Issue 66: 2016 08 11: Week in Brief: UK

11 August 2016

Week in Brief: UK

Union Jack flapping in wind from the right

Government News

CHILD SEX ABUSE INQUIRY: The chairman of the inquiry into child sex abuse, Dame Lowell Goddard, resigned after being criticized for the amount of time she spent abroad during her first year in charge, but could get £90,000 in severance pay and continue to live in a £2,000 per week home.  She is the third inquiry chairman to quit.  Professor Alexis Jay, who exposed the Rotherham sex abuse scandal and currently sits on the inquiry’s panel, has emerged as favourite to take over.

HONOURS LIST: 62 former aides, donors and remain campaigners were included in those nominated in David Cameron’s resignation honours list, including the aide who helped Mr Cameron compile honours lists.  The Chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, Lord Bew, suggested that this would be the last and that a peerage should be a “job” not an “honour”.  Jeremy Corbyn proposed a peerage for Shami Chakrabarti.  Ms Chakrabarti has been accused of leaving out comments about Hamas made by Mr Corbyn in her report on anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. MrCorbyn’s deputy, Tom Watson, said that he had not been consulted.

RATE CUT AND DIFFICULT QE: The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee voted to reduce interest rates by 0.25% to 0.25%, and to increase purchases of gilts and corporate bonds by £70 billion, to counter the economic impact of the Brexit vote.  They also announced a £100 billion term funding scheme to help banks to pass on the benefits of lower rates to borrowers. The first purchases of gilts proved to be difficult as investment institutions, who are struggling to find alternative safe assets, were reluctant to sell.  Some banks cut their savings rates by more than 0.25%.

STABBINGS IN RUSSELL SQUARE: Zakaria Bulham, a 19 year old Norwegian national of Somali origin, who has lived in the UK since 2002, killed one and injured 5 others in a knife attack in Russell Square on the same day that the Met announced a further 500 trained armed officers would be made available under Operation Hercules.

RAIL STRIKE: 1,000 Southern Rail services were cancelled on Monday as unions went on strike over a move to make drivers responsible for closing train doors.  The 5-day strike is the longest for 50 years and impacts 300,000 commuters.  Virgin Trains operations on the East Coast are also likely to be hit be strike action.

FRACKING COMPENSATION: Neighbours could be paid up to £10,000 in compensation for local fracking schemes, but the compensation could take 10 years to be paid.

BBC SPYING: The BBC is looking to use wi-fi detection vans to identify households looking at their services on the internet without having a licence.  Privacy groups have attacked the move and the BBC will be called before a parliamentary select committee to explain and justify.


LABOUR LEADERSHIP:  Jeremy Corbyn won a high court ruling to allow 130,000 new members to vote in the forthcoming leadership election. The party has announced that it would appeal, but is unlikely to succeed, and Mr Corbyn also managed to get 6 of his allies voted onto the NEC.  Pledges in the election campaign itself have escalated as Mr Corbyn said that he would commit to invest £500 billion in infrastructure, manufacturing and new industries funded by stopping tax evasion and by economic growth.  His opponent, Owen Smith, had pledged £200 billion over 5 years. Mr Corbyn also said that he would achieve full employment, end private sector involvement in the NHS and build half a million new council houses.

UKIP LEADERSHIP: Stephen Wolfe was not allowed to stand after submitting his application too late. He also forgot to disclose a drink driving conviction. His supporters may force a second vote by disbanding the party’s ruling body.


NHS SPENDING: Spending on diabetes drugs has doubled in 10 years.  £26 million is spent each year on prescriptions for gluten free food.

ASTHMA AND ARTHRITIS HELP: The first new drug in 20 years could be released to reduce asthma attacks by a half, and a new jab for arthritis could be available by the spring that would help stifle inflammation of the joints.

Shop by Foot not Finger: Dame Sally Davies, the Chief Medical Officer, has suggested walking to the shop and carrying bags home as a move to restore basic fitness.  Official government statistics have been underestimating the amount of food that we eat by one third, skewing policy on obesity and aiding opponents of a sugar tax.  It was also reported that NHS spending on obesity drugs has doubled in the last 10 years.  Lazy summers are being cited as undermining the benefits of school PE.


MIND YOUR GRAMMAR:  The government is looking at overturning a ban on selective education, which has been in place for 20 years, in a move to help social mobility.  The move is opposed by the Chairman of the Education Select Committee who regards it as a distraction from increasing the quality of education for all.  A decision is expected by the end of the year.  Both the Labour and the Liberal Democrats have pledged to do all they can to stop a rebirth of Grammar Schools.

UNIVERSITIES TO PAY FOR MIGRANTS AND SUGAR:  Universities could be asked to pay for a new fund to monitor foreign students who come to study in the UK.  Brighton University is imposing a sugar tax of 10p on drinks.

Other News

INTERNET USE:  People are spending on average 24 hours per week on the internet.  The Church of England has issued guidance to vicars on how they should use the internet to promote their services.  One in five of over-65s are now using social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

OIL POLLUTION POTENTIAL:  An oil platform containing 280 tonnes of diesel ran aground in the Western Isles.

BOWIE NOMINATION:  David Bowie has been nominated posthumously for the Mercury Prize for his final album Blackstar.  He has been nominated twice previously but has never won.  The winner will be announced on September 15th.

BLACK LIVES MATTER:  Protesters disrupted several major roads around the country, including the M4 turn-off for Heathrow, causing traffic chaos and missed flights.  Black Lives Matter UK said that it wanted to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the death of Mark Duggan, who was shot by police attempting to arrest him.  The BBC’s Newsnight said that the £1.3 million troubled families programme introduced in response to the 2011 riots has had “no discernable impact”.


OLYMPIC ACHIEVEMENTS:  Adam Peaty won the 100 metres breaststroke gold medal, beating his own world record – his grandmother has become a twitter sensation.  Britain also won 3 silver medals in the pool, and bronzes for men’s diving and shooting.  Chris Froome won a bronze in the cycling time trial.

RECORD REPURCHASE:  Manchester United paid a British transfer record of £89 million to re-sign Paul Pogba from Juventus, a player they sold just 4 years ago for £1.5 million.

COMMUNITY SHIELD:  The traditional match to start the new football season saw the FA Cup winners, Manchester United, beat Premiership champions, Leicester City, 2-1, with new signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic scoring the winner.


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