We hope you enjoyed the long weekend and the spectacles of the coronation! We’ve summarised the top stories of the last week into an easily digestible briefing, so that you can stay up to date on what’s happening around the world. This week, we have put a heavier focus on the UK. You can subscribe to receive the briefing in your inbox each week.
This Week: The Coronation
More than 2000 people filled Westminster Abbey on Saturday, including 90 heads of state, to watch the Coronation of King Charles III, in a televised coronation service watched by more than 18 million. The service dates back to 973 CE, but only the Coronation Oath and the Accession Declaration Oath are actually required by law.
On Sunday 7th May, a 20,000 spectator coronation concert took place on the biggest stage ever to be built in Britain at Windsor Castle.
Over the weekend street parties took place across the country, a mass volunteering effort was encouraged and hospitality venues stayed open for an extra 2 hours to 1am.
- Police made 52 arrests on Saturday, including for “affray, public order offences, breach of the peace and conspiracy to cause public nuisance”. This included members of the anti-monarchy group Republic but also included volunteers handing out rape alarms. The arrests have sparked fears over the curtailment of the right to protest under the new Public Order Act 2023.
- The procession following the ceremony contained over 5,000 members of the British Armed Forces and 400 from at least 35 Commonwealth nations, with an additional 1,000 personnel lining the route.
UK Economics and Business
- The UK competition watchdog launched a review of the AI market, assessing the associated opportunities and the risks. This follows the regulator’s decision to block Microsoft’s $75bn takeover of Activision Blizzard, a video game corporation.
- Several NHS unions and the UK government have come to an agreement over a pay deal, offering a one-off payment of up to £3789 this year and a 5% wage increase for 2023-24. However, two unions, the British Medical Association (BMA) and the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), have rejected the deal and may escalate strikes. The RCN however needs to re-ballot members as its six month mandate expired on Monday at the close of its latest walkout.
- Institutional investors say that a rush of gilt sales is increasing the UK government’s borrowing costs as markets are trying to absorb record volumes of bonds without the Bank of England intervening to control supply.
- Shares of the UK’s largest housebuilders have grown by almost 20% since the beginning of the year as fears of a big fall in house prices across the nation are increasingly being allayed.
World Economics and Business
- The US Fed and the ECB both raised interest rates by a quarter percentage point. The Fed also signalled a potential pause in its tightening campaign.
- Geoffrey Hinton, a pioneer of AI, resigned from Google. He claimed that AI was developing too quickly and called for more safety protocols for it. The disruptive powers of AI came into focus when Chegg, an online study assistant, said that students’ use of ChatGPT negatively affected revenues.
- China and the Taliban discussed plans in Pakistan to bring Afghanistan into the Belt and Road Initiative. Since the Taliban’s return in 2021, the country has been in economic turmoil as the US and allies stopped their financing of the nation. Now, it will look towards China to fill in this gap.
- American banks rebounded early on Monday after their share prices had dropped following JPMorgan Chase’s takeover of First Republic last week. However, they were unable to hold onto their gains; PacWest was originally up 30%, but closed just up 3.6%.
- Over the first quarter of 2023, Russian oil and gas tax revenue fell by 45%, causing a huge hit to the total 45% of the Russian budget that such revenues contribute to. As a result of this fall, and the G7 led price cap on Russian oil exports, the Kremlin has felt compelled to raise taxes on the already struggling Russian industry.
- In the local elections on Thursday, the Conservatives suffered losses, but experts said that Labour had fallen short of a result that would lead to a clear parliamentary majority next election. Nonetheless, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer was optimistic: “We are on course for a Labour majority next election – a very, very good set of results for us”.
- The chief executive of the Post Office, Nick Read, has been forced to repay some of his £450,000 bonus as a result of factual inaccuracies in representations made to a statutory inquiry into a faulty computer system that led over a 20 year period to over 700 postal workers being wrongly convicted for stealing money from the company. These convictions were made on the basis of false data presented as a result of bugs and defects in a large scale computer system.
- It has been recently confirmed that the government fulfilled election promises from 2019 to recruit and train 20,000 additional police officers, a plan that cost £1bn.
- Health secretary Steve Barclay has announced £240m of funding for GP practices aiming to end the ‘8am scramble for appointments’ as part of a wider overhaul of primary care, but his shadow counterpart Wes Streeting called it a “shallow offer showing Rishi Sunak is totally out of touch with the issues patients face…”
- The WHO has declared that COVID-19 is no longer a “global health emergency” but would remain a “global health threat”. However, they warned against complacency, saying the virus is “still killing, and it is still changing”. It has killed more than 6 million people since being given emergency status in January 2020.
- The Arab League voted to re-admit Syria, which has been suspended since 2011. The League will meet again on May 19th to continue discussing Syria as well as the situation in Sudan. Representatives from the two forces fighting in Sudan travelled to Saudi Arabia to discuss safety for civilians, with America jointly mediating the talks.
- Russia’s Wagner Group threatened the Kremlin with their withdrawal from Bakhmut, a city in Eastern Ukraine which has become a symbolic prize in the conflict, because casualty numbers are growing “in geometrical progression everyday” due to a lack of ammunition. However, the troops have now been provided with previously promised ammunition by Moscow.
- Russian forces launched a barrage of air strikes on Kyiv ahead of Tuesday’s “Victory Day”, a holiday marking the Allied powers’ defeat of Nazi Germany. The Ukrainian armed forces intercepted around 35 drones. Some 61 air strikes and 52 rocket attacks were launched against troops and civilians.
- The EU cancelled a diplomatic event in Tel Aviv after the Israeli government decided to send the extreme-right national security minister Itamar Ben-Givir as its representative. In a statement, they said that they didn’t want to give a platform to somebody whose views “contradict the values the EU stands for”.
Written by Zihan Tian and Angus McIntyre