Car manufacturing at lowest point since Second World War | Business News


The number of cars made in Britain fell to its lowest point since the Second World War during April, down 99.7% compared to the same month last year.

Just 152 cars were built for export and 45 for customers in the UK during the month, according to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Car makers were among thousands of businesses across the country forced to close after the government imposed a lockdown to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Many plants were used instead to make personal protective equipment needed by healthcare workers treating those affected by the illness.

The SMMT said car manufacturers had made 711,495 pieces of PPE, including face shields and medical gowns.

Car production in the year to date is down 27.6% with 121,811 fewer cars built.

The sector’s 168,000 employees are starting to return to work, with around half of the country’s car and engine plants expected to be operating by the end of May.

However, the SMMT said it expected lost production this year would cost the sector up to £12.5bn.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said, “With the UK’s car plants mothballed in April, these figures aren’t surprising but they do highlight the tremendous challenge the industry faces, with revenues effectively slashed to zero last month.

“Manufacturers are starting to emerge from prolonged shutdown into a very uncertain world and ramping up production will be a gradual process, so we need government to work with us to accelerate this fundamentally strong sector’s recovery, stimulate investment and safeguard jobs.

“Support to get all businesses through this short-term turmoil will ensure the UK’s many globally-renowned brands can continue to make the products that remain so desirable to consumers the world over and, in turn, help deliver long-term prosperity for Britain.”

Next week from Monday to Thursday, Dermot Murnaghan will be hosting After the Pandemic: Our New World – a series of special live programmes about what our world will be like once the pandemic is over.

We’ll be joined by some of the biggest names from the worlds of culture, politics, economics, science and technology. And you can take part too.

If you’d like to be in our virtual audience – from your own home – and put questions to the experts, email [email protected]

Coronavirus: NHS doctor threatens to resign if Dominic Cummings does not | UK News


An NHS doctor working in a COVID-19 intensive care unit has said he will resign by the end of the week if Dominic Cummings has not done so by then – and said other NHS staff will most likely follow.

Dr Dominic Pimenta, a cardiology registrar, tweeted a picture of himself wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), saying: “This stuff is hot and hard work. Haven’t seen my parents since January.

“Frankly, Cummings spits in the face of all our efforts, the whole NHS. If he doesn’t resign, I will.”

Boris Johnson
Johnson tells nation he’s standing by Cummings

Boris Johnson has backed his top aide and has refused to fire him after he was accused of breaching lockdown rules by travelling from London to Durham with his wife and young son to stay with his parents at the end of March – a week after the lockdown was imposed.

Dr Pimenta said he will announce his decision to quit by the end of the week if Mr Cummings is still in his position.

He said: “I found it incredibly insulting to see the whole cabinet doubling down on this issue and undermining the public who are working incredibly hard to follow the guidance, it’s a betrayal.

“NHS staff have bent over backwards to meet this incredible challenge, spending hundreds of extra hours in meetings and drawing up timetables to care for patients.

“I do think it’s still early days yet, but I’ll give them until the end of the week for Mr Cummings to resign before I do.

Dominic Cummings
Image: Dominic Cummings was seen in Downing Street ahead of Boris Johnson appearing at Sunday’s briefing

“I’m not trying to lead a movement, but I wouldn’t be surprised if more did the same.”

The doctor called on the government and cabinet members to apologise as he said they “cannot continue to insult health workers like this”.

“Many feel incredibly disrespected, like all their hard work and energy has been thrown back in their faces,” he said.

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Mr Johnson’s decision to back Mr Cummings has brought about a rift among Conservative MPs as well, with at least 15 telling Sky News they want the controversial aide to resign.

However, during Sunday’s daily coronavirus press briefing, Mr Johnson remained steadfastedly supportive, saying Mr Cummings acted “responsibly, legally and with integrity”.

Coronavirus: UK health workers in trial to test effectiveness of Trump’s hydroxychloroquine | UK News


Health workers in the UK will be able to be part of a clinical trial involving a drug touted by Donald Trump as a possible way to prevent the coronavirus.

