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Wednesday's Business and Politics round-up

07 Feb 2018

Commuters reading daily news on their journey to workGood morning!

With Brexit always dominating headlines, it’s worth remembering the UK’s withdrawal is not the only topic on the EU’s agenda.

The European Council has extended an olive branch to Turkish President Erdogan by inviting him to a summit of EU leaders in March.

EU-Turkey tensions have escalated since a failed coup in 2016 resulted in Ankara arresting judges, journalists and opposition figures. The relationship was further aggravated when the government held a constitutional referendum on granting the President sweeping new controls.

And speaking of the concentration of power, American billionaire Elon Musk launched the world’s most powerful rocket yesterday. The test flight for Falcon Heavy went without a hitch. Far out!

Affecting businesses today is the news that British workers will receive fresh employment rights from the first day on the job. The changes are a reaction to the Taylor Review on workers’ rights in the gig economy.

IoD Director General Stephen Martin has been quoted saying "This could be the biggest shake-up of employment law in generations. It is right, therefore, that Government proceeds cautiously by consulting widely.

"However, while they have accepted almost every single recommendation from the Taylor Review, and in some cases even gone further, the lack of action on tax reform is a wasted opportunity."

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Carillion dollar question

The management team of construction firm Carillion faced a grilling from MPs yesterday as the Work and Pensions Committee probed the reasons for its collapse.

Former chairman Philip Green said he takes the blame for the failure, admitting his responsibility is “full and complete, total - no question in my mind about that. Not necessarily culpability but full responsibility".

Also at the hearing was former chief executive Richard Howson, who ran the firm until he resigned due to a profit warning. He explained that towards the end of his time in charge he “felt like a bailiff” trying to collect money.

Committee co-chairs Rachel Reeves and Frank Field were not impressed with the evidence. In a joint statement, they said “Everything we have seen points the fingers in another direction – to the people who built a giant company on sand in a desperate dash for cash”.

Carillion employed 20,000 people around the UK. This month alone, more than 800 redundancies have been announced.

Abridged to nowhere

According to a leaked document, the EU wants to be able to restrict UK access to the single market should there be a dispute after Brexit.

A draft section of the withdrawal agreement – which has yet to be finalised – says the power to suspend “certain benefits” would apply during the transition period.

The document does not go into detail about which disputes would trigger the moves, or which aspects of the single market would be suspended. The text reportedly states access would be curtailed if the European Court of Justice cannot solve any disputes during the transition phase.

It also says the UK would be consulted about fishing quotas, and have to pledge not to act against the EU in international organisations.

A spokesperson from the Department for Exiting the EU said “this is a draft document produced by the EU that simply reflects their stated directives”.

Prime Minister May is set to chair a Brexit cabinet committee meeting today which will focus on the future trade relationship. A second meeting is expected tomorrow. 

Girl, interrupted

The Prime Minister has marked the centenary of universal suffrage by calling for more women to enter politics and urging social media companies to stamp out online abuse, which she cited as a deterrent to women entering office.

Speaking in Manchester, the birthplace of suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst, she said progress has been made but noted less than a third of MPs are women.

Mrs May said the government will consider making intimidation of candidates and campaigners an offence under electoral law.

She pledged to shift more legal liability on to social media firms for abuse. Furthermore, the government will commission an independent review into the relationship between press and advertising.

Giving her own tips for women looking to enter politics, she said “Do not feel you have to be a stereotype of a man to get on in politics. Be yourself”

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