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June will see Waterloo mania, events on a battlefield in Belgium, on a London station, music all over London and probably the odd memorial service in France.
Here we cover some of the more unusual aspects of the Duke.
“Publish and be damned” was Wellington’s reprise when a London publisher threatened to print the racy memoirs of Harriette Wilson ‘a steamy London courtesan’
Other lesser known of Wellington’s victories were his affairs with singers and actresses Giuseppina Grassini ans Marguerite Weimer who were ex mistresses of Napoleon. Still there’s no holds barred in love or war !
Which brings us to war and Waterloo, the final chapter of Napoleon’s last rampage across Europe.
Napoleon, sensing that France was still profoundly favourable to him and swayed by the situation prevailing in the country and threats weighing on his life, decided to return to French soil in 1815 and reclaim his throne.
France was split in two by King Louis XVIII’s Charter of 1814 and, especially, governmental measures: facing the Royalists, on one side, the great majority of the French people were indebted to the Revolution, which had given rise to Napoleon. The Emperor’s return from the Isle of Elba interrupted the fierce struggle tearing France apart.
Two proclamations circulated in France. They called for an uprising against the Bourbon rulers.
The “Flight of the Eagle” ended in Paris after 20 days without a single gunshot having been fired. Landing on 1 March 1815 in Golfe-Juan with over a thousand men, Napoleon went on to Grenoble along the Route of the Alps to avoid Royalist populations in the Rhône Valley.
Thus, he crossed Provence, where the people remained indifferent, or rather unresponsive, until Sisteron, although the first demonstrations in his favour were observed after he left Saint-Vallier. As he crossed the Dauphiné, he was greeted with enthusiasm until Laffrey.
There, the troops sent by King Louis XVIII were waiting to arrest him.
The soldiers, hearing the Emperor’s first words, rallied to his cause and preceded him in his triumphal march to Paris. On entering Grenoble, on 7 March, in his own words, the adventurer was once again a Prince. As he continued on to Paris, he was joined by many nostalgic soldiers and mustering growing support from the people.
He was returned to power on 20 March and held it for a “Hundred days” until 22 June 1815.
Yes, Waterloo is in Belgium, but Napoleon’s final defeat by Lord Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington, the Iron Duke . . . Meant that France would now relaxin it’s stranglehold on Europe.
No doubt if Napoleon had been victorious at Waterloo all Europe would have had its collar felt by the French. We might all be speaking French now with English dialects being taught in country classrooms.
But now there is an opportunity to experience the battlefield at first hand and stay at Waterloo – on the battlefield itself. Château d’Hougoumon, the large farmhouse building was at the centre of the action throughout the battle. Recently The Landmark Trust has acquired it, restored it, and for a very, very reasonable sum you can rent it, furnished, and relive your own battle. And even better it’s a real holiday with no WiFi, no TV. The Landmark Trust are naturally very strong in the UK with a portfolio of very unusual follies, chapels, carpenters cottages and such. But they are now building a French portfolio. This Château is last months addition to such opportunities as staying in Edward and Mrs Simpson’s country house Le Moulin at Gif-sur-Yvette, Essonne, just outside Paris.
. . . So for a very unusual and a special experience check out the Landmark Trust.
An artistic postscript . . . Last month one of the Duke’s paintings was found to be an original Titian. A conservator at English Heritage uncovered the square signature ‘Titianus’ on a very dirty portrait of a young woman believed to be Titian’s mistress.
It was part of war booty ‘acquired’ by the Duke from Napoleon’s baggage train where a trunk was stuffed with paintings looted from the Spanish Royal collection. We don’t seem to have returned any of these works or art to their rightful owners even though WW2 looted art does find it’s way back from Hitler and Goering’s would be art collections . . .
If you want to see this latest Titian it’ll be on show at Apsley House, No 1 London, Hyde Park Corner from next month. And while you’re there take note of the silver centre piece on the table of the Waterloo Room. This was a gift from the grateful people of Portugal after Wellington threw the French out of Iberia and trade was restored. A sort of thank you gift that celebrates Wellington’s victories.
And of course on June 19th & 20th there will be a reenactment of the battle by 5,000 fanatics, staged at Waterloo, where because it’s being organised by the French . . . Napoleon will of course come out as victor, certainly of the first day where there was the French charge. The French of course believe Napoleon be be a military genius that by a piece of bad luck was beaten by an unknown frightful Englishman.
Well he’s not unknown now is he ?
Take Three Birds
by Jill Lime-Holt
The internet has been responsible for many things, and this includes this book.