The trial is the first global study to test whether chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine can prevent infection, whereas previous trials have looked at whether they can treat it.

Hospitals in Brighton and Oxford are the first of a planned 25 sites to take part in the trials.

It is part of an investigation led by the Bangkok-based Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit (MORU), supported by the University of Oxford and health charity Wellcome.

More than 40,000 people who work with coronavirus patients in Europe, Africa, Asia and South America will be involved, MORU co-principal investigator Professor Sir Nicholas White said.

“We really do not know if chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine are beneficial or harmful against COVID-19,” he said, adding that the trial was the best way to find out.

It comes just days after US President Donald Trump told reporters that he had been taking the unproven anti-malarial drug to ward off the virus, which has killed almost 330,000 people worldwide.

Trump’s aggressive push of hydroxychloroquine peaked in April when he told reporters: “Take it – what have you go to lose?”

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A study in the US showed the drug had no benefit in treating coronavirus patients and was also associated with a higher risk of death.

The Food and Drug Administration has warned hydroxychloroquine can cause heart rhythm problems and Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said there was no evidence the drug could prevent coronavirus.

Donald Trump has admitted to taking the controversial drug for over a week, despite concerns over dangerous side effects
Trump taking unproven drug hydroxychloroquine

The president – who has previously promoted coronavirus cures such as injecting disinfectant – cited “calls” and “good stories” as his evidence of hydroxychloroquine’s success.

There have also been concerns raised in the US that the millions of people there who rely on it for treatment of lupus and rheumatoid arthritis could face more shortages because of an inevitable surge in demand for the drugs.

The UK government has said chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are not licensed to treat or prevent COVID-19 and that the drugs should not be used outside clinical trials.

Prof Martin Llewelyn of Brighton and Sussex School, lead UK investigator for the MORU trial, said: “If drugs as well tolerated as chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine could reduce the chances of catching COVID-19 this would be incredibly valuable.”

He added: “Like all drugs, chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine have side effects. But actually, used in the sort of doses that we will use them in the COPCOV trial, they’re expected to be really, very safe.”

Any adult who works in a UK healthcare facility and is delivering direct care to patients with proven or suspected COVID-19 can participate, as long as they have not been diagnosed with COVID-19 or an acute respiratory infection.

The team aims to deliver results by the end of 2020.

MPs say HS2 bosses have been ‘blindsided’ and knew of problems two years ago | UK News


MPs say HS2 bosses have been “blindsided by contact with reality” with the project “badly off course”.

In a report, Westminster’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) concluded the Department for Transport (DfT) and HS2 Ltd’s lack of transparency and handling of the project had “undermined public confidence in the programme”.

It also said that the appearance of DfT Permanent Secretary Bernadette Kelly and HS2 Ltd executives, CEO Mark Thurston and chief financial officer Michael Bradley, before the committee in March also “raised questions about the previous picture provided by the witnesses of the project’s health”.

The report said: “The Department and HS2 Ltd were aware of the scale of the issues facing the programme as early as October 2018.

“In March 2019, HS2 Ltd formally notified the Department that it could not deliver Phase One to budget and schedule.

“Despite being aware of these issues, the Permanent Secretary withheld from us that the programme was in significant difficulty when she appeared before the previous committee in October 2018 and May 2019, even in response to specific questions about the programme’s delivery timeline and budget.

“HS2 Ltd’s annual report and accounts for the year ending March 31 2019 similarly failed to give an accurate account of the programme’s problems.”

Committee chair Labour MP Meg Hillier said the government had made a “wealth of mistakes” over major transport infrastructure.

She said: “There is no excuse for hiding the nature and extent of the problems the project was facing from parliament and the taxpayer.

“The Department and HS2 appear to have been blindsided by contact with reality – when phase one started moving through parliament, the predicted costs of necessary commitments to the communities affected have exploded from £245m to £1.2bn.

“The government unfortunately has a wealth of mistakes on major transport infrastructure to learn from, but it does not give confidence that it is finally going to take those lessons when this is its approach.”

