Top story: One in three businesses say Brexit poses ‘significant risk’ Good morning. This is Alison Rourke bringing you the last morning briefing for the week. There is more gloomy news from the business sector – nearly a third of firms plan to relocate some of their operations outside the UK to cope with a…
Top story: One in three businesses say Brexit poses ‘significant risk’
Good morning. This is Alison Rourke bringing you the last morning briefing for the week.
There is more gloomy news from the business sector – nearly a third of firms plan to relocate some of their operations outside the UK to cope with a hard Brexit. The survey, by the Institute of Directors (IoD), found that most firms were considering opening offices in the EU. “We can no more ignore the real consequences of delay and confusion than business leaders can ignore the hard choices that they face in protecting their companies” says the IoD’s Edwin Morgan.
Meanwhile schools have been told they should be “flexible”in what dinners they serve children in Englandif there are food shortages because of Brexit, as the government warns local authorities to step up their no-deal planning.
As Britain’s departure looms, Gary Lineker has put his name to afront-page letter on Germany’s Die Welt newspaper today, sharing his Brexit regrets. “We still want to be friends,” the letter reads: “We love your beer, your football, some of us even like your cooking. Given the challenges we face, we need to stand together to champion the values of tolerance and openness that you say are our hallmark.” The letter was also signed by the Brexit-backing Conservative MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan along with Tory MPs Nicholas Soames and Tom Tugendhat.
Snow, a vortex and a heatwave– There’s plenty of weather to report on today,with snow forecast across large parts of the UK. The Met Office issued an amber warning – meaning a potential risk to life and property – for London and the south east. The Met also said said travel delays were likely, including rail cancellations during the morning commute. It also said there was a good chance some rural communities could be cut off, with power cuts likely. The warning also said mobile phone coverage may be affected. Police warned motorists to consider if their journeys were necessary before heading out on Friday and to be “extremely careful” if they travel by road.
Overnightmore than 100 people sought refuge at the Jamaica Innpub on Bodmin Moor after being stranded in heavy snow. It followed theUK’s coldest day in seven years, with power cuts, closed schools, and major traffic and travel disruption. Braemar in north-east Scotland recorded -14.4C (6.1F). Police in London reported that a newborn girlhad been abandoned in an east London parkin freezing conditions.
Across the pond, the death toll from conditionscreated by the polar vortexhad risen to 21. Chicago shattered record low temperatures of -29C (-21F), on Thursday morning, earning it the nickname “Chiberia”.
In contrast, January has beendeclared Australia’s hottest month on record. Sydneysiders, who suffered through 40C temperatures on the city’s hottest day for a year on Thursday, won’t be surprised by the news from the Bureau of Meteorology that the country’s widespread heatwave conditions were “unprecedented”.
‘Poor quality of education’– Ofsted has asked the government tolook closely at the Steiner schools in England, after multiple inspections of schools operating under the Steiner banner revealed worries over pupil safety. The letter from the head of Ofsted throws into doubt the future of Steiner schools receiving state funding, after several opened as part of the free schools programme launched by Michael Gove in 2011. The chief inspector of schools in England, Amanda Spielman, said inspections had demonstrated that there “are a number of areas of common weakness in these schools, which mean that in many cases, the children attending them are inadequately safeguarded and are receiving a poor quality of education”.
Cervical screen backlog– More than150,000 untested cervical screening sampleshave been discovered in laboratories across England, according to Whitehall’s spending watchdog, the National Audit Office. Changes to testing arrangements are thought to be responsible. It follows serious incidents reported last year regardingcervical and breast cancer screening programmes, when thousands of women were found not to have been sent invitations.
‘Devoid of personality’– David Bowie’s faltering early career in a “routine beat group” with an “amateur-sounding vocalist who sings wrong notes and out of tune”is revealed in a new BBC documentary. David Bowie: Finding Fame tells of his early rejection by the broadcaster in 1965, in which those watching him concluded his band had “nothing to recommend it”. No doubt there were some red faces in later years from members of the BBC’s talent selection group at the time, which also said: “There is no entertainment in anything they do. It’s just a group and very ordinary, too, backing a singer devoid of personality.”
Today in Focus podcast: Disaster in the Australian outback
Searing heat, severe drought and official mismanagement have allowed rivers in south-eastern Australia to run dry. The Guardian reportersAnne Davies and Lorena Allam discuss the devastating impactthe crisis has had on wildlife and residents. Plus: Zoe Williams on children’s screen time.
Lunchtime read: Bollywood’s pioneering lesbian story
A father tries to marry off his daughter to a handsome bachelor. She resists, insisting her heart lies with someone else. There is singing and dancing. It could be the trailer for any Bollywood romance. Only the barest hint is given thatEk Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga(How I Felt When I Saw that Girl) is a pioneering release for Indian cinema: the first mainstream, star-studded blockbusterabout a family coming to terms with their daughter loving another woman.
The film has been carefully marketed in India. In part this has been to avoid a backlash experienced by others before it. In 1996, Fire, which featured a lesbian relationship had cinemas trashed by mobs of fanatical Hindus. Last September, after more than a decade of legal campaigning, Indiascrapped a colonial-era banon homosexuality but it largely remains a social taboo. The next step is changing people’s attitudes, says the film’s director, Shelly Chopra Dhar. “Nobody wants to be preached at,” he says. “I’m not telling [audiences] what is right, but they can experience it through my characters.”
Michy Batshuayi has had to wait until the hours afterthe transfer deadlinebefore finally seeing his future resolved with the Belgium internationaljoining Crystal Palace from Chelsea on loanuntil the end of the season.
England have flown into a wintry Dublin firmly believing they can kick off the Six Nationsby overpowering Irelandon the opening weekend. Relegation from theSix Nationshas been dismissed as“absolutely not on the agenda”by tournament organisers despite ongoing talks over the significant remodelling of the international game.
St Helens set the early standard with ascintillating derby win over Wiganas the Super League season got underway with a bang.
Asian shares backed away from four-month highs today as a dismal survey on Chinese factory activity dulled optimism about the prospects for a Sino-US deal on tariffs. This was in spite ofDonald Trump saying he was optimisticof reaching “the biggest deal ever”.
The pound is buying €1.15 and $1.31.
The front pages today feature striking images of the country covered in snow, and a diverse range of stories.
Brexit, as ever, is prominent. TheGuardianleads with: “Fear of hard Brexit pushes one in three firms to plan move abroad”. Theihas : “Labour faces mutiny over Brexit bribes” and theDaily Mail’s headline is : “What a time to slope off!” as they accuse “work-shy MPs” of “refusing to give up their half-term ski holidays” over sorting out the Brexit “mess”.
TheTimes’ splash is: “Sunday Times journalist was murdered by Assad”, with a report that Marie Colvin was deliberately targeted by the Syrian regime.
TheExpressleads with health news: “Statins really do save lives”, as does theSun. “Arm and a legover!” screams the headline on a story about a new male contraceptive gel that can be rubbed on to limbs.
TheMirror’s headline is “Madness” saying Amazon has paid less tax in the UK over 20 years than M&S paid in one. TheDaily Telegraphhas: “Church calls for fines on harmful social media” and theFinancial Timesreports: “EU accuses eight banks of rigging €7tn eurozone bond market”.
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