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Chase Bank Limits Cash Withdrawals, Bans International... Before you read this report, remember to sign up to for 100% free stock alerts Chase Bank has moved to limit cash withdrawals while banning business customers from sending...

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Richemont chairman Johann Rupert to take 'grey gap... Billionaire 62-year-old to take 12 months off from Cartier and Montblanc luxury goods groupRichemont's chairman and founder Johann Rupert is to take a year off from September, leaving management of the...

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Cambodia: aftermath of fatal shoe factory collapse... Workers clear rubble following the collapse of a shoe factory in Kampong Speu, Cambodia, on Thursday

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Spate of recent shock departures by 50-something CEOs While the rising financial rewards of running a modern multinational have been well publicised, executive recruiters say the pressures of the job have also been ratcheted upOn approaching his 60th birthday...

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UK Uncut loses legal challenge over Goldman Sachs tax... While judge agreed the deal was 'not a glorious episode in the history of the Revenue', he ruled it was not unlawfulCampaign group UK Uncut Legal Action has lost its high court challenge over the legality...

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BP asks PM to help curb US leak cost

Category : World News

BP appeals to Prime Minister David Cameron to intervene over the escalating compensation costs of the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster.

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George Osborne’s tears draw Tory jeers – but will it help chancellor’s image?

Category : Business

Osborne was seen to be shedding a tear at Thatcher’s funeral, which prompted unkind remarks from some of his own party

In the space of a few minutes, the world was given a rare glimpse of a more complex side to George Osborne when the chancellor shed a tear during Lady Thatcher’s funeral.

Tory MPs, who regard Osborne as aloof and little too grand for their tastes, privately joked that the chancellor was showing his pain after it was announced yesterday that unemployment increased by 70,000 in the three months to the end of February.

But the chancellor suggested he cried for the simple reason that he found the service at St Paul’s Cathedral immensely touching. “A moving, almost overwhelming day,” the chancellor tweeted shortly after leaving the cathedral.

Osborne appeared emotional at Thatcher’s funeral after the Rt Rev Richard Chartres, the bishop of London, had said “our hearts go out” to Thatcher’s children, Mark and Carol, and the rest of their family.

He then blinked repeatedly, apparently fighting tears, as Chartres related a story about how a young boy wrote to Thatcher asking if she had ever done wrong. Osborne managed a brief smile before shedding a tear, prompting a mini-Twitter storm.

His tears contrasted with David Cameron, who smiled for a longer period during the bishop’s story and showed no other emotions at that stage. The prime minister has a better public image than the chancellor but lacks his humour and warmth in private.

The chancellor, whose father-in-law, Lord Howell of Guildford, was in Thatcher’s first cabinet, admitted last week in a Times article that he had little personal connection with the late prime minister. But he did recall taking his young son to meet Thatcher for tea. Howell, a Foreign Office minister for two years of Cameron’s government, also attended the funeral.

But Conservatives lined up to mock the chancellor. One said: “Perhaps George had just read what Oscar Wilde said of Little Nell.” Wilde reputedly said of Nell’s death in Dickens’ novel The Old Curiosity Shop: “One would have to have a heart of stone to read the death of little Nell without dissolving into tears … of laughter.”

Osborne has been under huge immense political pressure after admitting that he will fail to meet his two main fiscal targets – eliminating the fiscal deficit by the next election and ensuring that debt is falling as a share of GDP by 2016.

As the Tories’ main political strategist, Osborne knows he risks becoming a major liability for the party before the general election in 2015. He gave another display of unease this month in front of a group of workers at the main Morrisons distribution centre for the south of England in Sittingbourne, Kent.

But some argue that the tears may soften Osborne’s image. Andrew Lilico, former chief economist of the centre-right Policy Exchange thinktank, tweeted: “Shame on all of you that are mocking Osborne for crying at a funeral. Do you never cry yourselves?”

VIDEO: PM welcomes launch of electric car

Category : Business, World News

Prime Minister David Cameron has attended the production launch of Nissan’s new electric car at its plant in Sunderland.

