Today’s digest starts across the Atlantic as America is in the midst of a massive maelstrom. Hurricane Sandy hit the east coast of the US and hundreds of thousands of people were advised to evacuate, transport networks were paralysed as flights were grounded and public transport was suspended and the US election has been put on hold as the country deals with the crisis. Sandy has now been downgraded to a storm but New York is hit by severe flooding with storm surges, power cuts and at least 16 people have died. President Obama has declared a "major disaster" in New York state with an estimated 50 million people could be affected, one million were ordered to evacuate homes and at least five million people across several states are without electricity. The full extent of the damage may not be known until daybreak.
And from the wasteland left by a storm to nuclear weapons and deputy prime minister Nick Clegg has taken defence secretary Philip Hammond to task after the defence secretary visited Faslane to announce £350 million worth of investment to underline his support for a fresh generation of British nuclear-armed submarines. Hammond appears to be ruling out any other option but full renewal of the current continuous-at-sea deterrent even though the coalition has committed to a Lib Dem led government study; Clegg must be the only one left in the country who thinks that he actually has any power.
And Cameron could be losing his grip on power as some Tory backbenchers are salivating over tomorrow’s House of Commons debate on the EU budget. Cameron is facing calls from Labour to veto any rise in the budget as the opposition creates more trouble for the Con-Dems. Labour’s lead over the Tories has jumped to 11 per cent in a poll in the Independent.
And there could be more trouble on the health side after a report from the public accounts committee which says that many NHS hospitals could go bust as a result of botched PFI deals done while Labour was in power. Sadly the Tory option is probably just to sell them off to the private sector, but if ever there was an argument that PFI saddles trusts with debt that sucks out investment in treatment and services the read the report.
And in transport an interim investigation into the West Coast Main Line found the process 'was flawed' according to the report by Sam Laidlaw which also found "significant errors" and "inadequate planning." Transport secretary Patrick McCloughin laid the blame at officials, but surely former transport secretary Justine Greening should come under closer investigation for the shambles which occurred under her watch? After all it will cost £40 million to reimburse the companies for the cost of their bids in the failed process.
There is also more concern in the automotive sector with the FT featuring the future of Fiat as the European car industry continues to struggle while Honda has also issued a profits alert. After the Ford announcement last week things look bleak for the industry.
On a more positive note there may be better news for delivery drivers as the Royal Mail has announced a £75 million investment in Parcelforce as it benefits from online orders and deliveries. Let’s hope terms and conditions are good and maintained unlike at ESL as the Tesco drivers get ready to take action tomorrow in Westminster as they raise the profile of how terms and conditions and pay are cut in Con-Dem Britain….
(no links all stories behind paywall)
- States of emergency (p1/6-7)
- Officials knew of bidding faults that led to West Coast franchise shambles (p5)
- Universal credit ‘risks IT meltdown’ (p10)
- Penguin deal corners 25 per cent of global book market (p37)
- Online shopping helps Royal Mail deliver new jobs (p37)
- Pooling regional papers could revive local media (p39)
- Honda hits brakes with profit alert (p43)
- Eurotunnel rues the waves as ferry deal sent to regulators (p44)
(no links all stories behind paywall)
nuclear power plan boosted by Hitachi bid (p1)
- Barclays damages trial is Libor test case (p1)
- Trident’s future divides coalition (p2)
- Labour’s EU budget stance puts Cameron on back foot (p2)
- Heseltine faces battle to bolster regions (p3)
- Business hopes for NHS dashed (p4)
- Heathrow expansion seen as ‘reckless gamble’ (p5)
- Another good idea botched by a sloppy government – Janan Ganesh (p11)
- Penguin in Random House deal (p15)
- Honda slashes forecast (p15)
- Olympics puts dip in Heathrow profits (p16)
- Linde seeks deeper cuts (p16)
- All eyes on Fiat as car industry crisis deepens (p17)
Edited by Mik Sabiers