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News Round-Up

Jan 27: Tory chairman teases tax cuts; Driving test examiners to strike; Cheaper Smart #1

Here are the headlines on Saturday, January 27

Time 6:52 am, January 27, 2024

Tory chairman teases two tax-cutting events amid election warnings for Sunak

The Tory party chairman has suggested there could be two tax-cutting financial announcements this year as Rishi Sunak fights to keep his MPs on-side over fears he will lead them to defeat.

Richard Holden touted possible tax cuts in the March 6 Budget, adding that there will be ‘more of that later in the year as well’ after a challenging week for the prime minister.

With the Conservatives trailing Labour in the polls by 20 points, former Cabinet minister Sir Simon Clarke said they face being electorally ‘massacred’ if they do not oust Sunak.

UK and allies ‘reserve right to respond appropriately’ after Gulf of Aden strike

Britain and its allies ‘reserve the right to respond appropriately’ after a missile strike claimed by Houthi rebels on an oil tanker in the Gulf of Aden, the government has said.

The Marlin Luanda was sent up in flames after an attack off the coast of Yemen on Friday, days after the latest round of US-UK military action against the Iran-backed group. No casualties have yet been reported.

Military ships were en route to assist on Friday as multinational firm Trafigura said the safety of crew on the vessel, which is operated on its behalf, is its ‘foremost priority’. A government spokesperson said: ‘We have been clear that any attacks on commercial shipping are completely unacceptable and that the UK and our allies reserve the right to respond appropriately.’

King stays in private hospital overnight after enlarged prostate procedure

The King is spending the night in hospital after undergoing a procedure for an enlarged prostate, Buckingham Palace has said.

Charles was spotted entering The London Clinic on Friday morning with the Queen at his side – the same hospital where the Princess of Wales is being cared for following abdominal surgery.

Camilla appeared in good spirits when she first left the premises at 3.10pm – smiling at reporters before getting into a car – after which she returned for a visit lasting around an hour and a half before leaving the private hospital again just before 8pm. She told people inside The London Clinic earlier on Friday that the King was ‘doing well’ after the procedure.

Michelle Mone has assets frozen as NCA probe continues

Assets linked to Baroness Michelle Mone and her husband Doug Barrowman have been frozen, as a National Crime Agency investigation into PPE firm Medpro continues.

According to the Financial Times, about £75m of assets, including a townhouse in Belgravia and an estate on the Isle of Man, have either been frozen or restrained following an application by the Crown Prosecution Service.

A spokesman for the couple said: ‘This comes as a result of a consensual process during which negotiations took place with the CPS…Doug and Michelle did not contest the application and were happy to offer up these assets, which means they can begin the task of proving their innocence more quickly. Mr Barrowman finds it deplorable that private matters such as this are being conducted in the public realm via leaks from government departments and the CPS.’

Listen to the latest Car Dealer Podcast

Supercar dealer Tom Jaconelli, of Romans International, is this week’s guest on the Car Dealer Podcast as we talk FCA and its moves around Gap Insurance, Lookers and its need to refinance and the car dealer world’s biggest tax payers.

Listen on Spotify or find it on your favourite podcast platform now

Driving test examiners to strike over ‘flawed plan’ to clear backlog

Almost 2,000 driving test examiners across England, Scotland and Wales have announced four days of strike action in a row over workloads.

Members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union working in 270 test centres will be taking action on February 8, 9, 10 and 11 in protest against the government’s ‘flawed plan’ to clear the driving test backlog.

Driving examiners say transport secretary Mark Harper’s plans pose ‘significant’ safety risks for them and their customers and will erode their terms and conditions by expecting them to deliver a further 150,000 tests by the end of March.

Trump ordered to pay writer extra £65m for saying sex attack claim was a lie

A jury has awarded an additional 83.3m US dollars (£65.5m) to former columnist E Jean Carroll, who says former president Donald Trump damaged her reputation by calling her a liar after she accused him of sexual assault.

Friday’s verdict was the second time in nine months that a jury addressed Carroll’s claim that Trump assaulted her in a New York City department store in 1996.

Another jury last May found Trump liable for sexual abuse and ordered him to pay 5.m dollars. Carroll smiled as the verdict was read. By then, Trump had left the building in his motorcade.

Friday Car Dealer headlines you might have missed

French Holocaust denier loses bid to appeal against extradition

A French Holocaust denier arrested in a Scottish fishing village after two years on the run from French authorities has lost an extradition battle.

Vincent Reynouard, 54, was caught living a double life in Anstruther, Fife, and was remanded in custody while French authorities launched an extradition bid citing videos where he allegedly denied the existence of gas chambers in concentration camps.

Reynouard was arrested in November 2022 on a domestic warrant issued by a French court regarding seven videos made between September 2019 and April 2020, including one where he allegedly described the Nazi atrocities as ‘crude slanders’ and another where he spoke of ‘the Jewish problem’. The alleged offences include ‘public trivialisation of a war crime’ and ‘public challenge to the existence of crimes against humanity committed during the Second World War’.

New entry-level Smart #1 drops price by £4,000

Smart has announced the introduction of an entry-level ‘Pro’ grade to its electric #1 crossover, which brings a big price cut but with no compromise on standard equipment.

This new ‘Pro’ trim level is now the entry-level grade, and uses a smaller 49kWh battery that allows for a 193-mile range. This compares to the 66kWh battery fitted to all other versions, which come with a 268-mile range.

Despite being an entry-level grade, there is still plenty of standard equipment, including a 12.8-inch touchscreen, heated seats and a 360-degree parking camera. You also get adaptive cruise control, a panoramic sunroof and an electric boot.


A dry day with hazy sunny spells for most of England and Wales, reports BBC Weather. North-west Scotland will be a little breezy with spells of rain. Highs of nine to 10 degrees.

Rain will spread in the north and north-west tonight. Dry elsewhere but it’ll feel chilly.

Tomorrow, many areas will have a mixture of bright spells and cloud. It’ll continue to feel warm thanks to southerly winds, although later in the day the north will see heavy rain. Another mild day.

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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