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Thursday's Business and Politics round-up

12 Jul 2018

Person sat at a table reading a newspaperGood morning!

There are millions of broken hearts today following the England team’s defeat by Croatia in last night’s World Cup semi-final match. 

Following France’s win against Belgium on Tuesday, at the Nato summit Prime Minister Charles Michel reportedly told French President Macron: “The French team were very lucky”. 

Whether or not football diplomacy is, in fact, a thing, or if I’m trying to link football to politics in a pitiful effort to make the World Cup relevant for a politics round-up, is debatable. 

The morning's top stories, rounded up for your convenience. 

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Donald takes the Mickey

President Trump has called on Nato allies to double their target for defence spending. The comments were made as the Nato summit took place in Brussels this week. 

The US President urged his 28 fellow world leaders to increase the target from 2% of GDP to 4%. The US is the biggest financial contributor to the military alliance, funding over one-fifth of its budget. 

Just five Nato members  - including the US and Britain – are expected to reach the 2% target spending for this year. Trump tweeted the US “spends too much”, adding “the US is paying for Europe’s protection, then loses billions on trade”. 

Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg asserted the original target of 2% will continue to be the emphasis. “Let’s start with that”, he said to the media, and added, “We have a way to go”. 

Trump also ruffled feathers at the summit when he criticised Germany for being “totally controlled by Russia”. His comments were in reference to Germany’s support for a Baltic Sea pipeline which increases gas supplies from Russia to the EU. 

But Chancellor Merkel hit back by saying “I want to say that I have experience of when a part of Germany was controlled by the Soviet Union”. 

Trump flies in to the UK today for a state visit. The trip is set to be controversial, with thousands of protestors expected to take to the streets.

It'll be all white on the night 

Today the Government is expected to publish its white paper on Brexit. It promises to be a “comprehensive vision” of future relations, based on a “practical and principled” approach.

This is set to be the most detailed proposal yet from the UK side, following the EU chief negotiator’s calls for “workable” suggestions. Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab says the document respects the referendum vote but also considers the needs of the business community. 

The main aspects of the proposal were revealed last week following a Cabinet stay at Chequers. They include Britain retaining a “common rulebook” with the EU on goods - including agricultural products - and committing to “continued harmonisation” with EU rules in order to avoid friction at borders.

You can read the IoD’s response to the Chequers statement here.

There are already reports that May faces a rebellion by her own MPs on the Brexit plans, with prominent Brexiteer and backbencher Jacob Rees-Mogg saying “Unfortunately Chequers was a breakdown in trust”. 

Ahead of today’s publication, the FT hones in on what the white paper means for the financial services sector. It says a source, who has seen the paper, said the Government has decided against mutual recognition in favour of an equivalence regime which is “enhanced” in certain areas. 

Both the UK and EU endeavour to have an agreement by October. 

Sky lark 

US cable TV giant Comcast has upped its offer to buy UK-based Sky in what has become a bidding war for the pay-TV company. 

Comcast increased its bid to £26 billion just hours after Murdoch-backed 21stCentury Fox placed an offer of £24.5 billion on the table. Comcast said its new offer has been recommended by the independent committee of directors at Sky. 

Former Culture Secretary Matt Hancock – who was appointed Health Secretary earlier this week – has said there are would be no public interest concerns in the event of a Comcast takeover. It is thought, then, that the Department of Culture, Media and Sport would give a regulatory green light to the deal. 

In a dramatic few days of counter-bidding, new Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright had been expected to give his final approval to a Fox bid tomorrow. 

Comcast chief executive Brian Roberts wishes to expand the company’s assets outside the US and to maintain competitiveness with his Disney rival Bob Iger in ownership of entertainment offerings.

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