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Boris Johnson: Irish border row being exploited to stop Brexit
Boris Johnson has said the row over the border in Northern Ireland is being used to frustrate Brexit. The foreign secretary insisted there were “very good solutions” to avoid the need for a hard border. There is a stand-off on the issue with the EU set to publish a legal draft of its Brexit withdrawal agreement. This is expected to include an option for Northern Ireland to follow EU rules to avoid a “hard border” – if an alternative arrangement is not agreed.
Toys R Us UK goes into administration
Toys R Us has gone into administration, putting 3,000 UK jobs at risk. Administrators have been appointed to begin “an orderly wind-down” of the UK’s biggest toy retailer following the failure to find a buyer. They said that all 105 Toys R Us stores will remain open until further notice. Joint administrator Simon Thomas said: “Whilst this process is likely to affect many Toys R Us staff, whether some or all of the stores will close remains to be decided.”
UK weather: Travel warnings as further heavy snow hits UK
Heavy snow across the UK has caused major disruption to roads, railways and air travel. Police warned drivers to avoid the roads as emergency services dealt with crashes and stranded motorists. Hundreds of schools have been closed after overnight temperatures dropped to almost -12C (11F) in some areas.
Maplin collapses as rescue talks fail
One of the UK’s biggest electronics retailers has collapsed into administration after talks with potential buyers failed to secure a sale. Maplin, which has more than 200 stores and 2,500 staff, will continue to trade through the process. The business faced the slump in the pound, weak consumer confidence and a withdrawal of credit insurance. These factors made it “impossible” to raise capital, boss Graham Harris said. The news came shortly after retailer Toys R Us went into administration. Maplin will now work with administrators PwC “to achieve the best possible outcome for all of our colleagues and stakeholders”, Mr Harris said.
Takata airbag recall to affect almost 4m cars in Australia
The Australian government is taking the unusual step of ordering a recall of nearly 4m cars fitted with Takata airbags which have caused deaths worldwide, including at least one death in Australia. The assistant minister to the treasurer, Michael Sukkar, announced the recall on Wednesday morning. “The sad thing about this is that this has been waiting in the wings for months and months,” Labor’s consumer affairs spokesman, Tim Hammond, told reporters in Canberra. “It is an indictment of this government that they have taken so long to pull the trigger on a compulsory recall.”
Lack of models, not charging points, ‘holding back electric car market’
Analysis shows just 20 battery models on sale in Europe against more than 400 conventional ones. The rise of electric cars in Europe is being hampered by a lack of models for consumers to choose from rather than a lack of public recharging points, according to energy companies and carmakers. Some motoring groups and insurers have warned over the past year that the number of chargers is putting the switch to electric transport at risk. But an analysis by the Platform for Electromobility – whose 31 members include Tesla, Renault-Nissan, Brussels-based campaign group T&E and industrial groups Siemens and Alstom – found there are already enough points in Europe.
Mark Squires, the head of the industry group that represents car dealers, said: “There isn’t a broad range of pure electric vehicles available.” But the choice issue is likely to be addressed in the next two years, MPs were told. “There are some very viable cars coming in the next 18 months,” said Georg Ell, director of western Europe at Tesla. He also confirmed the firm had taken UK orders for its electric semi-truck, which it unveiled last year. However, Squires said some drivers still believed there were not enough charging points. “There is a perception, it may not be the full reality, that easy charging access is going to be an issue and that is putting consumers off,” he said.
Why that used car you’ve got your eye on could actually be a clapped-out taxi
Thousands of drivers are preparing to sue car manufacturers after discovering the used vehicles they bought were once taxis or rental cars. Nearly every major car manufacturer faces claims that their dealerships falsely advertised their cars. It is estimated that as many as one million drivers unwittingly buy a former taxi or rental car every year. Often, they don’t discover this until they are sent their logbook up to six weeks after the purchase. Many people don’t find out for months because they don’t bother to check their logbook when it arrives. Experts say the daily short journeys that taxis and mini cabs make can put a huge strain on the car’s engine, clutch and gearbox, which could leave drivers with unexpected repair bills.
Sue Robinson, of trade body the National Franchised Dealers Association, said dealers are committed to upholding regulated standards and helping the consumer find the right vehicle to suit their needs She adds: ‘Ex-rentals are the main source of nearly new cars in the market and are often serviced above the minimum requirements, allowing consumers to gain great value for money in the second-hand car market.’
Fears drivers are paying over the odds for car cover as insurers fail to cut prices as their motors age
Drivers could be paying over the odds for cover because some insurers fail to take into account the falling value of cars when they renew policies. Insurers such as RSA, Admiral and Hastings Direct have told Money Mail they do not automatically adjust down a vehicle’s value each year. They say it is up to the customer to update them. But many motorists wouldn’t know to do this and as a result could be missing out on savings. Insurers claim that any change in the car’s value would have very little bearing on a customer’s premium. They say that factors such as how many miles you drive and your age are far more important when pricing policies, as the biggest risk is a personal injury claim — not the car being written off or stolen. But figures from GoCompare suggest the difference could be as much as £30.
Driver WARNING – Don’t drive with snow of your roof or face £60 FINE
DRIVERS are being warned that driving with snow of the roof of their car could see them face a fine of £60 and three penalty points. As the beast from the east takes grip in the UK, temperatures are plummeting and inches of snow are adorning the British road network. Adverse weather conditions bring with it a whole host of issues for drivers to contend with, but motorists are being urged to take care and prepare their car before they leave the house. The importance of making sure a car is properly road ready to tackle the snow and ice is not just for safety, but also to help a driver avoid being fined. With snow being somewhat of a rarity in many parts of the UK, drivers may not be aware that driving with snow on the roof of their car could see them penalised.