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Energy price rises: taxpayers face bill for propping up suppliers

“Taxpayers face a multibillion-pound bill to help energy companies cope with the fallout from rising gas prices under plans being considered by ministers. The government is in talks with the industry over how to deal with the predicted collapse of dozens of small suppliers as wholesale gas and electricity prices soar. Consumers could end up subsidising the supply of energy to millions whose providers are likely to go bust in coming months. Two senior industry sources predicted that the bill could run to several billion pounds if, as feared, dozens of suppliers collapse. Ministers insisted yesterday there was no prospect of winter energy shortages because Britain had a diverse gas supply.” – The Times

  • Supermarkets race to secure CO2 as official talks stall – The Times
  • Energy prices will push up inflation across Europe, economists warn – FT
  • Most UK small energy suppliers could be left to collapse this winter – The Guardian
  • UK energy groups ask for state ‘bad bank’ to weather gas crisis – FT

Comment:

>Today:

“We will be judged by history”: Johnson calls for action on climate change as he lands in US…

“The chances of a global deal this year to save the planet are just ‘six out of ten’, Boris Johnson warned world leaders last night, adding that they will judged by history if they fail to tackle climate change. Speaking as he prepared for crunch talks with Joe Biden and other leaders, the Prime Minister said wealthy countries had to do ‘much more’ if they were to persuade developing countries to sign up to a deal at the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow in November. Mr Johnson and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss arrived in New York last night ahead of talks with world leaders at the UN General Assembly. Tomorrow, the PM will travel to Washington for his first White House summit, where he will press President Biden on his pledge to pour billions more into helping developing countries tackle climate change.” – Daily Mail

  • PM believes he has a 60 per cent chance of getting wealthy countries to agree to spend £100 billion helping poorer countries to tackle global warming before the Cop26 climate change conference – The Times
  • Xi Jinping ‘not yet confirmed’ as attending Cop 26 climate conference in Glasgow, admits minister – Daily Mail

… as he’s expected to urge Biden to lift restrictions on travellers from the UK

“The ban on British tourists entering the United States could be lifted within two months, paving the way for Christmas holidays, even as a scientific adviser to the government warned that increasingly relaxed travel restrictions could raise the risk of new coronavirus variants being imported. Boris Johnson, on his first visit to the White House since the US election and his first big foreign trip since the pandemic began, is due to press President Biden to lift the restrictions imposed on travellers from the UK. The UK relaxed its restrictions on US citizens at the start of August, allowing double-jabbed people to enter without quarantining for ten days.” – The Times

  • Johnson ready to challenge Jeff Bezos on Amazon’s low UK tax payments in New York meeting – Daily Telegraph
  • Truss to meet Henry Kissinger on her first diplomatic tour – The Times

France calls off meeting with Britain in AUKUS submarine dispute

“France has cancelled a meeting between Florence Parly, the armed forces minister, and her British counterpart which was planned for this week as anger mounted in Paris over a submarine deal struck by Britain, the United States and Australia. Paris accused Britain of “accepting a form of vassal status” to the US amid a row over Australia’s decision to cancel a £47 billion deal to buy 12 French diesel-electric submarines. Australia cancelled the contract in favour of more sophisticated nuclear-powered submarines from Britain and the US. The move infuriated President Macron, who recalled France’s ambassadors to the US and Australia.” – The Times

  • Johnson moves to calm France after furious backlash to AUSUK pact – Daily Mail

>Today:

>Yesterday:

Nick Timothy: With the Aukus treaty, “Global Britain” is beginning to take shape

“As the French make fools of themselves, it would take a heart of stone not to laugh. The Aukus treaty, President Macron insists, is a humiliation because France was not invited to join. But in signing the treaty, his ministers say, Britain is becoming a “vassal” of the United States. The country that demands a European army to counter American power, declares Nato “brain-dead”, and seeks European “strategic autonomy”, has recalled its US ambassador because America and Britain agreed to share secret nuclear submarine technology with Australia. French histrionics reflect commercial frustration, the proximity of a presidential election, and geopolitical anxiety. The EU wants to avoid choosing sides between America and China. France wants to secure its future as a Pacific Ocean power.” – Daily Telegraph

Patel’s department casts doubt on new Channel migrants law

“Evidence that Priti Patel’s overhaul of asylum laws will reduce Channel migrant crossings is limited, according to the home secretary’s own department. An impact assessment of the Nationality and Borders Bill by the Home Office says the plans could encourage migrants to take more dangerous journeys. The document concludes that measures outlined in the bill will help to encourage migrants to claim asylum in the first country they reach in order to avoid making the dangerous 21-mile journey across the Channel. But it adds: “Evidence supporting the effectiveness of this approach is limited.” The document raises questions over the capacity for the bill to achieve its main aim of reducing the number of people crossing in small boats.” – The Times

Coronavirus 1) Scientists say they won’t take third jab until poorer countries have vaccines

“Scientists and medics have said they will refuse a third jab until poorer countries have access to vaccinations, in a backlash against the Government’s booster scheme. From Monday the first 1.5million people will be contacted and invited to book their third jab, in a scheme which Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, said will “strengthen the wall of defence” against coronavirus. Frontline healthcare workers are also included in the first tranche of booster jabs, but many doctors, nurses and scientists say they are uncomfortable having a further jab, when others around the world need it more.” – Daily Telegraph

Coronavirus 2) Number of children in A&E with serious mental health issues jumps 50 per cent since start of pandemic

