Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has followed Theresa May in making a provocative and eye-catching appointment. This is partly to compensate for negotiations on both sides beginning to resemble a slow bicycle race, with neither side incentivised to reveal their objectives. But while technical work is underway, these headline appointments are also a useful way of signalling intent and building support.
Amid the macho jostling between British politicians to set out ‘red lines’ for negotiating post-Brexit arrangements with the EU, where will British Prime Minister Theresa May turn for guidance? Rather than to her divided and inexperienced cabinet, there are good reasons for her to look at the records of predecessors Thatcher and Brown. Both bluntly but effectively framed pan-European challenges for other leaders in terms that required London-made solutions, whether completing the single market in goods or the financial crisis response. May will certainly want to move on quickly from the more affable but transactional legacy of her immediate predecessor, whose ‘renegotiation’ boiled down British interests to a narrow set of requests.
The nuclear deal between Iran and the West was no ‘grand bargain’. It was a narrow agreement to curb the Iranian nuclear programme in return for Western sanctions relief. Tehran continues its support for organisations such as Hezbollah and collides with the West over Syria. Its missile programme still angers NATO and violates at least the spirit of the deal. With the deal’s first anniversary on Thursday, it is worth asking why it has had relatively limited effect in restarting commercial links between the two sides, which was both a rationale for the deal but also part of the calculus for what might make it stick.
The long-anticipated privatisation of the 19.5% government-owned stake in Russia’s largest oil company, Rosneft has finally started to take shape with the government expected to reveal their offer to investors in the next two weeks. With BP owning 19.75% of Rosneft, making them the largest single private shareholder, this process will be watched as closely in St James’s Square as in Red Square.
Take one “jewel in the crown” of British industry – something export-heavy, research-intensive, tech-driven. Combine with a hard-talking new Prime Minister and a fresh commitment to review and defend foreign acquisitions in the “national interest”. Add in a surprise swoop from one such foreign acquirer, a dash of financial and political opportunism, and you have a recipe for fireworks. We can debate the precise justification of ARM’s status as a national icon, but it nevertheless stands in political terms as one of the UK’s biggest home-grown success stories in tech. So the apparent ease with which SoftBank’s acquisition is beginning its formal life is something of a puzzle.
Former UK Europe minister, David Davis was the latest UK politician to set out in print yesterday a post-Brexit manifesto for UK trade policy. In both substance and form, his vision is a synthesis of a range of proposals raised by the leave camp during the referendum campaign. It is hard to fault Davis for ambition. For any business with an interest in UK trade policy it is worth a good look, not least because there are some important holes in his assumptions about what happens next for UK trade policy.
What connects a bank in Sienna to a voter in Sunderland? Simple answer: they both have a problem with the EU, or think they do. Matteo Renzi wants a state aid waiver for support for the Italian banking sector, but new EU bail-in rules suggest he will have to force debt holders – many of whom are poorly-informed retail customers – to bear some of the costs of recapitalisation or resolution.
Just before the Russian State Duma was dissolved for the September elections, it voted for the controversial amendments to the counter-terrorism legislation dubbed the ‘Big Brother Law’. The new amendments signed by President Vladimir Putin yesterday could completely change the country’s mobile industry landscape and seriously affect Russia’s preparations for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
My colleague Ying Staton writes today in Singapore’s The Straits Times that values in the UK’s housing market will remain robust, after a few short-term jitters. Yet a cursory glance at the UK real estate market suggests that all is far from well, as investors rush to withdraw funds and fund managers slam the gates on them. So what explains her optimism?