Conservatives

Sudanese protesters march outside the defence ministry compound in Khartoum
Sudanese protesters march outside the defence ministry compound in Khartoum, Sudan, April 24, 2019. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

April 24, 2019

By Michael Georgy and Khalid Abdelaziz

KHARTOUM (Reuters) – They come from all walks of life, of all ages and many political persuasions. But the thousands of protesters sitting outside the Sudanese Defense Ministry in Khartoum all share one thing: the cheerful conviction that, if they can just stay there long enough, democracy will come about.

Already, their sit-in has prompted the military to topple Omar Hassan al-Bashir, autocratic president of 30 years. Now they believe their good-natured rainbow of resistance can push those same generals to hand over power swiftly to civilians.

A woman in a black full-face Islamic veil discusses the merits of democracy as a man smoking a marijuana joint listens rather vaguely. A vendor sells corn at a discount, making a fortune. One couple mount a podium to take their marriage vows.

“We are lions!” intones a rapper, his audience swaying to the beat.

Unfocused and eclectic it may be, but it only took the crowd – whose numbers swell in the cool of the evening into the hundreds of thousands – five days to bring down Bashir, who was detained by the army on April 11 to the delight of millions.

Now those protesters, spread over about 2 sq km (0.8 square miles) of central Khartoum, want the generals’ Transitional Military Council to bring forward the elections that it promises to hold within two years.

Opposition groups and the military may have been trading threats over the transition, but that has not dampened the cheerful determination of the protesters.

Women outnumber men in the throng, which is a mix of teenagers and older people, conservatives and liberals, doctors, lawyers and artisans.

Designers apply their skills to making banners and placards.

“The motifs are to send a message to the people to support democracy,” said Khalid Ehab, 24, who specializes in banners of fierce-looking people carrying flags.

One young boy sits on a man’s shoulders and sings a song condemning Islamists, who were Bashir’s main support base. Teenagers bang stones against a bridge in solidarity with calls for democracy, and fling water down at passers-by.

STREET FOOD AND FREE SPEECH

Others are more earnest, holding posters of civilians and army officers who were allegedly tortured and killed in Bashir’s prisons.

Osay Awad, 22, used to sell a cob of corn from his battered wooden stall for 15 Sudanese pounds, but out of enthusiasm for the revolution slashed the price to 10.

Business is booming; he sells 500 a day, compared to 170 before the sit-in began, and he hasn’t left the spot since the day after Bashir was toppled.

Like many others, he sleeps on the dusty pavement. Asked what type of leader he would like to see run his country, he says: “I have no candidate. I’m just here to sell corn and support people.”

All the protesters want the old-guard generals out, but many are keen to get the support of young officers; a traditional army song competes with the sound of an opposition figure trying to fire up crowds with promises of a brighter future.

The protesters do want to assert some control. Teenagers frisk anyone entering the area to make sure weapons stay out.

The military leaders have offered some concessions, sacking some officials and announcing the arrest of others, including two of Bashir’s brothers.

But they insist that, while they are willing to accept a civilian transitional government, ultimate authority will remain in their hands until elections are held.

Wejd Mohammed, a medical student covered from head to toe in a niqab, says that “democracy will bring economic prosperity” – getting more attention from her two younger sisters with Sudanese flags painted on their faces than from a man nearby dragging on a joint.

In a scene that would have been unthinkable under Bashir, a member of a rebel group that fought his forces in the desert province of Darfur stands on a makeshift podium and speaks his mind.

“The previous regime took all of our money and made us poor,” he says. “Sudan needs to be one nation.”

(Reporting by Michael Georgy; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

Source: OANN

Trumps depart the White House in Washington
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump depart the White House in Washington, U.S., April 24, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

April 24, 2019

By Susan Heavey

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump vowed on Wednesday to fight all the way to the Supreme Court against any effort by congressional Democrats to impeach him, even though the U.S. Constitution gives Congress complete authority over the impeachment process.

Trump’s threat, made in a morning tweet, came as the White House launched a fierce legal battle to fight subpoenas from Democrats in the House of Representatives for documents and testimony from his administration.

Democrats remain divided on whether to proceed with Trump’s impeachment after Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia inquiry. Trump defiantly proclaimed on Twitter that the investigation “didn’t lay a glove on me.”

“If the partisan Dems ever tried to Impeach, I would first head to the U.S. Supreme Court,” the Republican president, who is seeking re-election next year, said without offering details about what legal action he envisioned.

