Weekly News Review 13th – 19th September

19th September 2020 / United Kingdom
Weekly News Review 13th - 19th September

Editors Weekly Poke

If you had said to friends in 2015 that you’d had a dream and that in about five years time the government would have deliberately and very dangerously divided the nation by instigating a nasty culture war, caused economic and political instability, threatened the Union, crashed its trading relationship with the biggest trading bloc in the world and was being threatened by the second – and then tore up the rule of law – they would have thought your weed was a bit on the strong side.

The reality of Britain today should not be forgotten. Brexit was dragged over the line illegally. You might want to argue that point to a greater or lesser degree but it is a matter of documented fact that the leave campaign, in almost all of its forms used illegal tactics. And as we have since (officially) learned – it was made worse by hostile state interference from Russia and American corporations. It was facilitated by front charities like the IEA who have over 400 corporate connections with the jihadists of the free-market, offering those with deepest pockets dodgy access to Brexit negotiating MP’s. We shouldn’t forget that this government was also funded by climate deniers, employers who abuse workers rights, bankers, off-shored hedge funds and many other unknown donors. Of course, all of this was facilitated by the giants of America’s Silicone Valley who were found to be breaking the law in Britain. We also shouldn’t forget that later on Boris Johnson lied to get into power, lied about his ‘oven-ready’ Brexit deal, which turned our historic system of law and order into another lie. His government has evidentially failed in a public health crisis, and followed that up with an economic crisis – the worst in the G7 and then stoked up its culture war into a higher gear as cover. We shouldn’t forget that one day, all of this will circle back and create political and economic fires for years. When Johnson and his cronies have been booted from office, someone serious with a proper sense of moral authority will have to clean up the mess, build bridges domestically and internationally – and then attempt to unify a weary and divided nation stricken by the effects of what will look a lot like a strategy of disaster capitalism.

The Internal Markets Bill has a couple more stages to go through before getting Royal ascent with Johnson’s so-called climb-down. The Chairman of the American House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Eliot Engel (congress) has already written to Johnson confirming that there will be no US/UK trade deal if it breaks the terms of the Good Friday Agreement. Congress has asked for the Bill to be abandoned and confirmed it “threatened future bilateral relations between our two countries” (source) if he didn’t. Dominic Raab is sent to Washington to reassure Congress that Britain is trustworthy – having only admitted hours before he hasn’t actually read the Good Friday Agreement (source).

So let’s not beat about the bush here – Johnson has definitely backed Britain – right into a corner. By breaking the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) with the Internal Markets Bill (IMB), Johnson – no doubt advised by techno-Stalinist Cummings, has alienated the EU, the USA, two former attorney generals, all lawyers, judges and barristers, five former British PM’s, many senior Tories and at least half the country. Right now, with 26 days to go before Johnson’s last redline threat – Britain faces a double-barrelled shotgun blast of no-deal with either of the two biggest trading blocs in the world just as it latest Covid defence plan catches fire.

Plan B is simple.  This is a government permanently looking for others to blame. Its ever-growing list includes all 27 members of the EU, every department within the civil service, immigrants, teachers, students, the broadcast media, journalists, academics, scientists, experts, judges, and so on. In fact anyone at all it can throw under its high mileage bus. The one sure-fire thing you can depend on is that none of the people actually responsible for getting Britain into the deepest of deep holes are blamed – or it seems nowadays – accountable.

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On the same note, the mainstream media have not managed to report that Raab and Johnson sought legal advice on breaking the Withdrawal Agreement even before signing it. If anything, this is the clearest of demonstrations of bad faith negotiation. The IMB was always Johnson’s plan of getting out of the WA before lying to the electorate to get into Downing Street. A former British ambassador wrote 11 months ago that – “For Johnson, the Withdrawal Agreement provisions on Northern Ireland were only ever a device to get him over an immediate political difficulty. The fact he simply lied throughout the election campaign that the Withdrawal Agreement imposed no new checks or paperwork between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, should have made plain he was not serious about it. He had simply lied to the countries of the EU in signing a treaty he never had an intention to honour. He simply does not see himself as bound by any notion of honour or honesty” (source).

