Political Wrangling Returns and Some Schools Too: Saturday UK Briefing

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Hello from London, where September brings the return of political wrangling, school (for some) and rail strikes (though those never really went away during the summer).

Grant Shapps is back too, shuffling up the front bench as defence secretary from the energy security and net zero role he took on after leaving transport. He was even home secretary for a week last October during the turbulent term of Liz Truss. Shapps’s promotion on Thursday came after Ben Wallace quit the defence post after four years. Rishi Sunak’s limited Cabinet reshuffle left some Conservative allies doubting his resolve to reset the party’s direction before a general election due by January 2025.

The I-s , not the Tories, have it. Rishi Sunak appears much less likely to mention his party in social media posts than his Labour rival Keir Starmer, an analysis by Bloomberg News shows. Sunak is more than 25 times likelier to use the word “I” than name his own Conservative Party in posts on X, formerly Twitter. Starmer, for his part, is twice as likely to name Labour than use the personal pronoun.

The PM got some good news on the economic front Friday as the UK no longer appears to be the sick man of the G-7. Revised economic data show the UK pulled head of Germany in its economic recovery from the pandemic, with the updated figures suggesting GDP rose more quickly than thought. Still, voters may not soon forget the market turmoil caused by his predecessor. Huw Pill, the Bank of England’s chief economist, this week compared that crisis that led to Sunak’s ascension to swimming in a river of crocodiles.

The downturn in housing is accelerating, the latest figures from the Nationwide show. The average cost of a home fell 5.3% in August from a peak a year ago, the steepest decline since 2009. While it may be a buyer’s market, even the Secret Agent has gone through the second-guessing and the sleepless nights of trying to buy his own home. He warns that once you start imagining yourself living in the property, you’ve reached the danger point.

The IPO of UK chipmaker Arm is attracting some very deep pockets. SoftBank, which bought Arm in 2016, is said to have lined up a who’s who of tech giants as strategic investors, including Apple, Nvidia, Intel, Samsung and Google. The show of tech industry support will help bolster the offering, which is expected to raise $5 billion to $7 billion.

Finally, Saudi money is everywhere in sports, and cricket will be no exception, England captain Ben Stokes told Jamie Nimmo. “You can’t compete with money, especially the money that Saudi Arabia is throwing around to certain people,” Stokes said. After establishing the controversial LIV Golf tour and splashing out on stars such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar for its football clubs, the kingdom has set its sights on being a “global cricketing destination.”

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