The Constitution gives the sole power of impeachment and removing a president from office to the House and the Senate, not the judiciary, as part of the founding document’s separation of powers among the three branches of the federal government.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders have remained cautious over launching impeachment proceedings against Trump ahead of the 2020 election, although they have left the door open to such action. Others in the party’s more liberal wing have demanded impeachment proceedings.

Mueller’s findings, released in a redacted report last week, detailed about a dozen episodes of potential obstruction of justice by Trump in trying to impede the inquiry but stopped short of concluding that he had committed a crime.

The report said Congress could address whether the president violated the law. Mueller separately found insufficient evidence that Trump’s campaign engaged in a criminal conspiracy with Russia in the 2016 presidential race.

House Democrats have stepped up their oversight of the Trump administration since taking control of the chamber in January, from Trump’s tax returns and White House security clearances to the investigation into Russian interference in U.S. politics.

Trump has ordered officials not to comply with subpoenas, and has filed a lawsuit to prevent material from being turned over to lawmakers.

“We’re fighting all the subpoenas,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Wednesday.

CONSTITUTION

Under the Constitution, Congress is a co-equal branch of government alongside the executive branch and the judiciary.

The Constitution empowers Congress to remove a president from office for “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” The House is given the power to impeach a president – bring formal charges – and the Senate then convenes a trial, with the senators as jurors, with a two-thirds vote needed to convict a president and remove him from office.

The Constitution gives no role to the Supreme Court in impeachment, though it does assign the chief justice the task of presiding over the Senate trial. Conservative John Roberts currently serves as chief justice.

That would not preclude Trump from proceeding with litigation to tie up the issue in the courts, despite Supreme Court precedent upholding congressional impeachment power. In 1993, the nation’s top court ruled 9-0 in a case involving an impeached U.S. judge that the judiciary has no role in the impeachment process.

Lawrence Tribe, a constitutional law professor at Harvard who has been critical of Trump, said the U.S. founding fathers had considered but ultimately scrapped the idea of allowing the Supreme Court to have any role in the impeachment process.

“Not even a SCOTUS filled with Trump appointees would get in the way of the House or Senate,” Tribe said in a series of tweets on Wednesday.

Some congressional Republicans have urged the country to move forward after the Mueller report, while a few, including Senator Mitt Romney, have condemned Trump’s actions. Some conservatives outside of Congress have urged congressional action in the wake of Mueller’s report.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey, Steve Holland, Roberta Rampton and Makini Brice, Writing by John Whitesides, Editing by Andrea Ricci and Alistair Bell)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: British Prime Minister Theresa May holds a news conference following an extraordinary European Union leaders summit to discuss Brexit, in Brussels, Belgium April 11, 2019.
FILE PHOTO: British Prime Minister Theresa May holds a news conference following an extraordinary European Union leaders summit to discuss Brexit, in Brussels, Belgium April 11, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

April 24, 2019

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s governing Conservative Party will not change the rules governing leadership challenges but demanded a clear timetable for Prime Minister Theresa May’s departure if her Brexit deal is rejected in parliament, a lawmaker at a party meeting said.

The executive of the so-called 1922 Committee, which groups Conservative lawmakers, met on Wednesday to discuss whether to change the leadership rules after some demanded a change to oust May from her post earlier than current procedures allow.

But a Conservative lawmaker at a broader meeting of the 1922 Committee said the executive had told lawmakers that there would be no change to the rules, but that the committee would call for a “clear schedule” for May’s departure if her Brexit deal is not passed in parliament.

(Reporting by Elizabeth Piper and Kylie MacLellan; editing by William James)

Source: OANN

A U.S. judge in Oregon said Tuesday he intends to at least partially block a rule change by President Donald Trump’s administration that could cut off federal funding for providers who refer patients for an abortion, though the scope of his decision remains to be seen.

U.S. District Judge Michael McShane made the comments after more than three hours of arguments in a lawsuit brought by 20 states and the District of Columbia, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported . The states say the rule change, due to take effect May 3, is a transparent attack on Planned Parenthood and a violation of the Affordable Care Act, which prohibits “unreasonable barriers to the ability of individuals to obtain appropriate medical care.”

“At the heart of these rules is an arrogant assumption that the government is better suited to direct women’s health care than their providers,” Oregon Public Broadcasting quoted the judge as saying.

