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Tuesday's Business and Politics round-up

17 Sep 2019

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Good morning,

The Supreme Court is due to hear two appeals which will determine whether Prime Minister Boris Johnson acted lawfully in suspending Parliament for five weeks, following Edinburgh’s Court of Session ruling that the shutdown was illegal. The hearing is scheduled to last until Thursday. 

Johnson said in response that he will “wait and see what the judges say” before deciding whether to recall Parliament. MPs are not due to return until 14 October. 

The Prime Minister went on to defend and praise the independence of the judiciary, saying it “is one of the glories of the UK”. 


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Louder than words

Boris Johnson has once again insisted that Brexit would happen on 31 October, saying that the EU has had “a bellyful” of the Brexit process and were “fed up with endless delays”, following his meeting with European Commission leaders yesterday. 

The message from the EU appears to be perhaps less optimistic though - the Commission noted that Johnson is yet to present concrete proposals, adding that any new plans had to be “compatible” with the existing withdrawal agreement. 

Matters were made worse after Johnson missed the press conference with the prime minister of Luxembourg Xavier Bettel after reportedly being heckled by anti-Brexit protesters. Bettel commented that there were “no concrete proposals at the moment on the table” from the UK and underlined that the EU “needs more than just words”. 

The pound fell further from last week’s gains after Bettel’s remarks, showing that the UK and EU remain split on their positions on Brexit. 

Supermarket sweep 

Discount retailer Aldi has pledged to open a new store in the UK every week on average for the next two years and would invest £1bn to achieve this aim. This comes after the supermarket’s sales rose last year, but profits fell sharply. 

Aldi attracted more than 800,000 new customers last year, leading to extra £1.1bn in sales, up 11% on the previous year. However, profits fell 18%, partly due to price cuts aimed at keeping its competitiveness. 

The retailer has over 840 stores across the UK and is increasing its focus on London. “The reality is that almost 50% of the population of the UK doesn’t currently shop with us and they tell us the main reason for that is that they don’t have a store near us,” said Aldi’s Giles Hurley. 

We(Don't)Work

WeWork’s parent company has postponed public listing, which was set to take place on Monday, after investors signalled they were going cold on the office sharing firm. Reuters reported last week that in its initial public offering, WeCompany may seek a valuation of between $10bn and $12bn. The company was once valued at $47bn (£37.8bn).

WeWork rents office space for the long term and sublets that space to firms and individuals on more flexible lease terms. Critics argue that this model could leave the company vulnerable during an economic downturn, as it would have to make leader payments even if the number of tenants drops. 

WeWork started in New York in 2010 and has expanded to over 500 locations in 111 cities across 29 countries since then. The company lost around $1.6bn last year, despite revenue nearly doubling.

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