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News Round-Up

Jan 31: Aircraft carrier may head to Red Sea; Clarkson wishes French famers luck; New Audi Q7

Here are the headlines on Wednesday, January 31

Time 6:43 am, January 31, 2024

UK could deploy aircraft carrier to Red Sea, suggests minister

The UK could send an aircraft carrier to the Red Sea as the threat from Iran-backed Houthi rebels continues, the armed forces minister has indicated.

James Heappey suggested that a British aircraft carrier could be sent to the region to replace the USS Dwight D Eisenhower when it is returned to America.

The UK has already engaged in a series of airstrikes on Houthi targets in cooperation with the US, while the warship HMS Diamond is also stationed in the Red Sea to protect shipping in the key trading route.

Government set to publish deal which will set stage for Stormont return

The government is due to publish the details of its deal with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) which sets the stage for the return of the Stormont powersharing institutions.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has already said that the agreement will remove all post-Brexit checks on goods destined for Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK.

The unionist party has been using a veto power to block Stormont’s devolved institutions for almost two years in protest at the post-Brexit arrangements. However, Sir Jeffrey announced earlier this week that his party was prepared to return to Stormont, dependent on the UK government implementing the various legislative assurances and other measures it has offered.

Sturgeon to give day of evidence at UK Covid-19 Inquiry

Nicola Sturgeon is to begin giving evidence at the UK Covid-19 Inquiry amid ongoing scrutiny around the deletion of WhatsApp messages.

The former first minister will give evidence for a full day as the inquiry, before Baroness Heather Hallett, holds hearings in Edinburgh.

Several figures in Sturgeon’s government have already faced questions at the inquiry about their deletion of WhatsApp messages during the pandemic. Sturgeon has conceded messages had not been retained on her own devices but said she had managed to retrieve copies to submit to the inquiry.

Child killer nurse Lucy Letby has bid to appeal against convictions refused

Child serial killer Lucy Letby has had an initial bid to challenge her convictions refused by the Court of Appeal.

The nurse lodged an application for permission to appeal against all of her convictions in September. A judge has since refused her application after considering the case documents, a judicial spokeswoman confirmed on Tuesday.

In August 2023, Letby, 34, of Hereford, was sentenced to 14 whole life orders after she was convicted of the murders of seven babies and the attempted murders of six others, with two attempts on one of her victims.

PM accused of ‘playing games’ as rail strike continues

The Prime Minister has been accused of ‘playing games’ rather than trying to help resolve the long-running train drivers’ dispute as another strike caused travel disruption across parts of England.

Members of Aslef on some of the busiest commuter routes, including many into London, walked out on Tuesday, crippling services on operators such as Southern, SouthEastern, Gatwick Express and South Western Railway. Some areas had no trains all day. None of the operators hit by strikes used new regulations aimed at ensuring a minimum level of service during industrial action.

Train drivers at Northern Trains and the TransPennine Express will strike on Wednesday as part of a rolling programme of action until early next week in a bitter row over pay and conditions.

UK economy expected to grow more slowly than previously thought, says IMF report

The UK’s economy will grow more slowly than expected over the next two years, and will be among the worst performers in the G7 group of economies, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has forecast.

The body’s economists expect UK growth to hit 0.6% this year, and 1.6% next. It would make the economy the second-worst performer in the G7 this year and the joint third-worst performer in 2025.

The IMF’s forecast for this year is unchanged since its past report in October, but has been downgraded by 0.4 percentage points for next year. But the IMF said that change is largely due to a revision to official data, rather than a worsening economic situation.

Tuesday Car Dealer headlines you might have missed

Jeremy Clarkson wishes ‘good luck’ to farmers amid protests in France

Jeremy Clarkson has written a message of support for farmers protesting across France.

The Clarkson’s Farm star, 63, wished ‘good luck’ to those calling for the French government to respond to demands for better remuneration for their produce, less red tape and protection against cheap imports.

It comes a day after a French farm owner told The Daily Telegraph the country needed a celebrity ‘to do the same as Jeremy Clarkson’ – who has gained plaudits for his Prime Video series shedding light on the issues farmers face as he attempts to run his own farm in Oxfordshire.

Sky set to cut around 1,000 UK jobs this year

Sky is set to cut around 1,000 jobs in the UK this year as more and more people access its services over the internet.

A ‘significant number’ of those facing redundancy will be engineers as fewer people want satellite dishes installed in their homes.

Digital products such as Sky Glass and Sky Stream, which people can set up without any help and only need an internet connection to work, have become more popular. The cuts represent around 4% of the media company’s workforce.

2024 Audi Q7 receives a new look and additional technology

Audi has revealed an updated version of its large seven-seat Q7 SUV, which benefits from a styling redesign and additional safety features and connectivity.

The German carmaker has given the Q7 a more imposing grille made up of new L-shaped inlays, which is similar to that of the latest Q8 SUV. There are new LED lights at the front and rear, which feature configurable lighting signatures. Top-spec Q7s feature laser technology with a blue ambient light embedded. Audi says these headlights ‘significantly increase the high beam range’.

Audi hasn’t made any significant changes to the Q7’s interior, with the same twin touchscreen layout being used, but third-party apps such as Spotify and Amazon Apps are now directly integrated. The large digital instrument cluster is also now integrated with the various driver assistance systems to display new warnings. Prices start from £66,605 and rise to £111,370.


Thick cloud and heavy rain in the north will move south-eastwards, reports BBC Weather. Dry and bright in the south but it’ll turn cloudy later. Windy in the north; temperatures between eight and 10 degrees.

A chilly night in store with the potential for a frost in the Midlands and Wales. Breezy with blustery showers in the far north.

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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