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David Davis draws up plans for no deal on Brexit talks
David Davis is to present an upbeat assessment of a “no-deal” Brexit to the cabinet in a big shift in Britain’s negotiating strategy. The Brexit secretary has ordered officials to step up the preparations for a failure to strike a deal with the EU, The Times has been told. He is expected to outline the benefits of the scenario in a presentation on Hallowe’en, a move that will alarm some pro-Remain colleagues.
Mr Davis also said yesterday that for a period after Brexit the government would be prepared to allow EU citizens to bring non-EU spouses into the UK without the income requirements that British citizens are subject to.
Theresa May has so far resisted calls to talk up Britain’s prospects without a deal because it would undermine her preferred option of a trade agreement, with EU leaders concluding that she was resigned to failure. Her decision to allow Mr Davis to present his assessment points to a change of approach.
Diesel fumes make British streets among most toxic in West
Polluted air has made Britain one of the most toxic countries in the developed world, a global analysis has found. Britons are about twice as likely to die from pollution as people in Sweden, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and Ireland, with diesel vehicles being blamed. The study for The Lancet medical journal finds that Britain has the third highest rate of pollution deaths in western Europe, with 50,000 people dying each year, mostly through toxic traffic fumes.
This is 8 per cent of all annual deaths, meaning that pollution kills 79 of every 100,000 people each year. World leaders have been urged to take pollution more seriously after the international group of scientists concluded that it was killing nine million people a year. Britain’s pollution death rate is 101st among 188 countries studied. Although Italy, Belgium and much of eastern Europe have higher rates, the UK does significantly worse than the US and France, as well as countries such as Brazil, Turkey and Mexico.
May tells European leaders how much Britain is prepared to pay for Brexit
Theresa May has discussed in private what Britain is prepared to pay the European Union to secure the start of trade talks. In discussions with a selected group of European leaders over the past two weeks, the prime minister has gone further than her Florence speech and outlined how Britain intends to honour its long-term EU budget commitments. The Times understands that she has indicated that Britain is prepared to pay future liabilities — likely to amount to an extra €20 billion — which would be acceptable to most European governments. The total figure will be subject to detailed negotiations and will probably never be explicitly set out by either side.
Financial watchdog launches new review of debt management
The financial watchdog has opened its second in-depth review of the debt management industry amid concerns that customers are not getting the help they need to tackle their debts. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said: “Debt management remains a priority for us as poor practice by debt management firms poses a high risk to consumers, particularly those in vulnerable circumstances.”
Debt management firms, which offer to consolidate a customer’s debts to make their obligations simpler, have already been the subject of an FCA review that found them to be failing users. Providers were warned in 2014 that they needed to “raise their game” if they wanted to continue operating and a year later the regulator found that some providers that charged a fee for debt management were offering advice of an “unacceptably low” quality. The FCA said it had recently refused to authorise several firms that it felt would not give proper advice, while others had left the market. Its new review will look at both free and fee-charging operators and will report back in the first quarter of 2019.
Car chiefs meet Chancellor as industry calls for support on new technology
An end to the “demonisation” of diesel cars and support for new technology such as battery vehicles that will help improve air quality topped the agenda at a summit between motor and Chancellor on Thursday. Leading figures from the industry met with Philip Hammond and other ministers including Transport Secretary Chris Grayling at No 11 as they sought government backing for the UK’s £77.5bn a year car sector. The meeting – understood to have been requested by the Chancellor – was aimed at hearing the car sector’s concerns, particularly about how British businesses will deal with the challenges thrown up by new technologies such as electric vehicles.
Car bosses are understood to have called for what one attendee described as “a long-term approach” from ministers, adding that they must “recognise that developing new technology is expensive and requires support, such as assurances that infrastructure is in place in the form of charging points and the electricity generation to support electric vehicles”. They are also understood to have voiced concerns about the “demonisation” of diesel, which has come to the fore in the wake of the VW scandal. Motor industry executives are understood to be worried that the Government has done little to end concerns about the fuel, pointing out that while older diesel cars are more polluting, newer ones are just as clean as petrol.
Car hire companies warned over hidden charges
CAR hire companies are facing a crackdown by competition watchdogs over failing to tell customers about rip-off fuel prices.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) found that some were breaking consumer law by hitting customers with hidden charges and unexcepted fees, such as for fuel and late night pickups and drop-offs.
