George Osborne Urges Government to Fund HS3 for Northern England

George Osborne, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, has urged the Government to fund an HS3 rail system to help boost the northern economy. Osborne, who has now left Parliament and is the editor of the Evening Standard, said that the investment would help to “transform the northern economy”.

Osborne said in the article for the Financial Times:

“Far be it from me to offer advice to the Prime Minister on how to relaunch her premiership this autumn, but making this big commitment to the north at the Conservative conference in Manchester would not be a bad place to start”.

The proposed HS3 link would potentially connect Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and Hull, with some preparatory work having already taken place to look at the viability of the project.

Government Claims Telegraph News Story is Misleading

The Government has rejected claims by the Daily Telegraph that Ofqual had stated that more children taking GCSE exams would receive incorrect marks.

A statement from the Government was issued saying:

“Today’s Daily Telegraph (22 Aug) contains both inaccurate and misleading statements in relation to new GCSEs. The assessment of new GCSEs has been designed to support 9 to 1 grading and we have not ‘warned’ about their use as suggested. The Ofqual report cited is not a commentary on the new grades and the selected excerpts within the story are taken completely out of context”.

The Daily Telegraph had reported:

“The exam watchdog warned that the new GCSE grading system will lead to more children getting the wrong marks, it has emerged.

A technical report published by Ofqual last year told of the “profound effect” that introducing more grade boundaries will have on students being awarded the correct mark”.

Big Ben to Stop Chiming on a Regular Basis Until 2021

Big Ben is to fall silent until 2021 to allow for urgent repairs to take place to the Elizabeth Tower. The bell sounded for the final time today until the work was completed, although it will still ring for important events such as Remembrance Sunday and New Year’s Eve.

Stephen Pound, the Labour MP for Ealing North, was one of a few MPs who stood to watch the last chimes and he said:

“This is a desperately sad moment and you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. I think it’s the passing of something that means a great deal to a great many people – certainly to my constituents. It’s an elegiac moment of sombre sadness as the bells cease”.

Grenfell Tower Survivors Will Need to Bid Against Each Other Properties

Kensington Council have confirmed that survivors of the Grenfell Tower tragedy will be required to bid against each other for new accommodation. The council has been purchasing accommodation in the borough and has said that it will attempt to prioritise those who have specific housing requirements.

Kim Taylor-Smith (pictured above), the deputy leader of the council, said in a statement:

“The council has acquired more than 100 properties for Grenfell survivors and is in the course of spending tens of millions more to add to our property stock. The fairest and quickest way for people to view and choose a home we believe is using the website”.

David Lammy, the Labour MP for Tottenham, said:

“Grenfell survivors should not be forced into bidding against each other for properties whilst they grieve for their loved ones and try to rebuild their lives. It is incumbent on the local authority to find appropriate permanent accommodation for each and every family and support them through this process, not wash their hands of this responsibility so that traumatised and vulnerable people are bidding against each other for properties online”.

Liberal Democrats Oppose Sale of Green Investment Bank

Vince Cable, the Leader of the Liberal Democrats, has said that this party oppose the Government’s plans to sell the Green Investment Bank. The Government has sold the bank to Macquarie Group Limited for a sum of £2.3 billion.

Cable said:

“I launched the Bank in 2012, during my time as Business Secretary. Its environmental mission is now in danger of disappearing, I am calling for Parliament to ensure commitments to protect green investment in the UK are kept.

The Bank has done an extremely good job in supporting renewable energy, energy efficiency and low-carbon projects. It has managed to attract over £10 billion of private investment in these sectors that would not otherwise have happened”.

Claire Perry, the Government Minister for Climate Change and Industry, said in a statement:

“We led the world in setting up the Green Investment Bank and it is now being copied by others. Now that it’s in the private sector, it will be able to operate on an international level to tackle the global challenge of climate change. It is also perfectly placed to help us finance green initiatives for our Clean Growth Plan and realise the commitments set out in the Paris Agreement”.

