News Round-Up

Mar 15: Labour split over Diane Abbott return; MPs to grill banks; Skoda prices up Superb

Here are the headlines on Friday, March 15

Time 6:55 am, March 15, 2024

Labour appears split over returning whip to Diane Abbott

Labour faces questions over whether to allow Diane Abbott back into the party fold as senior figures appeared split on whether to return the whip to the long-serving MP.

The Hackney North and Stoke Newington MP lost the whip in April last year after writing a letter to The Observer suggesting Jewish, Irish and Traveller people are not subject to racism ‘all their lives’.

While she remains a party member, she has sat as an independent MP while an internal investigation of her comments continues.

Prime minister rules out May 2 general election

Rishi Sunak has ruled out holding a general election on May 2, when voters are set to go to the polls for the local elections.

The prime minister has previously been reluctant to make definitive statements about the date of the general election, saying only that his ‘working assumption’ was that it would take place in the second half of the year.

But in an interview with ITV News West Country, Sunak definitively ruled out a general election on May 2.

Government could back Liz Truss’s transgender law reforms

The government could be set to back proposals from Liz Truss that would bar ‘biological males’ from female-only spaces.

Equalities minister Kemi Badenoch is understood to be sympathetic to proposals from the former prime minister, due to be debated in the Commons on Friday, that would ‘define sex in law as biological sex’.

The legislation aims to bar transgender women from female-only spaces such as changing rooms and toilets, along with preventing them from competing in women’s sport and stopping children from attempting to change their gender. But the Cabinet minister is said to regard Ms Truss’s current proposals as ‘unworkable’ and could look to amend them.

MPs to grill major UK banks after bumper yearly profits

Four of the UK’s biggest bank bosses are set to be grilled by MPs over their surging profits while consumers feel the cost-of-living pinch.

The chief executives of Barclays UK, Santander UK, NatWest and Lloyds will face questions from a group of MPs on the Treasury Committee. They are expected to be scrutinised about how they are supporting customers through the cost-of-living crisis and with higher mortgage costs.

The UK’s major lenders reported bumper profits over the latest year as they benefited from higher interest rates, which pushed up the cost of borrowing.

Water firm profits almost doubled since 2019, Lib Dems claim

Water company profits have almost doubled since 2019, with firms in England and Wales raking in £4.2bn over the course of the current Parliament, the Liberal Democrats have claimed.

In 2022/2023, England’s water firms made £1.7bn, up 82% since 2018/2019, according to party analysis of Companies House records.

The party is expected to detail its plans for a sewage tax and a new wave of ‘local environmental reporters’ as part of its plans to ‘clean up the country’s waterways’ at its spring conference this week. It will call for an additional 16% levy on top of corporate tax for water firms, which it says could be used to fund journalists operating in a similar way to the BBC’s local democracy reporter network.

Judge rejects bid by Donald Trump to throw out classified documents case

A federal judge has rejected a bid by Donald Trump to throw out his classified documents criminal case.

US District Judge Aileen Cannon also appeared sceptical during hours of arguments of a separate effort to scuttle the prosecution ahead of trial.

Cannon issued a two-page order saying that though Trump and his team had raised ‘various arguments warranting serious consideration’, a dismissal of charges was not merited.

Thursday Car Dealer headlines you might have missed

Drivers handed 35,000 parking tickets a day amid five-year wait for new rules

Drivers are being handed an average of more than 35,000 parking tickets by private companies every day as the wait for the government to impose new rules on the sector reaches five years, according to new analysis.

Motoring research charity the RAC Foundation said many drivers could feel ‘badly let down’ by the delay in ministers introducing a code of conduct aimed at eradicating some of the sector’s worst practices despite legislation being passed.

Its analysis of government data found 9.7m tickets were issued to drivers by private parking companies in Britain between April and December last year, which is equivalent to nearly 35,300 every day. Each ticket can cost drivers up to £100.

Skoda reveals prices and specifications of 2024 Superb

Prices will start at £34,865 for the SE Technology in hatchback guise (£36,165 for the estate), which gets 17-inch alloys, a 13-inch central infotainment display with integrated sat-nav as well as a 10.25-inch virtual cockpit. It also has a rear-view camera and wireless phone charging.

The flagship Superb Laurin and Klement or L&K starts from £46,100 for the hatchback and £47,400 for the estate. Order books are open now.


A cloud day for most, reports BBC Weather, with scattered showers. These will clear for many in the afternoon to leave a drier day. Temperatures ranging from around 10 to 15 degrees.

Clear skies will allow a frost to develop tonight for many areas. A chilly night for most.

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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