McShane said he needs more time to decide whether he will issue a national injunction or a more limited one blocking the policy from taking effect. The judge said he’s reluctant to set national health care policy and would describe the scope of his injunction in a written opinion soon.

“We will need to see what the final ruling says,” Oregon Justice Department spokeswoman Kristina Edmunson said in an email. “We are pleased with the decision.”

Under the new policy, health care providers that receive federal funding would be barred from referring patients for an abortion. Programs that receive the money would also have to be in a separate physical space from facilities where abortion is performed.

The rule change announced early this year concerns Title X, a family planning program created in 1970 which serves roughly 4 million low-income Americans every year. Clinics that receive money under Title X provide a wide array of services, including birth control and screening for diabetes, sexually transmitted diseases and cancer.

Abortion is a legal medical procedure, but federal laws prohibit the use of taxpayer funds to pay for abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the woman. Religious conservatives and abortion opponents have long complained that Title X has been used to indirectly subsidize abortion providers.

“Title X grant funds are a true safety net for low income individuals and those who would not be able to access care, due to a lack of insurance or other barriers,” Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum told the judge. “Put simply, this is an attempt to politicize what has been a successful, non-political public health program for 50 years.”

U.S. Justice Department lawyer Andrew M. Bernie said there was nothing in the administrative record to suggest the change was politically motivated.

But the judge was not swayed. McShane suggested it would be “insane” for a man to go to his doctor seeking a vasectomy, only to be referred to a fertility clinic.

Several other lawsuits have also challenged the new policy. California and Washington have sued separately; arguments in the latter case are scheduled for Thursday in U.S. District Court in Yakima.

Source: NewsMax Politics

Despite evidence that millions of Hispanics and immigrants could go uncounted, the Supreme Court’s conservative majority seemed ready Tuesday to uphold the Trump administration’s plan to inquire about U.S. citizenship on the 2020 census in a case that could affect American elections for the next decade.

There appeared to be a clear divide between the court’s liberal and conservative justices in arguments in a case that could affect how many seats states have in the House of Representatives and their share of federal dollars over the next 10 years. States with a large number of immigrants tend to vote Democratic.

Three lower courts have so far blocked the plan to ask every U.S. resident about citizenship in the census, finding that the question would discourage many immigrants from being counted . Two of the three judges also ruled that asking if people are citizens would violate the provision of the Constitution that calls for a count of the population, regardless of citizenship status, every 10 years. The last time the question was included on the census form sent to every American household was 1950.

Three conservative justices, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas, had expressed skepticism about the challenge to the question in earlier stages of the case, but Chief Justice John Roberts and Brett Kavanaugh had been silent, possibly suggesting a willingness to disrupt the administration’s plan.

However, over 80 minutes in a packed courtroom, neither Roberts nor Kavanaugh appeared to share the concern of the lower court judges who ruled against the administration.

Kavanaugh, the court’s newest member and an appointee of President Donald Trump, suggested Congress could change the law if it so concerned that the accuracy of the once-a-decade population count will suffer. “Why doesn’t Congress prohibit the asking of the citizenship question?” Kavanaugh asked near the end of the morning session.

Kavanaugh and the other conservatives were mostly silent when Solicitor General Noel Francisco, the administration’s top Supreme Court lawyer, defended Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’ decision to add the citizenship question. Ross has said the Justice Department wanted the citizenship data, the detailed information it would produce on where eligible voters live, to improve enforcement of the Voting Rights Act.

Lower courts found that Ross’ explanation was a pretext for adding the question, noting that he had consulted early in his tenure with Stephen Bannon, Trump’s former top political adviser and immigration hardliner Kris Kobach, the former Kansas secretary of state.

The liberal justices peppered Francisco with questions about the administration plan, but they would lack the votes to stop it without support from at least one conservative justice.

“This is a solution in search of a problem,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the court’s lone Hispanic member, said of Ross’ decision.

Justice Elena Kagan chimed in that “you can’t read this record without sensing that this need was a contrived one.”

Roberts appeared to have a different view of the information the citizenship question would produce.

“You think it wouldn’t help voting rights enforcement?” Roberts asked New York Solicitor General Barbara Underwood, who was representing states and cities that sued over Ross’ decision.

Underwood and American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Dale Ho said the evidence showed the data would be less accurate. Including a citizenship question would “harm the secretary’s stated purpose of Voting Rights Act enforcement,” Ho said.