When three authors who have been “friends” on the internet for a time decide to meet up, will it be triple trouble?
You see, they all live in different countries, Jill who is the author of The diary of a Single Parent Abroad lives in Italy, Janet Holt who is co-author or The Stranger in my Life lives in the UK, and Tottie Limejuice author of the Sell the Pig series, lives in France. However, a little detail like this does not daunt the intrepid trio, it will just take a little organising.
So, Janet takes her first flight to Italy, and together Jill and Janet drive over to Tottie’s grottage in Auvergne in France in Jill’s 20 year old Fiat Punto.
But how will these three strong minded women get on?
Will their friendship survive meeting face to face, and spending a lot of time together?
Well, this enjoyable book which is written like a diary, but without the dates, reveals all. Having read two of the authors already, I would not wait to read this one, and was not disappointed.
Reviewed by Susan Keefe
by Khaled Talib
This is a compelling political spy thriller is Khaled Talib’s first novel, but a page turner every step of the way. The story is set in Singapore, where the Israeli government are trying to end, once and for all the Israeli – Palestinian conflict.
However, not everyone agrees on how to do this. Radical factions have other ideas and they plan to assassinate the Israeli Prime Minster when he visits Singapore, but first they must find a scapegoat…
Enter Jethro (Jet) West, not a very appealing fellow, he is a journalist for a top life style magazine in Singapore. Happily sleeping around and living the high life, he soon he finds that his womanising ways and reputation have well and truly gone against him, when he is framed for the murder the Singapore Tourist Boards beautiful public relations manager Niki Kishwani.
However, as if this is not bad enough, he soon discovers his destiny has been decided, and it is far worse than he could imagine.
He has been especially chosen.
As the plot thickens, Jet finds himself being hunted, and the body counts rise, things become rapidly much worse for him as he desperately tries to clear his name.
The attention to detail and research which has gone into this absorbing book is amazing. With spies, corrupt government officials and plenty of twists and turns, Smokescreen is a well written and totally absorbing political spy thriller.
Reviewed by Susan Keefe
Naked in the Wind: Chemo, hairloss and deceit
by Shirley Ledlie
The big C is a word which strikes fear into the heart of everyone.
In this amazing story, not only does the author tell her readers of her very personal fight against breast cancer, but also the effects of the cocktail of chemotherapy drugs she was prescribed to cure it.
When ill, we are vulnerable, we trust those who are treating us, and Shirley was no different. However, when these people let us down not many people a brave enough to stand up against them like Shirley Ledlie. Her treatment left her with permanent hair loss, something which may have been avoided if the powers that be had done their research more thoroughly.
This story is hear rending at times, inspiring and honest, as she bravely chronicles her battle with French bureaucracy and a French drug company.
This is an amazing story, which I read in one sitting.
I applaud the author for writing it.
Reviewed by Susan Keefe
A recent French case has followed the reasoning in the earlier EU decision that France should not charge non-residents social charges on sale. It is only a matter of time before France capitulates and changes its law so that foreigners do not pay 15.5% social charges on their gains on French property sales. Reclaiming past French social charges may still prove difficult.
France has levied social charges on the sale of French property and on rents arising from French property on non-French residents. A recent EU case (de Ruyter) is taken to have decided that these charges are unlawful. There has been a further case which strengthens the position of non-French residents who have objected to paying French social charges.
Latest case – Conseil d’Etat (Supreme Court) decision of 17th April 2015 – N° 365511
Mr A, a French resident was assessed in 2007 to French social charges on the sale of a property. Mr A was not affiliated to any French social fund and as such could not benefit from the contributions he had made. He objected to making the payment.
The court referred to the EU de Ruyter case in which it was said that there was a sufficient and direct link between the French social charges (which finance French social security system) and the branches of social security listed in the EU Regulation 1408/71 and that the French social charges fell within the scope of that Regulation regardless of whether or not payees were entitled to any benefits in return. The Regulation provides that an individual should be subject to and assessed to social contributions within one social security system only. It followed that persons who were resident in France but who were not part of the French social security system could not be made subject to French social contributions. In this case Mr. A was not part of any French social fund and so he was not liable to pay the social charges.
The upshot is that the French courts are taking the same line as the EU Court with regard to French residents. If there is no link with the French social security system you do not have to pay. It is now to be hoped that French law will soon be changed and refunds made promptly to sellers who have had French social charges deducted unlawfully.
