35. Weekly Newsletter
This week, the US announced that they had now withdrawn from Afghanistan following a 20-year long alliance with Britain in the region. The successful evacuation of over 15,000 people to the UK, since the 14th of August, under the time constraints is considered an achievement for the Ministry of Defence; however, there remains between 100-150 British citizens who were unable to get to their flights alongside 800-1,100 eligible Afghans too.
Britain’s Foreign Office minister, Cleverly, has accepted that the UK is “willing to engage” with the Taliban” on the condition that the region’s new leadership “start acting like a government” which includes “facilitating both internal travel and exiting” Afghanistan. Furthermore, the UN Security Council has now adopted a draft resolution to protect the freedom of movement, to an extent, and preventing the nation from becoming a base for terrorism.
Over 6.7m people in the UK have tested positive for COVID and with almost all restrictions lifted: cases are slowly rising again and pressure is rising to begin ‘booster jabs’ for the vulnerable. A total of over 132,000 deaths have been attributed to the virus and are disproportionality led by the unvaccinated. Nationally, 48m people have received their first vaccine and approximately 42.7m (64.1% of all residents) of these patients have also received their second dose. This brings the total number of inoculations carried out, by the private sector and National Health Service, to almost 91 million.
A recent piece in The New York Times looked at the UK’s attitude to COVID suggesting that the public was “unfazed by high covid rates” as they “weigh their ‘price of freedom’”. At present, the nation is recording over 30,000 cases per day and yet football stadiums, musicals and theme parks are full- even the London Underground, where masks are ‘mandatory’, is described as having “half of the riders go barefaced”.
UK’s Low-Tax Freeports
Investors are currently ‘circling’ Britain’s fifth largest port, Teesside’s PD Ports, which was recently awarded the low-tax freeport status in the Chancellor’s budget. The port could sell for potentially £2bn with the Duke of Northumberland’s estate, Legal & General, and Credit Suisse joining the Pension Insurance Corporation for a takeover. The Teesside port stretches across 4,500 acres and is a key gateway for the 28m tonnes of imports to the north of England each year.
The move comes as part of the Government’s strategy to encourage more pension funds to invest in Britain and ‘build back better’. Some pension firms, on the other hand, have expressed reluctance due to long-standing wariness of investments in private markets (e.g. infrastructure and venture capital) because of the costly high fees involved.