Census Bureau experts have concluded that the census would produce a more accurate picture of the U.S. population without a citizenship question because people might be reluctant to say if they or others in their households are not citizens. Federal law requires people to complete the census accurately and fully.

The Supreme Court is hearing the case on a tight timeframe, even though no federal appeals court has yet to weigh in. A decision is expected by late June, in time to print census forms for the April 2020 population count.

The administration argues that the commerce secretary has wide discretion in designing the census questionnaire and that courts should not be second-guessing his action. States, cities and rights groups that sued over the issue don’t even have the right to go into federal court, the administration says. It also says the citizenship question is plainly constitutional because it has been asked on many past censuses and continues to be used on smaller, annual population surveys.

Gorsuch, also a Trump appointee, also noted that many other countries include citizenship questions on their censuses.

Douglas Letter, a lawyer representing the House of Representatives, said the census is critically important to the House, which apportions its seats among the states based on the results. “Anything that undermines the accuracy of the actual enumeration is immediately a problem,” Letter said, quoting from the provision of the Constitution that mandates a decennial census.

Letter also thanked the court on behalf of Speaker Nancy Pelosi for allowing the House to participate in the arguments.

“Tell her she’s welcome,” Roberts replied.

Source: NewsMax Politics

U.S. President Trump attends the 2019 White House Easter Egg Roll in Washington
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump attends the 2019 White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S., April 22, 2019. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

April 23, 2019

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump met with Twitter Inc’s Chief Executive Jack Dorsey on Tuesday and spent a significant time questioning him about why he has lost some Twitter followers, a person briefed on the matter said.

The meeting, which was organized by the White House last week, came hours after Trump again attacked the social media company over his claims it is biased against conservatives.

“Great meeting this afternoon at the @WhiteHouse with @Jack from @Twitter. Lots of subjects discussed regarding their platform, and the world of social media in general. Look forward to keeping an open dialogue!” Trump tweeted, posting a photo of Dorsey and others with him in the Oval Office.

Earlier on Tuesday, Trump suggested Twitter was biased against him without providing evidence. He wrote on Twitter that the company does not “treat me well as a Republican. Very discriminatory.”

Twitter said in a statement Dorsey had a “constructive meeting with the president of the United States today at the president’s invitation. They discussed Twitter’s commitment to protecting the health of the public conversation ahead of the 2020 U.S. elections and efforts underway to respond to the opioid crisis.”

Unlike other major U.S. tech company executives, Dorsey had not previously met with Trump.

He was not invited to a December 2016 meeting with president-elect Trump that featured other major tech companies. Reuters reported in 2016 Trump had been angry with Twitter because it had rejected an advertising deal with his campaign.

Trump has been upset about losing followers.

In October, Trump wrote that “Twitter has removed many people from my account and, more importantly, they have seemingly done something that makes it much harder to join – they have stifled growth to a point where it is obvious to all. A few weeks ago it was a Rocket Ship, now it is a Blimp! Total Bias?”

Any reduction is likely the result of Twitter’s recent moves to remove millions of suspicious accounts after it and other social media services were used in misinformation campaigns attempting to influence voters in the 2016 U.S. presidential race and other elections, Reuters reported in October.

Shares in Twitter jumped 13 percent on Tuesday after it reported quarterly revenue above analyst estimates, which executives said was the result of weeding out spam and abusive posts and targeting ads better.

Trump lost 204,000, or 0.4 percent, of his 53.4 million followers in July when Twitter started its purge of suspicious accounts, according to social media data firm Keyhole.

Trump has one of the most-followed accounts on Twitter. But the president and Republicans in Congress have repeatedly criticized the company and its social media competitors for what they have called bias against conservatives, something Twitter denies.

Democratic U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono said earlier this month “we cannot allow the Republican party to harass tech companies into weakening content moderation policies that already fail to remove hateful, dangerous and misleading content.”

Carlos Monje, Twitter’s public policy director, said at a Senate hearing earlier this month the site “does not use political viewpoints, perspectives or party affiliation to make any decisions, whether related to automatically ranking content on our service or how we develop or enforce our rules.”

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Tom Brown)

Source: OANN

Don McGahn was barely on speaking terms with President Donald Trump when he left the White House last fall. But special counsel Robert Mueller’s report reveals the president may owe his former top lawyer a debt of gratitude.