All the lying must be taking its toll on Borisky. Is it, therefore, any surprise that yet more rumours are circulating in the halls of Westminster and journalists with their ears to the ground that Johnson will leave No 10 soon after Brexit (source). The thought of yet another leadership contest in the midst of whatever Brexit nightmare the Tories have conjured up by then is just too hard for the brain cells to cope with.

However, we now face a new onslaught of painful politics and cruel economics as the winter beckons. You can’t gather in groups of more than six in a field – but you can if you have a big gun and wants to kill animals. Covid Marshalls with a couple of hours training will get paid more than the police officers applying the law or grade 4 nurses or teachers actually battling on the front lines. The government admits to breaking the law – then the following day launches a special ‘snitching’ hotline to report on neighbours breaking the law. Moonshot Matt will bumble his way straight under BJ’s reshuffle blame bus after breakdown Brexit. The NHS, now rudderless without PHE will be led into the jaws of C19-V2 and yet another Covid testing failure where the new testing czar Dido Harding has gone AWOL.  In the meantime, under the cover of all these self-inflicted wounds – government corruption will escalate in an unlimited and very unspecific way.

The collateral damage being inflicted all at once has the signature of Dominic Cummings writ large. The Tory party is now an insurgency and is attacking the very values of what it means to be British as they push the Union to its breakpoint. Our judicial system, the rule of law, human rights and weakened democracy stands between us and a firing squad of political anarchists and an elitist thug-cast.

We know that No10 is rapidly morphing into a paranoid renegade regime that monitors every sound of citizenship from its new command centre instead of doing what it is supposed to be doing – managing a country in multiple crises and ensuring we are safe in their hands. This is a government vandalising the very principles of Conservatism, of one-nation ideals and the institutions that supports civil society that they once fought to protect. The question you need to ask – irrespective of your political persuasion is – what will all this look like when we get to the other side? I’m pretty sure ‘sunny uplands’ isn’t the answer any more!

Oh, forgot to mention, in more upbeat news – Barbados just sacked the Queen.

 



Inside Drowning Street

Biden/Trump?: Monday’s vote on the Internal Markets Bill initially saw many Tories saying it never threatened to be serious for Johnson – but then came the climb down, so it was. In the meantime, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that, despite Biden’s view, a trade deal is still on track and the Trump administration “trusts” Johnson to “get this right.” It was only two weeks ago that Johnson & Co were praying for Biden to win – now they want the opposite as they’ve realised Biden isn’t Trump (source).

Bill Amendments: There will now be two government amendments to the Internal Markets Bill. The first will be to redraft the Neill amendment requiring a parliamentary vote before ministers can go ahead and override the Withdrawal Agreement, the second will limit the prospects of any judicial review into the exercise of the provisions, which is a timing thing by narrowing any judicial review timeframe to three months in order to prevent “endless litigation.” It’s now down to the EU27’s negotiator Barnier to decide. The amendments don’t decrease the breaking of international law. This manoeuvre requires everyone to approach the WA and IMB with one eye looking the other way – with fingers crossed.

Another Climbdown? After the Joe Biden tweet on Wednesday about the Good Friday Agreement, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab posted a photo of himself with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Raab insisted they had a “welcome discussion” in which he attempted to soothe fears and reassure Britain’s “stalwart commitment to Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement.” A government official said Raab left the talks with senior Democrats with one single message –  “They don’t want us to undermine the Good Friday Agreement. We are not going to undermine the Good Friday Agreement.”

Blond Bombshells: We are told that inside the recently formed Ministry of Propaganda or ‘communications’ as they like to term it, that the new faces of the Tory American styled press briefings is down to the last two contestants. Allegra Stratton and Sophia True are the top runners. Stratton was the national editor of ITV News after four years as political editor on BBC Two’s Newsnight. She also co-presented Peston on Sunday with Robert Peston. True is the current Political Press Advisor at the Tory party. She’s been a campaign manager for the Tories and previously for Zac Goldsmith. Before that it was all intern and part-time work – so her career is rocketing. Not so fortunate for Carrie though – both are blond, good looking and supportive of BJ. Bad news for BJ – both are intelligent.