She added: “In the six-monthly reports the Department has now agreed to give us, we want to see an honest, open account, and evidence of learning from past mistakes being applied to bring this project under control, to deliver it within the timeline and budget that have been agreed in justifying the project.”

HS2 will run from London to the West Midlands and then on towards Leeds and Manchester
Image: HS2 will run from London to the West Midlands and then on towards Leeds and Manchester

The committee’s deputy chair, Conservative MP Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, said that the committee was “in the dark” about serious cost overruns.

He said: “This PAC report on HS2 is one of the most critical, in both the transparency of government and the handling of a project, that I have seen in my nine years in total on the committee.

“The Permanent Secretary appeared before the committee in October 2018 and again in May 2019. In March 2019, HS2 Ltd formally told the Department it had breached the terms of the development agreement, and would be unable to deliver the programme to cost and schedule – yet the Permanent Secretary did not inform the committee on either appearance that the programme was in trouble.

“This is a serious breach of the department’s duty to parliament and hence to the public, which as the report says, will undermine confidence. Furthermore, the PAC was in the dark about serious cost overruns and was therefore unable to do its duty to inform parliament that value for money on the project was at risk.”

preview image
‘Time we had our share’: High hopes for HS2

A DfT spokesperson, responding to the report, said: “The current Secretary of State has been clear that this project must go forward with a new approach to parliamentary reporting, with clear transparency, strengthened accountability to ministers, and tight control of costs.

“We have comprehensively reset the HS2 programme, introducing a revised budget and funding regime, with significant reforms to ensure the project is delivered in a more disciplined and transparent manner.

“This includes appointing the first dedicated HS2 minister, bi-annual updates to parliament and establishing a monthly ministerial task force, chaired by the Secretary of State, to ensure the project has a rigorous scrutiny like the 2012 Olympics.”

The DfT statement added: “The Permanent Secretary acknowledged in May 2019 that there were cost pressures that the Department and HS2 Ltd were working to address in line with government policy at the time. Those discussions were active and commercially confidential.”

UK Rich list: Lloyd Webber takes £20m COVID hit – as Rihanna could become ‘first music billionaire’ | Ents & Arts News


Andrew Lloyd Webber is expected to take a £20 million hit to his fortune due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Sunday Times Rich List – as new entry Rihanna could become its first British-based billionaire musician.

The annual countdown of the UK’s wealthiest musicians has been revealed ahead of the full list being released at the weekend.

With a calculated wealth of £800 million, Lord Lloyd Webber still comes joint top alongside Sir Paul McCartney, despite the composer apparently standing to lose millions due to the closure of his theatres in the West End and on Broadway.

Paul McCartney
Image: Paul McCartney tops the list alongside Lord Lloyd Webber

And now that she is based in London, singer Rihanna has jumped straight into third place after amassing a fortune of £468 million, thanks in part to the success of her cosmetics and fashion brand Fenty.

It puts the 32-year-old ahead of the likes of Sir Elton John and Sir Mick Jagger, in fourth and fifth place respectively.

Robert Watts, who compiles the list, says if she stays in the UK she could well rise to the top.

“Rihanna typifies the seismic change we’ve seen in the Rich List in recent years,” he said.

More from Andrew Lloyd Webber

“Once dominated by inherited wealth, the bulk of our 1,000 entries are now self-made people with modest and even troubled starts in life who are driven to work exceptionally hard.

“Still only 32, if Rihanna remains based in the UK she could well pip Sir Paul McCartney and Lord Lloyd Webber to be the Sunday Times Rich List’s first billionaire musician.

RiRi prepares models backstage at the FENTY PUMA by Rihanna Spring/Summer 2018 Collection
Image: Rihanna pictured preparing models backstage at her FENTY PUMA by Rihanna Spring/Summer 2018 collection show

“Touring remains the big earner for many of the stadium-filling acts on our musicians’ list. But the COVID outbreak has wrecked concert plans and so we expect the wealth of many of these musicians will flatline over the coming year.”

