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All the right moves

Written by  Ralitsa Bobcheva, associate
Edited by Katie Stanton, associate partner
26 November 2020

Good morning,

At first glance, The Queen’s Gambit – now Netflix’s most popular scripted series ever – didn’t appeal. The plot centres on an orphaned chess prodigy and her journey to becoming the world’s greatest player while navigating a turbulent and difficult childhood.

Yes, it’s a show about a board game. But give it time; it’s fantastically gripping. Plus, amidst the constant steam of news on the health and economic crises, I welcomed the light relief that comes with simply watching a drama detached from my fixed position in time and space.

And haven’t we all? TV shows have become such stuff as our daily lives are made on while we’re confined to our homes, and are now key ingredients of our daily conversations and relentless Zoom chats. In the case of The Queen’s Gambit, as Jo Ellison so eloquently puts it, the show ticks the right boxes in terms of 2020 viewing: it offers escapism, it’s ravishing, and it’s well-dressed. Did I also mention the chess?

In many ways, the drama is the perfect example of how, this year, Netflix has continued to make bold moves. Despite posting slowing subscriber growth in the third quarter after months of colossal subscriber gains, just yesterday, the company announced plans to increase its UK annual budget by 50% this year, or what amounts to £750m.

Netflix’s UK budget is second only to that of the US in size, with a third of its European productions being made in Britain. These figures are an exciting indicator of the growing international market for British content.

In fact, figures released yesterday by industry body Pact show an upbeat view of the UK’s TV content, especially drama. Blockbusters such as Chernobyl and hit BBC show His Dark Materials have driven British TV exports to record high of £1.48bn in the year to March.

Of course, the UK production industry is certainly not without its challenges and the pandemic will undoubtably take its toll on this year’s exports. But this injection of confidence from Netflix is nonetheless significant at a time when our creative industries are under incredible pressure.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to buy my first chess set.

News

Most parts of England will enter tiers 2 and 3 of Covid restrictions from next week, the UK health secretary is set to announce today.  The changes are expected to encounter resistance in parliament and will come jnto force followingthe end of a national lockdown in England on 2 December.

The Covid-19 pandemic could undo 25 years of progress in gender equality, according to new research. It found that women do significantly more domestic chores and family care than men. While the 38 surveys carried out by UN Women mainly focused on lower and middle-income countries, data from more industrialised countries point to a similar trend.

Argentina’s president Alberto Fernandez issued a decree for three days of national mourning following the death of the country’s most famous footballer Diego Maradona on Wednesday. The footballer, who captained the 1986 World Cup-winning team, passed away from a heart attack at the age of 60.

Business and economy

UK chancellor Rishi Sunak set out his spending review yesterday, detailing how much would be spent on public services as the government deals with the economic emergency caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The government will spend a further £55bn next year as part of a package designed to support the recovery. The measures include an increase in core health budget, support for skills and jobs and a foreign aid cut.

The Office for Budget Responsibility forecasts that UK GDP will be 1.5% lower in five years than its current central GDP in case of a “no-deal” Brexit. It also predicts that unemployment could rise to 8% under a no-deal scenario – nearly one percentage point higher than if London and Brussels do reach a deal.

MPs have pledged to make global tech giants responsible for helping to collect and treat their waste productsto cut the 155,000 tonnes of electronics thrown away annually in the UK. This comes after an investigation by the environmental audit committee found that the UK creates the second highest levels of electronic waste in the world and is failing to create a circular economy in this important area.

Columns of note

After Rishi Sunak unveiled details of the spending review yesterday, Janet Daley took a positive view, pinpointing two clear messages from the chancellor’s speech: his understanding that the public spending announced was unlike any other in history. The second point, on his own political philosophywas much more unexpected and what eventually shone through.(£)

In the Guardian, Alexander Vasudevan turns to Berlin’s newly introduced rent cap, or Mietendeckel, which is the latest success in the city’s long battle against housing challenges that stretches back to at least the mid-19th century. With the UK’s rising housing crisis in mind, he weighs the pros and cons of the German approach to housing policy and its urgent importance to cities in the UK.

Cartoon source: The Times

Markets

What happened yesterday?

London stocks ended weaker yesterday, as investors eyed Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s spending review and the associated economic data contained within his speech. The FTSE 100 closed down 0.64% at 6,319.09, and the FTSE 250 finished the session 1.11% weaker at 19,569.39.

Sterling improved slightly, rising 0.18% on the dollar to $1.3381, and remaining broadly steady against the euro at €1.1235.

In the US, Wall Street’s main indexes also pulled back from all-time highs, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling 0.58%, to 29,872.47; the S&P 500 weakening 0.16%, to 3,629.65; and the Nasdaq Composite adding 0.47%, at 12,094.40.

In company news:

Car dealer Lookers has taken a £25.5m hit after an investigation by Grant Thornton identified cash expenses fraud in one of the car dealer’s divisions.

Banknote printer De La Rue is in conversations with governments and pharmaceutical companies about producing ‘Covid passports’.

The German media group Bertelsmann which stands behind Penguin Random House has confirmed it acquired US publisher Simon & Schuster for $2.2bn.

What’s happening today?

Finals
Tracsis

Interims
First Property
Jlen Env
Motorpoint
NewRiver
Otaq.
Severn Trent
Xps Pensions

AGMs
First Property
Jlen Env
Motorpoint
NewRiver
Otaq.
Severn Trent
Xps Pensions

Int. economic announcements
(07:00) GFK Consumer Confidence (GER)
(09:00) M3 Money Supply (EU)

Source: Financial Times

did you know

The Addams Family was the first TV family to have a home computer.

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons

Oral questions
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (including Topical Questions)
 
Oral questions
Church Commissioners and House of Commons Commission and Parliamentary Works Sponsor Body and Public Accounts Commission and Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission
 
Business Statement
Business Questions to the Leader of the House – Mr Jacob Rees-Mogg
 
Debate
Backbench Business – Debate on a Motion relating to the final report from the Climate Assembly UK on the path to net zero
– Darren Jones
 
Debate
Backbench Business – Debate on a Motion relating to the Work and Pensions Select Committee report on the DWP’s response to the Coronavirus Outbreak
– Stephen Timms
 
Adjournment
Use of hydrogen transport – Alexander Stafford

House of Lords 

Oral questions
Various
 
Legislation
Parliamentary Constituencies Bill – consideration of Commons amendments – Lord True
 
Orders and regulations
Heavy Commercial Vehicles in Kent (No. 1) (Amendment) Order 2020; Heavy Commercial Vehicles in Kent (No. 2) (Amendment) Order 2020 – Baroness Vere of Norbiton
 
 
Orders and regulations
Law Enforcement and Security (Separation Issues etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020 – Baroness Williams of Trafford
 

Scottish Parliament 

Parliamentary Bureau Motions
First Minister’s Questions
Parliamentary Bureau Motions
Portfolio Questions: Constitution, Europe and External Affairs
Ministerial Statement: COVID Vaccine
Public Petitions Committee Debate: Improving Youth Football in Scotland
Scottish Government Debate: Coronavirus: Scotland’s Strategic Approach
Business Motions
Parliamentary Bureau Motions
Decision Time

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