WhatsUpp: After this week’s up and climbdowns over the Internal market’s Bill and Withdrawal Agreement, MP’s are getting increasingly angry over the antics of Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings who are breaking everything that works, creating havoc in the machinery of government, dictating who does and says what by their threatening political posture and dismantling the reputation of a party famed for its economic handling and support for the rule of law. WhatsApp groups are frantic in the Tory bubble. They wanted Boris because they knew how he would behave, and what they thought he would deliver – but they didn’t expect him to go off-script, start by firing many of their own, morph into a mini-dictator and turn Britain into an international laughing stock (READ MORE).

Ministry of Propaganda: The PM has appointed three new deputy chiefs of staff in a significant shake-up of his Downing Street operation. Former Michael Gove aide Henry Cook is promoted alongside Cleo Watson, a Vote Leave veteran who works in the No. 10 private office with Dominic Cummings, and Katie Lam, who was previously a Downing Street business adviser. The move is designed to give the PM’s top team more of a “grip” on key issues, most particularly Brexit and their handling of Covid19. They have a lot on their plate.

Broken Britain: MPs on the public accounts committee laid into the government over its “failure” to improve prison conditions, pointing out in particular that the situation for female prisoners appears unchanged. “The apparent disregard for the position of women in prisons is just another indictment of a clearly broken system,” committee chair and Labour MP Meg Hillier said (READ MORE).

 



Inside Brexit

Crushing Blow: Logistics UK says it learned this week that the Smart Freight System being developed by the government for handling cross-border trade won’t be ready for January 1st. Policy director Elizabeth de Jong says it’s a “crushing disappointment and “a massive blow to UK businesses and the economy.” Logistics UK expressed “dismay” at the revelation that the system will not be tested until April 2021. “To find out with only 14 weeks to go, that there will not be a ready workable solution for those moving goods to the EU is a massive blow to UK businesses and to the economy … and to protect the UK’s supply chain” (READ MORE).

Gibraltar: The Spanish government is pushing for Gibraltar to join the passport-free Schengen zone after the Brexit transition period, which Britain itself will not be part of. The British government, which handles the foreign affairs of the British overseas territory of Gibraltar, is expected to respond to the proposal in two to three weeks’ time, according to EU officials. The idea is part of Spain’s strategy of “shared responsibility” with the U.K. over the Rock’s affairs after Brexit. Madrid argues that 97 per cent of people in Gibraltar voted Remain in 2016, and that means tailored solutions should be found to allow Gibraltar to continue to benefit from as many EU policies as possible, with freedom of movement being one of the priorities. Without freedom of movement – Gibrater will become a real political battleground. The proposal has the backing of Gibraltar’s Chief Minister Fabian Picardo (source).

Auto Warning: Europe and Britain’s car industries called on Monday on the two sides to urgently clinch a free trade agreement, warning that a disorderly Brexit would cost the sector 110 billion euros (£101.79 billion) in lost trade over the next five years. Failure to secure a deal would lead to tariffs. That would make vehicles more expensive and cause a drop in demand that could eliminate the production of 3 million vehicles over the next five years, 23 auto industry associations said in a joint statement on Monday (source).

Luxembourg’s Big Brexit Win: British financial firms are close to losing their “passporting rights” that allow companies in EU member states to service clients across the bloc. The consequence is that many UK based financial services companies are leaving for Dublin, Frankfurt, Paris, and Amsterdam. But the biggest winner so far is Luxembourg. 275 firms in the U.K. have already moved or are moving some of their business, staff, assets, or legal entities from the U.K. to the EU in preparation for Brexit. Around 250 of those companies chose specific “post-Brexit hubs” for their EU business. While Dublin ranked No. 1 with around 100 relocations, Luxembourg scored a solid second. The population of Luxembourg is just 600,000 – so they stand to see a huge cash injection into their economy (source).

 

 



Inside the Economy

Tech’s Sunny uplands: The country is now the fifth-biggest digital exporter in the world behind India, the US, China and Germany. It is also third in the world for the number of UK tech unicorns, and number one in Europe and is expected to grow its digital exports to £31.45billion in the next five years as high-growth tech start-ups flourish post-pandemic and post-Brexit. UK digital tech services, which includes software services, telecoms, online retail, tech consultancy, e-commerce sales and cybersecurity, currently export a much greater value of goods than they import. In 2019, the sector generated a surplus of 55 per cent – compared to 48 per cent globally. And, over the last four years, Britain’s digital tech trade surplus increased by 68 per cent – from £8.7billion in 2015 to £12.8billion in 2019 (source).

