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Donald Trump threatens 20% tariff on all EU cars

22 June

Donald Trump has threatened a 20% tariff on all European cars if the EU does not remove trade barriers introduced today.

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Airbus: 'No-deal' Brexit would be 'chaos at the borders'

22 June

Airbus has said it is running out patience with the government and a "no-deal" Brexit would mean "chaos at the borders".

The company employs 14,000 people at several sites including Bristol, Stevenage, Portsmouth and north Wales, but another 110,000 jobs are also vulnerable at firms supplying the aircraft maker.
In one of the most significant interventions by a major manufacturer since the referendum two years ago, it published a "risk assessment" on its website saying it would "reconsider its investments in the UK, and its long-term footprint in the country" if Britain left the single market and customs union without a transition agreement.
Speaking to Sky News, the company's senior vice president Katherine Bennett said: "We would see it as chaos at the borders.
"Our parts move across the borders sometimes up to two or three times, perhaps going into a satellite that we build here in the UK or the wings that we make here in the UK.
"We don't want them to be affected by friction at the borders."
Ms Bennett said Airbus was "running out of patience".
She said EU member states, as well as the UK, need to understand the importance of the way Airbus works.
"It's putting pressure on all sides, it's not just the UK," Ms Bennett said.
"We are an international business and the EU 27 need to understand the importance of integration and the way we work."
Airbus says the current planned transition period to December 2020 was too short for businesses to reorganise supply chains.
Tom Williams, chief operating officer of Airbus Commercial Aircraft, said: "In any scenario, Brexit has severe negative consequences for the UK aerospace industry and Airbus in particular.
"Therefore, immediate mitigation measures would need to be accelerated.
"While Airbus understands that the political process must go on, as a responsible business we require immediate details on the pragmatic steps that should be taken to operate competitively.
"Without these, Airbus believes that the impacts on our UK operations could be significant.
"We have sought to highlight our concerns over the past 12 months, without success.
"Far from 'project fear', this is a dawning reality for Airbus. Put simply, a no-deal scenario directly threatens Airbus's future in the UK."
The risk assessment says: "A no-deal Brexit must be avoided, as it would force Airbus to reconsider its footprint in the country, its investments in the UK and at large its dependency on the UK.
"Given the 'no-deal/hard Brexit' uncertainties, the company's dependence on and investment in the flagship Wing Of Tomorrow programme would also have to be revisited, and corresponding key competencies grown outside the UK.
"This extremely negative outcome for Airbus would be catastrophic.
"It would impair our ability to benefit from highly qualified British resources, it would also severely undermine UK efforts to keep a competitive and innovative aerospace industry, while developing high-value jobs and competencies."
The warning has sparked claims that "Project Fear" - a term Brexit supporters use to refer to what they view as instances of scaremongering - has reared its head once more.
John Longworth, co-chair of the campaign group Leave Means Leave, said: "Airbus are claiming that they might relocate out of the UK because of uncertainty, but if we leave the customs union nothing will change as tariffs on aeronautical products are zero.
"They are also claiming that they may move production to countries outside the EU, which clearly can have nothing to do with Brexit.
"The best way to ensure certainty is to declare for WTO terms now and prepare to leave the EU in March 2019, an outcome companies like Airbus are fervently seeking to frustrate.
"No doubt we will see more of these scare stories over the coming months as multi-nationals seek to undermine the democratic decision of the British people in order to protect their own narrow, vested interests."
Downing Street insisted it had a "good dialogue" with Airbus and "continues to speak to them".
A spokesperson said the business department was "speaking with" officials from the aerospace giant on Friday.
Earlier on Friday, Number 10 defended the "significant progress" made in negotiations with the EU "to ensure trade remains as free and frictionless as possible, including in the aerospace sector".

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6,000 jobs to go as House of Fraser closures confirmed

22 June

House of Fraser has been given approval by creditors to close 31 of its 59 stores, resulting in up to 6,000 job losses.

