There seems to be an improvement in the Northern Ireland situation as we get towards the 11th hour of the expiry of the current grace period: Yesterday, in front of a virtual Northern Ireland Assembly, Maros Sefcovic said that the EU could be willing to accommodate permanent flexibilities within the Northern Ireland Protocol, but that it would require the UK to reciprocate by implementing the deal fully and faithfully. There is likely now to be an extension to the grace period, which expires tomorrow, of three months and in that time perhaps something can be done? We’ve been here before though, with the EU’s approach being ‘if you implement everything in full, we can see what works and what doesn’t and make some changes’, whilst the UK’s position has been ‘this isn’t going to work, so we won’t implement it until it’s changed enough that we think it will work’. So aside from a likely extension and Mr Sefcovic speaking to those most impacted by the stand-off, we don’t see that too much has changed.
It was Sajid Javid’s first appearance in the Commons as health secretary yesterday and his message was pretty straight forward: Restrictions will end on the 19th of July and we need to learn to live with covid. This will have pleased plenty of his Conservative peers, who think that enough is enough and that there will never be a ‘risk free’ date for an unlocking. The infection rate in the UK is doing exactly as models predicted that it would, with new cases now on the same trajectory that they were last winter and daily infections at a level last seen in January. Hospitalisations are clearly much lower, with the current rate around 16 per 1,000 new cases, which is five times lower than it was in January, whilst deaths are lower than one in 1,000 cases.
With cases rising though, hopes for a travel corridor between the UK and the US have been dashed: Officials on both sides have played down the likelihood of getting something agreed this summer and with the complexities around getting so many different US departments to agree on something like this and the seeming lack of urgency from the White House to push something through, it is now unlikely that this will happen before autumn. One other area of concern for UK officials is how the US would treat those double jabbed, but with AstraZeneca, which is not approved for use in the US, and who may therefore be treated differently in the instance that an agreement is reached. The FT has more.
Facebook has had two anti-trust investigations thrown out by Federal Court, which has in turn propelled the company’s share price high enough for them to join the trillion-dollar club. The judge threw out the Federal Trade commissions anti-trust complain citing lack of evidence in the complaint that Facebook had violated anti-monopoly laws when it bought a number of smaller companies to bolster its proposition. Facebook also saw a multi-state class action against the company because the alleged violations happened too long ago. Facebook went public in May 2012 with a market cap of $104bn on its market debut, so has seen an 865% increase in nine years – amazingly, Amazon had an almost identical market cap in in May of that year and is now valued at $1.74trillion – an increase of 1,575%!
Looking to today: Markets in Asia have moved lower and there isn’t masses of data that might turn around any of that momentum should it spill into the European session. Consumer confidence figures from Europe and the US might prove the exception to the rule, but the big data print from the UK won’t come until about 7pm, when we get the final score line from England-Germany.
It’s Coming Home.