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Thursday's Business and Politics round-up

17 Jan 2019

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Good morning!

Two crucial votes in as many days mean it has been a dramatic week in Parliament – even if the results were foregone conclusions. 

So what has changed? Labour's next steps are now more crucial than ever. Tuesday’s defeat demonstrates May can’t rely on the support of just her own MPs to get a deal over the line. 

There appears to be consensus that no-deal is the least desirable outcome and so the crux of the matter remains the same as before this week: is there some kind of Brexit deal that the majority of MPs can rally behind?


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

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Live to die another day

The Prime Minister is to push for cross-party consensus after surviving last night’s no-confidence vote by 325 votes to 306. The vote came just a day after MPs voted her Brexit deal down. 

Speaking after the results were announced, Theresa May said she would "continue to work to deliver on the solemn promise to the people of this country to deliver on the result of the referendum and leave the European Union".

May also said she would immediately invite other parties to hold talks with her with a “constructive spirit”. She added, "We must find solutions that are negotiable and command sufficient support in this House”. 

The Prime Minister also gave a statement from Downing Street later in the evening. Reflecting on the week’s events, she said “now MPs have made clear what they don’t want, we must all work constructively together to set out what Parliament does want”.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has so far refused to meet with May. He said “positive discussions” would only happen after the Prime Minister ruled out a no-deal “and all the chaos that would come as a result”. 

Corbyn had tabled the no-confidence motion after the Government’s withdrawal deal suffered a historic defeat in the Commons on Tuesday night. 

The Prime Minister said she will return to Parliament on Monday to grant MPs another vote on her plans. 

All puff, no filling 

The owner of Patisserie Valerie has admitted that problems with its accounts are worse than previously thought, revealing “It will take some time before a reliable trading outlook can be completed”.

Patisserie Holdings had said in October that there were irregularities in its financial reporting, but yesterday it confirmed the past misstatement of accounts was “extensive” and “involved thousands of false entries into the company’s ledgers”. 

In the aftermath of the announcement in October - during which it registered earnings of £12 million - Patisserie Holdings replaced most of its senior leadership team. Yesterday the company said cash flow and profits were overstated that month and were in fact “materially below” the reported figures. 

The company has hired KPMG to help “in carrying out a review of all options available to it in order to recover from the devastating effects of the fraud, and to preserve its value for stakeholders going forward”.

Finance director Chris Marsh was arrested following a suspension, and is currently being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office and the Financial Reporting Council.

Hitting a wall

The outlook for the housing market over the next three months is the worst for two decades, according to UK surveyors.

Among the members of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, 28% anticipate sales falling in the next three months. This is the most pessimistic outlook since records began in October 1998. Brexit and lack of supply and affordability are factors impacting the housing market. 

In all parts of the UK, sales figures anticipated over the coming three months are either flat or negative. 

RICS chief economist Simon Rubinsohn said "It is hardly a surprise with on-going uncertainty about the path to Brexit dominating the news agenda, that even allowing for the normal patterns around the Christmas holidays, buyer interest in purchasing property in December was subdued”.

Inquiries from first-time buyers dropped for the fifth month running in December. This period coincided with a decrease in the number of new properties coming on to the market. 

The outlook for the next 12 months was more optimistic. RICS said if house building is to come close to government targets, there needs to be “significantly greater input from other delivery channels, including local authorities”. 

The average UK house price was £230,630 in October, a month-on-month drop of 0.1%. 

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