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Tuesday's Business and Politics round-up

23 Apr 2019

Person reading a daily news round up on their tablet

Good morning,

This morning’s newspaper front pages are dominated by the devastating terrorist attack that took place on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka, with the country’s leadership facing scrutiny after it emerged that authorities were warned about a possible attack but the Prime Minister and the cabinet were not informed.
Meanwhile in domestic news, Brexit talks between the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Corbyn will resume today, as the Government seeks to find a Brexit compromise that will gain Parliament’s backing before the European elections on 23 May.
This comes as Mr Corbyn faces increasing pressure to back a second referendum. Labour’s Deputy Leader Tom Watson wrote in the Observer on Sunday, saying that a “confirmatory” referendum and “final say” on a Brexit deal was “the very least” voters deserved.
If a cross-party agreement is reached this week, the Government would have just 18 working days to pass all the necessary legislation.
Meanwhile, the polls suggest that Nigel Farage’s new Brexit party is set to gain the most votes in the upcoming European elections. The Tories are predicted to end in the worst position.

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Tough egg to crack

The end of the Easter break means an end to the brief period of calm in the Brexit world. The Prime Minister returns to work as a fresh no-confidence challenge looms, this time from the grassroot campaigners of the Conservative party – the National Conservative Convention.
More than 70 local association chiefs have called a general meeting to discuss Theresa May’s leadership, particularly her Government’s handling of Brexit negotiations and willingness to engage in discussions with the Labour party.
The petition states, “We no longer feel that Mrs May is the right person to continue as prime minister to lead us forward in the [Brexit] negotiations. We therefore, with great reluctance, ask that she considers her position and resigns, to allow the Conservative Party to choose another leader, and the country to move forward and negotiate our exit from the EU.”
Although the vote is non-binding, if it does pass it will be another example of the tensions within the Conservative party over Brexit. The meeting is expected to take place within weeks.
Mrs May faced a no-confidence vote back in December and managed to survive it. The current rules mean that she cannot be challenged until the end of 2019, but there have been continuous calls in Parliament to change this.

Under attack

The proportion of firms reporting cyber breaches has increased from 40% last year to 55% in 2019, according to a new study by insurer Hiscox. Average losses from attacks also increased by 61% compared to last year. Meanwhile, most companies admitted they were under-prepared for cyber-attacks.
British firms were the least prepared for cyber breaches, the Hiscox Cyber Readiness Report 2019 said, adding that they had the lowest cyber security budgets. British and US companies were also the least likely to have a “defined role for cyber security” on their staff.
While larger firms are still the most likely to be targeted for cyber breaches, the proportion of small firms reporting such incidents has increased from 33% to 47%.
The study was carried out across seven countries, including the UK, Germany, the US, Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Spain, with over 5,400 companies taking part in the survey.

Oil tensions

President Donald Trump announced yesterday that the US would end exemptions from sanctions for countries that continue to buy oil from Iran. Countries that are covered with the waiver include China, India, Japan, South Korea and Turkey – from May those countries could face US sanctions themselves if they don’t abide by the rules, Mr Trump said.
Oil prices jumped yesterday to their highest levels this year as a result.
The move is part of the US efforts to bring Iran’s oil exports to zero, blocking the country’s main source of revenue. Iran have meanwhile insisted that the sanctions are illegal.
Mr Trump reinstated the sanctions on Iran last year after abandoning the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers. The US wants to negotiate a “new deal” with Iran that would not only cover the country’s nuclear activities, but also its ballistic missile programme and behaviour across the Middle East.  

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