a government delivery unit tasked with pushing through his policy agenda after more than a year dominated by handling the coronavirus. The unit, which will be led by former NHS Covid-19 chief Dr Emily Lawson, will be made up of existing civil servants and people with key skills such as auditors and data scientists.
 
President Joe Biden will host 40 leaders at a virtual summit on climate change later today, in an attempt to reassert the US’ global leadership on the issue. The US leader is expected to announce an updated carbon pledge that would see the country’s emissions nearly halved by 2030. China’s Xi Jinping is among those attending the remote meeting.

Business and economy

Ireland’s finance minister has said the country would resist new tax proposals led by the US unless there was a global agreement that allowed “appropriate and acceptable tax competition” between states. Paschal Donohoe added that attempts to prevent multinational companies from choosing an advantageous tax jurisdiction could affect Dublin’s ability to undercut its rivals and cost the country 20% of its tax revenues.
 
Tata has launched legal proceedings against rival Liberty Steel over claims of missed payments from the miner’s £100m takeover of Tata’s speciality steels business in 2017. The acquisition made Sanjeev Gupta, chief executive of Liberty Steel owner GFG Alliance, one of the UK’s biggest steel magnates.
 
The Premier League chief executive, Richard Masters, has requested executives from clubs that joined the now-abandoned European Super League step down voluntarily from key Premier League sub-committees. The list includes senior leaders at Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United, and Liverpool.
 
And Baillie Gifford has announced a £72m investment in digital currency firm Blockchain.com. The company, which was founded in York and is now based in Luxembourg, has tripled its userbase since March now totalling 31 million across 200 countries.

Columns of note

In The Guardian, Larry Elliott uses the case of the European Super League as a metaphor for global capitalism, “where the owners of businesses say they love competition but do everything they can to avoid it.” Although he agrees that greed has been a big part of the ESL story, so has brand damage – “one of capitalism’s cardinal sins”. Elliott concludes that by showing millions of fans how rigged free markets turn out to be, the ESL may have performed a public service.
 
Robert Shrimsley writes in the Financial Times that Boris Johnson is not the man to restore standards in British public life after a career made out of proving rules and conventions do not apply to him. Shrimsley suggests the fact that the Johnson government seems to exploit the revolving door, combined with its dishonest character in public pronouncements, will limit change while allowing itself freedom of movement over constraints. (£)

Cartoon source: The Telegraph

Markets

What happened yesterday?

London stocks finished in a mixed state yesterday. The FTSE 100 ended the session up 0.52% at 6,895.29, while sterling was slightly stronger both against the dollar by 0.01% at $1.39 and versus the euro by 0.03% at €1.16.
 
In the US, stocks on Wall Street rebounded after two consecutive days of decline, with the technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite rising 1.2% and the blue-chip S&P 500 climbing 0.9%.
 
In company news:
 
BHP was ahead 0.53% after the mining company said it would finish the year “strongly”, reporting record production at its Western Australia iron ore business in the first nine months.
 
Hikma Pharmaceuticals was 2.82% firmer after the pharmaceutical company resumed the launch of its generic version of GlaxoSmithKline’s ‘Advair Diskus’ in the US.
 
Airtel Africa rose 2.31% after the telecommunications and mobile money provider announced the signing of a new $500m (£359.35m) loan facility with a group of relationship banks.

What’s happening today?

Finals
Avacta
Deltex Medical
Jadestone Energy

AGMs
Aggreko
Bidstack Group
CLS Holdings
Cvc Credit Gbp
Dev Clever Hol.
Dominos
Foxtons
Ibstock
Jarvis Securities
Jpmorgan Clav
Md Medical S
Relx
Segro
Sthree
Taylor Wimpey

Int. economic announcements
(09:00) IFO Current Assessment (GER)
(09:00) IFO Business Climate (GER)
(09:00) IFO Expectations (GER)
(10:00) Existing Home Sales (US)
(12:45) ECB Interest Rate (EU)
(13:30) Initial Jobless Claims (US)
(13:30) Continuing Claims (US)

Source: Financial Times

did you know

According to the Bible, the last thing Jesus drank was vinegar. (source: @qikipedia)

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons

Oral questions
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (including Topical Questions)
 
Church Commissioners and House of Commons Commission and Parliamentary Works Sponsor Body and Public Accounts Commission and Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission
 
Business Statement
Business Questions to the Leader of the House
 
Select Committee Statement
Special Report of the Committee on the Armed Forces Bill, Armed Forces Bill, HC 1281
 
Backbench Business
Debate on the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, Eighth Report of Session 2019–21, on Government Transparency and Accountability During Covid-19: The Data Underpinning Decisions
 
Debate on a Motion on Mass Human Rights Abuses and Crimes Against Humanity in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region
 
Adjournment
Future of British wrestling

House of Lords 

Oral questions
List of the reductions in Overseas Development Assistance budgets and awards for 2019/20, and 2020/21
 
The use of e-scooters and the number of offences and casualties caused by them
 
Government support given to students in Pupil Referral Units during the COVID-19 pandemic
 
Plans to Review and update the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act 2014
 
Legislation
Prisons (Substance Testing) Bill – committee stage
 
Botulinum Toxin and Cosmetic Fillers (Children) Bill – committee stage
 
Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill – committee stage
 
Education (Guidance about Costs of School Uniforms) Bill – report Stage
 
Forensic Science Regulator Bill – third reading
 
National Security and Investment Bill – third reading
 
Orders and regulations
Terrorism Act 2000 (Proscribed Organisations) (Amendment) Order 2021
 
Debate
Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy
 
Motion
Diocesan Boards of Education Measure – motion to direct that the Measure be presented for Royal Assent
 
Cathedrals Measure – motion to direct that the Measure be presented for Royal Assent

Scottish Parliament 

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

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