Now it has launched enforcement actions two unnamed forms and sent warning letters to a further 40 companies asking them to improve or maintain standards,
9m deaths a year: the human cost of pollution
Pollution kills at least 9 million people and costs trillions of dollars every year, according to the most comprehensive global analysis to date, which warns the crisis “threatens the continuing survival of human societies”.
Toxic air, water, soil and workplaces are responsible for the diseases that kill one in every six people, the report found, and the true total could be millions higher because the impact of many pollutants is poorly understood. The deaths attributed to pollution are triple those from Aids, malaria and tuberculosis combined.
The vast majority of pollution deaths occur in poorer nations. In some, such as India, Chad and Madagascar, pollution causes a quarter of all deaths, the report said. The international researchers said this burden was a hugely expensive drag on developing economies.
Rich nations still have work to do: the US and Japan are in the top 10 for deaths from “modern” forms of pollution, such as fossil fuel related air pollution. But the scientists said big improvements in developed nations in recent decades showed beating pollution was a winnable battle if there was the political will.
Test scandal forces Nissan to halt domestic output
Nissan is suspending car production for the Japanese market after admitting unauthorised workers were certifying vehicles even after discovery of malpractice at the group in a deepening of the inspection scandal. The suspension comes a day after Mitsubishi, which is part of the Renault-Nissan Alliance, pledged to make regaining public trust its “highest priority” and follows admissions by Kobe Steel of data falsification that have cast a cloud over corporate Japan. About 34,000 Nissan vehicles, most of which are yet to be sold, are to be inspected again at a cost estimated to be less than ¥1bn.
This month, the carmaker was forced to announce the start of a recall of nearly 1.2m vehicles produced for the domestic market in the past three years after it was revealed that uncertified technicians carried out final inspections. Nissan forecast that the recall could cost ¥25bn before Thursday’s announcement. The company said that even since then, and after introducing an initial set of corrective measures, unauthorised workers had still carried out these checks at some plants.
Alphabet leads $1bn fundraising round in Lyft
Alphabet is leading a new $1bn fundraising round in Lyft that values the Uber rival at $10bn, raising the stakes in the fierce competition between the San Francisco based transportation companies. The new funding will be led by Alphabet’s venture capital arm, CapitalG, whose partner David Lawee will join the Lyft board. The investment values Lyft at a $10bn pre-money valuation, which is 45 per cent higher than its previous fundraising, which took place just six months ago. The boost in Lyft’s valuation reflects the fact that it has been gaining market share in the US while its rival Uber has undergone a series of crises, including the ouster of its chief executive in June. The news of Alphabet’s tie-up with Lyft comes at a delicate time for Uber, which is in the final stretches of an investment deal with Softbank that has been delayed due to price negotiations. Alphabet is one of Uber’s biggest shareholders, after making an investment in the company in 2013. However, the relationship between Alphabet and Uber became fraught over the years as the two companies started competing in the area of self-autonomous vehicles.
Inflation sends UK retail sales down in September
Rising prices and squeezed household budgets prompted a bigger drop in UK retail sales than expected in September, according to data published by the Office for National Statistics on Thursday. A 0.8 per cent month-on-month fall, following rises in July and August, meant growth in the third quarter of 2017 slowed to its lowest annual rate since 2013. Analysts were expecting a decline of 0.1 per cent. Sales volumes were 1.5 per cent higher in the third quarter of 2017. This is the slowest rate of annual increases since 2013, when sales finally started rising as consumers shook off the after-effects of the 2008 financial crisis.
Boost for Chancellor as September borrowing lowest for ten years
Chancellor Philip Hammond has received a boost ahead of next month’s Budget as public sector borrowing in September fell to its lowest in ten years. The borrowing figure of £5.9bn – which excludes the impact of bank bail-outs – was 11%, or £700m, lower than the same month last year – and beat the £6.5bn reading expected by economists. It was the lowest monthly deficit for September since 2007, before the financial crisis took hold. The figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) marked the third month in which public finances have performed better than expected – and also saw the deficit for August revised down by about £1bn to £4.7bn. It means that for the financial year-to-date, borrowing is running at £32.5bn, 7% lower than at the same stage a year ago.
BP boss to quit
BP chairman Carl-Henirc Svanberg is to step down after a turbulent eight years in the post.
The Swede had led BP’s board since just before the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and guided it through the turmoil that followed.
Mr Svanberg will stay at least until BP’s annual meeting next May. The search for his successor will be led by senior independent director Ian Davis.