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The Queen will on Tuesday set out the legislation that Boris Johnson hopes will pave the way for him to win a second full term as prime minister.

Johnson is under fire over a bill in the monarch’s Speech requiring voters to provide proof of identity, a move Labour called “cynical and ugly” and warned was likely to disenfranchise marginal groups.

The prime minister will also reclaim the power to schedule the next general election, repealing David Cameron’s fixed-term parliament act, which decrees the next election will be in 2024. Labour officials believe Johnson wants to clear the way for a snap general election in 2023.

The Speech is also set to include plans to transform the student loan system and give employers a statutory role in publicly funded training.

Johnson will use the ensuing debate to set out a number of bills intended to flesh out his “levelling up” agenda. Downing Street officials forecast the next year will deliver “the meat” of the 2019 manifesto, as the government shifts attention from Brexit and Covid-19 to the agenda that will frame the next election.

Coronavirus digest

  • The Bank of England’s upgrade of its 2021 forecast last week was based on better than expected past performance. But a Financial Times analysis found the bank had downgraded its outlook for each quarter until the end of 2022.

  • Britons will be allowed to hug on May 17 for the first time since restrictions were put in place.

  • UK consumer spending rose above pre-pandemic levels in April for the first time this year. Greggs has said its profits could recover to pre-pandemic levels as soon as 2021 as shoppers return to the high street. The cost of UK private education also increased at its slowest rate on record this year.

  • After diverting resources more than a year to battle Covid-19, the NHS is rolling out artificial intelligence tools to cope with the enormous backlog of patients sidelined by the crisis.

  • EU governments spent billions to prop up their airlines, as Covid-19 reversed a privatisation drive.

  • Norway and Sweden’s vaccine rollouts have failed to engage at-risk migrant groups, who remain sceptical over safety.

  • New infections in the US have fallen to the lowest level in 11 months — a sign the country is on track to regain a sense of normality by summer.

Follow the latest on our live blog, and sign up for our Coronavirus Business Update newsletter, delivered to your inbox every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

In the news

Hamas rocket attacks provoke Israeli retaliation The militant group fired rockets deep into Israel after days of violence between Israeli policemen and Muslim protesters at Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque left hundreds of Palestinians wounded. Health officials in Gaza said up to 20 people were killed, including nine children, and 65 injured in the air strikes.

Pipeline hackers regret ‘creating problems’ DarkSide, the hacker group blamed for the weekend’s ransomware attack on the Colonial petroleum pipeline in the US, insisted it only wanted to make money and regretted “creating problems for society”. The pipeline expects to restore most operations by the end of the week. The White House opened a debate on the merits of companies making ransom payments to cyber attackers, which the FBI has long opposed. (FT, NYT)

The hack took an important US oil pipeline offline for three days
The hack took an important US oil pipeline offline for three days © FT montage; Bloomberg

For more essential energy news, forward-thinking analysis and insider intelligence, sign up for our Energy Source newsletter delivered every Tuesday and Thursday.

British Spac king plans EU listing Ian Osborne, the UK investor at the forefront of the US special acquisition company boom, is turning to Europe with plans for the region’s largest tech-focused blank cheque company. Hedosophia, the fund manager run by Osborne, plans to raise €400m for a Spac in Amsterdam.

UK hedge fund Gladstone wrongfooted by market rotations One of Europe’s top-performing hedge funds in recent years has been hit by a rebound in stocks that suffered early in the pandemic, the latest sign that many managers are struggling to navigate 2021’s market swings.

Column chart of Returns (%) showing Hedge fund Gladstone stumbles after bad bets on US, European stocks

US investors revolt against executive pay Six S&P 500 companies including General Electric, AT&T, IBM and Starbucks have already failed to win a majority of shareholder support for pay packages this year, compared with 10 instances in all of 2020 a company bonus plan was voted down.

Global passive assets hit $15tn Assets under management in exchange traded funds are eclipsing traditional index-tracking mutual funds for the first time, after the global passive investment industry vaulted past $15tn in assets last year, according to data compiled for the FT.

  • The Biden administrations’ proposed increases to capital gains taxes on wealthy investors could hasten a shift out of mutual funds and into exchange traded funds, executives have forecast.

Line chart of Assets under management ($tn) showing Passive attack

The day ahead

Brandon Wales testifies on cyber security In Washington, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency Acting director testifies before the Senate today after the Solarwinds hack.

AstraZeneca shareholder meeting The company faces a shareholder revolt over the pay for chief executive Pascal Soriot.

Earnings round-up Palantir, Electronic Arts, Occidental Petroleum, Swiss Life, Morrisons, E.ON and Nissan report.

The FT has revamped its Trade Secrets newsletter, offering premium subscribers even better coverage. Expect more on the inside story of global trade, with punchy and pithy analysis from a team of FT correspondents led by Alan Beattie in Brussels, delivered straight to your inbox at 12pm UK time Monday to Thursday. Click here to sign up.

What else we’re reading

Walmart vs Amazon: groceries Amazon’s ambitions to disrupt the $1.3tn US grocery market will define the next stage of a more than two-decade battle with Walmart. And it comes just as Walmart intensifies efforts to break Amazon’s broader ecommerce dominance. This article is the first part of an FT series examining the future of retail.

  • Amazon set a corporate bond market record, raising $18.5bn across maturities ranging from two to 40 years at yields that approached those of US Treasuries.

Amazon and Walmart’s sales have ballooned during the pandemic, making them the world’s two largest public companies in any sector by revenues
Amazon and Walmart’s sales have ballooned during the pandemic, making them the world’s two largest public companies in any sector by revenues © FT montage; Reuters, Bloomberg

Iraqi Kurdistan’s authoritarian turn Convictions of journalists and activists have sparked rare international condemnation and put a spotlight on the authoritarian drift of a quasi-state dominated by two families, whose influence extends deep into the business and security apparatus of the oil rich region of 5m — and who may be “discarding” democracy.

Djibouti thrives in ‘return to cold war’ With economic growth of up to 7 per cent forecast this year, double Africa’s average, with hefty Chinese investment in ports, free trade zones and a railway line to landlocked Ethiopia, Djibouti’s strategic location is helping make it one of the continent’s fastest-growing economies.

Home to five naval bases, including since 2017 China’s first overseas military base, the former French colony’s significance is geopolitical as well as economic
Home to five naval bases, including China’s first overseas military base, the former French colony’s significance is geopolitical as well as economic © Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty

Look to the US for ‘workweek’ laws that work Some US states have passed “fair workweek” laws in an attempt to tackle unpredictable schedules in sectors such as retail and fast food. The measures serve as a reminder that policy interventions do not have to be heavy-handed to make a difference, writes Sarah O’Connor.

Avoid inbox panic with a digital disconnect The slight anxiety of not knowing what is in your inbox can feel more stressful than quickly checking it the second you wake up. Now that offices are reopening, perhaps there is a way to moderate constant, unnecessary contact, writes Elaine Moore.

Elaine Moore: ‘Lockdown has accelerated bad habits. Scanning WhatsApp, Slack, emails and texts is a near-constant activity’
Elaine Moore: ‘Lockdown has accelerated bad habits. Scanning WhatsApp, Slack, emails and texts is a near-constant activity’ © Pate

Podcast of the day

The Tories conquer Hartlepool Last week’s local elections resulted in gains for Boris Johnson’s Conservatives, including a historic win in the Hartlepool by-election. What does this mean for Labour and Keir Starmer’s leadership? Sebastian Payne breaks down what you need to know.

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