The struggling department store chain will undertake the closures through a company voluntary arrangement (CVA), which will also allow it to secure rent reductions on its remaining shops.
:: The full list of stores that will close
Closures will affect up to 2,000 House of Fraser staff and a further 4,000 across brands and concessions.
The shops earmarked for closure, including its flagship Oxford Street store in London, will remain open until early 2019.
House of Fraser secured the backing of more than 75% of creditors, including landlords.
It was approved despite anger among landlords, who have complained that they are being forced to take a financial hit while House of Fraser enjoys new investment.
Alongside the CVA, Hamleys owner C.banner is being lined up to buy a 51% stake and invest £70m into the remainder of the business.
Landlords berated the chain's management and their advisers at KPMG over how the CVA was conducted, complaining that their share of the vote had been structured unfairly in an attempt to push through the restructuring proposal.
A representative for two of House of Fraser's landlords said there had been "no give" from the top team.
The company's boss, Alex Williamson, had warned that the move represented the "last viable" option to save the retailer, with the group at risk of collapse had the CVA been rejected.
There are also plans to relocate its Baker Street head office and the Granite House office in Glasgow to help cut costs and secure its future.
The closures can be attributed to rising costs and business rates, competition from online rivals and a slowdown in consumer spending.

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House of Fraser: The full list of stores that will close

22 June

House of Fraser has announced plans to close 31 of its 59 stores by early 2019.

The retailer has been struggling for some time and has now confirmed its intention to shut many of its shops, relocate its main offices and cut thousands of jobs.
Among the branches to go are Birmingham, Cardiff and the flagship Oxford Street branch in London.
Here is the full list:
:: Altrincham
:: Aylesbury
:: Birkenhead
:: Birmingham
:: Bournemouth
:: Camberley
:: Cardiff
:: Carlisle
:: Chichester
:: Cirencester
:: Cwmbran
:: Darlington
:: Doncaster
:: Edinburgh
:: Epsom
:: Grimsby
:: High Wycombe
:: Hull
:: Leamington Spa
:: Lincoln
:: London Oxford Street
:: London King William Street
:: Middlesbrough
:: Milton Keynes
:: Plymouth
:: Shrewsbury
:: Skipton
:: Swindon
:: Telford
:: Wolverhampton
:: Worcester

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Campaigner loses bid for gender-neutral passports

22 June

Campaigner Christie Elan-Cane has lost a High Court action against the government's policy on gender-neutral passports.

Elan-Cane has been fighting for "X" passports for people who define as neither "M" nor "F".
The campaigner argues the "denial of existence is the worst act of discrimination by the gendered majority against the non-gendered".
Elan-Cane believes the current passport forms are discriminatory, but a judge who heard arguments in the case in London in April dismissed the judicial review action today.
During the April proceedings, Elan-Cane's lawyers challenged the lawfulness of the policy administered by Her Majesty's Passport Office, which is part of the Home Office, arguing that it breaches human rights laws.
Mr Justice Jeremy Baker said although he was not at present satisfied that the current policy is unlawful, part of the reasoning for that decision was that a comprehensive review has not been completed.
Elan-Cane's lawyer, Kate Gallafent, argued the policy breaches Article 8 - the right to respect for private life - and the right to not be discriminated against on the basis of gender or sex, under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
"For the claimant, obtaining and using a passport currently involves making a false declaration as to the nature of the claimant's gender identity, which causes the claimant considerable distress," she said.
"The lack of a non-gender specific passport option impacts on the claimant's ability to obtain and use a passport on equal terms with persons who identify, and are identified, solely in terms of male or female."
She told the judge the impact of the passport office's refusal to provide for "X" passports "affects not only non-gendered persons such as the claimant, but a broad section of the public" - including intersex and transgendered people and other individuals with gender dysphoria.
After the ruling, Elan-Cane tweeted: "I'm extremely sorry to say that today's judgment ruled HM Government's refusal to issue 'X' PASSPORTS was not unlawful.
"The good news is that ECHR Article 8 was triggered and sets a new precedent."
James Eadie QC, on behalf of the government, argued that if the policy constituted an interference with Article 8 it was justified by the need to maintain an administratively coherent system for the recognition of gender, to maintain security and to combat identity theft and fraud, and to ensure security at national borders.

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