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Chancellor Rishi Sunak has promised to do ‘whatever it takes’ to shore up the economy. (PA)


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The multibillion-pound rescue package for the British economy unveiled by Chancellor Rishi Sunak last month is not enough to stave off an unemployment crisis, a leading business group has warned.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said a host of new schemes unveiled at the Summer Economic Statement are suffering from low take-up.

And they cautioned that the looming end of the Government’s furlough scheme — which sees the state pay the wages of millions of employees — in October will increase the risk of job losses in the UK.

The group’s latest coronavirus business tracker finds that more than half of UK firms reported a cashflow decrease since June 2020 — with more than a third of respondents who have an improved cashflow situation citing cash from the furlough scheme. 

Almost a third of firms (29%) expect to cut the size of their workforce in the next three months, the BCC found.

While 43% of firms intend to use the new Furlough Bonus, which will see companies rewarded with £1,000 for retaining staff they would otherwise have made redundant, other schemes outlined in the Chancellor’s Summer Economic Update fare less well.

More than half (56%) of businesses said they did not intend to use the Government’s Kickstart scheme, a £2bn programme aimed at creating six-month work placements for those aged 16-24.

Thirty-one percent of the companies surveyed said they had not heard of the Kickstart programme, while 8% said they would like to take part in it but are not eligible.

Meanwhile almost two-thirds (62%) of firms said they did not intend to use new government grants for employers who take on trainees, while 65% said they did not intend to access grants for those who hire apprentices.

The business group is calling on the government to “reduce the overall cost burden on firms to protect business and preserve as many jobs as possible in the coming months”.

They want the Treasury to commit to an 1-month expansion of the Employment Allowance, which reduces National Insurance liabilities, from £4,000 to £20,000, and an increase in the threshold at which firms have to start making NI contributions from £8,788 to £12,500.

The BCC claims that such a move could save firms “around £500 per job”.

Launching the latest survey, the BCC’s co-executive director Claire Walker said: “Business communities continue to face significant operational challenges, with a prolonged period of reduced sales and cashflow meaning many firms are showing signs of distress.

“Expected usage of schemes announced in the Summer Statement is relatively low, indicating they do not provide the right kind of support for many businesses at this critical time and a rethink is needed.”

She added: “With confidence and demand not returning at the scale firms need, the government must take radical steps to slash the tax burden around employment to help companies pay valued staff. 

“A major boost to the Employment Allowance, and an increase in the threshold for employers’ National Insurance contributions are needed now if he wants to help viable companies save jobs as the furlough scheme comes to an end.”

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‘This is an illegitimate nomination’: Some Democrats snub Trump’s pick

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Trump is currently debating whether to choose Circuit Court judges Amy Coney Barrett and Barbara Lagoa or one of several other conservative women. But regardless of who he picks, securing meetings with Democrats is likely to do nothing to prevent her from facing a complete and utter rejection from the 47-member caucus. Even Lagoa, who 27 Democrats supported for her current position, faces no prospect of bipartisan support in such a scenario.

Manchin said he would not vote for any nominee before the election, but cracked the door open for a Trump nominee that waited until after Nov. 3 to receive a floor vote.

“I’m against the process. I want to meet with the people, it might be a person who hopefully would come to their senses and not have the vote until after the election, might be a good qualified candidate I’m inclined to support,” Manchin said.

There’s also some question of whether a nominee will want to meet with Democrats, who are already staking out unified opposition.

“I don’t think my vote’s going to count, so I doubt they’ll even want to,” said Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.), the most endangered Senate incumbent. “But we’ll see.”

Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) met with Gorsuch in 2017, but during his re-election campaign he said the White House snubbed his efforts to meet with Kavanaugh. Still, he said he’s “open” to meeting with a nominee this time around.

And other Democrats, particularly those on the Judiciary Committee, suggested that they would keep in line with Senate tradition and still meet with whoever Trump nominates.

“I’ve met with nominees in the past. I intend to do my job,” said Blumenthal, a liberal stalwart. “If the nominee is open to meeting with me, part of my responsibility is to have a conversation with the nominee.”

Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) both said they’ve always met with nominees in the past when asked if they’d meet with Trump’s nominee this fall.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) declined to comment, when asked whether he’d meet with the nominee, only saying that Trump has not even announced his choice. Progressive senators like Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York said it was too early to make a decision.

Democrats have few procedural tools at their disposal to stop the nomination from going through. But that’s not preventing them from using tactics like the so-called “2-hour rule” to cancel committee hearings that last more than two hours in an effort to protest Republican efforts to fill the seat. They’re also likely to delay the nomination in committee, using procedural tools to hold over the nomination for a week.

Brian Fallon, who leads the progressive legal group Demand Justice, called on Wednesday for Democrats to boycott the hearing. But there would also be a real downside to doing so: Democrats would lose out on the ability to question the nominee and shape the public’s impression of the fight.

It could be a particularly key moment for Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), the Democratic vice presidential nominee, whose tough questioning has previously led to viral moments.

