Theresa May’s cabinet is prepared to increase its financial offer to the EU in an attempt to break the deadlock in Brexit talks but will make clear that any figure is contingent on the final deal, including the shape of a future trading arrangement. A crunch meeting of the prime minister’s new Brexit sub-committee, set up to discuss the government’s strategy for critical negotiations, agreed to a calculation of the divorce bill that would result in a larger payment.
Ministers are expected to sign off an improved financial offer to the European Union today that Downing Street hopes will unblock the Brexit negotiations. Theresa May will lay out her plans at a meeting of cabinet ministers, including the Leave supporters Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and David Davis. If the proposals are approved, she will present them on Friday to Donald Tusk, the European Council president. - The Times.
It felt like a revolution. They came from all over the country and all walks of life. Young and old, opposition activists and party apparatchiks, white farmers and black war veterans, housewives and their maids. For years many of them had been on opposing sides, but yesterday they had one common objective. "Mugabe must go!" read the banners as thousands of Zimbabweans filled the streets of Harare draped in their red, yellow, green and black flag, playing music, dancing and hugging strangers.
Cable and media giant Comcast has reportedly approached 21st Century Fox about a possible acquisition, a move that comes after Disney was also reported to be circling Rupert Murdoch’s media empire. 21st Century Fox’s share price shot up in after-hours trading following the news on Thursday, first reported by CNBC. It is unclear whether the cablecompany is exploring a purchase of all or part of Fox, which owns Hollywood studios 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight as well as the Fox news and sports channels.
Theresa May will signal that tackling the housing crisis will be a key theme of next week’s budget as pressure mounts on the chancellor, Philip Hammond, to release fresh resources to invest in building new homes. MPs and ministers have been urging the chancellor to spend more on housebuilding, since the general election campaign underscored younger voters’ concerns about the difficulties of getting on the property ladder. – Guardian.
Philip Hammond is facing renewed calls to unfreeze public sector pay, as fresh analysis suggests the cost to the Treasury would be cushioned by £2. 5bn in additional tax revenues and benefits savings. A significant portion of funding required to lift the cap would be returned almost immediately to the Treasury, according to research from the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) thinktank. – Guardian.
The average pay packet in Britain in five years’ time will still be more than £20 lower than it was before the start of the financial crisis as the biggest squeeze on wages since the end of the Napoleonic Wars extends well into a second decade, a leading thinktank has warned. The Resolution Foundation said that the downgrade to Britain’s future productivity performance expected in next week’s budget would have a negative impact on wage growth between now and 2022 and also limit the room for manoeuvre of the chancellor, Philip Hammond.
More than 3,000 potential conflicts of interests have been disclosed by almost half of Bank of England employees in the wake of the Charlotte Hogg debacle. The central bank was notified of 3,333 “close personal relationships” by 1,924 employees as of the end of last month, such as with City firms, Bank contractors and MPs, figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show. - The Times.
A “disorderly Brexit” is now seen as almost inevitable by the world’s biggest banks — ranking on a par with a global cyber-attack as a threat to the international financial system, the City of London Corporation has warned. In a letter to the chancellor sent, Catherine McGuinness, chairwoman of the policy and resources committee at the City’s ruling body, offers her “detailed observations on institutional concerns” following three days of meetings with Wall Street bosses and policymakers in New York and Washington DC.
British and European business leaders are to demand an urgent breakthrough on Brexit from Theresa May in order to salvage a transition deal from the stalled negotiations in Brussels. The CBI and counterparts from France, Germany and Italy will meet the prime minister at Downing Street on Monday to warn that taking much longer to negotiate a transition agreement could render it useless because companies will soon be forced to assume the worst about the terms of Britain’s departure from the EU.
A shortage of factory workers is starting to push up pay rates but wage rises in the services sector remain rooted at around 2%, according to the latest feedback from the Bank of England’s regional agents. The central bank said its agents, which are based in offices across the country, found that shortages this month across the manufacturing sector were leading to a “slight increase in pay growth” that would take average rate of pay rises up by half a percent, from 2-3% this year to 2.
MPs have launched a formal inquiry into household finances, as personal debt hits levels unseen since the financial crisis. The Treasury select committee will examine the debt levels of UK households as well as whether consumers are saving adequately as Britain leaves the European Union. Problem debt and the treatment of low income families by banks will also form part of the inquiry. - Guardian.
High inflation could cost the British Government tens of billions of pounds in extra interest payments because so much of its debt is index-linked. More than one-third of gilts – excluding those bought by the Bank of England – are linked to the retail price index measure of inflation, so if inflation is one percentage point higher over the next five years, payments on those bonds will rise by £26bn, the National Audit Office has warned. - Telegraph.
The world’s biggest businesses, heads of state and global figures in politics, entertainment and sport who have sheltered their wealth in secretive tax havens are being revealed this week in a major new investigation into Britain’s offshore empires. The details come from a leak of 13. 4m files that expose the global environments in which tax abuses can thrive – and the complex and seemingly artificial ways the wealthiest corporations can legally protect their wealth.
Europe’s largest carmaker is looking at opening a British bank to help to fund sales of its cars in the UK after Brexit. Talks with the Bank of England are expected to lead to Volkswagen making a formal application for a banking licence that will allow it for the first time to take savers’ money. - The Times.
Women around the globe may have to wait more than two centuries to achieve equality in the workplace, according to new research. The World Economic Forum, best known for its annual gathering in the Swiss resort of Davos, said it would take 217 years for disparities in the pay and employment opportunities of men and women to end. This is significantly longer than the 170 years its researchers calculated a year ago. – Guardian.
The UK’s property market will take this week’s expected rise in interest rates in its stride, according to ratings agency Moody’s, but it warned that the outlook for the buy-to-let market has worsened significantly. The agency, which along with Standard & Poor’s was widely condemned for awarding triple-A ratings to sub-prime mortgage books before the 2008 financial crisis, said the British property market is more resilient than is widely believed. – Guardian.
A Brexit agreement with the EU would need to be enshrined in law and be subject to scrutiny and a vote by MPs and peers, ministers have conceded. Until now Theresa May and David Davis, the Brexit secretary, have insisted that parliament will only be given a “take it or leave it” vote on the overall deal, without the need for primary legislation. - The Times.
Fresh analysis that reveals a hole of almost £20bn in the public finances will heighten the pressure on the chancellor, Philip Hammond, ahead of next month’s budget. Britain is on track for the deficit – the gap between government spending and tax receipts – to reach £36bn by 2021-22, more than twice the initial official forecast of £17bn, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS). - Guardian.
The chief executive of Germany’s stock exchange has resigned to avoid distractions caused by allegations that he has been involved in insider dealing. The Frankfurt-based Deutsche Börse announced Carsten Kengeter would leave at the end of the year just days after a German court refused to back a settlement over the allegations under which he had agreed to a €500,000 (£443,281) penalty and the Börse €10. 5m. – Guardian.