Japan Deal: Ministers have been promoting the story about a free trade deal with Japan that will provide a boost to some of the North East’s largest employers. International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said it was a “historic moment” for the two countries which will bring “new wins” for British businesses in the manufacturing, food and drink, and technology industries. However, critics said it would boost UK GDP by only 0.07% a year, a fraction of the trade that will be lost with the EU (source).

Job Security: Only one-third (29 per cent) of UK employees reported feeling resilient (job security, belonging and ability to reach potential) at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, a report by Aon has found.  The survey of 2,500 employers and employees across the UK, France, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands revealed that UK employees with poor resilience had 59 per cent lower engagement and were 43 per cent less likely to want to stay with their employer than those who felt resilient (source).

Job Losses: More than a million people will have lost their jobs by now but the numbers are not quite showing through yet. Figures from the Office for National Statistics, published in mid-August, showed numbers of workers on company payrolls had fallen by 730,000 since March (source). In addition, hundreds of thousands of redundancies are expected to be announced in the next two to three months, the highest level in a generation, according to a forecast. An analysis by the Institute for Employment Studies (IES) found it is likely the UK will be hit by around 450,000 redundancies in the coming two months, and they could reach as much as 700,000 (source). Well over 7.5 million people are still furloughed. IES director Tony Wilson said: “This data lays bare the scale of the jobs crisis that we’re facing in the autumn, with half a million people likely to lose their jobs in the coming months.” Melissa Davies, chief economist at consultancy Redburn said – “Seven-and-a-half million workers were on furlough in June, with three million having been on furlough for more than three months. If we assume 30 per cent of currently furloughed workers do not return to the workforce, that gives us around 2.25 million job losses.” Paul Dales, at research firm Capital Economics, suspects the one-million mark has already been hit. “It’s just the lags in the data mean it hasn’t been confirmed yet” (source).

Sir Philip Green – remember him, the first person in the UK for MP’s to propose his knighthood be stripped due to his robbing of the BHS, the man accused of abusing workers rights, and shenanigans with offshore tax havens – well he’s at it again.  Despite accepting millions of public money, the company has made 300 staff redundant at its head office and used a loophole in government rules to pay them at reduced rates. An executive at Green’s Arcadia Group even told staff that it needed to take “every penny we can get” of public money (source – Times Paywall).

 

 



Inside the Media

Assange: Peter Oborne is highly critical of the mainstream media over their lack of basic reporting of the Julian Assange case. “There has hardly been a sound from the British press. The US is asserting the right to prosecute a non-US citizen, not living in the US, not publishing in the US, under US laws that deny the right to a public interest defence. His case could have a devastating, chilling effect on journalism and the UK government has the ability to prevent this happening. Future generations will never forgive the current generation of journalists unless we raise our game and fight to stop the extradition of Julian Assange” (READ MORE).

BBC: A number of prominent MPs are calling for an inquiry into allegations of “institutional racism” at the BBC made by its own staff. Former shadow cabinet members Diane Abbott and Dawn Butler are among those to speak out following an investigation into claims by staff that they were denied career development opportunities, or bullied and silenced by an ineffective complaints procedure (READ MORE).

Press Freedom: Lawyers tell the MoD that the ‘blacklisting’ of journalists is in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights. The MoD has not provided any further information on whether this exclusion is official policy and, if it is, the reasons behind it. Solicitors Leigh Day said today a policy of “blacklisting” a news outlet in this way would be a “serious” breach of the freedom of expression rights, This right includes “freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. The freedom to publish without fear or favour, to inform the public, to scrutinise our institutions and to stimulate debate on events that affect each and every one of us is indispensable” (READ MORE).

Facebook/Cambridge Analytica: Remember when Facebook got embroiled in selling everyone’s data to Cambridge Analytica who then boasted about their ability to rig sway elections and referenda? Well, Facebook is in the dock in Australia over the same thing. It has been dealt a blow in its fight to fend off Australian legal action surrounding the Cambridge Analytica scandal, with the tech giant failing to convince the federal court it does not carry out business in Australia – which it does (READ MORE).