McGahn, who sat with Mueller for about 30 hours of interviews, emerged as a central character in Mueller’s painstaking investigation into whether Trump obstructed justice and impeded the years-long Russia investigation. In one striking scene , Mueller recounts how Trump called McGahn twice at home and directed him to set Mueller’s firing in motion. McGahn recoiled and threatened to resign instead.

Mueller concluded that McGahn and others effectively halted Trump’s efforts to influence the investigation, prompting some White House officials and outside observers to call him an unsung hero in the effort to protect the president.

John Marston, a former Washington, D.C. assistant United States attorney, said McGahn appeared to help Trump “both in real time with his actions and then as well as being forthcoming.”

McGahn’s relationship with the president was turbulent. A prominent Washington attorney, he joined Trump’s campaign as counsel in 2015 and followed him to the White House, but the two men never developed a close rapport. His departure last fall came as little surprise.

Still, it was McGahn who Trump turned to on June 17, 2017, when he wanted to oust Mueller. According to the special counsel report, McGahn responded to the president’s request by calling his personal lawyer and his chief of staff, driving to the White House, packing up his belongings and preparing to submit his letter of resignation. He told then-White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus that the president had asked him to “do crazy s—.”

Mueller said McGahn feared Trump was setting in motion a series of events “akin to the Saturday Night Massacre,” the Nixonian effort to rein in the Watergate investigation.

William Alden McDaniel, a lawyer who represented targets and witnesses in the Ken Starr investigation, as well a high-ranking officials in the Iran-Contra scandal, said McGahn appeared to be “one of the few people in the administration to stand up to the president” and that “takes a certain amount of principle.”

Mueller’s report shows there were a handful of other aides who rebuffed orders and suggestions from the president, helping save him from the consequences. Former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski resisted an effort by Trump to convince Attorney General Jeff Sessions to un-recuse himself from the investigation and to limit the scope of Mueller’s probe. Priebus and McGahn repeatedly resisted Trump efforts to force out Sessions so that Trump could replace him and install a new person to oversee Mueller’s work.

McGahn also tried in other ways to keep the president in line, advising him that he should not communicate directly with the Department of Justice to avoid the perception or reality of political interference in law enforcement and reminding him that their conversations were not protected by attorney-client privilege.

Trump responded by questioning McGahn’s tendency to take notes and draft memoranda outlining his advice to the president for the historical record.

“Why do you take notes? Lawyers don’t take notes. I never had a lawyer who took notes,” Trump said, according to Mueller’s report. The special counsel said McGahn responded that he keeps notes “because he is a ‘real lawyer’ and explained that notes create a record and are not a bad thing.”

Exchanges like those appear to have led Mueller to conclude that McGahn was “a credible witness with no motive to lie or exaggerate given the position he held in the White House.”

McGahn did not respond to a request for comment Thursday and nearly a dozen friends and former colleagues mostly spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid upsetting him, describing him as a private person.

They largely characterized McGahn’s time in the White House as unhappy and defined by his frequent clashes with the president.

“Don is an experienced lawyer who’s dealt with difficult clients in the past,” said Jason Torchinsky, an election law attorney who has known McGhan for 20 years.

The White House declined comment.

In a campaign and White House staffed largely by novices and bootlickers, McGahn was a rare establishment figure, despite his longer hair and 80s cover band dabbling. He served as commissioner and chairman of the Federal Election Commission and had deep roots with the Republican party, including spending a decade as general counsel of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

At the White House, he earned praise from conservatives for helping confirm a series of conservative judges, including, in his final act, shepherding Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation. He was also instrumental in fulfilling long-held conservative priorities, including leading the White House’s systematic effort to cut government regulations and weaken the power of administrative law judges.

Source: NewsMax Politics

FILE PHOTO: German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz attends a Reuters interview in Berlin
FILE PHOTO: German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz attends a Reuters interview in Berlin, Germany, April 10, 2019. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke/File Photo

April 19, 2019

BERLIN (Reuters) – Finance Minister Olaf Scholz ruled out taking on new debt to stimulate Germany’s slowing economy and blamed anemic growth this year on external factors like unresolved trade disputes and the risk of Britain leaving the European Union without a deal.

In an interview with the BBC aired on Friday, the Social Democrat finance minister also dismissed fears that Europe’s largest economy could plunge into a recession after the government halved its 2019 growth forecast to 0.5 percent.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s right-left coalition government is facing calls from EU partners and the International Monetary Fund to boost investment, while a conservative lawmaker has demanded a stimulus package to jump-start the economy.