Sykes Anderson Perry Limited 13May 2015 www.saplaw.co.uk
Produced by Early Morning Media A daily media round-up of news, views and comment pertaining to the UK 2015 General Election
Sunday, 10 May 2015
Gove is new justice secretary
Michael Gove has been named as the new justice secretary following the Conservatives’ general election victory. In a second round of senior appointments since the election, the prime minister is reshuffling the former education secretary, who has been chief whip in charge of party discipline since July last year. Mr Gove will be in charge of implementing the Conservatives’ pledge to scrap the Human Rights Act and replace it with a British Bill of Rights, a move the Tories say will give the UK the final say over European institutions in contentious cases. He will also take on the role of Lord Chancellor. A source close to Mr Gove said: “Michael is delighted. He enjoyed being Chief Whip but he has always been interested in delivering domestic reform. Michael will do a first class job in this new role. He has the enthusiasm, talent and courage to drive this through.”
The Sunday Times, Page: 2-3 The Sunday Telegraph, Page: 6 The Independent on Sunday, Page: 4-5 The Observer, Page: 1,3 Sunday Express, Page: 6-7 The Mail on Sunday, Page: 7 The Sun, Page: 10-11 BBC News
Grayling to oversee devolution
Former justice secretary Chris Grayling, who has been appointed Leader of the Commons in David Cameron’s new government, has told the Sunday Telegraph that unprecedented powers will be devolved to the government of Scotland following the general election. Mr Grayling said he would protect the Union by allowing Scotland to have the “strongest” devolved government of any country on Earth. He will also oversee ground-breaking reforms to the way Parliament works – intended to ban Scottish MPs from being able to have the final say over English laws. The PM had made “English votes for English laws” central to his re-election programme, and Mr Grayling has previously been a passionate champion of strengthening the powers of English MPs.
Morgan to remain as education secretary
The PM has confirmed that Nicky Morgan will remain as education secretary in his new look cabinet. She will also remain as minister for equalities. On Twitter, Ms Morgan said she was “delighted” with her re-appointment. Her main task will be to expand the number of academies and open hundreds more free schools. A Downing Street source said: “This is a huge vote of confidence in Nicky Morgan – who will continue with the radical programme of education reform.”
Harper to become chief whip
Mark Harper, the minister for disabled people, is expected to become the new chief whip. The Sunday Times states that the PM was impressed by the way Harper conducted himself when, in February 2014, he resigned as an immigration minister after learning that his cleaner was in the country illegally.
Javid lined up to replace Cable
According to the Sunday Times, Sajid Javid and Matthew Hancock are the frontrunners to become the next business secretary. The successor to ousted Liberal Democrat Vince Cable will be announced as part of a sweeping cabinet reshuffle tomorrow.
Cameron to launch blitz on Europe
According to the Sunday Times, David Cameron will launch a 100-day policy offensive to kick-start his second term, accelerating his plans for a new deal with Brussels, cementing Tory control of the House of Commons and pushing through abolition of the Human Rights Act. The paper states that the PM will take advantage of the honeymoon after his unexpected victory in the general election to drive through radical changes before the summer recess. He is also expected to dispatch George Osborne and Philip Hammond to Berlin and Brussels to reach a skeleton deal to redraw Britain’s relationship with Europe before the summer. Meanwhile, John Redwood writes in the Observer that although the PM has his party’s support he would be wise to get Labour’s support on Europe and Scotland.
The Sunday Times, Page: 1-3 The Independent on Sunday, Page: 5 The Observer, Page: 3
Osborne favourite to succeed Cameron, admits Team Boris
Allies of Boris Johnson have conceded that George Osborne has taken pole position in the race to succeed David Cameron thanks to the Conservatives’ election triumph. However, cheerleaders for the London mayor insisted that the status of frontrunner was often a poisoned chalice and their man’s chances of becoming Tory leader were better than ever. “It will be nice to have a frontrunner who is not ‘one of’ us because frontrunners often lose,” one said. Mr Johnson is profiled in theSunday Times.
Blair outlines approach for Labour
Writing in the Observer, Tony Blair says that Labour needs to choose a new direction to be successful. He says there are three things that should govern its approach. The first is that the route to the summit lies through the centre ground – Labour has to be for ambition and aspiration as well as compassion and care, he explains. Secondly, he argues the Labour project must always be one orientated to the future. Finally, he says that good ideas with poor organisation or strategy fail, as such Labour needs to reflect on how to build a party, how it is organised, run and decisions made. Mr Blair also says that Ed Miliband showed courage under savage attack, resilience under a pressure few can understand unless they have experienced it, and put his heart and soul into the fight. He adds that Mr Miliband may blame himself for losing, but no one else should. Elsewhere, Frank Field writes in the Mail on Sunday that Mr Miliband should have said sorry for Labour’s spending in the last government. Lord Glasman adds in the same paper that Mr Miliband’s biggest flaw was that he had no strategy, no narrative and no energy.
