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Thursday's Business and Politics round-up

04 Jul 2019

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Good morning!

A former government official who had responsibility for UK border operations post-Brexit has said that technology on its own is not the answer to the Irish border conundrum.

Speaking on a panel at an event for the Institute for Government, Karen Wheeler, former Director General of the Border Delivery Group, said “Technology alone is not going to solve that border problem, it needs to be around other arrangements as well”.

Also on the panel was the IoD’s Head of EU and Trade Policy, Allie Renison, who explained the rate of preparedness for EU exit among members. 

Allie said half of business leaders have not done any planning, while two-thirds report that a no-deal outcome would be negative for their business. 



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Curious George

Former Chancellor George Osborne has reportedly told friends he is eyeing up the vacancy as head of the International Monetary Fund. 

Osborne has recently backed Tory leadership candidate Boris Johnson as the next Prime Minister and it is thought that he is hoping to win the support of a government led by the former Foreign Secretary.

Although a European has held the role for the last 75 years, it has never gone to a British national. The Government has indicated the UK is likely to start vying for the position to show its internationalist ambitions have not been waned by Brexit.  

The current chief, Christine Lagarde, has temporarily vacated the position as she has been nominated to run the European Central Bank. Osborne – who is currently editor of London’s Evening Standard – was the first to pledge his support for Lagarde as IMF head back in 2011. 

Current Bank of England Governor Mark Carney has also been touted for the role at the IMF. He holds British, Irish and Canadian citizenship. The Bank of England declined to comment on whether he was interested in the job. 

Bitmuch 

Bitcoin uses as much energy as the whole of Switzerland, according to new research by Cambridge University.
 
A new online tool created by the university lets users compare the crypto-currency network’s energy consumption with other entities, but its carbon footprint is particularly striking.
 
It is estimated that Bitcoin uses seven gigawatts of energy, equivalent to a fifth of the world’s energy supply. On an annual basis this equates to the same energy consumption levels as Switzerland. 
 
Alex de Vries, Bitcoin energy expert at PwC, said Bitcoin processes fewer than 100 million financial transactions per year, but this requires more energy than all of the world’s banks put together given the amount of energy stored in data centres.  
 
The electricity used for Bitcoin yields about 22 megatons of CO2 each year, equal to that of Kansas City.  

Hung up

Strict policies on mobile phones have spread to office jobs, risking “a new front for friction between workers and organisations”, according to trade unions.
 
Mike Clancy, general secretary of Prospect, warned “Rigid controls over phone use, where no clear security and safety issues are involved, risks being rigid worker control, reflecting a culture that lacks trust”. 
 
The comments come after it emerged that café staff at the British Library must surrender their phones in case they are tempted to check them on shift. The organisation said it was speaking to its catering contractor about its mobile phone policy. 
 
Nannies are also increasingly seeing clauses in contracts prohibiting mobile phone use during working hours. 
 
Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, said “Employers should treat staff like adults […] Good employers allow discretion for personal use, as long as it doesn’t interfere with work”.  


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