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Thursday's Business and Politics round-up

13 Dec 2018

Person sat at a table reading a newspaper

Good morning!

turbulent couple of days for the Prime Minister has ended with her managing to win a no-confidence vote by Tory MPs - more on this below. 

In other no-confidence vote news, the French government is set to face its own today, after left-wing parties filed a motion to do so - but it won't be nearly fun as ours, as the government’s majority means it is unlikely to lose.

Still, it is a blow for President Macron, who has been struggling to contain weeks of anti-government protests by so-called ‘gilets jaunes’. 

Earlier this week Macron offered concessions, including raising the minimum wage and agreeing to scrap plans for a tax on pensions – but there are concerns that these measures will substantially increase the French deficit. 

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

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"You like me, you really like me!"

The Prime Minister has won a confidence vote on her leadership by 200 votes to 117, or 63% of the ballot. 

Speaking after the victory was announced, May said she has a “renewed mission” to deliver "the Brexit people voted for”. She added she has “listened” to Tory MPs that voted against her. 

The Prime Minister mentioned that while “in her heart” she would like to fight the next general election as party leader, she would not do so as she realised the Conservatives don’t want her to. The next election is due in 2022. 

Commenting on last night’s results, IoD Director General Stephen Martin said "In all the twists and turns of Brexit, this may prove to be the most pointless and the most short-lived”. He added that politicians should now focus on “what really matters” and negotiate the future relationship with the EU. 

Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn said the vote had “changed nothing”, arguing the government was still “in chaos”. Meanwhile DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds, whose party props up the Conservatives in government, said "I don't think this vote really changes anything very much in terms of the arithmetic”. 

Following her win, May will hotfoot it to Brussels today to join a European Council summit where the topic of Brexit will be a special item on the agenda.  

While the Brexit withdrawal deal has been agreed at political level between the UK and EU, it is proving hard for May to sell to her domestic audience. Earlier this week she delayed a House of Commons vote on the deal, promising to instead seek further assurances from Brussels on the controversial Irish backstop. 

Yesterday it was confirmed that Sir Graham Brady, chair of the 1922 committee, had received enough letters from Tory MPs to trigger a vote on May’s leadership. IoD’s Stephen had responded to the news, saying business leaders were “tearing their hair out” at the current state of Westminster politics. 

Stephen’s comments yesterday were widely picked up in the media, including in the GuardianSky News and Reuters as well as today’s print versions of the Times, Sun and Daily Mail. 

Asda way the cookie crumbles 

Doubts have been raised over a planned £12 billion merger between Sainsbury’s and Asda, as the companies struggle to deal with demands from the Competition and Markets Authority. 

The supermarkets are appealing against the CMA’s decision not to extend the timetabling for the merger, arguing the “unprecedented size and complexity” of the deal requires more time. The CMA says it has already granted them numerous extensions. 

The regulator is concerned about competition risks and it has launched an investigation into the planned merger. Taken alongside Tesco, the potential enlarged group would control almost 60% of the British grocery market. 

In addition to competition concerns, the CMA must also consider the possible consequences for prices and choices for consumers and knock-on impacts for sectors such as fuel and clothing.  

Shares in J Sainsbury’s dropped by over 7% yesterday amid doubts over the merger. One market analyst suggested that, while Sainsbury’s has implied the review is about process rather than content, the company actually has concerns about both. 

Britain’s second and third largest supermarkets announced their intention to merge earlier this year in a move that would create a group with revenues worth £51 billion and a staff count of 330,000. 

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Contact Press Office

Donjeta Miftari, Head of Communications  

020 7451 3285

Euan Holmes, Press Officer

020 7451 3280

Press office