 

 



Covid-19

Big Guns: Groups of more than six in the park are lawbreaking – but groups of 30 with big guns killing stuff is not. Who are the landowners who own England’s vast grouse moors? As Who Owns England has previously exposed, grouse moor estates cover an area of England the size of Greater London – some 550,000 acres – and are propped up by millions of pounds in public farm subsidies. Now, for the first time, the owners of around 100 grouse moor estates across England are mapped. From aristocrats to autocrats – the screamingly elitist are listed (READ MORE)

The Road To Riches: Another 32 contract award notices for PPE were published this week worth a total value of £934 million. The two highest-value contracts went to Medro Ltd for £122 million (gowns) and Chemical Intelligence Ltd for £126 million (gowns). Medro was started with £1 capital in January 2019, appears to have not traded and since declared itself dormant. Naeem Ahmed is its sole reported officer and the company has no declared nature of business. Mr Ahmed’s business Medro has gone from literally zero to a £122 million government contract overnight with no scrutiny (source).

Curfew: Ministers tell Amy Jones and Gordon Rayner in the Telegraph that a national curfew is an “obvious next step” if the new regulations don’t flatten the current C19 spike (source). It appears that in two weeks time – if infections continue to increase – a full lockdown will be imposed once again.

Moonshot: The whole idea that Operation Moonshot – designed to test 10 million people a day will work is the thinking of fantasists as the technology itself has not actually been invented. In the meantime, many people are being told there are no testing centres available to them, with samples being sent abroad for processing – and that’s when testing hits just 62,000 a day at the beginning of September causing a backlog in labs of 185,000 (source). More recently, Boris Johnson has said he “doesn’t recognise” the “moonshot” target of 10 million tests a day, which he announced live on national television barely two weeks ago. In that interview, he referred to ‘millions’ of daily tests (source).

Ducking: Alain Tolhurst at Politics Home, reveals in an exclusive: “The government has been scaling back advertising for coronavirus testing as a way of dealing with a level of demand that is outstripping capacity.” You could say that the government have better skills sets in better at ducking and diving that delivering (source).

Schools Out: There are now about 1,000 UK Schools with Coronavirus infections among the school population. Last week it was 115 Scotland, 69 Northern Ireland,  55 Wales and 531 England Source: Compilation of local newspaper reports, NHS reports, and school websites.

Lockdown London: Is it just a matter of time before the restrictions imposed on Manchester, Birmingham, Bradford and Newcastle make their way to London? “Pubs and restaurants around the country face early closing times to slow coronavirus infections, with London’s public health chief warning of a ‘local curfew’ in the capital.” He says that across the country “hospitality businesses in hotspots are expected to be ordered to shut by 10 p.m.” (source – Times Paywall). Given that the government has lost control of C19 already and have emphatically stated there will be no national lockdown in furture – expect local lockdowns to get bigger and more widespread.

 

 



Could It Get Any Worse…

Killing Journalism: Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) is moving forward its proposed changes to the Espionage Act which Boris Johnson seems keen to push through by the end of this year. Whilst many argue the current laws are outdated and not fit for the 21st century, the proposals will likely end up not much different from the sort of legislation that’s currently being applied by the US against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and supported by Britain. Leaving aside real foreign state-sponsored spies and spooks, the legislation aims to make it much harder for whistleblowers to reveal wrongdoings and would also criminalise journalists and their editors who publish leaks. Those who break the law could face up to 14 years imprisonment if proposals from the Law Commission are adopted (source) effectively classifying them, in terms of prison sentences, as foreign spies. Under these laws, the 2008 MP’s expenses scandal printed in The Telegraph would now result in arrests, lengthy jail time and the public being none the wiser. Just as dangerous to press freedom is that even republishing leaked information that’s already in the public domain would constitute an offence under these laws (source) as determined by the state. James Brokenshire (who this week broke international law with Brexit’s withdrawal agreement) told parliament in late July: “We have committed to bring forward legislation to counter hostile state activity and espionage. This will modernise existing offences to deal more effectively with the espionage threat, and consider what new offences and powers are needed. This includes reviewing the Official Secrets Acts” (source). Once again, the mainstream media have been compliant and said little – but make no mistake – if these proposals become law, which they are expected to do in little more than three months – that will be the end of proper journalism in the UK as no-one will be able to investigate whistleblower leaks irrespective of the public interest. This report by Reuters (HERE) is typical of mainstream media coverage that mentions nothing at all about the implications to press freedom.