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Press regulation: after Leveson, let’s put hysteria and mistrust behind us | Observer editorial

Category : Business

The differences between the Tories and the Labour and Lib Dem coalition are not so great that they couldn’t have been resolved

It is not the cruellest crisis facing newspapers. Think, rather, of readers disappearing into cyberspace. It is not David Cameron’s worst crisis either. Think of George Osborne’s sad script for Thursday’s budget. It is not even the most pressing problem of media regulation. Remember that the most recent phone-hacking allegations, as they surface, still date from the time when Tony Blair ruled in Downing Street, while internet trolls and scams remain unaddressed. But tomorrow, amid a rumble of Westminster guns, will see David Cameron’s royal charter pitched against the Clegg/Miliband royal charter. The prime minister

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David Cameron’s seabed escapade unlikely to find pots of gold | Terry Macalister

Category : Business

People have been talking about extracting the potential riches of the sea for 30 years and almost nothing has happened

It was nice of David Cameron to pop in and give the prime ministerial seal to the seabed mining escapade: he even made a decent joke about telling wife Sam he was skipping the school run for a newfound obsession with polymetallic nodules.

But the dual appearance – and utterings – of Cameron and science minister David Willetts gave the distinct impression this was a £40bn bonanza just waiting to happen when the reality is rather different.

As Stephen Ball, the key industry executive at the heart of the project to mine the Pacific for precious metals, put it when asked to clarify the exact scale of the venture in terms of jobs and money: “I don’t want to make aspirational promises.”

Indeed. This is an interesting area of endeavour but people have been talking about extracting these potential riches of the sea for the last 30 years and almost nothing has happened.The company that has most recently spearheaded a drive, London-stock-listed Nautilus Minerals, has run into such opposition from eco-campaigners off New Guinea that it has abandoned its plans there. Admittedly that was for mining environmentally-sensitive hydrothermal “vents”.

It is certainly a pity the government feels it has to use a US defence contractor, Lockheed Martin, albeit one that employs 2,500 staff in Britain and has collected evidence of metals in that area of the Pacific in the past. There are not many big UK engineering companies left – which is no joke, prime minister – but BAE Systems and Rolls Royce do have substantial maritime experience.

VIDEO: Apprenticeships ‘back aspirations’

Category : Business, World News

School leavers who decide against going to university should go on to an apprenticeship, David Cameron has said.

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Watchdog contradicts PM on growth

Category : World News

David Cameron is involved in a dispute with the Office for Budget Responsibility about the impact of austerity measures on economic growth.

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We will hold firm on economy – PM

Category : Business

Changing course on the economy would plunge the UK “back into the abyss”, David Cameron is expected to warn.

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Letters: Cameron puts up EU smokescreen

Category : Business

So Cameron’s going to give us a referendum on our membership of the EU “to let the people decide” (Cameron to pledge in-out vote on EU, 23 January). A pity this great democrat didn’t give the people the opportunity to decide whether they wanted this unelected coalition with its brutal attacks on the sick and disabled, the unemployed and the old, the NHS and public services, and all the other measures they have taken to make the poor pay to preserve the privileges of the wealthy who were responsible for the state we’re in. The truth is his stance on the EU is designed, first, as an attempt to plaster over the divisions within the Tory party and stave off Ukip; but second and more importantly, to turn people’s minds away from the disastrous consequences of his government’s punitive welfare cuts and its incompetence in dealing with the country’s economic difficulties.

Our democracy would be far better served by a general election this year to give the people the right to decide now on whether or not to legitimise the coalition and its policies, not by Cameron’s attempts to create a smokescreen to conceal the government’s failures.
Bill Banning

• What we now have, during the worst economic recession in postwar history, is a destabilising four years of uncertainty that will make overseas companies look twice at the UK as somewhere to invest, with particular impact on Scotland’s open, export-oriented economy. Over half of UK trade is with the EU and 3.5m British jobs are linked, directly or indirectly, to our trade with other member states.

Mr Cameron is seeking to repatriate powers on issues such as social and employment laws, policing and crime measures, but renegotiating on these issues and holding a referendum by his pledged deadline of 2017 is impossible, as he well knows. The chance of any meaningful renegotiation being agreed by the other 26 member states is even less likely. As a Brussels regular, it’s clear to me that the French and Germans and most other member states have no desire to reopen treaties which have been years in the making, to allow for British demands.

