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Wednesday's Business and Politics round-up

06 Nov 2019

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Good morning!

Spain will have its fourth general election in as many years this Sunday. Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez is tipped to win again, but the party will likely lose seats in a chamber where it already lacks a majority.

The Spanish political system has historically been dominated by the Socialists and the conservative Popular Party but the years since the financial crisis have produced a fragmented picture, with the rise of the liberal Ciudadanos and the far-left Podemos. 

Violent protests in recent weeks over Catalonia’s push for independence have only exacerbated this fragmentation. The imprisonment of nine Catalan leaders for up to 13 years in 2017 has provided political ammunition against Sanchez. 

Polls suggest his best hope is to cooperate with the Popular Party and form a minority administration - both parties have ruled out creating a grand coalition. 



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

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Gloves are off

The five-week campaign period will kick off today, as the Prime Minister is set to formally announce the general election taking place on December 12. 

Parliament was dissolved overnight and today Boris Johnson will meet the Queen at Buckingham Palace. Today also marks the start of the official Conservative Party campaign with a promise to “get Brexit done” at its heart.

In a column for the Daily Telegraph, Johnson compares the UK to a “supercar blocked in traffic” by Brexit and adds "If we can get Brexit done, there are hundreds of billions of pounds of investment that are just waiting to flood into this country".

Meanwhile, today his opposite number Jeremy Corbyn will in a speech commit to “real change” if there is a Labour government. Yesterday Jo Swinson kicked off the Lib Dem campaign, with a “stop Brexit” tagline. 

The 19-day parliamentary session is the shortest since 1948. Parliament was formally shut down just after midnight which means that all MPs revert to being members of the public, although ministers remain in post. 

Had his Phil

Philip Hammond has confirmed he will not stand as an MP at the forthcoming election. The former Chancellor was expelled from the parliamentary party in September after supporting anti no-deal legislation.
 
Hammond said he felt “aggrieved” at the punishment and hinted he perceives a shift in attitude of the party. He said "The Conservative Party that I have served has always had room for a wide range of opinions and has been tolerant of measured dissent”.
 
He added “I remain a Conservative and I cannot therefore embark on a course of action that would represent a direct challenge in a general election to the party I have supported all my adult life”.
 
Hammond has represented Tory safe seat Runnymede and Weybridge since 1997. He was Chancellor for three years under Theresa May, after stints as foreign secretary, defense secretary and transport secretary under David Cameron.
 
He was one of 21 Tory MPs that lost the Conservative whip for backing legislation designed to stop the UK leaving the EU without a deal. Some of these MPs have had the whip restored, but Hammond was not one of them.

It's a steel!

Jingye Group is said to be the frontrunner to save British Steel, according to sources close to the matter.
 
The Chinese company hopes to strike a deal to take over the failed manufacturer by mid-November. It comes after nearly six months of uncertainty for 5,000 workers, the majority of whom work at the Scunthorpe plant in Lincolnshire.
 
Jingye’s plans for the British firm include increasing steel production from 2.5 million tonnes annually to over 3 million. It also wishes to upgrade existing equipment to enhance efficiency and conserve energy, as well as increase the use of scrap steel.

Jingye is itself is a steel manufacturer, but also has interests in hotels, real estate, tourism and 3D printing. It has not responded to media requests for comments on the situation.
 
Another potential buyer for British Steel is UK-based industrial conglomerate Liberty House, led by Indian-born businessman Sanjeev Gupta. The business has purchased several struggling metals factories in recent years.


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