Another Privatisation Failure: A scathing new report has warned that Prisons will run out of space to hold more criminals within the next three years and some higher-risk inmates are already being detained in low-security jails. The Commons Public Accounts Committee condemned the Government’s “failure” to improve the estate and said many prisoners are living in unsafe, crowded conditions. MPs highlighted budget cuts over the past decade and said outsourcing to private firms in a bid to save money echoed the “disastrous” 2014 reforms to the probation service, which was brought back under public control this year (READ MORE).

Teen Pregnancies Soar: The result of a decade of government cut-backs has seen England with the highest rate of teenage pregnancies in western Europe. Last year, abortion rates in England and Wales were the highest since the 1967 Abortion Act. Many women in England are struggling to access contraception and advice, says a report from the all-party parliamentary group on sexual and reproductive health (source). The source of the problem is long-term underfunding and cuts, which have resulted in service reductions, reduced staff, limited choice and what amounts to a postcode lottery (source). In some areas, oral contraception isn’t available for the over-25s, in others, free emergency contraception is unavailable for certain younger age groups or worse, not commissioned at all.

More Corruption: Tory ministers have been accused of covering up a six-figure cash payment to friends of the PM’s most revered and protected adviser Dominic Cummings. The company Public First, which got £840,000 to run focus groups for No10, is owned by James Frayne, who set up a think tank in 2003 with Boris Johnson’s controversial aide. He was once Department of Education communications director under Cummings’ ex-boss Michael Gove and it was his wife Rachel Wolf who wrote the Tory 2019 election manifesto. Now Shadow Cabinet Office minister Rachel Reeves wants to know why Public First got Covid emergency money under official cost codes which relate to Brexit. This is just one in a long line of dodgy contracts handed out to Tory friends and donors (source).

Correction: Last week we posted a paragraph in the Tech File stating that – An independent report has suggested that a 3-year delay to the roll-out of 5G could cost the UK economy £18.2 billion”. The source was an article in Information Age, but the report in question was produced by Assembly Research, an organisation whose “clients are typically telecoms operators, technology companies, regulators and industry bodies” (source). I don’t believe Assembly Research can be described as “independent” when its income is derived from helping further the ambitions of the tech industry – and the report in question was commissioned by Huawei! Short-term economic benefits seem to take precedence over all other considerations when it comes to 5G. Here are ten reasons to be concerned about 5G – and it has nothing to do with C-19 (READ MORE). In the meantime, resistance in France to 5G is growing, with 70 elected representatives having just signed a letter calling for a moratorium on 5G (source).

 

 



Thought of the Week

These are the words of ITV’s Robert Peston last Wednesday – “That was quite something. Boris Johnson seemed to say that if EU levies WTO tariffs on UK goods, the UK would retaliate by doing the same. Which from memory is contrary to official government policy. We seem to be entering Trumpian trade war territory with the EU (source).

Yes, you read that right. Brexiteer Tories promised that leaving the EU and signing a trade deal was always going to be the ‘easiest thing in human history.’ When it wasn’t, Britain could easily join and use WTO trade rules. Britain’s application was then rejected. Now Johnson, running out of anything realistic to lean on – threatens a trade war – with the EU27 that takes over 40 per cent of British exports.

The thing about Brexit is this. No-one really understood what it really meant and to this day still includes its fanatical cheerleaders. Johnson’s climbdown of the Internal Markets Bill demonstrates that. But threatening the EU with a trade war? Have they completely lost their minds?

 

 



Work Facts

  • People around the world scrambled to work from home when the coronavirus pandemic began to take hold. While many are now being encouraged to return to the office, plenty have no plans to go back yet. And there are plenty of interesting ideas that have ended up accommodating working from home (source).
  • Companies in Britain’s private sector are giving staff the lowest pay rises in a decade amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Pay deals in the three months to July offered a median annual pay rise of 0.5%, down from 2.2% from the last three reports, according to human resources data provider XpertHR. Four in 10 reviews of pay have led to freezes (source).
  • A freedom of information request from the BBC shows 1,784 firms made plans to cut almost 150,000 jobs in July, while 1,888 employers filed plans for 156,000 job cuts in June. The figures are seen as highly reliable indicators as companies planning 20 or more redundancies at a single “establishment” legally have to notify Government using a form called HR1. Confirmed numbers for August are not available yet.
  • As at end of August – some 84% of French office-workers are back at their desks, but fewer than 40% of British ones are.