“We just have softer growth, which is far away from a recession,” said Scholz. “And if you are really a globalized economy, if you are a big exporter and importer all the developments in the world economy will have an impact on the development of your country. And we know that there is a slowing of the world economy. And we know where this comes from. It is mostly political reasons.”

He added that trade disputes between the United States and both China and the EU, as well as Brexit uncertainties, were the main causes of the slowdown in Germany and not structural problems like weak investment.

Scholz’s decision to take on no new debt has drawn criticism from both Merkel’s conservatives and his center-left Social Democrats (SPD) as well as from business leaders who want lower corporate taxes.

“I very much agree with all those in Germany saying that we should not have extra debt,” said Scholz.

“It is a very good policy that we say that we have enough debt in Germany and that there should not be an increase and that we will stick to the rule of not further increasing the public debt.”

Scholz said approved tax relief for families to the tune of 10 billion euros ($11 billion) a year, higher spending on pensions and social welfare, and investments in digitalization, infrastructure and research and development should keep the economy humming.

Germany, whose economy has grown in each of the last nine years, has had a “debt brake” law in place since 2011 that forces the federal and state governments to virtually eliminate their structural budget deficits over five to 10 years.

(Reporting by Joseph Nasr; Editing by Douglas Busvine and Mark Potter)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Workers emerge from Bank underground station with the Bank of England and Royal Exchange building seen in the City of London financial district, London, Britain
FILE PHOTO: Workers emerge from Bank underground station with the Bank of England (L) and Royal Exchange building (R) in the City of London financial district, London, Britain, January 25, 2018. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

April 18, 2019

By Sinead Cruise, Josephine Mason and Huw Jones

LONDON (Reuters) – The weeks before Easter are usually some of the busiest of the year for bankers, lawyers and consultants in the City of London, as clients rush to get deals done before a run of public holidays.

But this year comparatively little has been happening.

City workers had been hoping the torpor of the first quarter would be lifted if Britain left the European Union on March 29, or indeed, April 12.

But with Brexit on ice until as late as October 31 and the terms of the exit still to be agreed, fears are building that this could be one of the leanest years for the City since the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.

The London Stock Exchange has had only one corporate listing in excess of 75 million pounds ($97.61 million) so far this year. Trading turnover on the London Stock Exchange in February and March was down a third from a year ago, and the lowest since August 2016.

Average daily turnover on London’s blue chip FTSE 100 stock index fell harder in those two months than all the main bourses in Europe except the DAX 30, according to a Reuters analysis of Refinitiv data.

European investment banking fees – the biggest chunk of which are earned in London – were down 25 percent in the first quarter, according to Refinitiv. And there were just 11 new UK-based hedge funds launched in the first quarter, compared to 35 in the same quarter in 2018, data from Prequin shows.

“There is going to be a long hiatus. Investors will need to see something far more positive in politics to be persuaded to move again,” Alastair Winter, economic adviser to Global Alliance Partners told Reuters.

“I can’t see how Labour and Conservatives can agree a deal. They are playing games to avoid blame. And until they figure it out, the City will be left to just twist in the wind.”

Recruitment firm Morgan McKinley’s latest London Employment Monitor, which tracks financial services hiring trends from January to March, showed vacancies and job seekers dropping 9 percent and 15 percent respectively year-on-year. The number of job vacancies and job seekers in the first quarter were half the level they were in 2017.

Hakan Enver, Morgan McKinley Managing Director, said the figures showed confidence among City employers was flatlining.

“Even with all the uncertainty of the last few years, there was always an assumption that come March 29, we would have some answers. Yet here we are, still waiting,” Enver said.

Neil Robson, regulatory and compliance partner at law firm Katten Muchin Rosenman, said in the six weeks leading up to the end of March the “chargeable” work he had done was what he would usually do in a week-and-a-half.

“People are not setting up new funds, are not hiring, firing, they’re not doing new deals because they’re just waiting for what’s happening with Brexit,” he told Reuters.

Unlike the 2008 financial crisis, there is no sense of panic, just a pause pending greater clarity around Brexit, as well as other global issues like the U.S.-China trade dispute.

“We haven’t seen any panic-selling. There is resilience, and people have decided they need to just watch this play out,” one senior private banker said.

