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News Round-Up

Oct 3: Sunak poised to axe HS2 to Manchester; Covid-19 Inquiry resumes; Food prices fall

Here are the headlines on Tuesday, October 3

Time 6:34 am, October 3, 2023

Sunak facing backlash as he is poised to announce scrapping HS2 to Manchester

Rishi Sunak is facing a backlash from Tories, businesses and northern leaders over a chaotic announcement to save billions of pounds by scrapping the HS2 leg to Manchester.

The prime minister is expected to hold an emergency Cabinet meeting to sign off the measures during his party conference in the city most directly hit by the cut.

He is then likely to confirm the decision in his speech to the Conservative membership on Wednesday as he possibly softens the blow by spending on other projects for the north.

Covid-19 Inquiry to examine lockdown decisions

Political decision making around lockdowns, travel restrictions and social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic are set be put under the microscope as the next phase of the UK Covid-19 Inquiry begins.

The government’s work during the crisis will be scrutinised over the coming weeks as the inquiry examines key decision-making in Westminster between January 2020 and February 2022, when the final Covid restrictions in England were lifted.

The inquiry, led by Baroness Heather Hallett, will also examine the decisions behind regional restrictions, also known as the ‘tier system’; work from home orders; mask wearing advice and border controls. It will scrutinise modelling data by scientists, which gave estimates on transmission of the virus and death rates.

Sunak fails to hand over pandemic WhatsApp messages to Covid inquiry – reports

Rishi Sunak has told the Covid-19 inquiry that he is unable to provide WhatsApp messages from his time as Chancellor during the pandemic because he failed to back them up, it has been reported.

The PM wrote in his witness statement that he does ‘not have access’ to the messages because he changed his phone several times, The Guardian claimed.

Previously, there was a delay in former prime minister Boris Johnson handing over WhatsApp messages from his time leading the country during the pandemic after he reportedly forgot the passcode to his old mobile phone, before they were recovered by technical experts.

Hunt pledges law change to stop de-banking for ‘wrong political views’

The government has pledged to change the law to prevent people being de-banked for having the ‘wrong political views’.

It plans to amend existing rules to ensure banks, building societies and other financial services firms are not undermining people’s right to freedom of speech.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said during the Conservative party conference on Monday: ‘Nobody should have their bank account closed because somebody else decides they’re not politically correct. We’ll tighten the law to stop people being debanked for the wrong political views.’

Liz Truss met by sweeping queues at Tory conference as she calls for tax cuts

Liz Truss was met by sweeping queues at the Conservative conference as she called for tax cuts to ‘make Britain grow again’ in a challenge to Rishi Sunak’s bid to keep the fractious party together.

Nearly a year after she was forced out of office when she lost the support of Conservative MPs during her chaotic 49 days as prime minister, Truss rallied a supportive crowd of members at the fringes of the party conference in Manchester on Monday.

Truss urged members to ‘unleash their inner conservative’ after calling for chancellor Jeremy Hunt to cut corporation tax to 19 per cent, at least, and to slash government spending.

Monday Car Dealer headlines you might have missed

Food prices fall on previous month for first time in more than two years

Food prices have fallen on the previous month for the first time in more than two years, bringing grocery inflation down to single digits, according to latest figures.

Food inflation decelerated to 9.9 per cent in September, a significant drop from 11.5 per cent in August, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC)-NielsenIQ Shop Price Index, its lowest point since August last year.

The BRC said ‘fierce’ competition between retailers, helped by easing cost pressures, was behind the fall. Overall shop price annual inflation slowed further to 6.2 per cent, down from August’s 6.9 per cent and its lowest rate since September last year.

UK manufacturers report one of the worst months for 14 years

Manufacturers are ‘battening down the hatches’ ahead of stormy conditions, experts said on Monday as a gauge of the sector showed one of the worst performances in the last 14 years.

The watched S&P Global/CIPS UK Manufacturing PMI survey rose from 43.0 in August to 44.3 in September.

It leaves the sector in heavy contraction – anything below 50 is considered to show it is shrinking – but is a small recovery from August’s 39-month low. But the score is ‘still among the weakest readings seen over the past 14 years,’ the surveyors said.

Average UK house price £14,500 lower in September than a year earlier

The average house price was around £14,500 lower in September than a year earlier, amid signs that buyers are favouring smaller properties such as flats, according to an index.

Average property values remained 5.3 per cent lower than a year earlier in September, Nationwide Building Society said. This was the same as the annual percentage drop it had recorded in August.

Nationwide recorded widespread house price falls across the UK, and at £257,808, the average UK house price in September was around £14,500 lower than a year earlier. Some experts suggested however that the house price downturn may only have a few months left to run, amid rising wages and signs that fixed mortgage rates are easing.

UK has joint warmest September on record, figures suggest

Last month was the UK’s joint warmest September on record, provisional figures show.

The average mean temperature across the country was 15.2C, equalling the previous record set in 2006 – something that would have been ‘practically impossible’ without human-led climate change, the Met Office said. It means five of the top 10 warmest Septembers have taken place this century.

A heatwave affected much of the UK early in the month, with temperatures peaking at 33.2C at Kew Gardens in London on September 9 – the hottest day of the year. A change in the weather in the second half of September saw storm Agnes bring strong winds and heavy rain to parts of the country, meaning the month ended up wetter than average.


Patchy cloud and sunny spells for much of the UK today, reports BBC Weather. There’s the chance of scattered showers, too, and it’ll be turning breezy. Cooler today with highs of 19 degrees.

Tonight, heavy rain will push into England from Scotland, and there may be a few showers in western parts. Dry and clear in the south and east.

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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