 

Tech Facts

  • Huawei is on the ropes. From midnight on September 14th, the Chinese technology giant will be cut off from essential supplies of semiconductors. Without chips, it cannot make the smartphones or mobile-network gear on which its business depends. American semiconductor companies, for which Huawei has been a lucrative customer, have implored their government to extend the deadline, as have their industry bodies. A full reprieve looks unlikely (source).
  • Palantir, the company at the heart of the Brexit scandal now has its grip in NHS data – has filed to go public. The firm’s unethical technology should horrify us. It powers immigration raids, the defence sector and police surveillance. It is the big tobacco of the tech world and portends a grim future and its unsavoury government work will continue to grow and it needs to be stopped (source).
  • Unshackled from the EU’s state aid rules, assuming they win the ever-rising wars against democracy – Cummings and Johnson dream of creating British technology champions to rival Google (source).
  • Wirecard has sold its UK business to fintech startup Railsbank as it winds down its business after collapsing in June due to a €1.9bn hole in its accounts (source).
  • The iPhone 16 could be powered by nuclear waste batteries. It is reported the batteries would be self-charging batteries made from nuclear waste product. It’s probably just another fad idea (source).
  • New research has suggested that another technological innovation may be on the cusp of taking the world by storm. Virtual reality technology may have existed in some form for decades now, but there are signs that it may be about to become a key part of our lives in health, work, defence, online gaming and market-places (source).

 

 



Quotes of the Week

“Fossil fuel consumption is set to shrink for the first time in modern history as climate policies boost renewable energy while the coronavirus epidemic leaves a lasting effect on global energy demand”. BP’s CEO Bernard Looney’s report to“reinvent” the 111-year old oil and gas company by shifting to renewables (source).

“A future where the UK break its international law obligations and opts out of Human Rights protections is a very bad future. Respected and trusted, or international pariah? Do not underestimate how quickly the UK’s standing as a country who plays by the rules can go through the floor. Lord Falconer – the first Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs in 2003 under Prime Minister Tony Blair (source).

I’ve been catching up with the mood back home in Belfast. Uncertainty. Anxiety. Fear. About the border and for peace. All over again. What sort of government deliberately does this to its own population?” Michael Dougan -Professor of European Law (source).

 

 



Recommended Weekend Reading

Bunga Bunga Boris: The UK’s Prime Minister has been accused of an “incredible” breach of transparency rules after an openDemocracy investigation found that Johnson had a “personal” meeting with influential Russian oligarch Evgeny Lebedev’s company days after telling the British public to avoid all “non-essential contact with others”. Lebedev owns the Evening Standard and the Independent. Last year, Johnson has been a regular guest at parties “where nothing is off the menu” in the Russian’s lavish villa in Umbria. Earlier this year, the prime minister nominated Lebedev for a seat in the House of Lords (READ MORE).

Facebook Exposed: A whistleblower from Facebook says – “I’ve found multiple blatant attempts by foreign national governments to abuse our platform on vast scales to mislead their own citizenry, and caused international news on multiple occasions. I have personally made decisions that affected national presidents without oversight, and taken action to enforce against so many prominent politicians globally that I’ve lost count.” “I Have Blood on My Hands”: A Whistleblower Says Facebook Ignored Global Political Manipulation (READ MORE).

HMRC: Working from a shed at the end of his garden, one man fought an epic battle against an industry of tax avoidance that cost the country billions. A story from the News Statesman entitled – The record shop, the taxman and the missing billions – gives an insight into the inner workings of a highly corrupt system where people seem to think that the government is law-abiding. One of the last lines in this article reads – “never take on the government, especially the taxman” as the government doubles down on a responsible law-abiding citizen and bankrupts him out of nothing but vengeance (READ MORE).

Next time someone sends you fake news, share these essential tips. In America, the election looms and with less than two months to go the global fake news machine is in high gear. In Britain, we have our own political problems. Here are three tips to keep in mind before you share anything online – a fake news survival guide, explained by a librarian, which you can read or listen to (READ MORE).

 



 

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The European Financial Review is the leading financial intelligence magazine read widely by financial experts and the wider business community.