Robson said he had seen a small pick-up in activity since the Brexit extension was agreed, but it was still not at full capacity.

(Graphic: LSE turnover – https://tmsnrt.rs/2IrwrGg)

GETTING CREATIVE

The slowdown has forced firms to be more creative about how to make money.

Several large investment banks, including JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs, have ramped up fundraising for private companies to fill an income void left by shallow capital markets activity. JPMorgan recently helped British banking start-up Starling raise 75 million pounds to fund expansion.

Banks are also spending more time taking companies off the stock market.

“I’m probably spending more of my time talking about take-private opportunities than I was a year ago. You will see more of that from now on. There are going to be more take privates if valuations continue to be depressed,” Indy Bhattacharyya, director at broker Peel Hunt, said.

The slowdown is not isolated to London – U.S. banks this week reported slides in their trading businesses globally.

But with Brexit uncertainty confounding the issue, UK-based finance houses in particular are finding it tough going.

“The bigger players will survive this, with some cuts here and there. Where there will be carnage is among the small-cap brokers, the boutique operators,” said Winter.

Canada’s Canaccord Genuity Group last month blamed Brexit and regulatory pressure for unacceptable returns in its UK capital markets business and the launch of a restructuring program expected to lead to significant job cuts.

As part of that plan, the company has put 48 jobs in London, more than a quarter of its City workforce, at risk of redundancy, according to an internal document seen by Reuters. It also plans to ax its mining and investment trust businesses, two sources familiar with the situation said.

Canaccord said in a statement that it was going through a consultation process and could not confirm details about the affected employees.

“This process, while difficult, is in connection with our previously stated strategy of better focusing our operations in the areas where we can be most relevant to our clients, while limiting our exposure in areas that are more sensitive to an unpredictable market backdrop,” the firm said.

With the threat of potential cuts, bankers say they are holding off booking extended holidays and doubling down on meeting clients and pitching ideas instead. But until there’s more Brexit clarity, few expect that to lead to much new business.

“There’s every chance this year that you’ll see more bankers doing the school run,” Peel Hunt’s Bhattacharyya said.

($1 = 0.7684 pounds)

(Additional reporting by Helen Reid, Maiya Keidan and Virginia Furness. Editing by Jane Merriman and Rachel Armstrong)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: European Union flags flutter as uncertainty over Brexit continues, in London
FILE PHOTO: European Union flags flutter as uncertainty over Brexit continues, in London, Britain April 10, 2019. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

April 18, 2019

By Francesco Guarascio

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – British voters at the elections for the next European Parliament would strengthen eurosceptic groups, while the center-right would remain the largest grouping in the legislature, an EU survey showed on Thursday.

The projection, commissioned by the European Parliament, showed that the two most eurosceptic groups in the parliament would increase their share of seats to 14.3 percent of the total compared with 13.0 percent in the previous survey from March which did not include British voters.

The survey included national polls published up to April 15.

With Britain’s participation in the elections, which might still be avoided if a Brexit deal is struck before the May 23-26 vote, the nationalist Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF) which includes Italy’s far-right League would scoop 8.3 percent of seats in the next legislature, down from 8.7 percent.

Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy, the other openly eurosceptic grouping which currently includes the United Kingdom Independence Party, would win 6 percent of the seats from 4.3 percent predicted in March when Britain was not expected to take part in the EU elections.

The European Conservatives and Reformists grouping, which includes the PiS party of Polish eurosceptic leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski, would obtain 8.8 percent of the seats, up from 7.5 percent in the previous poll which did not include British Conservative voters.

Britain has secured an extension of Brexit to the end of October, meaning British parties have began campaigning for the EU election.

Under the new survey, which assumes the number of seats in the next parliament will remain 751 instead of dropping to 705 after Brexit, the center-right European People’s Party would remain the largest, but its share of seats would fall to 24.0 percent from 26.7 percent forecast in March.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right Christian Democrats are expected to remain the largest national party in the next legislature, holding 30 seats, down from 33.

The center-left Socialists and Democrats would be the second biggest grouping with 19.8 percent of the seats, down from 20.1 percent in the previous survey in March which did not include British votes.

Despite the contribution of the British Labour Party, which is estimated to win 20 seats in the next EU legislature, the center-left’s total share of seats would fall due to declines for other national parties, including in Germany and Italy.

(Reporting by Francesco Guarascio; editing by Philip Blenkinsop)

Source: OANN


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