A hard Brexit it will be, as things now stand. Lafferty's Brexit Council met in Westminster yesterday as the House of Commons was getting ready to vote on the latest but essentially unchanged offering from Theresa May, which the Commons promptly rejected by a margin of 145. This, remember, is the deal already negotiated between the UK and the EU. The Prime Minister had hoped to limit that loss to 100 seats. Today the Commons will vote on whether to prevent a no-deal, which will likely pass, and yet be completely powerless to actually prevent a no-deal, which is now a certainty failing a new initiative that the EU feels is a real proposal and not another variation that will keep the Conservative party in power. A general election before summer is now a real possibility. Despite the fervent opposition of the City, Jeremy Corbyn may become prime minister, mostly by sitting while May and the ERG have taken a wrecking ball to the Conservative party. Let's face it though — they won't be the only ones to take the blame. Former Irish ambassador Ray Bassett tweeted this morning: "The Backstop was the dumbest idea from the Irish Government since the Bank Guarantee. I said from day one, the original concept of the Backstop have zero chance of implementation."
Two years ago digital news outlet Joe.co.uk perfected the art of superimposing talking heads into music videos, ads or whatever else needs cutting down to size. A clip of Jacob Rees-Mogg singing 'Common People' — which clearly mocked Rees-Mogg — was re-tweeted by Rees-Mogg himself. Yesterday morning Joe accurately nailed the moment with 'Still M.A.Y.' (aka Still D.R.E.) featuring Rees-Mogg as Snoop Mogg and Theresa May as Dr Dre. (By the way, that's the DUP's Arlene Foster in the back seat of Dre's lowrider.) Need cheering up? Try this.
A study commissioned by the UK government suggests a way to increase competition with the big tech players by forcing them to open up their data to other competitors, much as Open Banking is forcing incumbents to allow competitors access to banking data, with user permission. The report, produced by a panel of experts led by Harvard professor Jason Furman, makes the case of a new competition regulator that may be known as the 'digital markets unit' which would force the opening up of data collected by big tech players. "It suggested Open Banking, which requires UK banks to share account data, as a blueprint," reports the FT. "Companies would be required to hand over personal data to competitors if customers requested to switch, preventing the customer's need to build up data and personalisation with a new social network. It also said that new entrants should have access to anonymous open data so they can build new products from scratch." Fascinating; there is a major battle looming now, and with the UK about to crash out of EU, this initiative may suddenly get legs. Currently, the big tech players, based in Dublin, operate under the aegis of the Data Protection Commissioner — something they may be keen to escape.
African banks are finding South Africa to be an increasingly difficult market compared to the rest of the continent, with the big four of Standard Bank, First Rand, Absa and Nedbank reporting results that suggests targets are becomingly increasingly difficult to meet. "This is showing just how tough the South African environment has been), while their African operations are outperforming," said Patrice Rassou, the head of equity research at Sanlam Investment Management in Cape Town, according to Bloomberg. "It's a function of low top-line growth and rising costs." The problem: "All of them suffer in differing degrees from what is known in banking parlance as "negative jaws": when costs grow faster than income." Read the full story here.
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