“I have every plan to do what I’m expected to do,” said Durbin, when asked whether he’d attend the hearing. “I’m a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.”

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Police Will Patrol The Kent Border And Fine Lorry Drivers Without The Right Paperwork After Brexit

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Police may be asked to patrol a new internal ‘Kent border’ to check whether lorries heading across the Channel and into the EU have the right paperwork from January.

Michael Gove’s plan, designed to ease expected traffic jams in the county when the Brexit transition period ends, raises serious questions on how the neighbouring counties of Essex, East Sussex, Surrey and the Greater London region will be affected.

Cabinet minister Gove, who is in charge of no deal planning, confirmed in the Commons that lorry drivers would need a Kent Access Permit and could be policed at the county border.

“We want to make sure people use a relatively simple process to get a Kent Access Permit which means that they can proceed smoothly through Kent because they do have the material required.

“If they don’t have the material required, then it will be the case that through policing, ANPR cameras and other means we will do our very best to make sure his constituents are not inconvenienced,” he said.

The proposal came in Gove’s statement on a worst-case scenario for Britain when the transition period ends. He said the plan was to avoid high level congestion. The details were laid out in a consultation paper released on August 3.

PoliticsHome contacted the Cabinet Office but is still awaiting further details on how this would be policed and the potential impact for surrounding counties and their police forces.

The backlash against Gove’s statement was immediate, with the Road Haulage Association, RHA, saying they were extremely sceptical that the government was prepared and that haulage operators would be left “carrying the can”.

The government’s worst-case scenario plan estimates that between 30 to 50 percent of trucks crossing the Channel won’t be ready for the new regulations coming into force on 1 January 2021.

RHA chief executive, Richard Burnett said: “We already know this. It’s what we’ve been saying for many months. We know that traders and haulage operators will face new customs controls and processes and we know that if they haven’t completed the right paperwork their goods will be stopped when entering the EU.

“Mr Gove stresses that it’s essential that traders act now to get ready for new the formalities. We know for a fact that they are only too keen to be ready but how on earth can they prepare when there is still no clarity as to what they need to do?

“Government’s promises that the UK will be ready for business on 1 January are just a whitewash, and right now it appears that traders and haulage operators are being left to carry the can.”

The Kent Access Permit was included in a consultation on the legislative changes that would be needed to enforce Operation Brock, the traffic management system for Kent in the case of no-deal.

It explains that hauliers using designated roads in Kent leading to the Port of Dover and Eurotunnel must be in possession of a digital permit.

Each permit would be valid for 24 hours to cover a single trip. The government said police and Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency enforcement officers could issue penalties and fines to hauliers found heading for Dover or Eurotunnel without one.

Lorry drivers heading to Kent but not travelling internationally, would not be required to use the system.

Fines could be handed out on the spot with UK drivers having up to 28 days to pay. If a driver refused to pay, their HCV could be impounded.

Food and Drink Federation Chief Executive Ian Wright CBE said a delay of up to two days at the ports could mean shortages of fruit, vegetables and products of animal origin.

He ingredients and some food products would not arrive fit for human consumption.

He said: “The absence of clarity in certain areas including product labelling means it is too late for a lot of businesses to be fully ready for 1 January 2021. We are urging the UK Government to provide targeted periods of adjustment, and even amnesty, to minimise the impacts on manufacturers and UK shoppers.”

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Breonna Taylor: Two officers shot during Louisville protests

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Two officers have been shot amid huge protests in the US city of Louisville after a grand jury decided no officers would face charges for killing unarmed black woman Breonna Taylor.

Ms Taylor, 26, a hospital worker, was shot multiple times as three officers stormed her home on 13 March.

One, Brett Hankison, has been charged, not with Ms Taylor’s death, but with “wanton endangerment” for firing into a neighbour’s apartment in Louisville.

Two other officers face no charges.

Cases of killings of unarmed black people by police have fuelled anger across the US and beyond, triggered especially by the death of George Floyd in policy custody in Minneapolis in May.

Louisville Police Chief Robert Schroeder said the police officers shot on Wednesday did not have life-threatening injuries.

He added that a suspect was in custody.

A state of emergency has been declared in Louisville and the National Guard have also been deployed.

Mayor Greg Fischer has set a 21:00-06:30 (01:00-10:30 GMT) curfew in the city for three days. He earlier said he had declared a state of emergency “due to the potential for civil unrest”.

Despite the curfew, crowds were still gathered after 21:00. Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear urged the protesters to go home.

“We know that the answer to violence is never violence and we are thinking about those two officers and their families tonight. So I’m asking everybody: please, go home. Go home tonight,” he said.

Protests over the grand jury’s decision were also held in New York, Washington, Atlanta, and Chicago.

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Image caption

Taylor, an emergency medical technician, was 26 when she died

What did the prosecutor say?

