News Round-Up

Feb 4: Four No 10 aides quit; China and cold winter blamed for soaring energy prices; Tories win Southend West by-election; Goodwood FoS theme revealed

  • Here are the headlines on Friday, February 4

Time 6:47 am, February 4, 2022

Four No 10 aides quit within hours as Boris Johnson’s inner circle hollowed out

Boris Johnson’s administration was plunged into further turmoil after four of his closest aides resigned, leaving the prime minister without key members of his inner circle.

In a torrid day for the PM, his chief of staff, principal private secretary, director of communications and policy chief quit Downing Street within hours of one another.

Munira Mirza, the former director of the No 10 policy unit and one of Mr Johnson’s most loyal and longstanding advisers, walked out first after attacking the prime minister’s use of a ‘scurrilous’ Jimmy Savile smear against Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.

Sunak attributes soaring energy prices to China and ‘colder than usual winter’

Rishi Sunak has attributed the record rise of energy prices to China pushing up global prices and Britain’s ‘colder than usual winter’.

In the wake of the government’s £9bn package announcement to try and ease cost-of-living expenses, the chancellor said the financial squeeze on households in the months ahead could not be underestimated.

Writing in The Sun, Sunak said that the factors causing the dramatic rise to energy prices were out of the government’s control.

Stormont Executive folds after first minister’s resignation comes into effect

The Northern Ireland Executive has formally been shorn of governing powers after DUP first minister Paul Givan quit the administration.

Givan’s resignation, which came into effect at midnight, automatically removed Sinn Fein deputy first minister Michelle O’Neill from her position. Other Stormont ministers can remain in post but the Executive can no longer meet and is unable to take significant policy decisions.

The move by the Lagan Valley MLA Givan is part of the DUP’s escalating protest strategy against Brexit’s Northern Ireland Protocol.

Tories win Southend West by-election in poll prompted by Sir David Amess killing

The Conservatives have held on to the seat of Southend West following a by-election triggered by the killing of Sir David Amess.

In a contest that Labour and the Liberal Democrats, along with other mainstream political parties, chose not to contest, Tory candidate Anna Firth ran out as a comfortable winner with 86 per cent of the vote.

The by-election was held after former incumbent Sir David was killed at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex on October 15 during a constituency surgery.

Facebook owner suffers 26 per cent plunge in share price

A historic plunge in the stock price of Facebook’s parent company has helped yank other tech stocks lower on Wall Street, abruptly ending a four-day winning streak for the market.

The 26.4 per cent wipeout for Meta Platforms, as Facebook’s owner is now known, erased more than 230bn dollars in market value, easily the biggest one-day loss in history for a US company. The stocks of other social media companies including Twitter and Snap also fell.

Because Meta is valued so highly, a big swing in its stock price can also sink or lift broader market indexes. The S&P 500 fell 2.4 per cent, its biggest drop in nearly a year. The tech-focused Nasdaq composite gave up 3.7 per cent, its biggest loss since September 2020. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which does not include Meta Platforms, fell 1.5 per cent.

Festival of Speed 2022 theme will celebrate the ‘Masterminds of Motorsport’

Goodwood Festival of Speed has revealed that the 2022 edition’s theme will be ‘The Innovators – Masterminds of Motorsport’.

Each year the world-renowned automotive festival has a main theme, often celebrating legendary car manufacturers or icons of the industry.

This year’s theme highlights the event’s increasing focus on technology. This will be achieved by showing the ‘human stories of engineering ingenuity’ as well as shining a light on the next-generation visionaries.

Thursday Car Dealer headlines you might have missed

‘Slow start’ to 2022 for shops as footfall improves slightly

Shopper footfall improved slightly last month as experts noted a “slow start” to 2022 despite the easing of Omicron restrictions.

New data from the monthly BRC-Sensormatic IQ footfall monitor showed that footfall remained significantly below pre-pandemic levels, although the picture is markedly different across areas of the UK.

Total footfall across shopping destinations in January was 17.1 per cent lower than the same period in 2020, before the pandemic struck. However, this reflected a 1.5 percentage point improvement on December.

Amazon raises price of Prime membership despite soaring profits

Amazon’s profits in the fourth quarter nearly doubled despite the online giant facing surging costs linked to a snarled supply chain and labour shortages.

The company, based in Seattle, also raised its annual Prime membership fee on Thursday to 139 dollars (£102) per year from 119 dollars (£88). This is the first time Amazon has raised the price since 2018.

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Shares of Amazon rose nearly 17 per cent in after-market trading.

Weather outlook

A colder day than in recent days, reports BBC Weather. It’ll be mostly dry in the south with sunny spells, but there will be blustery showers for northern and western areas.

Showers will clear early tonight but another band of cloud and rain will arrive later on. Chilly and clear elsewhere

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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