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Thursday's Business and Politics round-up

16 Nov 2017

Person sat at a table reading a newspaper

Good Morning,

The political whirlwind continues today with Jeremy Corbyn expected to meet Trump's UK envoy Woody Johnson. Oh what I'd give to be a fly on the wall. Johnson is a billionaire American football club owner and an old friend of the US President. And well, Corbyn is quite literally neither of those things. I wonder what they'll talk about? Jam perhaps?

Even closer to home, the Times today leads with a story that Michael Gove is facing backlash from senior Tories who have accused him of using cabinet meetings to “audition” to be the next chancellor. The Environment Secretary has angered cabinet colleagues by straying beyond his brief in what is regarded as an attempt to persuade the Prime Minister to give him Philip Hammond’s job.

He is understood to have made a lengthy contribution on the economy at Cabinet meetings, and according to two people present, he used "lots of long, economicky words". Yes, you saw correctly - economicky. Politics, eh?

And if you're finding it hard to make sense of this madness, make sure you come to our event with Robert Peston, a man has for many years been in the thick of it all. Director General Stephen Martin will be interviewing the political commentator at the IoD on 4th December - make sure you're there. Ticket prices include a copy of his brand new book WTF (I think the name says it all!). Book here.

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Coup de Grace

If you thought British politics was confusing, you may just find what is happening in Zimbabwe mind-boggling.

The country is in a unusual state of waiting to see what steps the military will take next after seizing control. The story dominates the today’s front pages as they continue to deny it is a coup.

President Robert Mugabe is said to be confined to his home in Harare but unconfirmed reports says his wife Grace, who was bidding to succeed him as president, has fled to Namibia.

The military's action followed the sacking of Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, a fierce rival of Mrs Mugabe. His whereabouts are also unclear.

President Mugabe, now 93, has been in control of the country since it gained independence from Britain in 1980. But the power struggle over who might succeed him, between Mrs Mugabe and Mr Mnangagwa, has split the ruling Zanu-PF party in recent months.

Rebel Rebel 

You’ve got your party in a whirl

May’s not sure if you’re loyal or not…

Hey remainer, your views are alright

Hey remainer, let's go out tonight

Who knew David Bowie and Theresa May had so much in common?

The Tory rebels continue to make the headlines this morning following the Prime Minister’s remarks in the Commons yesterday where she expressed her hopes for Parliament to "come together" despite MPs' differences of opinion over Brexit strategy.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Theresa May said the Government is "listening carefully" to those trying to amend its flagship Brexit bill. The bill, which aims to ensure continuity and minimise disruption upon exit from the European Union, would transpose EU law into UK statute books.

Mrs May said that while the UK is definitely leaving the EU, there is a "lively debate" happening with fervent points of view being aired on both sides of the House.

Her comments come in light of news that a group of at least 15 rebel Tory MPs have vowed to oppose an element of the proposed EU bill which would enshrine the day of exit in law.  All the MPs bar one voted to invoke Article 50, which gives Britain two years to leave the EU. However, they are refusing to legally endorse the move.

The Prime Minister's remarks are therefore a sign the Government could be softening its stance on its approach to the legislation. Indeed, Brexit Minister David Davis recently gave a major concession by confirming the final Brexit deal will be put to a vote in Parliament.

Amongst pro-Brexit Tory MPs, there are concerns that if the date of withdrawal is not written into law, there will be a last-minute attempt to keep Britain in the EU should Parliament reject the final deal.

On Tuesday evening, MPs began eight days of detailed scrutiny of the bill.

Emergency Budget 

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell will call for "an emergency budget for our public services" in a speech later today.

Speaking a week before Chancellor Philip Hammond delivers his Autumn Budget, Mr McDonnell will lay out five proposals for the Budget, including funding public sector pay rises, investing more into infrastructure, launching a large-scale house building programme, pausing the roll-out of Universal Credit and putting more money into the NHS, education and local government.

The Shadow Chancellor will also criticise the Government for the way it handles tax issues, claiming that it is failing to stop tax avoidance.

"The Tories have created an economy in which the rich elite at the top do better than ever, while the rest of us have to live with our vital public services teetering on the brink," Mr McDonnell will say, with the aim to show that the Labour party is ready to be in power.

Responding to the proposals, Economic Secretary to the Treasury Steve Barclay said that Labour's plans would lead to higher taxes, fewer jobs and more debt. "We have turned the economy around by taking a balanced approach to public spending and backing businesses to create better, higher-paid jobs."

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