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Thursday's Business and Politics round-up

21 Sep 2017

Person sat at a table reading a newspaperGood morning,

The Prime Minister will today brief her Cabinet ahead of the keynote speech in Florence. It has emerged that Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson will accompany Theresa May for tomorrow's speech in an attempt to show unity. Chancellor Philip Hammond and Brexit Secretary David Davis will also be there cheering for the PM.


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The Great British Shopper

UK retail sales grew by 1% in August compared with the previous month, with the annual pace of quantities sold standing at 2.4% last month, according to the latest ONS statistics. That’s 1.3 percentage points above economists’ forecasts and comes after a (revised) gain of 1.4 per cent in July. The figures show consumers have remained resilient despite rising inflation caused by a weak pound. High inflation has also resulted in prices for non-food products rising at the fastest rate in 15 years.

Meanwhile, the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) has predicted that UK growth slowdown is set to persist next year. This would be the most sluggish growth of the G7 group of major economies, as even Italy is forecast to grow more strongly than Britain despite high youth unemployment and the banking crisis.

According to the projections, UK economy is to grow by 1% in 2018, down from 1.6% in 2017. Last year, UK economy grew by 1.8%. In comparison, the Euro area including Germany, France and Italy is set to grow by 1.9% next year. “The previously identified growth slowdown is expected to continue through 2018, while uncertainty remains over the outcome of negotiations around the decision to leave the European Union,” the OECD said in a press release accompanying the report.

"Win our trust"

Theresa May has urged the United Nations to reform or the UK would withhold up to 30% of its £90m funding each year. Speaking at the UN General Assembly in New York yesterday, Mrs May singled out North Korea, Russia, Myanmar and Syria for criticism. She sent strongly-worded messages to various states she accused of breaching UN rules.

The Prime Minister explicitly said that the UN needed to "win our trust", as she warned of a "crisis of multilateralism" if the UN is no longer able to meet the challenges of the age. The calls for reform mirrored US President Donald Trump, who also threatened to withdraw funding from the UN on Monday. He urged the organisation to "focus more on people, less on bureaucracy."

Mrs May also told the UN General Assembly that technology companies must go "further and faster" in removing extremist content from the internet. She said artificial intelligence should be used to automatically reduce the period in which terrorist propaganda remains available online. The Prime Minister will be meeting with other world leaders alongside Facebook, Twitter and Microsoft. Internet companies will be given a month to show they are taking the problem seriously, with ministers at a G7 meeting on 20 October due to decide whether enough progress has been made.

Can't fly with me 

Ryanair chaos continues, as a group of pilots have rejected cash bonuses to work extra days after the airline cancelled over 2,000 flights. The budget airline offered pilots a one-off payment of £12,000 and first officers £6,000, but pilot representatives have stated that they want new contracts and better working conditions instead, "The pilot market is changing, and Ryanair will need to change the ways which the pilots and management work together to ensure a stable and common future for everyone."

Ryanair pilots from across Europe have also claimed that pilot shortage is the real reason behind the cancellation of flights in recent days, whereas the airline has said it was because they had "messed up" pilot holidays.

The budget airline reportedly sent out emails to over 30,000 passengers affected on Monday, telling them about flight changes, alternative flights and refunds. However, consumer group Which? has called the airline's efforts "woeful", saying compensations should be paid automatically.

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