This week, the bandwagon in the Conservative leadership contest moves from parliament to members of the country. Ballots are expected to go to the polls of 150,000 Conservative party members in the coming days, with finalists Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak facing off in another televised debate on Sky News at 8pm on Thursday.
But have Conservative members already made up their minds? Polls have shown Truss pulling ahead of the former chancellor among the grassroots. Stephen Bush, who runs the Inside Politics newsletter, warns that Sunak has limited time to close the gap with Truss as “most Tory members will vote immediately when their ballot papers arrive”.
Whoever wins the leadership race will inherit a wave of industrial discontent. Thousands of BT employees will walk out on Monday for the second of two strikes, led by the Communications Workers Union, in a pay dispute. In response to BT’s £1,500 pay deal offered to staff in April, the CWU said company bosses had “stuck two fingers” on workers. Dockers at the UK’s largest container port are also expected to strike in August.
Across the Atlantic, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán will speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas, Texas, despite international backlash after a speech he gave on race that sparked the resignation of one of his close collaborators, who described it as “pure”. nazi”.
Speaking of controversial international travel, Kathrin Hille reports that China is taking all measures, possibly including the military, to dissuade US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from visiting Taiwan in the coming days.
Beyond the gloom, we can expect a weekend of revelry. As well as International Beer Day on Friday, Brighton’s streets are awash with glitter as one of the UK’s biggest Pride events kicks off. The annual LGBTQ parade will see thousands of people flock to England’s south coast. And don’t miss Fire of Love on the big screen, writes our film critic Danny Leigh.
The Bank of England will find itself in a tight spot on Thursday as its Monetary Policy Committee assesses how far it will raise interest rates to try to reduce inflation to its 2% target. It is currently at a 40-year high of 9.4% and is expected to rise further. Gov. Andrew Bailey said a half-percentage-point increase is on the table, which would be the largest increase in 27 years.
The BoE is under pressure to step up efforts to control inflation after the US Federal Reserve raised its benchmark rate by 0.75 percentage points for the second straight month on Wednesday. The White House will announce any good news from US employment figures this week to play down recession fears. The economy contracted for the second straight quarter and “core” personal consumption expenditures (PCE) rose 0.6 percent in June.
The lull in August earnings hasn’t quite caught up with us. After last week’s frenzy, things will ease up just a little in the coming days, says FT corporate commentator Cat Rutter Pooley.
The narrative of consumer goods and drinks groups raising sales forecasts due to rising inflation has been strongly driven by results from Heineken on Monday and Kellogg’s on Thursday.
Windfall profits earned by oil and gas groups have also been a major focus of the earnings season. After Shell raked in $11.5 billion in profit in a record quarter, it’s BP’s turn to wade into the political storm on Tuesday. The UK has imposed additional taxes on energy companies this year, but another round of record profits could increase demands for additional taxes.
And while the major US banks gave their updates what seems like eons ago, reports from the European banking sector are still rolling in. HSBC will report on whether the lockdowns in China have continued to affect its Asian profitability, while Bank of Ireland and Commerzbank report on Wednesday.
Read the full week’s schedule here.