Flash Briefing: Split in UK Labour Party; 8 arrests in $2bn Mozam Tuna Bond scandal; Honda closes in UK

By Alec Hogg

In today’s global business headlines:

  • The UK yesterday experienced its biggest political split in almost 40 years when seven members of the Labour Party walked away from the official opposition, which is led by the controversial Jeremy Corbyn. The seven say they are unhappy at what they call the “institutionally anti-Semitic” approach of the political party, and its leader’s unwillingness to support the call for a second referendum on Britain’s EU membership. Led by the charismatic Chuka Umunna, they will call themselves the Independent Group and pundits say they are likely to align with the 11-member Liberal Democrats, a party formed in 1981, also after a group of Labour MPs left the party.
  • Still in the UK, the country’s struggling motor manufacturing sector took another blow yesterday with news that Honda’s 160,000 vehicle a year factory in Swindon will close. The plant, which has been producing Honda vehicles since 1992, will end production in 2022. The company has not made any official announcements, but the local lawmaker, Conservative Party MP Justin Tomlinson, says the closure relates to a broader trend in lower sales rather than anything to do with Brexit. The UK’s motor industry body says investment in the sector halved last year and is down by three quarters on recent annual averages.
  • Australian prime minister Scott Morrison says that his country has managed to see off a cyber-attack by a foreign state whose hackers attempted to extract confidential information from computer systems in parliament. Morrison said: “Our cyber experts believe that a sophisticated state actor is responsible for this malicious activity.” He did not specify which hostile country is involved. Australians are due to vote on a national election within three months and its most populated state, New South Wales, goes to the polls next month. Australia says it has briefed partners in the Five Eyes intelligence sharing network of its western allies the US, UK, Canada and New Zealand.
  • In South African related news, the Mozambique government has belatedly moved against those involved in the $2bn Tuna Bond corruption, ordering a series of high-profile arrests this week. Those arrested include Ndambi Guebuza, son of former president Armando and Antonio do Rosario, chairman of three state owned companies. Others include the former head of Mozambique’s intelligence services and ex-president Guebuza’s private secretary. Former Finance Minister Manuel Chang, who is accused of taking a bribe of at least $5m, is in a South African jail fighting extradition to the US. Eurasia’s Africa specialist Darias Jonker describes this as Mozambique’s biggest crisis since multiparty elections began in 1994.