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The bill empowering the government to begin the formal process of leaving the European Union is due to reach its final stages in the Commons later. MPs will debate and vote on more amendments – including whether to let EU nationals stay in the UK – for seven hours with a final vote at 20:00 GMT. The final vote could cause more Labour rifts, with its MPs ordered to back it. On Tuesday night, the government saw off attempts to add conditions to the bill as a Tory rebellion was avoided. The European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill – which, if passed, will authorise the prime minister to formally begin up to two years of Brexit negotiations, under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty – has now passed two days of debate in the Commons without being altered.
The AA has warned that it may have to raise its prices because the government has doubled the tax rate on insurance policies in less than two years. The breakdown service, which also reported a rise in personal memberships of 0.4% to 3,335,000 in the six months to the end of January, said it had so far absorbed the price rise. Insurance premium tax (IPT) was 6% in 2015, but is going up to 12% from June. The AA said it would look at its fees if the tax increased again.
The impact of Britain’s vote to leave the EU is set to prevent General Motors’ European operations from returning to profit this year, with the US carmaker predicting $300m in Brexit-related losses in the region in 2017 after a similar amount in 2016. The Detroit-based group reported better than expected fourth-quarter earnings because of the strength of its North American operations, which were boosted by increased consumer spending after the US presidential election. But GM missed its goal to return to profit in Europe in 2016, with the company recording an adjusted loss before interest and tax of $300m in the region last year.
Upgrades to England’s busiest motorways could be scrapped or postponed because of an £800 million hole in the government’s road-building programme. A review is being carried out of all 112 projects contained in the strategy amid warnings that some pose a “high risk” to the public purse. The Office of Rail and Road (ORR), the official regulator, said that some poor-value schemes may be dropped while others are likely to be downgraded or postponed beyond the existing start date of March 2020.
BP warned yesterday that it needed the oil price to rebound to $60 a barrel to balance its books this year. Its announcement, on a day that Brent crude slid 1.5 per cent to below $55, accompanied a disappointing fourth-quarter profit figure, held back by worse than expected performances from both its refining division and its stake in Rosneft.
Underlying profits were $400 million for the quarter, more than double the same period in 2015 but below analysts’ forecasts of $560 million.
Germany suffered a surprise collapse in its manufacturing and construction output in December, plunging the broader industrial production sector into its sharpest monthly fall in almost eight years and dashing hopes of strong growth at the end of last year. Poor weather and the timing of holidays around Christmas were blamed for the 3 per cent contraction in industrial production in December. The economy ministry tried to gloss over the fall by insisting that it did not alter its positive outlook. “Orders in manufacturing and construction and also sentiment indicators in these sectors are signalling a revival of output growth in coming months,” it said.
The plunge in sterling triggered by the Brexit vote could soon prompt a rise in interest rates, a Bank of England rate-setter will warn today. Sterling, having traded as low as $1.2346 during the day yesterday, bounced back into positive territory to trade at $1.2515 after the text of a speech by Kristin Forbes was released in advance. Professor Forbes, an economist and external member of the monetary policy committee, will say in Leeds that she is growing increasingly “uncomfortable with the trade-off embodied in our current forecast” between slowing growth expectations and the prospect of imported inflation via weaker sterling.
Bank of England policymaker hints higher interest rates may be needed for ‘star performer’ UK
Interest rates may need to rise “soon” to keep a lid on inflation if the UK economy continues its “remarkably solid and stable” performance, according to a top Bank of England policymaker. Kristin Forbes will use a speech in Leeds on Wednesday to say signs of an imminent slowdown in the economy are “as yet few and far between” as she describes the UK as a “star performer” relative to other major advanced economies. Policymakers upgraded their forecasts for growth over the next three years in the Bank’s February Inflation Report and said the unemployment rate was likely to remain below its pre-crisis levels for the rest of the decade.
The UK could shake off the near-term impact of Brexit to become the fastest-growing economy in the G7 group of rich countries between now and 2050, according to a report that paints a bright outlook for the country’s prospects outside the EU. Consultants PwC say the UK economy will not escape entirely unscathed from the decision to leave the bloc and that it will dampen growth prospects in the short term. But the brunt of the impact would be felt by 2020 and in the years that follow the UK would outperform its peers thanks to its relatively large working age population and its flexible economy. PwC sets out the UK’s prospects in its latest report into how the world economy will look in 2050.
Workers at Heathrow may be offered around £2,000 to replace their diesel cars with less polluting models. The diesel scrappage scheme is being considered by airport bosses as part of moves to tackle toxic air. Staff at the west London airport are estimated to drive around 27,000 diesel vehicles. They would be encouraged to switch to less polluting petrol, electric or hybrid models. Detailed proposals are still being worked up, with talks due to take place with airlines, retailers, cargo operators and other airport employers.
Alert over £300 ‘parking sensor’ that can block speed cameras as salesman, 41, who viewed radar traps as an ‘inconvenience’ is spared jail
A BMW driver used a £300 laser device he bought on the internet to ‘cloak’ his car from speed cameras.
Father-of-two Ben Kitto was handed a two-month suspended prison sentence after the ruse was discovered.
However Judge Andrew Stubbs QC warned that other motorists caught using the legal-to-buy blockers faced being sent straight to jail. He spoke out after being told there were four pending prosecutions for using the device – sold as a ‘parking sensor’ – in North Yorkshire alone. The gadgets can be programmed to intercept beams from police cameras and send one back on the same frequency. This makes it impossible for the car’s speed to be recorded.