The Observer, Page: 1, 4, 37 The Mail on Sunday, Page: 9-11
Umunna sets out leadership bid
Chuka Umunna has become the first Labour MP to set out his leadership stall by saying Labour must offer “competence, optimism not fatalism, an end to machine politics, an economic credo that is both pro-worker and pro-business and, most of all, a politics that starts with what unites us as a country rather than what divides us”. Writing in the Observer, he also calls for radical ideas to demonstrate his commitment to a new form of politics, including a suggestion that MPs move out of the current Houses of Parliament to a purpose-built headquarters. He adds that Labour failed because it had a narrow focus on just over a third of voters. “We tried to cobble together a 35% coalition of our core vote, disaffected Liberal Democrats, Greens and UKIP supporters. The terrible results on Thursday were the failure of that approach writ large. We need a different, big-tent approach – one in which no one is too rich or poor to be part of our party.”
The Observer, Page: 1, 4, 33 The Sun, Page: 12
Kendall condemns result
The shadow health minister Liz Kendall has warned that the “future survival” of the Labour party is at risk unless it starts trying to appeal to Conservative voters as well as the party’s traditional supporters. In an interview with the Sunday Times, Kendall condemned the “truly terrible result” under Ed Miliband, which saw Labour reduced to its lowest number of MPs since 1983, and warned that the party has “far too little” to say to middle-class voters. Asked whether she was running for leadership, she said: “Yes, I am considering it. But we don’t just need a new face. We need a fundamentally new approach.”
Labour leadership race
In addition to Chuka Umunna and Liz Kendall, the Independent on Sunday notes that Tristram Hunt is expected to throw his hat into the ring to succeed Ed Miliband. He is expected to be joined by Yvette Cooper and Andy Burnham. The paper also reveals that Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee will meet on Tuesday to decide the timetable, with a row emerging among MPs and senior figures over whether to hold a quick race, which will crown a leader by the end of July, or a longer contest with the result announced at party conference in September. For the first time, the leader will be decided in a one member, one vote ballot – replacing the electoral college which gave extra weight to the unions. Adam Boulton writes in the Sunday Times that with so much choice of leader, surely Labour will get its selection right this time.
The Independent on Sunday, Page: 7 The Sunday Telegraph, Page: 9 The Sunday Times, Page: 27
Labour facing a decade in the wilderness
The Sunday Telegraph cites several party grandees who warn that Labour is facing a decade in the wilderness. Ben Bradshaw, Labour’s former culture secretary, pleaded with his party not to lurch even further to the Left when choosing a new leader and a fresh strategy. “Please, colleagues in the Labour movement and outside commentators, don’t try to claim we lost because Labour wasn’t radical, Left-wing or distinctive enough,” he said. Alan Johnson, a former home secretary, said: “This is a 10-year task. This is a job for the future.” He said the party had lost the ability to appeal to people’s “aspirations”, which Mr Blair had done in 1997. Robert Harris reflects on Labour’s defeat in the Sunday Times and says that for the party to be successful in 2020 they will have to choose someone who challenges the cosy certainties of the left rather than panders to the prejudices of the faithful. Rod Liddle writes in the same paper that Labour failed to court voters outside of London and it must give up its love affair with the trendy left.
Miliband keen to continue political career
Ed Miliband has revealed that he is keen to continue his political career and will model his comeback on that of Iain Duncan Smith, who served in David Cameron’s cabinet seven years after his own prime ministerial ambitions were dashed. Mr Miliband has told aides he will remain an MP and campaign on inequality issues. A former Miliband aide said the examples of William Hague and Mr Duncan Smith before returning as a welfare reformer, had convinced him to reject a move to academia.
Farewell to Balls
Damian McBride writes in the Sunday Times about the political career of Ed Balls. He states that for the past 20 years Mr Balls has had the best economic brain in UK politics: the architect of Bank of England independence and the man who can take most credit for keeping Britain out of the euro.
Unite calls on Murphy to resign
Pressure is growing on the Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy after the Unite union called on him to resign. The union, which was the party’s biggest donor during the last parliament, said Mr Murphy should stand down “without delay”. It warned that otherwise “extinction looms” for the Scottish party. The train drivers’ union ASLEF also called for Mr Murphy, who lost his East Renfrewshire seat in Thursday’s poll, to resign his position as leader. Meanwhile, Labour MSP Neil Findlay, who stood against Mr Murphy for leadership of the party, has resigned from the Scottish shadow cabinet. He said the election had been a “disaster” for Scottish Labour.
