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Wednesday's Business and Politics round-up

10 Jul 2019

Person sat at a table reading a newspaper

Good morning,

With the summer in full swing, and the UK's weather returned to its habitual grey murk, thoughts may be turning to the prospect of sunnier climes.

One thing to bear in mind, however, if planning a trip overseas. The pound has just dipped to a two-year low against the dollar, while it has notched a six-month nadir versus the Euro.

The cause (according to analysts, at least)? Of course, the ever present, Brexit uncertainty. At half nine this morning, monthly GDP stats come out for May, in which there may however be a slight rebound in activity.

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

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Don't account your chickens

Leading accounting firms have missed targets on the quality of their FTSE audit work, according to a report by the Financial Reporting Council.

In its latest round of examinations - for audits in 2017 - the watchdog found that three quarters were good or required limited improvement only. The target set is ninety per cent.

FRC CEO Stephen Hadrill said that, 'at a time when the future of the audit sector is under the microscope, the latest audit quality results are not acceptable.'

PwC's rating dipped for the year to 65 percent, down from 84 per cent, while the regulator found instances of each firm failing to challenge management sufficiently.

In other regulatory news, the Financial Conduct Authority has released its annual report, showing that enforcement action has increased. Over £80m was levied in fines against individuals alone for the fiscal year.

Blue on blue 

The Conservative leadership race, entering its final fortnight, continued last night with a live debate between the two contenders on ITV.

In what the Guardian has labelled a 'bitter blue-on-blue' clash, the current and former Foreign Secretaries debated the recent spat between the US President and the British Ambassador, whose less-than-complimentary private comments about the former were leaked to the press.

While Jeremy Hunt vowed to keep Sir Kim Darroch in post should he become PM, Boris Johnson would not be drawn on the question, though he did state that 'it is vital the civil service is not politicised by ministers leaking what they say.'

Johnson also did not confirm his position on the third runway at Heathrow (which Hunt supports) while defending his proposal for a cut in personal taxation for those earning over £50,000, which his opponent called 'a mistake'.

Three lords a-leaving 

Three Labour peers have quit the party over its handling of internal anti-Semitism.

They included Lord Triesman, who was general secretary of the party between 2001 and 2003.

BBC Newsnight broke the story, and relayed that in his resignation letter Triesman wrote that leader Jeremy Corbyn 'and his circle are anti-Semitic, having never once made the right judgement call about an issue reflecting deep prejudice.'

The Daily Telegraph reports that another Labour peer may also be on the verge of resigning the whip.

The Party said it was taking 'decisive action' on anti-Semitism, saying that incidents involving members represented 'a tiny minority [of the membership] - but one anti-Semite is one too many and we will continue to act against this repugnant form of racism.  

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Donjeta Miftari, Head of Communications

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Euan Holmes, Press Officer

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