We’ve summarised the 10 key news stories from over the Christmas break into a short digestible briefing to get you up to date with everything that has happened. You can subscribe to receive the briefing in your inbox each week using the button below.
- On 6th January 2021, armed rioters stormed the US Capitol Building during the certification of the 2020 US Presidential Election results. After being urged on by Trump, they breached the two chambers, forcing the evacuation of lawmakers from the building. After calls for Mike Pence to invoke the 25th amendment to remove Trump from the presidency were unsuccessful, the House of Representatives moved quickly to impeach the president for his role in inciting the riots, making Trump the first president in history to be impeached twice.
- The number of Covid-19 cases in the UK increased dramatically over Christmas, forcing Boris Johnson to implement a third national lockdown. Daily deaths have risen to their highest level since the start of the pandemic and there is significant concern that the NHS could be overwhelmed in the coming weeks. This new lockdown has also forced the cancellation of GCSEs and A-Levels, but currently their replacement is unclear. The vaccine rollout is starting to gain more momentum after the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine was approved for use in the UK, but it remains unclear as to whether the government will meet their targets.
- The Democrats took control of the Senate in the Georgia election run-offs, winning both of the races. This will give the Democrats a majority in the Senate, with Chuck Schumer likely to become Senate Majority leader, replacing Mitch McConnell. This will allow Biden to pursue his cabinet appointments and policy agenda much more seriously, as the Democrats will control all three branches of government. However, the Democrats will not have the majority of 60 needed to overcome the filibuster, so any significant legislation on controversial issues is unlikely to be passed.
- The UK and EU agreed a Brexit deal with only days to spare before the end of the transition period. Both sides hailed it as a success, with both sides of the negotiation forcing the other to give up ground. However, the fear in the EU that Brexit could inspire a number of other countries to leave the EU is likely to have been squashed by the deal, which has already caused a number of problems in the UK. Long queues at ports have become common, as the increased customs work has made it more difficult for goods to be exported from the UK.
- Germany’s CDU has chosen Armin Laschet as the next leader of the party after he beat the divisive Friedrich Merz in a vote of the party congress. He will replace Angela Merkel as leader of the party and will have a significant chance of becoming the party’s next candidate for chancellor. However, he will face competition for the position from Markus Söder, the leader of the CDU’s Bavarian sister party, the CSU. In a recent poll, only 28% thought Laschet had the qualities necessary to become chancellor, compared to 54% for Söder.
Business & Economics
- Following the Democrats’ shock victories in Georgia and their recapturing of the Senate, President-elect Biden unveiled his fiscal stimulus plan that, thanks to the Georgia result, may pass the Senate. The stimulus plan, worth $1.9 trillion, is intended to supplement the roughly $4 trillion already spent on stimulus since March to help continue and recharge America’s economic recovery. Biden’s plan includes $465 billion to pay for direct stimulus payments to individuals of $1400, as well as provisions for state and local government aid and more money for America’s vaccination and test and trace programmes.
- On 24 December, barely a week before the UK’s transition period was due to end, the UK and EU finally agreed on a trade deal. This avoided a no deal situation, and the UK being forced to trade with the EU on WTO terms. While the UK had to compromise on fishing, it gained some leeway on the ‘level playing field’, meaning it will not have to fully follow EU law on competition and state aid, and UK goods will not face tariffs. However, negotiations with the EU are far from over, and there is still a lot more to be discussed in crucial areas such as financial services, product quality standards and travel.
- Earlier this month, Fiat Chrysler and PSA Group finalised their long-awaited merger, forming a new holding company called Stellantis. This company now owns the car brands Fiat, Citroen and Peugeot among others. The new firm will be led by Carlos Tavares, who has already successfully turned around PSA and Opel. Nevertheless, Mr Tavares faces a tough task ahead, with Covid-19 having induced a 15% slump in worldwide automobile sales.
- On 6 January, Elon Musk became the richest man in the world, overtaking Jeff Bezos with a net worth of $190bn. This came as Tesla’s market cap continued to rocket to $700 billion, representing a seven-fold increase in a year. Elon Musk was also helped in his quest to become the richest man in the world by Jeff Bezos’ divorce, which saw him lose a 4% stake in Amazon to his ex-wife Mackenzie Bezos. However, in recent days, Tesla’s stock price has pulled back and Jeff Bezos has reclaimed the top spot.
- Amidst capitol riots, continued claims of election fraud and impeachment, Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms have banned Trump. Donald Trump’s Twitter account, which at its peak had around 90 million followers and which is where Trump posted thousands of times during his presidency, has now been deactivated. Twitter’s stock fell 6.4% on the decision, as some analysts estimate that 12-15 million users, or roughly 6% of twitter’s daily active user base, may leave the platform on the news.
Written by Milo Dennison and Ed Hilditch