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Thursday's Business and Politics round-up

21 Mar 2019

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Good morning!

IoD Chair Charlotte Valeur has a column in today’s CityAM (see p. 23 here) saying diversity is not a nice-to-have for businesses; it’s a must-have. A complete lack of diversity at the top, she argues, is a “red flag”. 

Charlotte suggests school curriculums should encourage girls to study traditionally male-dominated subjects like STEM and finance. She also recommends building inclusive networks to overcome the ‘old boys' club’ mentality. 

Perhaps most importantly for business leaders, Charlotte says current leaders must do their bit by championing diversity. She explains, “Any efforts to improve diversity must begin and end with those already at the top. Not only do leaders set the tone for their organisations, but they also hold the reins”. 

Also in today’s CityAM, IoD Senior Economist Tej Parikh features on the shadow monetary policy committee, recommending the Bank of England holds interest rates. “With question marks over the exit process remaining and the economy’s near-term path foggy, it’s best to wait”. 



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

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Article 50 Shades of Grey

Theresa May will be in Brussels today for the European Council summit, during which she will make a direct plea to the EU27 for a three-month Article 50 extension.

Last night she delivered a speech saying the British public are “tired of infighting and political games” and it was “high time” MPs made a decision on next steps. 

Speaking from Downing Street, she called the delay a “matter of personal regret” and added she was not willing to extend Brexit beyond 30 June. 

Yesterday European Council President Donald Tusk said he believed the EU27 would agree a short extension on the condition that the Commons approves May’s Brexit deal next week. However, there are reports that French President Macron is taking a hard-line stance. 

Earlier in the day the Prime Minister sent a letter to Tusk formally requesting an extension to Article 50. 

Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn said May was "in complete denial about the scale of the crisis" facing the UK and was "unable to offer the leadership the country needs".

The IoD is referenced in this analysis on what an Article 50 extension could mean for British firms and their contingency planning. 

Doctor deficiency 

The UK’s shortage of GPs is expected to last for at least another decades, three think tanks have warned.

A new report by The Nuffield Trust, King’s Fund and Health Foundation says the absence of qualified healthcare professionals has become a crucial problem facing the NHS. The NHS currently has 100,000 vacant positions in a workforce of over 1.2 million. 

The think tanks suggest the lack of doctors means patients will have to be treated by pharmacists and physiotherapists instead.

The shortfall of nurses will also triple to 100,000 unless nearly £1 billion is spent on training and recruiting from overseas. 

Richard Murray, chief executive of the King’s Fund, said attempts to hire GPs from abroad have been unsuccessful. He said “We are just not that competitive on pay and lifestyle. The numbers just haven’t come through but that isn’t for want of trying”. 

Baroness Harding, chair of NHS Improvement, welcomed the report. She said “Our staff are our biggest asset and so it is vital we do more to retain, recruit and develop them”. 

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