News Round-Up

Feb 12: Tough week for Sunak; New Ofwat powers; Extend plug-in taxi grant cabbies say

Here are the headlines on Monday, February 12

Time 6:50 am, February 12, 2024

Rishi Sunak faces tough week with economic data and by-elections

Rishi Sunak is entering what could be one of the most challenging weeks of his premiership, with potentially gloomy economic numbers, tricky by-elections and opposition to his Rwanda asylum plan.

His pledges on the economy are at risk, as official figures on Thursday will show whether the UK slipped into recession.

Sunak promised to grow the economy, but if the Office for National Statistics’ (ONS) gross domestic product data for the final three months of last year shows a contraction, it means the UK was in a recession after two consecutive quarters of negative growth.


Rwanda Bill incompatible with UK’s human rights obligations, MPs and peers warn

Rishi Sunak’s proposed Rwanda asylum law is ‘fundamentally incompatible’ with the UK’s human rights obligations and would flout international law, MPs and peers have warned.

Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights said the government’s Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill ‘risks untold damage’ to the UK’s hard-won reputation as a proponent of human rights internationally.

The controversial draft legislation and a treaty with Rwanda are intended to prevent further legal challenges to the stalled deportation scheme after a Supreme Court ruling against the plan.


Labour stands by by-election candidate despite ‘deeply offensive’ Israel claims

Labour is facing criticism for standing by its Rochdale by-election candidate, even after he claimed that Israel allowed Hamas to carry out its October 7 attack to provide grounds to invade Gaza.

Azhar Ali apologised for his ‘deeply offensive’ comments after he was recorded telling a meeting of the Lancashire Labour Party that Israel had deliberately relaxed security after warnings of an imminent threat.

Labour’s decision to stick with Mr Ali has raised questions about Sir Keir Starmer’s claim to have changed his party since Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, when it was embroiled in an antisemitism controversy.

Labour takes lead over Tories among ‘politically homeless’ rural voters

Labour has taken a narrow lead over the Conservatives among England’s rural voters, a poll has found.

But while the survey suggests Conservative support has collapsed in the party’s heartlands, the head of a major countryside business association said rural voters were still ‘politically homeless’.

Victoria Vyvyan, president of the Country Land and Business Association (CLA), told the PA news agency: ‘My overwhelming impression is that both of the major parties have very little support in the rural economy at all. They might be vying for two halves of nothing at the moment. And that’s because neither of them have produced an ambitious plan for the rural economy.’

Man and woman charged after boy, eight, bitten on head by XL bully

A man and a woman have been charged after an eight-year-old boy was seriously injured when he was bitten on the head by an XL bully dog.

Officers were called to Wadham Road in Bootle, Merseyside, just after 5.20pm on Saturday following a report that the dog had bitten a child on the head in the communal area of flats nearby.

The boy was taken to hospital for the treatment of serious head injuries, where he remains in a serious but stable condition, Merseyside Police said.


Biden warns Israel over possible military operation in Rafah

Israel should not go ahead with a military operation in the densely populated Gaza border town of Rafah without a ‘credible’ plan to protect civilians, president Joe Biden told prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday, the White House said.

They spoke after two Egyptian officials and a Western diplomat said Egypt threatened to suspend its peace treaty with Israel if Israeli troops are sent into Rafah, where Egypt fears fighting could force the closure of the besieged territory’s main aid supply route.

The threat to suspend the Camp David Accords, a cornerstone of regional stability for nearly a half-century, came after Netanyahu said sending troops into Rafah was necessary to win the four-month war against the Palestinian militant group Hamas. He asserted that Hamas still has four battalions there.

Listen to the latest Car Dealer Podcast

RRG and Norton Way’s Jason Cranswick joins us for this week’s Car Dealer Podcast to talk about his current role – and former one at Cinch.

And we review the latest headlines including Gap insurance sales being suspended, Martin Lewis’ car finance claim form going mad and the ASA saying EVs can’t be described as zero emissions…

Find it below on Spotify or your favourite podcast platform now

Water firms face ‘significant’ fines for poor customer service under new powers

Water companies could be fined up to a 10th of their turnover for poor customer service, under new powers given to the water regulator for England and Wales.

Ofwat said there are too many instances where customers feel let down and their supplier does not have their best interests at heart.

The chief executive of the watchdog, David Black, said: ‘From today we are putting water companies on notice to improve customer service and where we see failure, Ofwat can and will take action which could result in significant fines.’

Weekend Car Dealer headlines you might have missed

Pro-Palestine demonstrators stage British Museum sit-in to protest over BP deal

Palestinian protesters have staged a sit-in demonstration at the British Museum to object to the London institution accepting funding from oil giant BP.

Energy Embargo for Palestine said it organised the protest at the Great Court alongside Palestine Solidarity Campaign on Sunday.

Members of the group left the Bloomsbury site after being asked on Sunday. The Metropolitan Police were notified but did not attend, it is understood.

Black cab boss: Extending grants for electric taxis is ‘essential’

Grants worth up to £7,500 for new electric taxis must be extended to avoid drivers holding on to older, more polluting vehicles for longer, a trade leader has warned.

The government’s Plug-in Taxi Grant (PiTG), which provides a £7,500 discount on the price of a new electric taxi, is only guaranteed to run until April 5.

Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA), said it is ‘essential’ the scheme continues. He told the PA news agency that removing the grants would bring the cost of a plug-in hybrid electric LEVC TX taxi bought on finance to as much as £110,000.

Weather

A mixture of sunshine and showers today ahead of a wet week for many. Rain will most fall in parts today and one time or another, reports BBC Weather. Temperatures will hover around 10 degrees.

A similar picture tonight with clear spells and showers for most areas, before a band of rain pushes in to dominate proceedings tomorrow.

James Batchelor's avatar

James – or Batch as he’s known – started at Car Dealer in 2010, first as the work experience boy, eventually becoming editor in 2013. He worked for Auto Express as editor-at-large and was the face of Carbuyer’s YouTube reviews. In 2020, he went freelance and now writes for a number of national titles and contributes regularly to Car Dealer. In October 2021 he became Car Dealer's associate editor.



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