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Boris Johnson: No 10’s post-Brexit customs plans ‘crazy’
Boris Johnson has described one of No 10’s proposals for a post-Brexit customs arrangement as “crazy”. A “customs partnership”, thought to be favoured by the PM, would involve the UK collecting import tariffs on behalf of the EU. The foreign secretary said it would limit the UK’s ability to do post-Brexit trade deals. No 10 said the idea was still on the table after ministers failed to agree a customs plan last week. The newspaper quotes the foreign secretary as saying a customs partnership would create “a whole new web of bureaucracy”. “If you have a new customs partnership, you have a crazy system whereby you end up collecting tariffs on behalf of the EU at the UK frontier,” he said.
Trade jobs axe tests claims of ‘global Britain’ after Brexit
Liam Fox’s trade department is set to axe hundreds of officials who promote British exports to countries such as China and Brazil, in cuts that will undermine the government’s claim to be building “a global Britain”. Staff at the Department for International Trade have been told to expect up to 10 per cent of trade promotion jobs to go because of a budget squeeze, which has pitted Mr Fox against the Treasury. The cuts mean that while Mr Fox has already hired up to 800 staff to negotiate trade deals after Brexit, his department is simultaneously cutting officials who work on the ground helping British companies sell their products in emerging markets. DIT insiders say the jobs at risk are “in the low hundreds”: the department has more than 3,000 staff and has trade promotion employees based in more than 100 countries and in 174 locations. The department declined to comment.
Driverless pods could ease Lake District congestion
Roads in the Lake District are notorious for being clogged with visitors. But the beautiful rolling scenery could one day be punctuated with futuristic driverless “pods”. State-of-the-art self-driving vehicles are being trialled as a potential solution to gridlock near Grisedale or a bottleneck at Buttermere. The electric vehicles, while are already used to ferry passengers at Heathrow Terminal 5, use cutting edge technology to transport people in an environmental friendly and safe way.
UK productivity grows strongly but it still lags behind Europe
British businesses need to up their game and be more productive or risk losing out as the country leaves the European Union, industry bosses have warned. Productivity in the UK grew by 0.9pc and 0.7pc in the final two quarters of 2017, the strongest growth since 2011. But, the UK’s output per hour is still around a quarter behind competitors like France and Germany, meaning it takes British workers five days to produce what others achieve in four.
Formula E drives 67pc jump in sales but escalating costs hit home
Formula E, the company which manages the auto racing championship that only uses electric-powered cars, made a £18.6m loss in the year to the end of July, despite a 67pc jump in sales to £84.5m, as costs continued to spiral. The UK-based motorsport operator, which has never made a profit since it was founded in 2014, reported a 27pc rise in costs to £102.9m, which offset the higher sales. The company expects a smoother road ahead, however, as Formula E begins to attract more interest from the general public.
In January, Formula E announced Swiss engineering group ABB as its new title sponsor. ABB is reportedly paying £11m in sponsorship fees. Formula E cars are powered by a 200kW motor, giving them a top speed of 150mph. As they produce little noise and emissions, the races can be held in city centres. There are 12 locations on the calendar, including New York, Paris and Rome.
Drivers fuming. Thousands to blockade Whitehall over toxic tax
THOUSANDS of furious motorists are preparing a Whitehall ‘blockade’ over the Government’s plan to slap them with new ‘toxic taxes’. Cabbies, white van drivers, truckers and bikers plan to bring Parliament Square to a standstill furious at being “singled out” to pay for Michael Gove’s clean air strategy. They also want to deliver a petition to Downing Street in an effort to convince ministers to change their minds. The Environment Secretary last year signalled that motorists face higher charges and even bans on 81 ‘dirty’ roads across the country in a desperate bid to bring nitrogen oxide emissions under control.
But campaign group FairFuelUK is demanding Ministers instead cut the cost of public transport and order refineries to put additives in to clean it up. A survey of 30,000 members shows 88 per cent would pay up to 5p per litre more at the pump for a ‘cleaner’ petrol. They also want the Government to tackle other NOx sources – from airlines to wood burners.
Now Lords bid to scrap time limit on leaving EU
Theresa May faces a fresh challenge today as peers seek to keep Britain in the single market and scrap the fixed date for leaving the European Union. Labour peers will today propose an amendment to key Brexit legislation so that March 29, 2019, is no longer fixed in law as the day of departure. A cross-party group has put down a further amendment that would force ministers to keep Britain in the European Economic Area with a Norway-style deal.
The Lords has already inflicted ten defeats on the Government at the report stage of the EU Withdrawal Bill, including removing the option of the Prime Minister walking away from Brexit talks with no deal. Labour peers have been instructed not to back the cross-party amendment to keep Britain inside the single market, but dozens could defy the party leadership.