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Brexit: EU Parliament sets out stance on future UK relations
The European Parliament has set out the kind of relationship it wants the EU to have with the UK after Brexit. The draft resolution, leaked to the Politico website, says that continued UK membership of the single market and customs union is the preferred option of MEPs. The parliament does not have a formal role in the Brexit negotiations but does have a veto on the final deal. The European Union publishes its own guidelines for future talks later.
EU trade deal must include financial services, says Hammond
Chancellor Philip Hammond will tell European leaders that it is in the “mutual interest” of both the UK and the EU to include financial services in a free trade agreement. In a speech, Mr Hammond will set out his argument against “sceptics”, saying it is possible to reach a deal. However, the BBC understands Donald Tusk will reject the UK proposals. The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, has argued that such a deal had never been done before. But Mr Hammond will say the EU has in the past attempted similar agreements.
Cars buck falling CO2 emissions trend
Britain’s carbon emissions have sunk to the level last seen in 1890 – the year before penalties were first awarded in football. In 2017, CO₂ emissions from fossil fuels fell by 2.6%. This was mainly driven by a 19% decline in coal use. It follows a 5.8% fall in 2016, which saw a record 52% drop in coal use, according to the green website Carbon Brief. The figure is doubly striking as emissions from cars have been going up. The analysis is based on government energy-use figures. The government will publish its own CO₂ estimates later in March.
Fines for drivers using phones may rise
A government proposal to increase the fines and penalties for using a mobile phone while driving in Northern Ireland has gone out for public consultation. Currently, motorists caught using a hand-held phone while driving face a £60 fine and three penalty points. The proposal suggests fines should more than treble to £200 while penalty points should double from three to six. Using a phone while driving is already an offence but this plan would also outlaw “holding” a phone while driving.
Retailers count cost of ‘beast from the east’
Freezing temperatures and heavy snow caused sales at John Lewis group to drop by 5 per cent over the past week compared with the same period last year, according to figures published by the retailer on Tuesday. The effects of plunging temperatures also hit UK industry, with burst water pipes disrupting work at Jaguar Land Rover and Cadbury plants for a third straight day. Even as a thaw sets in, economists expect Britain’s retailers, builders and factory workers to feel the chill of the “beast from the east” for a while yet, with the prolonged cold snap and heavy snowfall likely to hit economic growth in the first three months of 2018.
Car uses soft music to put brakes on stress
Stressed drivers will have relaxing music automatically piped into their cars to combat road rage. Sensors will be fitted to steering wheels and seats of Hyundai cars to detect sudden increases in stress levels. The South Korean carmaker said that any increase in heart rate would trigger interventions including searching streaming services such as Spotify for “soothing music” or dimming the interior lights. The technology, which was displayed at the Geneva Motor Show yesterday, could also contact a doctor if it detected significant heart problems. Earlier this year Nissan disclosed that it was investigating monitoring signals from drivers’ brains to anticipate manoeuvres, allowing autonomous systems to kick in early.
Car industry bans ‘babes’ — or does it?
It was meant to be the end of the road for scantily clad models draped over new cars at the Geneva Motor Show, but it appears not everyone got the message. “Booth babes” have been a fixture of such shows, but before this year’s event a string of the world’s biggest carmakers said that they would cut back on using female models in mini dresses and stilettos to try to attract male customers. Instead, they would use male and female car experts to promote their vehicles. These moves came on the back of the #MeToo campaign against sexual harassment and similar actions by other high-profile events, such as Formula One dropping “grid girls”.
Jaguar delays electric car factory over customs fears
Jaguar Land Rover, the biggest carmaker in Britain, has said it will not decide whether to build electric cars in the country until it has more information on trading conditions after Brexit. In a further sign of how the planned departure from the European Union continues to unnerve the automotive industry, Jaguar Land Rover is concerned about the prospects of tariffs and customs checks after Brexit. Ralf Speth, chief executive, said that the lack of clarity about Brexit made the decision about where the company would build a factory for electric cars “very, very critical and I don’t know whether we can make it”.
How apprenticeships moved out of the workshop
It is too early to say if the apprenticeship levy – a tax placed last April on large UK employers with a wage bill of £3m-plus – will affect the traditional popularity rankings for apprenticeships across all industry sectors. Much will depend on how employers spend the levy funds they claw back from the government to support apprenticeship provision. Government figures for 2016-17 show the public sector (including health, public services and care) in first place. Other popular sectors include business, administration and law; retail and commercial enterprise; engineering and manufacturing; and construction.
Government to review law before self-driving cars arrive on UK roads
The government is to review the law before the arrival of self-driving cars on UK roads, considering issues such as whether this type of transport requires new criminal offences. The development of autonomous vehicles is at the heart of the government’s industrial strategy and the three-year law review is considered necessary if it is to stick to the timetable announced in November last year when the chancellor, Philip Hammond, promised driverless cars on the road by 2021. The Treasury’s post-Brexit economic survival strategy is to invest heavily in technological innovation to get ahead of more conservative rivals elsewhere in Europe. This latest announcement makes it clear that the government anticipates the UK pioneering the use of autonomous vehicles on Britain’s highways in the near future. That throws up huge challenges to the existing system of law which starts from the presumption of human responsibility.
Motorists may not be held responsible if their driverless car crashes under new laws
Motorists may not be held responsible if their driverless car crashes under new laws as the Government seeks to prepare the UK for the rollout of autonomous vehicles. Ministers have launched a three-year study to examine the legal obstacles standing in the way of the development and use of self-driving vehicles on British roads. It will look specifically at the allocation of blame for driverless car crashes and at the scenarios in which a driver or manufacturer will be deemed responsible for accidents. The review will also look at whether new criminal offences may need to be introduced amid fears that automated vehicles could be hacked and operated by offenders remotely.