14 February


14 February

Good morning,

Boris Johnson will deliver a speech in central London today in which he will set out a “liberal” Brexit vision and say that the UK’s departure from the EU is a cause for “hope not fear”.

The address, entitled "The Road to Brexit: A United Kingdom", has been billed as an attempt to secure the support of both Remainers and Leavers. Johnson will argue "it is not good enough to say to Remainers – you lost, get over it,” and that “if we are to carry this project through to national success – as we must – then we must also reach out to those who still have anxieties”.

For Remain supporters, it will likely be seen as a welcome sentiment but little more than that. Johnson is, after all, the arch-Brexiteer, the one that gave the Leave campaign the profile and credibility that took it over the line.

In any case, the speech will not alter the course of the “hard Brexit” that the government is pursuing. Europhiles will surely question why they should unite quietly behind government policy when the die-hard Leavers have conceded so little.

Remain supporters, who feel genuine grief over Brexit, may still need more than empty rhetoric.


The political future of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been thrown into doubt after Israeli police recommended that he be indicted on charges of bribery and breach of trust. This follows a 14-month investigation and relates to two cases. One focuses on claims that Netanyahu and his family received valuable gifts from wealthy benefactors in return for favours. The other is based on allegations that he held secret talks with the publisher of a leading newspaper where he requested positive coverage in exchange for damaging a competitor. Netanyahu has vehemently denied any wrongdoing and denied rumours that he will step down.

An arrest warrant for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been upheld at Westminster Magistrates’ Court. The warrant has been in place since 2012 and Assange has been sheltering at the Ecuadorean embassy ever since. In her ruling, District Judge Emma Arbuthnot said: “Mr Assange has restricted his own freedom for a number of years. Defendants on bail up and down the country, and requested persons facing extradition, come to court to face the consequences of their own choices. He should have the courage to do so too.”

Roland van Hauwermeiren, the aid worker at the centre of the sex exploitation scandal in Haiti which has engulfed Oxfam, was forced out of another charity earlier in his career over claims about his use of prostitutes. According to a report in The Times, Van Hauwermeiren was investigated by Merlin, now part of Save the Children, over allegations about his sexual behaviour in Liberia in 2004. The complaint by a colleague led to an inquiry and Van Hauwermeiren’s exit from Liberia.

Actress Minnie Driver yesterday stood down from her role as an ambassador for Oxfam. In a statement, she said she was “nothing short of horrified” by the allegations.

Business & Economy

Sky and BT Sport have agreed to pay £4.46 billion for three years of Premier League broadcasting rights, starting from the 2019-20 season. This is significantly less than the record £5.136 billion they paid in the 2015 auction. Five of the seven packages have been awarded and bidding for the remaining two continues. With interest from “multiple bidders” there is speculation that the likes of Amazon, Facebook, Twitter or Netflix could have entered the process.

The Republic of Ireland plans to finish the building work for new customs checks and freight inspection points at Dublin’s sea terminal later this year as the country prepares for the “inevitability” of border controls after Brexit. Eamonn O’Reilly, chief executive of the state-owned Dublin Port Company, said: “We have taken what the UK government has said at face value — period. Any changes that happen that improve that are most welcome but we’re not depending on it happening.”

The low cost airline Norwegian Air is planning to expand its long haul routes using Gatwick Airport as its major global base, with more routes to Latin America and Asia as the focus. The airline’s first flight from the UK to South America departs today and Bjørn Kjos, the company’s chief executive, has said this will be followed by the establishment of a subsidiary in Argentina which will fly 152 routes around the continent. Tokyo and Beijing routes are also on the agenda but are being held by Russian refusal to grant flyover rights in its trans-Siberian air corridor.


What happened yesterday?
Global markets were more stable yesterday when compared with the turbulence of recent days. The S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average were up marginally, rising 0.26% and 0.16% respectively, whilst the Nikkei fell 0.65%.

At home, the FTSE 100 dropped 0.13% to 7,168.01.

Just Eat was the top performer on the main index, climbing 3.75%. It was closely followed by WPP which rose 3.57%.

Mining companies also had a good day, with Glencore, BHP Billiton, Anglo American and Antogafasta all ending the session higher.

Severn Trent was the biggest loser, falling 3.39%.

On the FTSE 250, which was down 0.31% to 19,320.08, Fidessa Group led the way, gaining 3.73%, whilst Inmarsat was the worst performer, shedding 5.67%.

On the currency markets, the pound was up 0.38% against the dollar at $1.3888 but fell 0.11% against the euro to €1.1243.

Coca-Cola HBC AG (CDI), Plus500 Ltd (DI), Shire plc

Galliford Try

Q4 Results
Coca-Cola HBC AG (CDI)

Rockrose Energy, Vast Resources

International Economic Announcements
(07:00) Consumer Price Index (GER)
(07:00) GDP (Preliminary) (GER)
(10:00) GDP (Preliminary) (EU)
(10:00) Industrial Production (EU)
(12:00) MBA Mortgage Applications (US)
(13:30) Consumer Price Index (US)
(13:30) Retail Sales (US)
(15:00) Business Inventories (US)
(15:30) Crude Oil Inventories (US)

Columns of Note

In the Financial Times Big Read, Lindsay Fortado looks at the new generation of activist investors making a name for themselves. Activists had one of their busiest years ever in 2017, deploying $62 billion in campaigns, more than double that spent in 2016. And, whilst the likes of Carl Icahn and Paul Singer of Elliot Management are still big players, Fortado highlights Scott Ferguson, Alex Denner and Quentin Koffey – dubbed “sons of activists” due to the fact that they learnt the trade from working under the old guard – and points out the change in style. Fortado states that they are eschewing the public disputes and open confrontation and, instead, are more data-driven, eager to work with management behind the scenes and likely to hold positions for longer.

In The Times, Lucy Fisher argues that, despite the growth in newly registered political parties, and growing disillusionment with the two main parties as they vacate the centre ground, Labour and Conservatives dominance is unlikely to be broken soon. She cites the example of both the Liberal Democrats and UKIP, which took 20 years to break into government and achieve their raison d’etre respectively. As a result, she says the best route to reform may be to join one of the main parties and drive change from within.

Did you know?

The oldest musical instruments ever discovered are between 42,000 and 43,000 years old. The flutes, made from bird bone and mammoth ivory, were found in a cave in Germany by researchers in 2012.

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons

In recess. The House will next sit on Tuesday 20th February.

House of Lords

In recess. The House will next sit on Tuesday 20th February.

Scottish Parliament

In recess until Monday 19th February.