Shah claims she was smeared
Naz Shah, the newly elected MP for Bradford West, has said she suffered a nasty smear campaign during the election by rival George Galloway. Ms Shah said she was now considering legal action against him for calling her a liar.
The Independent on Sunday, Page: 14-15
SNP set for push for independence
The Sunday Telegraph claims that Scottish nationalists are preparing the ground for a new referendum on independence. Fresh from a landslide election result, Alex Salmond declared that Scotland was closer than ever to separating from the UK. After winning 56 out of 59 seats north of the border, Mr Salmond, who is now an MP, said the SNP’s near clean sweep was a “staging post” towards full independence. Asked if Scotland was now closer to independence after the landslide, Mr Salmond said: “Yes, because the SNP now has an overwhelming mandate from the Scottish people to carry forward Scotland’s interests. The base of the confidence of people in Scotland is growing all the time. Now, obviously the timing of any future referendum is a matter for the Scottish people first and foremost.” Until now, the party leadership has always promised that it would not use the general election results to re-open the debate about independence. Mr Salmond’s claim immediately provoked outrage from Ruth Davidson, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, who accused the SNP of misleading voters.
The Sunday Telegraph, Page: 1, 4 The Mail on Sunday, Page: 12-13
Cameron to roll out Smith recommendations
David Cameron has pledged to include the recommendations of the cross-party Smith Commission in a new Scotland Bill in the Government’s first Queen’s Speech. It means MSPs in the Scottish Parliament will become responsible for setting income tax bands and rates on earnings, although responsibility for its allowances and the taxation of savings and dividend income will still be held by Westminster. The Prime Minister says the measures will make Holyrood one of the most powerful devolved parliaments in the world. The Sunday Times adds, however, that the PM will resist Nicola Sturgeon’s call for more power. Meanwhile, Ms Sturgeon writes in the Observer that the views of the Scottish people can no longer be ignored. She adds that a key requirement of the PM’s in-out referendum should be a “double-lock” requiring the assent of all four UK home nations before any withdrawal from the EU. A condition which she reiterates.
The Sunday Telegraph, Page: 4 The Independent on Sunday, Page: 11 The Sun, Page: 7 The Observer, Page: 36-37 The Sunday Times, Page: 3
Support grows for Farron
The Sunday Times reports that support for Tim Farron to succeed Nick Clegg as Liberal Democrat leader has been growing as key party figures called for a change in direction. A succession of MPs, parliamentary candidates and members of its ruling body said Farron was best placed to begin the rebuilding process after the party saw its presence in Westminster slump from 57 in 2010 to eight. John Pugh, the MP for Southport, pointed the finger of blame for the “profoundly shocking” result at Clegg and said Farron “fits the bill” as the new leader because he “understands the DNA of the party”. “The trouble with Nick is he has tried to lead a party that is a centre-left party to the centre-right and it hasn’t really worked,” Pugh said. Greg Mulholland, the Lib Dem MP for Leeds North West, said the party had been right to go into government, but the leadership made “three fatal errors” in its policies on tuition fees, the NHS and the bedroom tax.
UKIP stalled Labour’s comeback
Matthew Goodwin examines UKIP’s performance in the election and notes how the party stalled Labour’s comeback. He says its voters seem to have returned to Cameron in the South while giving Labour a kicking in the North. He also believes that Nigel Farage will return to the political scene and suggests the PM looks to reach out to his reluctant voters and back-bench MPs who are Eurosceptics.
The Sunday Telegraph, Page: 10
Evans was rejected by Tories
The Sunday Telegraph claims that Suzanne Evans, who has been endorsed by Nigel Farage as UKIP’s temporary leader, is a failed Conservative parliamentary election candidate. The paper says Ms Evans applied to the Tories to fight last week’s general election more than two years ago, but was rejected because her speaking skills were not up to scratch.
The Sunday Telegraph, Page: 10
Bennett vows to stay on
After the dramatic fall and resignations of Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage, Natalie Bennett has made it clear that she is determined to remain at the helm of the Green party and to continue building on a “Green surge”. She said: “The Green party has more than quadrupled its membership in the past year, while I’ve been leader. We’ve just seen us quadruple our best ever result in a general election. We finished second in four seats, which has never happened before. I aim to continue the ‘Green surge’, build it and make it bigger.”
