Here are this week’s headlines:
- Bank of England to raise interest rates
Reported by Spencer Yap
Just today (2nd November 2017), as part of an effort to protect the British population from increased cost of living as a result of Brexit, The Bank of England announced that it would increase interest rates from 0.25% to 0.5%. Such actions have not been seen since 2007, and subsequent increases should be expected as The Bank of English said “it stood ready to respond to changes in the economic outlook.” The Bank said interest rates could hit 1% in the span of 3 years in efforts to curb inflation and reduce the ever increasing cost of goods.
This comes as “The members of the Bank’s monetary policy committee, including the governor, Mark Carney, voted to increase the cost of borrowing by seven to two. Deputy governors Dave Ramsden and Jon Cunliffe voted to keep it on hold.” Further signs that the The Bank will increase interest rates comes as it is instructed to restrict consumer price index (CPI) to 2% to avoid the economic state of UK from overheating. While the current CPI as of September shows it sitting at 3% and is predicted to continue rising, fuelled by the fall of the pound since the Brexit vote.
This comes as a duel edged sword. On the one hand inflation would be curbed by the rising rates, however, higher rates would also see reduced consumer spending. This results in making it harder for business to grow, which would slow growth, crucial for UK during Brexit negotiations. It should be noted that the increased interest rates may help prevent a future financial crisis, as it deters consumers from being tied up on loans with interest obligations they are unable to fulfil on.
Read more here.
- Automotive industry asks PM for ‘urgent clarity’ on Brexit
Reported by Sylvester Tan
UK car industry executives have warned Theresa May they need “urgent clarity” on the trading relationship with the EU in order to make fresh investments in the country’s automotive sector.
More than a dozen leaders from carmakers and auto parts suppliers including Ford, BMW and Toyota met Mrs May and Greg Clark, the business secretary, on Wednesday afternoon — the first such meeting between the prime minister and leaders from the sector.
Businesses need clarity “as soon as possible” to allow them to make investment decisions in the UK. The automotive industry is one of many sectors going through tremendous change and Brexit is a layer of complexity to which they need clarity in order to make decisions about future operations.
Investment in Britain’s automotive industry has fallen by 75 per cent in two years largely due to the uncertainty of the effects of Brexit which has been described to be a “fog” hanging over the sector. Urgent clarity was stressed on the proposed transition agreement as businesses need certainty to invest. The UK’s car plants are reliant on exports, with 80 per cent of cars made in Britain sold abroad, while more than half of the components used in UK-made cars coming from overseas.
Complying with changes in rules will be extremely complex, requiring players in the automotive industries to carry out customs checks to comply with new “rules of origin” around sourcing of components, as noted during the meeting. While the possibility of long-term plant closures or job losses were not explicitly mentioned, “the importance of getting this right” was stressed.
The prime minister assured executives of determination to get “a deal that will safeguard the competitiveness of the industry”. It is vital for the future health of the automotive sector that they maintain all the conditions in order to retain their globally competitiveness. This means tariff-free trade, frictionless borders, access to talent and harmonisation of regulations. Brexit is the greatest challenge of our times and the automotive sector’s engagement with the government is imperative to secure the future competitiveness of the industry.
The prime minister and business secretary had reiterated the government’s aim for an ambitious economic partnership with the EU, as well as an implementation period that ensures businesses only need to adapt to one set of changes. The business representatives highlighted the importance of quick and seamless access to international suppliers as well being able to access the talent they need. Hopefully, should negotiations with the EU concerning Brexit provide further clarity, the automotive industry will be able to adapt to the changes and progress forward with certainty.
Read more here.
- Fraudman convicted after pretending to be victim of Grenfall Tower Blaze
Reported by Paige Waters.
Anh Nhu Nguyen, a 52 year-old fraudster, claimed that he had lost both his wife and his son due to the Grenfall Tower fire. However, he has now admitted that this is untrue and only attempted this in order to try and “pocket” £12,500, which was set aside for real victims of the disaster.
Since claiming this, on Thursday he pleaded guilty at Southwark crown court, not only for pretending to be a survivor in order to receive money, but on a further count of fraud through false representation and one count of making an untrue statement in order to get a passport.
It was discovered that Anh was a fraud when he proceeded to give multiple flat numbers, some of which did not exist and one where a real victim of Grenfall Tower blaze lived.
Anh posed as a survivor of the blaze and gave interviews claiming this, for approximately two weeks, even though, he did not live at Grenfell but in South-east London at the time. Furthermore, he then picked up £12,500 from charities, Chelsea and Kensington council.
Ms. Mulholland from the Crown Prosecution Service stated “Nguyens deceit in the aftermath of such a catastrophic loss of life was breath-taking. He was willing to lie again and again, adapting his story when it was questioned, in order to profit from the huge aid efforts and outpouring of sympathy for true victims.
At one point he claimed to have lived in a flat where the sole occupant had died. He also gave TV interviews in which he described the harrowing experience of escaping from the flat he had lived in for 20 years and losing his wife and son.”
The family of the victim whom the address and flat number Nguyen gave were caused significant distress when they were question due to Nguyen committing fraud. He was committed on one count of making an untrue statement in order to get a passport when he claimed that he had lost his in the fire.
Anh Nhu Nguyen will now be sentenced on 15th December.
Read more here.
- Westminster Sexual Harassment Scandal
Reported by Sarah Mullane
Gavin Williamson, the Conservatives Chief Whip, has today replaced Sir Michael Fallon as the UK Defence Secretary. This comes as a result of Sir Fallon’s resignation following allegations of inappropriate sexual behaviour. Journalist Julia Hartley-Brewer has accused the politician of repeatedly and inappropriately touching her knee during a dinner in 2002. Fallon had issued an apology to the journalist, and has admitted that his conduct had “fallen below the standard” expected of him.
Though not approving of his behaviour, the Prime Minister believes that Sir Fallon did the right thing by apologising for his conduct and appreciated the “serious manner” in which he had considered his role. The Prime Ministers official spokesman confirmed that there would not be an investigation into the incident at this time.
Accusations of alleged sexual harassment and abuse within Parliament have arisen following a report by The Sun, in which it was revealed that female researches and aides have been using a WhatsApp group to share their experiences. Allegations have now been made against four MPs, with Downing Street describing them as “deeply concerning” and Prime Minister Theresa May urging anyone with information to come forward. These claims follow the recent revelation of a deep-rooted culture of sexual violence within Hollywood, which had in turn led to the ‘#MeToo’ social media campaign and a sweeping call for change. Following recent incidents, Theresa May has now invited political party leaders to a ‘crisis meeting’ in which they will discuss plans to tackle sexual abuse and harassment in Westminster.