However, Mr Watts said that “for this year at least”, the wealth of the musicians has “held up better than many other ultra-high net worth individuals – especially those with wealth determined by the stock market”.

Lord Lloyd Weber, 72, had to delay the London opening of his musical Cinderella, scripted by Killing Eve’s Emerald Fennell, as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

His LW Theatres showed assets of £63 million in 2018-19, with the separate Really Useful Group Investments making profits of £7 million on turnover of £61.4 million.

SOUTHWOLD, ENGLAND - JULY 17:  Ed Sheeran performs on day 2 of Latitude Festival at Henham Park Estate on July 17, 2015 in Southwold, England.  (Photo by Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)
Image: Ed Sheeran once again is the youngest musician on the list

After topping the list alone in 2019, his fortune has come down from £820 million to £800 million for the 2020 list.

McCartney’s wealth, however, has increased to £800 million from £750 million last year, thanks to 29 concerts, the chart-topping album Egypt Station, and his first children’s book, Hey Grandude!, which topped the New York Times bestsellers chart in 2019.

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Olivia and Dhani Harrison, the widow and son of Beatle George Harrison, share the sixth spot with Sir Mick’s Rolling Stones bandmate Keith Richards, while Ed Sheeran is also in the top 10.

Adele, who has not released an album since 2015, is just outside the top 20 at number 22, jointly with Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne.

At 29, Sheeran is the youngest person on the list and also tops a separate list of the richest young musicians, which also includes One Direction stars Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Louis Tomlinson, Liam Payne and Zayn Malik, as well as Little Mix and Sam Smith, in the top 10.

Here is the top 20.

Rich List 2020

1= Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber £800m Down £20m
1= Sir Paul McCartney £800m Up £50m
3 Rihanna £468m New
4 Sir Elton John £360m Up £40m
5 Sir Mick Jagger £285m Up £10m
6= Olivia and Dhani Harrison £270m Up £20m
6= Keith Richards £270m Up £10m
8 Sir Ringo Starr £260m Up £20m
9 Michael Flatley £206m Up £2m
10= Ed Sheeran £200m Up £40m
10= Sir Rod Stewart £200m Up £10m
10= Sting £200m No change
13= Brian May £190m Up £30m
13= Roger Waters £190m No change
15 Robbie Williams £185m Up £10m
16 Calvin Harris £180m Up £15m
17 Eric Clapton £175m No change
18= Sir Tom Jones £170m Up £5m
18= Roger Taylor £170m Up £15m
20 Charlie Watts £165m Up £10m

The Sunday Times Rich List will be published on 17 May

Queen says ‘streets are filled with love’ in VE Day message during lockdown | UK News


The Queen has defiantly insisted that the United Kingdom remains “a nation those brave soldiers, sailors and airmen would recognise and admire”.

Alluding to the coronavirus pandemic and how many national events planned for the day had to be cancelled due to social distancing, Her Majesty said: “Today it may seem hard that we cannot mark this special anniversary as we would wish.

“Instead we remember from our homes and our doorsteps.

Red arrows over London
Watch the highlights of VE Day celebrations

“But our streets are not empty; they are filled with the love and the care that we have for each other.

“And when I look at our country today, and see what we are willing to do to protect and support one another, I say with pride that we are still a nation those brave soldiers, sailors and airmen would recognise and admire.”

The message was played at 9pm – the same time that her father King George VI addressed the nation with a broadcast 75 years ago, marking Victory in Europe Day.

A clip of her father’s message was shown as part of his daughter’s own tribute.

RAF flypast
Cockpit view of VE Day Red Arrows flypast

In her televised address the Queen recalled her own memories of being alongside her parents that day, saying: “I vividly remember the jubilant scenes my sister and I witnessed with our parents and Winston Churchill from the balcony of Buckingham Palace.

“The sense of joy in the crowds who gathered outside and across the country was profound, though while we celebrated the victory in Europe, we knew there would be further sacrifice. It was not until August that fighting in the Far East ceased and the war finally ended.”

