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News Brexit - Press releases

Monday's Business and Politics round-up

25 Mar 2019

Person reading the news on their smartphone on a train

Good morning!

Rumours continue to swirl around the Prime Minister's tenure ahead of a crunch Cabinet meeting today (more below), following a flurry of excitement over the weekend.

The Sunday Times reported that Deputy PM David Lidington was to be installed in Theresa May's place, while the Mail on Sunday tagged Environment Secretary Michael Gove as the 'consensus' choice of Cabinet ministers on manoeuvres. Both took to the airwaves yesterday to quash the claims.

Never to be outdone in terms of drama however, US politicos are reacting today to thecompletion of the Mueller Report into President Trump's engagement with Russia during the 2016 election. While clearing Trump and his entourage of the charge of collusion, the report did not rule on whether the President obstructed justice. Somehow it feels like this won't quite draw a line under the issue.

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Gimme Shell-ter

Royal Dutch Shell is looking to shake up the UK energy market, as it begins this week to supply 700,000 homes with renewable energy.

The firm has taken over First Utility, a former challenger to the big six suppliers in the UK. The chief exec of Shell Energy Retail, the name of the newly taken over brand,commented, “We are building on the disruptive nature of First Utility to give customers something better. We know that renewable electricity is important to them and we are delivering that.”

Meanwhile, The Times reports that this could be just the opening gambit by Shell, which will reportedly explore 'all opportunities' as it seeks to grow, not ruling out taking over one of the current big six.

Mark Gainsborough, head of Shell's new energy division, labelled competitor and FTSE 100 firm SSE as 'small in the great scheme of things".

Elsewhere in the energy world, Centrica boss Iain Conn has reportedly taken a £140,000 pay cut following a row over executive pensions.

Mirror, indicate, manoeuvre 

The Prime Minister will use this morning's special Cabinet meeting to set out plans to hold indicative votes in the House of Commons on a range of Brexit options, according to theDaily Telegraph.

Options that would be considered include holding a second referendum, revoking Article 50, and backing a customs union as part of the broader Brexit deal.

The Prime Minister will then hold talks with opposite number Jeremy Corbyn ahead of a statement to the house in the afternoon on last week's European summit. Following the statement, MPs will debate an amendable motion, and may seek to take control of the Commons business anyway, forcing indicative votes this week just in case.

Yesterday, Brexiteers including Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg visited May to discuss the possibility of getting her Withdrawal Deal through parliament, however little was agreed, with the Guardian reporting that the PM stuck to 'all the same lines'.

Meanwhile, outside Parliament, the petition to revoke Article 50 now has more than 5 million signatures, following the weekend's march in London in favour of a second referendum, which reportedly drew over a million people.

Getting away with merger?

The proposed merger between Sainsbury's and Asda remains a hot topic, with organisations attacking and defending the deal over the weekend.

The merger, expected to be worth around £12bn, is facing trouble after the Competition and Markets Authority said it was 'minded to reject' it, following an investigation which found it potentially anti-competitive. The supermarkets responded on Friday, promising to sell over a hundred stores, having earlier in the week promised £1bn in price cuts to consumers due to the deal, with Sainsbury's also undertaking to cap profits from its petrol stations. 

This final promise, however, raised the hackles of the Petrol Retailers Association, which represents 3,500 stations. They described the proposal as 'cynical', saying it would jeopardize the viability of thousands of independent retailers (which could itself, perhaps ironically, hamper competition).

The Asda-Sainsbury tie-up did however find an advocate, as consultancy AlixPartners were cited in the Sunday Times arguing that the CMA's investigation put too much stock by the 'Guppi' measure of market competitiveness, and was thus flawed.

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Contact Press office

Donjeta Miftari, Head of Communications 

020 7451 3285

Euan Holmes, Press Officer

020 7451 3280

Press office