Press Round-Up Short (Premium)
British shopping centres, DIY stores and garden centres struggled over the bank holiday weekend as shoppers stayed outside to enjoy the blazing sunshine. Indoor shopping centres were hit particularly hard, with a year-on-year decline in footfall of more than 11% on both Friday and Saturday, according to retail data company Springboard. - Observer.
The competition watchdog has called for the Big Four auditors to split their auditing and consulting operations to address "serious" issues in the disgraced accounting sector, but stopped short of calling for a full break-up. Deloitte, PwC, EY and KPMG, which audit 97pc of all FTSE 350 companies, have faced extensive criticism for failing to flag problems in the accounts of clients including Carillion, BHS and Patisserie Valerie before their collapse. - Telegraph.
The global financial system faces an existential threat from climate change and must take urgent steps to reform, the governors of the Bank of England and France’s central bank have warned, writing in the Guardian. In an article published in the Guardian on Wednesday aimed at the international financial community, Mark Carney, the Bank’s governor, and Villeroy de Galhau, the governor of the Banque de France, said financial regulators, banks and insurers around the world had to “raise the bar” to avoid catastrophe.
Experimental early warning systems for the economy, devised by the Office for National Statistics and using VAT and road traffic data, have suggested that turnover at British companies may have weakened during the first quarter. The ONS said that its new index based on VAT returns had shown a “mixed picture”, with “very slightly more firms reporting a decline in turnover” between the first quarter of 2019 and the final quarter of 2018 than those posting an increase.
British businesses are the most gloomy they have been about Brexit since the 2016 referendum, with eight out of 10 finance leaders expecting the long-term business environment to be worse as a result of the UK leaving the EU. The accountancy group Deloitte has warned that worries over the long-term impact of Brexit are mounting, with more than half of finance bosses expecting to rein in recruitment and spending. - Guardian.
David Lidington, the cabinet minister overseeing cross-party Brexit talks with Labour, has insisted that there is now “more that unites than divides” the main parties, amid desperate attempts to find a breakthrough that avoids European elections that could prove disastrous for the Tories. His claims that the meetings had been “serious and constructive”, with large areas of agreement, comes as Theresa May and her team want to show progress as soon as possible, in a bid to avoid taking part in European elections late next month.
Theresa May has dispatched shattered MPs for a 10-day Easter recess, and urged them to use the time away from Westminster to “reflect on the decisions that will have to be made swiftly on our return,” after European Union leaders set 31 October as the new Brexit deadline. The prime minister addressed the House of Commons after her return from the late-night summit in Brussels at which EU27 leaders thrashed out an extension to article 50. - Guardian.
A £1m fund to help expand and improve paper cup recycling facilities across the UK will be launched on Thursday by the coffee giant Starbucks and environmental charity Hubbub. Local authorities, recycling companies and social enterprises will be invited to bid for grants of up to £100,000 on behalf of their communities to create at least 10 large-scale recycling programmes. – Guardian.
European leaders have urged President Macron not to “humiliate” Theresa May as the price of granting her a long Brexit extension. In an appeal before tonight’s critical summit, Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, called on EU leaders to treat Britain with respect or risk poisoning future relations. - The Times.
Theresa May will go to Paris and Berlin to plead with Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron for a Brexit extension on Tuesday, promising to be a good member of the European Union until departure day and claiming talks with Labour have a serious chance of reaching a deal. Before an emergency European summit this week, the prime minister will head to the continent to make the case for extending article 50 only until the end of June. However, she is also being forced to make pledges that the UK would abide by EU rules for however long it is a member, given that a longer delay and participation in European elections now look like the most likely option.
Business confidence has crashed to the lowest point since 2012, and the economy is only growing because firms are stockpiling ahead of Brexit, according to a key sentiment indicator. The BDO optimism index, which charts how businesses expect output to develop in the next three to six months, fell faster in March that at any time since the bleakest days in the aftermath of the Lehman Brothers collapse in 2008. – Guardian.
Euan Sutherland, the Superdry chief executive who walked out of the fashion group earlier this week in protest at a boardroom coup led by its co-founder Julian Dunkerton, is to be handed a £730,000 payoff. Sutherland, along with all the other board directors, resigned on Tuesday afternoon after a shock shareholder vote backed the reappointment of Dunkerton as a board director. – Guardian.
Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn were both facing a furious backlash from their parties last night amid growing scepticism over the prospects of their talks finding a way through Brexit. No 10 and Labour claimed initially that the leaders had had a “constructive” meeting after they spent an hour and 40 minutes in the Commons working through options. They agreed to set up a working party to meet today. - The Times.
Theresa May has offered to enter talks with Jeremy Corbyn to break the logjam over Brexit and let parliament decide a binding way forward if they fail to find a compromise. In a significant shift, May said she would request an extension to leaving the European Union and opened the door to accepting a softer Brexit, with No 10 not ruling out accepting either a customs union or a second referendum. - Guardian.
Theresa May will summon her warring cabinet to Downing Street for a five-hour showdown on Tuesday after parliament once again failed to coalesce behind any alternative to her rejected Brexit deal. Three options – a common market, a customs union and a second referendum – were all narrowly rejected in the process of indicative votes, prompting renewed talk of a swift general election. - Guardian.
Almost 2 million workers in the UK are in line for a pay rise on Monday as the legal minimum wage increases by nearly 5%. Adults on pay rates rebranded as the “national living wage” will receive a 4. 9% rise from £7. 83 to £8. 21 an hour, worth an extra £690 over a year and affecting around 1. 6 million people. - Guardian.
Britain faces another year in the European Union if MPs refuse to approve a central part of Theresa May’s deal during an emergency sitting of parliament today. On the date the country was due to leave the bloc, the Commons will be asked to vote in favour of a stripped-down version of the deal, consisting of only the withdrawal agreement. - The Times.
Car manufacturers have said their anxiety over Brexit is now “at fever pitch” after latest monthly production figures showed another major decline, with a 15% year-on-year drop in output in February. The double-digit drop was the ninth consecutive month in which British car manufacturing output has fallen. The industry blamed declining demand in the UK and in key European and Asian export markets for the continuing slump, which saw just 123,203 vehicles made last month, more than 22,000 fewer than the previous February.
The EU has pencilled in April Fools’ Day 2020 as a leading option for Britain’s first day outside the bloc, should the UK government ask Brussels for a lengthy extension of article 50 in three weeks’ time, it can be revealed. The date was to be offered at the leaders’ summit last week if Theresa May had followed through on her promise to request a short extension in the event of passing her Brexit deal, and a longer one should it be rejected again by the House of Commons.
Parliament seized control of Brexit last night as three government ministers quit to give MPs the power to tear up Theresa May’s deal. The business minister Richard Harrington joined Alistair Burt and Steve Brine in effectively resigning as they joined 29 Tory MPs defying a three-line whip to defeat the government. - The Times.