Princess Elizabeth was 'insistent' on joining. Pic: National Army Museum
What VE Day was like for the queen (then known as Princess Elizabeth)

Recalling the famous line “we will remember them” from Laurence Binyon’s First World War poem “For the Fallen”, the Queen paid tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

She said: “Many people laid down their lives in that terrible conflict.

“They fought so we could live in peace, at home and abroad.

“They died so we could live as free people in a world of free nations.

“They risked all so our families and neighbourhoods could be safe. We should and will remember them.”

Winston Churchill VE Day
Watch Winston Churchill’s VE Day speech
Singalong pic
Nation marks VE Day anniversary with singalong

She added: “The wartime generation knew that the best way to honour those who did not come back from the war, was to ensure that it didn’t happen again.

“The greatest tribute to their sacrifice is that countries who were once sworn enemies are now friends, working side by side for the peace, health and prosperity of us all.”

The 94-year-old monarch recorded her message at Windsor Castle last week, where she is in isolation with her husband Prince Philip due to the pandemic.

On the table alongside her were photos of her father, and the family on the balcony with Sir Winston Churchill in 1945. The cap she wore as a member of the Auxiliary Territorial service was also on the desk, highlighting her own service during the Second World War. She was the first female member of the royal family to join the armed forces as a full-time active member.

File photo dated 08/05/45 showing huge crowds at Trafalgar Square, London, celebrating VE (Victory in Europe) Day in London, marking the end of the Second World War in Europe, 75 years ago.
Voices of VE Day: 75 years on
Princess Elizabeth joined the Auxiliary Territorial service. Pic: National Army Museum
Image: Princess Elizabeth joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service. Pic: National Army Museum

This is the second televised address that the Queen has recorded since lockdown measures were introduced due to COVID-19.

In this message she again appeared to evoke the wartime spirit to encourage people across the country to once again support each other at this difficult time, listen to the guidance, and do what is right.

Talking about the war, the Queen said: “At the start, the outlook seemed bleak, the end distant, the outcome uncertain.

“But we kept faith that the cause was right – and this belief, as my father noted in his broadcast, carried us through.

“Never give up, never despair – that was the message of VE Day.”

Coronavirus: The lockdown can’t last forever, but ‘caution’ will be the watchword | Politics News


We are in the seventh week of lockdown and the government is now beginning to draw a roadmap of how we might navigate our way through this crisis now we have passed the peak of the epidemic. 

On Monday, officials at the business department held talks with employers, trade unions and industry bodies as they try to pull together a plan to get the country back to work.

Sky News has seen all seven of the guidance documents drawn up by ministers – taking in workplaces from hotels and restaurant staff to factory, shop and office workers – that forms the basis of getting people back to work in the coming weeks.

Helen-Ann Smith explores how different sectors may be able to start working again, while still keeping social-distancing measures
How will the UK get back to work?

Employers will be expected to help staff and customers maintain the 2m (6.5ft) distance, and most employees will work from home. In factories and warehouses, equipment should be cleaned frequently and employers should consider staggering shifts.

Shops will have to limit the number of customers through their doors. Hotels will have to keep bars and restaurants closed.

An obvious omission in each document is instructions on the use of face masks and personal protective equipment. On that, it’s “guidance to follow”.

This is all too vague for the unions, who want far more detailed guidelines and have stressed to ministers and officials they cannot sign up to these plans unless they issue binding requirements around worker safety rather than just advice.

As one senior union figure told me: “We need to make sure workers feel safe and we want proper guidance on masks and personal protective equipment. We want clear instructions to employers.

“The government are looking at it from a political point of view of soundbites and moving to a new phase. We are looking at it from a safety and practical point of view.”

Isle of Wight
Isle of Wight residents to trial new app

The conversations are beginning behind closed doors, but in the coming days it will become a national conversation between the government and the public about how to lift the lockdown and, critically, convince people to return to work and send their children back to school.

“It’s going to take a bit of time,” one union figure told me.

“We’ve got to take people on a journey to get them back to work. They are anxious and they have watched as tens of thousands of people have died. So the concern is real.”

You can see how the government is preparing the ground to move the public on.

