A cryptic text on Tuesday morning from a contact in Downing St said I’d picked an interesting week to return to work.
I wasn’t sure what they meant, and then a couple of hours later the PM announced her intention to go to the country. After two blissful weeks of family life, the news agenda was back on my radar with a vengeance.
My thanks go to the temporary custodians of this column who between them transformed it from Editor’s Notes to Guest Notes during my absence.
PR guru Nick Giles took us on a tour of Advertising Week; former Vote Leave chief exec Matthew Elliott reflected on all things Article 50; Julia Hobsbawm gave us an insight into the world of one the capital’s most connected people; and former Sky News deputy political editor Joey Jones returned to his Westminster stomping ground with an analysis of Corbyn’s policy plans along with a passionate plea for the preservation of Brixton market.
They all brought their own voice and range of opinions to this page and I hope you enjoyed the interlude.
Now that I’m back, attention turns to the impending election and, of course, the Brexit negotiations. In a leader column earlier in the week we took the view that May is right to seek her own mandate. Her domestic agenda will benefit from a fresh electoral legitimacy and her political position will be strengthened as she prepares to negotiate with the EU. The City greeted news of the election with something of a shrug. The expectation is that May will return to No 10 with a comfortable majority and that the result will provide some much needed stability at a time of huge political uncertainty.
But even if the race isn’t a tight one, elections throw up huge policy issues and offer us pundits the chance to get stuck into the debate. It’s good to be back at the helm and you can count on us to cover the race from all angles.
Party may be over for Germany's mid-sized groups
Is it time to stop fetishising Germany’s mid-size companies? The much-admired Mittelstand band of German firms are often held up by UK politicians as a model to aim for, but recent data suggests the British equivalent are on the march.
According to BDO, the UK’s mid-sized businesses have seen turnover grow by nearly four per cent over the past year, compared to a sluggish 0.99 per cent in Germany. It’s a similar story when it comes to profits. All this despite Brexit...
What did coffee ever do to Labour?
What have Labour MPs got against coffee? Earlier this week, professional Northerner Andy Burnham invited derision by wading into a debate about post-Brexit visas for coffee-shop workers by attacking “right-wingers” worried about their “posh coffee” in the morning.
Meanwhile, Corbyn’s comrade Dawn Butler made a bizarre attack on Costa Coffee yesterday for not paying its taxes, before swiftly retracting the claim – presumably under threat of legal action.
May's "ruthless" decision
Major political events in this country trigger a carnival of news outlets taking over the green near parliament, and on Tuesday I joined the scrum - discussing the election announcement on Sky News.
Afterwards I caught up with a Tory MP who enjoys a massive majority but who expressed sympathy for colleagues of his who may fall on 8 June. “I had no idea May was this ruthless,” he said, pointing out that many Tory MPs elected just two years ago are now at risk from a Lib Dem fight back. May plans to make gains elsewhere, “sacrificing the weak for the greater good”, as this MP sees it.
Mental health in the spotlight
There are times when one can really feel the needle moving on a matter of public debate – and I’d suggest we’re at just such a moment on the issue of mental health and wellbeing.
Prince Harry’s candid discussion of his own experience of talking to a therapist will go a long way to shifting perceptions – as will the openness shown by Virgin Money boss Jayne-Anne Gadhia, whose frank reflections on dealing with depression make her an important voice in the City.