“The number of children who go to A&E with serious mental health issues has jumped by more than 50 per cent since the coronavirus pandemic began, after school closures pushed youngsters to crisis point, a Telegraph investigation has revealed. More than 2,243 children in England were referred for specialist mental health care from emergency departments in May this year, compared with just 1,428 in May 2019. Experts say children have struggled with schools being closed and without face-to-face interaction with their peers. Robert Halfon, the Conservative MP and the chair of the education select committee, called for schools to remain open to stave off a mental health “catastrophe”.” – Daily Telegraph

Coronavirus 3) Just three top universities offer full in-person teaching this term

“Only three out of 27 top UK universities are to return to full in-person teaching this term, despite increasing demand from students for face-to-face learning. The universities of Sheffield, Sussex and Southampton expect to return to in-person studies, with students expected to be on campus from the beginning of the academic year. The other 24 universities surveyed by The Times plan to adopt a “blended” approach, combining face-to-face and online learning. The University of Sheffield has told students that they are “expected to attend in person, on campus, from the start date of your studies”, while Southampton said it would conduct all teaching “in-person and on campus”.” – The Times

Norman “quit the Treasury over Johnson’s bid for more diversity”

“Jesse Norman has revealed he quit the Treasury after Boris Johnson told him he wanted diversity to improve. The former financial secretary to the Treasury was removed from post last week in what was considered a surprise move during the Prime Minister’s reshuffle. However, Mr Norman has revealed that he stepped down from the position after a conversation with Mr Johnson about improving diversity within Government. Mr Norman told Times Radio: “We had a conversation in which he (Boris Johnson) actually offered me the choice of staying on, but said that he was looking to improve the diversity and representation within the Government.”” – Daily Telegraph

Employment regulations 1) Restaurants will be banned from keeping waiters’ tips

“Restaurants will be banned from keeping tips meant for staff under legislation expected to be announced this week. Kwasi Kwarteng, the business secretary, plans to announce a crackdown on companies keeping the service charge when customers pay by card. Existing legislation bans restaurants from retaining cash tips, but when a customer tips by card they can choose whether to keep it or pass it on to their staff. Several restaurant chains have been criticised for keeping all or part of the service charge paid by on card. The change will mean that waiting staff are entitled to 100 per cent of their tips. The idea of protecting tips is popular with the public, but previous promises to legislate for it have failed to materialise.” – The Times

Employment regulations 2) Lorry drivers will be allowed longer hours “until early next year”

“The relaxation of legal limits on lorry drivers’ hours is expected to be extended until next year under plans to prevent a Christmas supply crisis. Ministers are said to be looking at easing restrictions until the end of January as part of proposals to address the shortage of HGV drivers. Temporary changes to the legal limit were introduced in July and had been expected to be scrapped next month. The Unite union, which represents thousands of drivers, said it had learnt that the measures would be extended until January 23 — which would mean more than six months of potentially longer working hours for drivers.” – The Times

Fraud soars but police abandon 22,000 cases

“More than 22,000 fraud investigations were dropped by police last year despite a surge in online scams during the coronavirus pandemic, official figures have revealed. The number of cases reported to Action Fraud, the UK’s fraud and cybercrime reporting centre, soared by a third as criminals exploited the Covid-19 pandemic to target victims online. Some 428,489 offences were reported but an analysis of Home Office figures found that only 52,000 cases were closed in 2020-21. Fewer than 5,000 — 9 per cent — resulted in a suspect being charged. In contrast, 22,420 fraud cases were closed without a suspect being identified.” – The Times

Half of borrowers will still have a mortgage at 65

“More than half of new mortgages are being taken out by borrowers who are not expected to pay them off before their 65th birthday, a study found. Research published today by UK Finance, the trade association, said longer mortgage terms coupled with the ageing population was driving a trend towards later-life borrowing. Some 52 per cent of new homeowner mortgage lending in 2021 has been for terms that will end beyond the main borrower’s 65th birthday, it found. It is the first time the proportion has exceeded 50 per cent, the group said, suggesting that later-life mortgage lending is set to become increasingly significant in coming years. In 2014 about a third of new homeowner mortgage lending went beyond the age of 65.” – Daily Telegraph

Lucas under fire for backing M25 protests

“Caroline Lucas, the former leader of the Green Party, has been criticised after saying that protests on the M25 were a “reasonable” response to the climate crisis. She said that “extreme actions” such as blockades of the busiest roads were proportionate because the government was failing to take the issue seriously enough. Insulate Britain, a breakaway group of Extinction Rebellion, caused chaos on the London orbital motorway three times last week by sitting down in the middle of the carriageway. The action is expected to continue for weeks as activists target key infrastructure in the run-up to the Cop26 climate conference in Glasgow in November.” – The Times

  • ‘Cut motorway speed limit so we can block road’, demand M25 protesters  – Daily Telegraph

London council scraps seven low traffic neighbourhoods: Ealing is removing road traffic-calming measures which made congestion worse and had no effect on air quality

“Seven of London’s Low-Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) are to be scrapped after they were found to increase local congestion and caused ‘no material change in air quality’. Ealing Council studied nine LTNs following outcry from residents, who gathered in their thousands outside the town hall in April to demand they be axed. The LTNs were brought in during lockdown last year to redirect traffic away from residential areas, which involved installing cycle lanes, closing off roads to through traffic and widening pavements. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps previously announced the scheme – which plans for 200 LTNs across the country – is to receive hundreds of millions of pounds as part of the Government’s so-called ‘green transport revolution’, which hopes to reduce car use by encouraging walking and cycling.” – Daily Mail

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