One key tool will be a new contact-tracing app – being trialled this week on the Isle of Wight – to make it easier to track the virus and prevent it spreading through the population by alerting users when they have come into contact with someone who has had coronavirus symptoms.

Johnson has said the UK is at the forefront of vaccine research,  pledging to donate £744m to the global coronavirus response.
‘It’s humanity against the virus’

Another will be the use of masks, with the prime minister last week saying that he believed face coverings “will be useful” in terms of slowing the spread and giving people “confidence” to return to the workplace.

Then there is the science and the laser focus on the reproduction rate of the disease.

Mr Johnson announced on his return to Downing Street last Monday that his priority was to keep the reproduction rate of the disease – the R0 – below one to stop the spread.

This metric will form the backbone of the government’s strategy in convincing the public that the risk of being outside their home is diminishing.

Lifting the lockdown will not be a linear path.

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The UK government wants to take a national approach to easing us back into a “new normal” of living with the disease as we await a vaccine or effective treatments, but ministers will have to bend our freedoms and restrictions to the shape of the disease.

Local areas could be put back into lockdown if spikes in the disease pop up. It is all designed to show the public the government has a handle on the epidemic.

The lockdown cannot last like this forever.

Our children need to return to school, our businesses need to start operating again. Britain needs to get back to work.

But the watchword will be caution. Our streets, our trains, our tubes are not going to be as they once were for some time yet.

Coronavirus: The true impact on UK’s BAME community may never be known | UK News


Figures released by NHS England today show the continuing trend of the BAME community being disproportionately affected by COVID-19.

Out of the 19,740 people who tested positive for the virus and died in English hospitals, 18% are from a black, Asian or minority ethnic background. This is 3% higher than the BAME population in England.

But this is only part of the picture. Health authorities in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland don’t record ethnicity, or as they told us, their systems aren’t robust enough to publish the data.

And in the UK, outside of hospitals, there is no mention of ethnicity on death certificates. So we may never know the true proportion of deaths from these communities.

A woman takes a photograph of graffiti in support of the NHS in southeast London as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Image: Some say the NHS has been too slow in dealing with the issue

In mid-April, the Department for Health and Social Care announced they would launch an inquiry into this issue to establish why so many people from BAME backgrounds are dying.

Early reports suggest a number of factors, including underlying health conditions, like type 2 diabetes or increased heart conditions.

The disproportionate number of deaths have also been clear in our health service.

Sky News analysis suggests that 62% of all those who’ve died in the NHS since the start of this outbreak are from a BAME background.

They include cleaners, hospital porters, nurses and intensive care doctors – all of whom are now known to be at a “potentially greater risk” by NHS England.

In reaction to a letter that was sent to all hospitals by NHS bosses, which recommended BAME staff should be risk assessed, one former CEO of a hospital said mitigating the risk is a big challenge.

Roy Lilley told Sky News: “Taking BAME colleagues out of front lines and COVID wards may just not be possible.

“We depend on them so much – certainly in huge hospitals like in London and Birmingham.”

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He added that the NHS “just doesn’t have the luxury of staff, its rotas currently are very thin, so moving staff around is not easy even when looking at the safety of its staff”.

Mr Lilley also said the NHS has been slow to react to this issue, which we’ve known about for a few weeks.

“The movement from the centre in particular has been slow and now this is a difficult problem to resolve,” he said.

“The logic of it is, the moment we found out that BAME colleagues were at risk we should have taken some action.

“These lessons have been learnt, but for some of our colleagues, may have come too late.”

Speaking to Sky News, one doctor who is treating COVID-19 patients in the North West said: “I’m not afraid of dying myself because that’s the only certainty about life.

“But what I am concerned about is I’ve got two young children. I don’t want them to be without a parent for something that’s potentially avoidable.”

“I could be removed from that COVID area, there are ways around this, so we can avoid further deaths from my colleagues.

“I’ve had some frank discussions with my colleagues who are from a BAME background and a lot of them are concerned, and they don’t feel they’re in a position to put their hand up and say ‘I’m worried about this’.”