The Observer, Page: 4
Campaign centred on destroying the Lib Dems
A number of papers reflect on the election campaign in great detail. The Sunday Times states that the PM’s main strategists – Lynton Crosby, Jim Messina and Stephen Gilbert – decided eight months ago to turn on their coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats. The plan was similar to that of Angela Merkel in Germany. Ms Merkel has said that coalition always destroys the little party, and a minister explains that was what the Tories intended to do. Meanwhile, the same paper says the winning insight of the campaign came in the second week of April, when voters on doorsteps raised concerns about the possibility of a Labour government propped up by the SNP. Elsewhere, John Rentoul writes in the Independent on Sunday that the PM should be given credit for expanding the Tories appeal.
The Sunday Times, Page: 20 The Mail on Sunday, Page: 33 The Independent on Sunday, Page: 38
Byrne apologises for no money note
The former Labour Treasury minister Liam Byrne has admitted that his infamous “there is no money” letter hampered Ed Miliband’s general election campaign by making it easier for the Tories to attack Labour’s economic record. Writing in the Observer, Byrne comments: “Party members ask me: what on earth were you thinking? But members of the public ask: how could you do something so crass? And so bloody offensive? I’ve asked myself that question every day for five years and every day I have burnt with the shame of it, nowhere more than when standing on doorsteps, listening to voters demanding to know what I thought I was playing at. It was always excruciating.” He accepts it gave the Tories the easiest target during the campaign.
The Observer, Page: 5, 42
Conservatives cement local election success
The Conservatives have made significant gains in local elections in England, winning hundreds of extra seats and wresting control of 28 councils. The party consolidated its position in the south of England and the Midlands, making gains in areas where they did well in Thursday’s general election. David Cameron said of the results: “It is a vindication for the Conservative Party and I know my message of ‘one nation, one United Kingdom’ will be carried out by national government and local government too.” Grant Shapps, the Tory party chairman, added: “The people have spoken. They put David Cameron back into Downing Street and Conservative councillors back into town halls to deliver better communities.” Labour and the Lib Dems suffered losses but UKIP won control of its first council in Thanet, Kent, where Nigel Farage had failed in his bid to become MP. The Green Party also fared well, winning seven seats in Bristol and overtaking the Liberal Democrats there.
UKIP and Greens call for change
The apparent perversity of the election result has prompted renewed demands for a change in Britain’s voting system. Those demands are being led by an unusual alliance of UKIP and the Green Party. Nigel Farage referred to the fact that his party had a single MP despite the same number supporting it as the SNP and Lib Dems combined: “The first-past-the-post system is bankrupt, because one party can get 50% of the vote in Scotland and nearly 100% of the seats, and our party can get four million votes and just one seat.” The Greens felt similarly aggrieved, getting one million votes and also winning just one seat.
The Independent on Sunday, Page: 8 The Observer, Page: 9
UK wants to remain in Europe
Britain appears set to vote to stay in the EU in the 2017 referendum, according to a new Mail on Sunday poll. The Survation poll found that only 38% of voters support cutting ties with Brussels, with 45% wanting to stay in the European Union. A further 17% are undecided.
The Mail on Sunday, Page: 7
Businesses relieved …
Industry leaders have cheered the election of a Conservative Government and condemned the Labour party for turning its back on business, despite longer-term fears of an EU exit. Simon Walker, director general of the Institute of Directors, said: “It is a relief that Britain has avoided the expected uncertainty. It is also a reminder that Labour wins elections when it acknowledges the importance of business and wealth generated by the private sector. The party was not presenting itself in a business-friendly way.” John Cridland, director general of the Confederation of British Industry, agreed that the Tory’s majority was “good news” for businesses and entrepreneurs, while Labour’s policies in sectors such as energy and banking “added to the idea that the party would be more likely to intervene in markets”.
Sunday Express, Page: 61
… But Europe looms as issue
The Sunday Telegraph reports that business leaders are now preparing to fight to keep Britain in the European Union after David Cameron’s election triumph set the stage for a referendum on membership of the bloc. Gavin Patterson, the chief executive of BT, which employs 85,000, said the EU was a good thing for business in spite of its problems. He said: “Like most business leaders, I think we will be campaigning on the basis that the EU, for all its idiosyncrasies, is a positive thing for business.” Sir Roger Carr, chairman of BAE Systems, added: “With a Conservative victory, we have the certainty of both a pro-business government and a referendum on Europe. British business must now stand up and speak up for membership of an improved Europe if we are to capitalise on the opportunities that the future now offers.”
