Here are this week’s headlines, brought to you by our Student Commercial Awareness Team:
- Investigation into Boris Johnson’s Burka remarks
Reported by Sarah Mullane
The UK’s Ex-Foreign Minister, Boris Johnson, faces a formal Tory investigation into potential breaches of the Conservative Party code of conduct. The Conservative party has received dozens of complaints, specifically linked to his controversial comments regarding the religious clothing of Muslim women. In these comments, he referred to those who wore the Burka as resembling ‘bank robbers’ and ‘letterboxes’.
The code of conduct, which may have been broken by Mr Johnson, states that MPS should “not use their position to bully, abuse, victimise, harass or unlawfully discriminate against others.” They must also “foster respect and tolerance.” The Conservative party has declined to comment on the ongoing investigation, but it is understood that these complaints will now be looked at by an independent panel. They then may take steps to refer him to the board, which posesses the power to expel him from the party.
Following his controversial comments, there have been calls from many high-ranking officials, including Conservative party chairman Brandon Lewis and leader Theresa May, for Mr Johnson to apologise. Mr Johnson has thus far refused to do so. Many believe that his remarks have been used to ‘stoke’ islamophobia in order to boost his leadership ambitions in the Conservative party, despite him stating that a ban on veils in public ought not to be brought in.
As a result, the Conservative party has been accused of failing to act in instances of anti-Muslim prejudice within its ranks. In a letter signed by hundreds of Muslim women, they have been asked to withdraw the party whip from Mr Johnson, whilst also engaging into an independent inquiry into Islamophobia within the party.
Within the letter, Muslim women have addressed the comments made by Mr Johnson, and have claimed that an apology would not be sufficient within these particular circumstances. They have also made clear that the decision to wear religious clothing is one made by themselves, and is not as a result of oppressive or forceful action.
They state that their decision “to wear the niqab or burqa is not an easy one, especially given the hate that many of us experience on a daily basis” and call for Mr Johnson to be removed from the party.
- Unions demanding justice for civil service following governments shambles
Reported by Paige Waters
Three unions are seeking a judicial review over the government’s failure to consult on pay, after accusing ministers of never intending to consult staff before offering a new 1.5% pay cap. These unions are the FDA, Prospect, and the Public and Commercial Services. These three unions represent 200,000 employees in total.
Solicitors representing the government are said to have claimed that the government isn’t under any obligation to consult with the unions.
Dave Penman, a secretary for the FDA, commented on that matter “This, more than anything, demonstrates the perilous state of industrial relations in the civil service”. Penman believes that the government’s process has been nothing other than shambolic.
The Whitehall guidance which was recently published – 25th June – told departments that the average pay towards government workers was limited to 1-1.5% during 2018-2019.
The Unions did not stop here, they also proceeded to write to Liz Truss. Truss is the Chief Secretary to the Treasury. The Unions requested an urgent meeting; however Truss did not respond.
For more information, see here.
- Value of the pound nears a one year low due to ‘no deal’ Brexit fears
Reported by Radhika Morally
The pound appears to continue its downward slide against the dollar and the euro, as fears of Britain exiting the European Union with a ‘no deal’ arrangement increase. This has prompted a sell-off on global financial markets, with the pound dropping below $1.29 and €1.110 in overnight trading.
Although analysts have been keen to point out that August has consistently been a difficult month for the sterling currency, most of the blame for the fall in the pound’s worth has been attributed to the current instability brought on by the impending Brexit. It is worth noting that the pound began to move sharply lower in the aftermath of comments by Liam Fox. The international trade secretary and prominent Brexiteer, stated that he would put the odds of the UK leaving the European Union without a deal at an “uncomfortably high 60-40”.
The most recent warning regarding the UK getting an unfavourable Brexit deal has come from Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who recently met with Prime Minister Theresa May in Edinburgh. Nicola Sturgeon has stated that “with every day that passes, the prospect of no-deal Brexit…seems to become more and more likely.”
In contrast, Morgan Stanley says it expects Britain to secure a deal by early 2019, and the pound to strengthen accordingly. However, analysts have also commented that the price of sterling shows no sign of improving in the near future.
It will be interesting to observe the development of Brexit talks and the progression of the pound in the upcoming months.
- Regulator to investigate Tesla after Musk’s “funding secured” tweet
Reported by Dan James
Pressure has been building on Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, to show he has in fact raised the $70bn required to take the company private.
It appears increasingly likely that the company will face an investigation by the US securities market regulators following Musk’s tweet which outlined that funding had been “secured”, allowing him to take the company private.
News of the investigation lead to shares in the company falling by 2%, not ideal for the already loss-making car manufacturer.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the SEC’s inquiries originated from the San Francisco office, however the SEC offered no comment. Should Musk’s claim be found to be false, then he may be liable for civil and criminal charges.
In the US, publicly traded companies are prohibited from announcing they plan to buy or sell securities if executives do not intend or have the means to complete the transaction.
To date, there has been no talk on Wall Street of any plans to raise the $70 billion dollars needed.
Musk had tweeted in 2017 that the White House provided “verbal approval” to build a high-speed loop connecting New York with Washington and Baltimore. The White House went on to later state Musk had signalled “excitement”, not approval.
Pending enquiries and investigations shall shed light on Tesla’s current situation, and Musk’s future plans for the public/private status of the company.
Read more at the Guardian