Chief Trade Negotiation Adviser Starts at Department for International Trade

Crawford Falconer, the recently appointed Chief Trade Negotiation Adviser at the Department for International Trade, has started in his new role. Falconer, who was appointed in June 2017, was previously the Professor of Global Value Chains and Trade at Lincoln University and is a former New Zealand Ambassador to the World Trade Organisation.

Falconer said of his appointment:

“As the UK prepares to leave the EU we have a huge opportunity to be a world innovator, striking trade deals outside of Europe, and to be an ambassador for free trade across the world.

With 90% of new trade to come from outside the EU in the next decades, this is an immensely exciting time to join the Department, and I look forward to preparing for the important negotiations ahead”.

Liam Fox, the Secretary of State for International Trade, said:

“Crawford Falconer brings a wealth of international trade expertise to our international economic department, ensuring that as we leave the EU, the UK will be at the forefront of global free trade and driving the case for international openness. His direct experience in global trade will prove invaluable as we build our future trading arrangements with the rest of the world”.

Nicola Sturgeon, Scottish First Minister, Said She Would Change SNP Name if She Could

Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish First Minister and the Leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), has said that she would have ideally liked to change the name of the party because of the nationalist implications of the word.

Speaking in conversation with Elif Shafak, a Turkish author, Sturgeon admitted that the word nationalist was “difficult”. Sturgeon also said, “if I could turn the clock back, what 90 years, to the establishment of my party, and choose its name all over again, I wouldn’t choose the name it has got just now, I would call it something other than the Scottish National Party”.

The First Minister added:

“Now people say why don’t you change its name now? Well that would be far too complicated. Because what those of us who do support Scottish independence are all about could not be further removed from some of what you would recognise as nationalism in other parts of the world”.

British Government Criticises Political System in Venezuela

Alan Duncan, Minister of State for Europe and the Americas at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, has criticised the on-going political situation in Venezuela. Opposition leaders in the country have questioned the damage being done to the democratic system, with extra powers being given to the Constituent Assembly.

Duncan said in a statement:

“I am utterly appalled by the decision of the sham-democratic Constituent Assembly in Venezuela to remove legislative powers from the elected National Assembly. This is a shocking blow to democracy in Venezuela, and a direct attack on a legitimate democratic institution. It ignores the will of the Venezuelan people and will only further undermine confidence in Venezuela’s democracy. The National Assembly and its Deputies must be respected and their rights honoured.

Poverty in Venezuela continues to rise, with more Venezuelans being forced into poverty every day by bad governance. This is a tragedy in a country with such enormous resources. This move will do nothing to tackle the urgent economic challenges that ordinary Venezuelans face

It is time for President Maduro and the Venezuelan Government to act responsibly. They need to reduce tension, respect democracy, and take responsibility for working with the Opposition to agree a positive way forward for all Venezuelans. The UK stands with the people of Venezuela and will work with international partners in our collective response to the gravity of this situation”.

British Government Confirms New Emergency Aid to Sierra Leone

The Government has confirmed that an additional £5 million will be sent to assist humanitarian efforts in Sierra Leone following flooding and landslides. The money will assist in providing clean water, clothing and temporary accommodation.

Priti Patel, the International Development Secretary, said:

“This tragedy comes shortly after the Ebola crisis which Sierra Leone has worked so hard to recover from. Britain was at the forefront in tackling that deadly disease and we remain shoulder to shoulder with Sierra Leone today after these devastating events.

The UK was among the first to respond to this emergency, with personnel at the scene within just hours of the landslide to help co-ordinate the emergency response.

Our new support will provide basic life-saving supplies like food, water, shelter and clothing to people who have lost everything. The international community must follow our lead and step up to the plate”.

Prime Minister Issues Statement on Barcelona

Theresa May, the Prime Minister, has condemned the terrorist attacks in Barcelona. It is thought that a vehicle was deliberately driven into pedestrians on Las Ramblas in the Spanish city, with 13 deaths already confirmed.

May said in a statement:

“I am sickened by the senseless loss of life in Barcelona today. The Foreign Office is working to establish if any British nationals were involved in this appalling incident and we are in close contact with the authorities in Spain, who have our full support.

Following the attacks in Manchester and London, Spain stood alongside the British people. Tonight, Britain stands with Spain against the evil of terrorism”.