The Sunday Telegraph, Business, Page: 1
Osborne to speed up sale of banks
The Chancellor is set to fast-track a £35bn sale of the government’s stakes in Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds after the Conservatives’ election victory. Treasury officials are examining plans for an early disposal – at a loss to the taxpayer – of RBS shares, and a £4bn “Tell Sid-style” offer of part of the Lloyds’ holding, with a discount price for the public.
Reluctant Tories wrong-footed pollsters
Peter Kellner, the president of YouGov, writes in the Sunday Times that it was not shy but reluctant Tories that wrong-footed the pollsters. He says his initial tentative reason for the pollsters lack of accuracy is down to human psychology. He explains that there are large numbers of people who would like to support someone other than the Tories, but faced with a ballot paper in the privacy of the polling booth are unable to do so. Dominic Lawson writes in the same paper that if polls cannot get the hang of “shy Tories” then they should be axed.
The Sunday Times, Page: 23 The Sunday Times, Page: 26
BoE expects deflation to disappear
The Bank of England is expected to signal this week that price rises will gather pace, easing fears that deflation is set to continue. Markets are likely to interpret the quarterly inflation report as an indication that the Bank is ready to start raising interest rates over the next 12 months, reports the Sunday Times. There had been speculation that deflation would push any rate increases even farther off, but the Bank is expected to say that, after two months of zero inflation, higher inflation is likely in the coming months.
Anti-austerity protestors vandalise memorial
A memorial honouring the role of women in the Second World War was vandalised as demonstrators against government cuts clashed with police in central London yesterday. The statue in Whitehall was daubed with red paint. One police officer was injured in what Scotland Yard described as an “unplanned anti-austerity protest”.
The Independent on Sunday, Page: 5
Article written by Simon Hilton, Senior Dealer at World First Foreign Exchange
At the time of writing (the day before the general election), the election outlook is still as clear as mud, and by the time you read this, we could still find ourselves without a government, and all sorts of deals being done to come up with the magic number needed to form a government. Or there could be a minority government. Or even another election. It’s impossible to guess, but we can be sure that there will be a degree of uncertainty, and political uncertainty can also lead to economic uncertainty.
At the start of the year, the pound was at 1.2824 against the euro. Back then, £500,000 was worth €641,200. By March 12th, the rate had jumped to 1.4136, with that same amount of money worth €706,800, a massive €65,600 more than at the start of the year – ideal for people that happened to be buying a property in Europe at that time.
Since then, the pound has dipped slightly, but is still well up on the euro compared to where it was at the start of the year. At the time of writing, GBPEUR is at 1.3582, with £500,000 getting you €679,100, still €37,900 more than you’d have got on January 1st.
Although the euro has endured a slow 2015 so far, there have been signs of a rally in the last month or so. In April, the euro was 0.46% stronger than the pound. Economic news from the Eurozone has been particularly strong in the past few months, signalling a recovery in fortunes. However, there is little reason to get ahead of oneself; unemployment within the Eurozone is still too high with underemployment – people who want more hours – as high as 75% in some countries.
While the euro shows signs of improvement, it’s the pound which could suffer in the next few weeks if political uncertainty does indeed lead to economic uncertainty (though it has to be said that at the moment, sterling is proving to be remarkably resilient, despite this being one of the most fractured election campaigns in living memory).
Calling the progress of the pound in the aftermath of polling day is very difficult. A Tory-led government may be seen as helpful for the pound on a fiscal basis but issues around a referendum on Europe will weigh on investment. A Labour-led coalition may be seen as slightly more fiscally reckless but higher government spending may provoke a rate hike from the Bank of England if inflation is seen to be increasing too quickly. Throw in the strength of the SNP – who could be on course to win every seat north of the border – and we have a potent brew.
Those that are worried about a potential fall for the pound may be considering the option of fixing an exchange rate now for a transfer that needs to be made in the future. That way – what’s known as a forward contract – they’ll know that even if the rate goes against them, they’ll be unaffected and will get the rate they agreed when it’s time to make the payment. This is handy for budgeting too.
No-one knows what will happen after the polls close, but for those looking to make currency transfers in the near future, they’ll be keeping their eye on how it will affect exchange rates.
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After some decidedly depressing months for those of working for British househunters in France, there is finally reason for optimism as buyers are being tempted back into the French property market, largely because prices are realistic and there are some good deals to be struck.
If you want to benefit from this buyers’ market and bag a bargain, here’s your handy guide to making the process as problem-free as possible.
Even just a couple of years ago, we would be asked whether it was the done thing to offer below the asking price but now, in the current buyers’ market, this has become the norm. However, take the advice of your agent and don’t assume that you can always beat an owner down on price. Many vendors have already slashed their asking price and properties new to the market should have been priced according to market conditions.