Under Kentucky law, someone is guilty of wanton endangerment if they commit an act that shows “an extreme indifference to the value of human life”.

This lowest-level felony offence can come with a five-year sentence for each count. Brett Hankison was charged on three counts.

Ms Taylor’s relatives and activists for whom her death has become a rallying cry had been calling for the three officers, who are all white, to be charged with murder or manslaughter.

But this was rejected by a grand jury that reviewed the evidence.

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Media captionKentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron presented the grand jury decision

On Wednesday, Judge Annie O’Connell announced the charges that had been brought against Mr Hankison.

Kentucky Attorney General Mr Cameron then held a news conference in which he expanded on the decision. “This is a gut-wrenching emotional case,” he said.

“There is nothing I can offer them today to take away the grief and heartache as a result of losing a child, a niece, a sister and a friend,” he added in a message to Ms Taylor’s family.

Mr Cameron said a ballistics report had found that six bullets struck Ms Taylor, but only one was fatal.

That analysis concluded that Detective Myles Cosgrove had fired the shot that killed Ms Taylor.

The attorney general said it was not clear if Mr Hankison’s shots had hit Ms Taylor, but they had hit a neighbouring apartment.

1600929429 455 Breonna Taylor Two officers shot during Louisville protests

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Media captionProtesters march in Louisville following the grand jury decision

The top prosecutor said the other two officers – Jonathan Mattingly and Mr Cosgrove – had been “justified to protect themselves and the justification bars us from pursuing criminal charges”.

Mr Cameron, a Republican who is the state’s first black attorney general, added: “If we simply act on emotion or outrage, there is no justice.

“Mob justice is not justice. Justice sought by violence is not justice. It just becomes revenge.”

He added that the FBI was still investigating potential violations of federal law in the case.

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Reuters

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The National Guard were deployed in Louisville ahead of the announcement

What’s the reaction?

Ben Crump, a high-profile lawyer for the Taylor family, said the outcome was “outrageous and offensive”.

Officials this month agreed to pay her family $12m (£9.3m) in a settlement.

Asked for his reaction to the decision, Mr Trump told a White House news conference: “I thought it was really brilliant.”

He praised Kentucky’s attorney general, who addressed the Republican party convention last month, for “doing a fantastic job”.

“I think he’s a star,” he said, adding that he approved of the Kentucky governor’s decision to send in the National Guard.

Governor Andy Beshear, a Democrat, urged Kentucky prosecutors to release the evidence that was presented to the grand jury.

“I think having more of the facts out there so people can see, people can truly process it, is where we need to be,” Mr Beshear told reporters.

What happened to Ms Taylor?

Shortly after midnight on Friday 13 March, she was in bed with her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, when they heard a banging on the door.

Plainclothes Louisville police officers were carrying out a narcotics raid, and they used a battering ram to enter the property.

A judge had granted a warrant to search Ms Taylor’s home because investigators suspected a convicted drug dealer – her ex-boyfriend, Jamarcus Glover – was using the address to receive packages. She had no criminal record.

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Reuters

Mr Walker fired a shot from his licensed gun, later telling police he thought that Glover had broken in, according to the New York Times.

Officials say Mr Walker’s bullet struck a police officer, Jonathan Mattingly, in the leg – an injury for which he later required surgery.

The three officers returned fire, discharging 32 rounds, according to a ballistics report from the FBI.

Ms Taylor, who had also got out of bed amid the commotion, was shot and died on the hallway floor.

According to an arrest report, the officers had been granted a “no-knock” warrant, allowing them to enter the property without warning.

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Reuters

But Mr Cameron said on Wednesday the officers had not actually served such a warrant. The attorney general said the officers’ statements that they identified themselves “are corroborated by an independent witness”.

Some neighbours told local media they did not hear the officers announce themselves.

No drugs were found at the property, though Jefferson County prosecutor Thomas Wine has previously said the search was cancelled after the shooting.

The subsequent police report contained errors, including listing Ms Taylor’s injuries as “none” and saying no force was used to enter, when a battering ram had been used.

Mr Walker was initially charged with attempted murder and assault of a police officer, but the case against him was dropped in May amid national scrutiny of the case.

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LMPD

Image caption

From left: Brett Hankison, Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove

What about the officers?

Mr Hankison was fired from the Louisville Metro Police Department in June after investigators found he had “wantonly and blindly fired 10 rounds” during the raid, according to his termination letter.

Mr Mattingly and Mr Cosgrove were reassigned to administrative duties.

The Louisville Courier-Journal has reported that six officers are under internal police review for their role in the shooting.

Mr Mattingly wrote an email on Saturday to more than 1,000 colleagues in which he criticised city leaders and protesters.

“Regardless of the outcome today or Wednesday, I know we did the legal, moral and ethical thing that night,” he wrote in the message, which was published by media outlets on Tuesday.

“It’s sad how the good guys are demonised, and the criminals are canonised.”

“Your civil rights mean nothing,” he added, “but the criminal has total autonomy.”

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