By Powerscourt on 31/01/2021

Powerscourt Coronavirus Briefing – 31 January 2021


Friday’s fallout with Brussels is still causing waves over the weekend.

Brussels has since withdrawn and admitted it was a mistake to try to control the vaccines going through the Northern Ireland/Republic border. However, MPs (read Conservative Brexiteers) who are not happy with the Brexit deal have used the drama with the European Commission as leverage to slam it.

Calling on Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Cabinet Minister Michael Gove to “…use this opportunity to talk quite toughly with the EU about how the Northern Ireland Protocol is working”, Theresa Villiers, former Northern Ireland secretary of state, is leading the Westminster pack to try to get rid of Article 16.

After five years of Brexit negotiations, Article 16 was agreed as part of the deal and designed to stop the need for a hard border between the split island of Ireland, to be triggered only in certain circumstances.

Northern Ireland’s first minister and Democratic Unionist Party leader, Arlene Foster, is also leaning on the EU’s blunder to call for the government to withdraw the entire deal affecting the region.

However, the UK’s ‘Vaccine Minister’ Nadhim Zahawi has assured the Sunday Telegraph today that the focus now needs to be on collaboration with the bloc and trying to help Brussels with its vaccine supply issues.

Gove also gave a quick interview to a camera outside his house with a similar response, saying the EU has rightfully backtracked and we need to focus on resetting our relations with the union while continuing the vaccine rollout. It seems the Government’s new year’s resolution is to do no more Brexit negotiations.

The EU’s original sweeping statement on Friday failed to exempt Australia from a block on vaccine shipment, which later proved to be an oversight. Good thing too, considering Australia has ended a two-week streak of zero COVID-19 infections and has gone back into lockdown. After a hotel worker in Perth was found with the more transmissible UK variant, it has imposed a strict new set of rules.

The worker might not only have exposed three roommates and an entire hotel but he is also reportedly a Rideshare driver. This has caused officials to close down most of western Australia including schools, bars, gyms and places of worship. Residents can’t leave their homes for anything non-essential and face masks are mandatory in public.

The case was discovered just hours after Australia announced it will allow quarantine free arrivals from New Zealand from today. It is unclear if this is now going ahead. Both countries have taken tough measures to minimize the spread of the virus, in the hope that normal life and the economy can bounce back as soon as possible.



Consumer & Retail

Cineworld is under fire from furious shareholders and workers over a potential £200 million share bonus for senior management while the chain is fighting for survival. The company closed all its 127 sites in the UK and Ireland indefinitely in October, and is now said to be considering a company voluntary arrangement to slash rents. The chief executive, Mooky Greidinger, and his brother and deputy, Israel, will each get a £33 million payout if the share price hits 190p within three years. To unlock the maximum bonus of £65 million, the price must reach 380p. They will receive a quarter of the bonus if the stock hits 130p. On Friday, the price was 77.1p, valuing the company at £1.1 billion. While 70 per cent of voting shareholders approved the bonus last week, some investors are angry. “They’re entrepreneurs and they play tough,” said one top shareholder. “But we’re never going to feel the same about this relationship. We’re going to know that when it really got tough, they asked for more money and put a gun to our head.”


Great Point Media
The Sunday Times reports that the film financing company behind the BBC’s Small Axe series will give investors the chance to tune into the streaming boom by floating a £200 million trust. Great Point Media, based in London and chaired by Robert Halmi, the founder of the Hallmark TV channel in the US, is to list a trust that will finance films and shows on streaming platforms such as Netflix and terrestrial TV. It hopes investors will stump up £200 million initially, with further rounds planned in the future to finance films and shows that have already been commissioned.



Sport faces end of gambling cash in biggest crisis since tobacco ban The Times

UK applies to join trans-Pacific trade group – Financial Times

Britain ready to help out EU on Covid vaccines – The Telegraph