Property supply across the Channel is not the issue that it is in the UK but this doesn’t mean that you should dilly dally. If you’ve found the property you want to buy, my advice would be to get everything moving as soon as possible.
Structural surveys are a totally foreign concept to the French. Buyers are, however, protected to a degree by the legal requirements for the vendor to have various reports carried out on a property, usually once a buyer has been found and an offer has been accepted.
This is an ever-increasing list including (depending on the age of the property and its location) tests for the presence of lead, asbestos and termites, an energy efficiency report, reports on the safety of gas and electricity installations and a report on natural and techonological risks. You will be asked by the notaire to sign the reports, which are designed to make you aware of what you are buying, although there is no obligation for the vendor to do anything about any of the results. Obviously, if termites are chomping their way through your potential purchase, you can ask the vendor to have it treated or renegotiate the price to reflect this.
Once a price has been agreed, a compromis de vente or sous-seing privé will be drawn up, either by the notaire or by the agent. All property transactions in France are overseen by a notaire, who does not fulfil the same function as a solicitor in the UK, being impartial and tasked with ensuring that the legal process is correctly adhered to. They are nonetheless a good source of information for any questions you have and can advise on issues like inheritance, although we often suggest our buyers seek indepenedent advice as well.
Often, vendors choose the notaire they purchased through to oversee the sale, as they may hold the deeds and will be familiar with any issues particular to the property. As a buyer, you can either go with that choice, or appoint your own notaire to work in tandem with theirs. There is no extra cost involved in this as the fees, which are set by the state, are shared betweeen two notaires working on the same transaction. However, notaires are not renowned for their speed and dynamism, so having two who need to communicate with each other can sometimes slow down the process.
The compromis de vente needs to be signed by all parties involved, or their legal representatives. Once the vendor has signed, they are immediately tied in. Buyers on the other hand, benefit from a seven-day cooling-off period, during which time they have the legal right to pull out of the purchase with no financial penalty. If the compromis has to be sent to you in the UK, the process can become lengthy so sign in France if you can.
When taking a property onto his books, an agent will ask the vendor to sign a mandat de vente, usually with his fees payable by the vendor. If you ask to sign a mandat de recherche however, with the fees payable by the buyer, it makes no difference to the purchase price but the notaire’s fees will be lower as they are based on the figure exclusive of agency fees.
Paying the deposit
When the compromis has been signed, it’s time to put your money where your mouth is and hand over a deposit – typically 5-10% of the sale price, usually paid into the notaire’s holding account. Should you decide to pull out during the cooling-off period, this will be returned to you within 21 days. After this period, if you pull out, your deposit will be retained by the vendor.
After the compromis has been signed, things can seem to go ominously quiet. Behind the scenes, the notaire will be carrying out all the necessary formalities to complete the purchase. One such formality is the droit de pré-emption. The local Mairie usually has first right of refusal on any property purchase, so while this right is rarely taken up, the notaire has to formally advise the Mairie that the sale is taking place. French bureaucracy being what it is, Mairies are not known as the Jenson Buttons of this world in giving a response!
When all the ducks are in a row, the notaire will inform you of the balance of funds to be paid – including his fees. These are typically 7-10% of the purchase price of the property.
Finally, the great day will arrive to sign the acte de vente, the equivalent of completion in the UK. This can be done by power of attorney, but it’s far more exciting to turn up in person at the notaire’s office and formally take possession of the keys. The notaire will go through the acte de vente section by section to ensure all parties are happy, ask everyone to sign and hey presto, you own your very own corner of France. The deeds will be issued about three or four months later.
This series of articles first appeared in French Property News magazine. Please note that some of the information contained in them may be out of date.
According to the Republican Calendar May 4th is the day of the Silk Worm (Bombyx mori). We don’t often get to see the adult moth because before they pupate the cocoons are boiled alive and the silk is spun.
Silk was a prized commodity in France. Apart from embellishing the clothes of the court it was in demand for wall coverings and to this day across Europe silk still covers the walls of palaces (it’s best cleaned with a slice of bread!).
Silk worms are traditionally fed on Mulberry bushes. The small town of L’Isle sur la Sorgue in the Vaucleuse has warehouses and town houses where white Mulberry branches were hung on hooks for the silk worms to feast on.
Silk was then spun and woven in the town with the power coming from the 66 water wheels that littered the canals in town. Now only 14 remain.
In the 13th century L’Isle sur la Sorgue was famous for paper making and weaving woollen fabrics . . . referred to as ‘blanquets’ !!!
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