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Brexit negotiations ‘have not begun well’ – Sir Simon Fraser
The UK’s Brexit negotiations have not begun well amid “differences” inside the cabinet, a former head of the diplomatic service has said. Sir Simon Fraser, chief mandarin at the Foreign Office until 2015, said the UK side had been “a bit absent” from formal negotiations in Brussels. Sir Simon, who now advises businesses on Brexit, said he was concerned the UK had not put forward a clear position. The government is expected to publish “position papers” on key issues soon.
UK data protection laws to be overhauled
Britons could obtain more control over what happens to personal information under proposals outlined by the government. Citizens will be able to ask for personal data, or information posted when they were children, to be deleted. The proposals are part of an overhaul of UK data protection laws drafted by the Digital Minister, Matt Hancock. The UK’s data protection watchdog will also get new powers and be able to levy bigger fines on firms that flout laws.
London cycle seizures put spoke in wheel of rental scheme
A company offering £1-an-hour rental bikes in London has said it is “disappointed” after Wandsworth council seized more than 130 of its cycles and described them as a “yellow bike plague”. Under the “dockless” hire system operated by Singapore start-up oBike, users can pick up and leave the bikes anywhere, unlocking them with a smartphone app. There is no need to place them in docking stations, unlike the 11,500 Santander Cycles — widely known as “Boris Bikes” — run by Transport for London.
German party hit by ‘dieselgate’ whitewash claims
Germany’s main centre-left party has suffered a political setback ahead of next month’s challenge to chancellor Angela Merkel in parliamentary elections after one of its senior members admitted consulting Volkswagen over a planned speech when the “dieselgate” scandal first broke. Stephan Weil, the Social Democrat chief minister of Lower Saxony, one of Germany’s largest states, showed the draft of a parliamentary address in October 2015 to the carmaker’s management. But he said he only sought to “check legal matters and the accuracy of facts” regarding allegations that VW had intentionally manipulated emissions tests in its diesel engines.
Clocking epidemic means 500,000 cars are sold with dodgy mileages
Britain is in the grip of a car clocking epidemic thanks to new finance deals, with as many as one in 16 used vehicles showing the wrong mileage. Up to half a million second-hand cars bought last year were clocked, coinciding with the cost of correction devices, which can be used to change the mileage, falling to as little as £80 online. An investigation by The Times has found that unsuspecting buyers are being misled into buying affected vehicles by dealers who make them believe the mileage has been checked.
UK consumers cut spending on clothes, cars and foreign travel
Britons are slashing spending on new clothes, cars and foreign holidays, according to new figures that underscore the effect on consumer confidence of rising living costs and the uncertainty surrounding Brexit. Spending fell for a third consecutive month in July, according to Visa’s consumer spending index, which it said was the longest-running slump since February 2013. The 0.8% year-on-year decline in July was worse than June’s 0.2% drop, but not as steep as the fall of 0.9% in May.
Half of the major upgrades on key roads promised by the Government are yet to start
HALF of road upgrades promised by the Government have been delayed, it was claimed last night. A total of 43 major upgrade projects unveiled since 2014, as part of the “biggest, boldest and most far reaching roads programme for decades”, are yet to be started according to campaigners. And only 34 projects are currently under active construction — with 10 more still in planning stages. Transport ministers promised to “dramatically improve our road network and unlock Britain’s economic potential” — but only a handful of projects started since the launch of the Road Investment Strategy in December 2014 have been completed. The £15.2 billion project was designed to allow dozens of major schemes “enhance, renew and improve the network.”