Mr Cameron is taking a dangerous gamble by holding a gun to the head of Brussels bureaucrats and to national governments to get what he wants under threat of the UK leaving. But for many in the EU the loss of Britain would not be a negative, but a benefit, the loss of an obstructive lodger who brings more trouble than she is worth.
Alex Orr

• David Cameron’s speech was full of ideas for improving the European Union. But towards the middle of it, there was a key sentence: “If there is no appetite for a new treaty for us all, then of course Britain should be ready to address the changes we need in a negotiation with our European partners.” At that point the want-to-stay-in Cameron puts himself in the hands of those Conservatives who want a set of unnegotiable British opt-outs. There is a world of difference between Britain joining in a constructive debate about the way the EU as a whole should develop and trying to persuade the other 26 member states that Britain alone should have a privileged position, and one which might give us a competitive advantage. That way lies failure and possible exit.
Michael Franklin
Barnet, Middlesex

• What a wonderful contrast. Here in the UK we have a prime minister being led by the nose by his unruly backbenchers and fear of Ukip to offer a referendum on leaving the EU, while the French president is addressing a joint session of the German Bundestag and the French National assembly in Berlin (Paris and Berlin feeling the 50-year itch, 23 January). Europe has its problems – no political system can ever be perfect – but co-operation as epitomised by the event in Berlin is surely the better way. Standing on the sidelines and griping, as Britain seems constantly to do – under both Tory and Labour governments – does nothing for our interests. There is no viable future for Britain outside of the EU. If only we would recognise that and embrace our fellow European countries as our friends and neighbours. The alternative is to be an irrelevant small island off of the coast of the continent.
Nick Oates

Cameron’s EU strategy falters as Merkel backtracks on treaty renegotiation

Category : Business

German chancellor’s move comes less than two weeks before prime minister’s landmark speech on European Union

David Cameron’s entire European strategy has been thrown into doubt less than two weeks before his landmark speech on the European Union as Germany backs away from initiating negotiations that would give Britain a chance to claw back some powers from the EU.

Amid growing German rhetoric against British Eurosceptics – including a warning that they are seeking to “blow up” the EU’s single market – diplomatic sources said Angela Merkel was abandoning plans to call for a major revision of EU treaties.

The chancellor’s move will come as a blow to the prime minister, who is expected to say in his long-awaited EU speech, due to be delivered in the Netherlands on 22 January, that he would use a major treaty revision to renegotiate the terms of British membership.

In common with every member state, Britain would have a veto in the negotiations which Cameron would use to create a new settlement. He would then put this to the British people in a referendum if he won the general election in 2015.

It is understood that Merkel, the only EU leader who has been calling for a revision of the Lisbon treaty to underpin new governance arrangements for the eurozone, has given up on the idea of a major treaty revision for the moment.

The German chancellor is said to have decided it is fruitless to push for a treaty revision in the face of strong opposition from France and elsewhere. Instead she has decided to try to stabilise the eurozone by setting up what are described as “work streams” in three areas. These cover banking union, the subject of the last EU summit where Cameron won guarantees for Britain; greater fiscal co-ordination among eurozone members; and labour market reform across the EU.

But Britain made it clear on Friday that it still expects an opportunity to renegotiate the terms of its membership when George Osborne warned that the UK might be forced to leave the EU if the existing settlement is left unchanged.

In an interview with the German newspaper Die Welt, which took place on Tuesday before a Merkel ally criticised the UK for seeking to “blackmail” its partners, Osborne said: “I very much hope that Britain remains a member of the EU. But in order that we can remain in the European Union, the EU must change.”

The Treasury confirmed that the translation of the interview was accurate, though a source played down the significance of the chancellor’s comments. “This is consistent with what we have said,” the source said. “We want to remain in the EU but the EU needs to change, and indeed is changing.”

But Germany is showing growing irritation with Britain. Georg Boomgaarden, the German ambassador to London, dismissed the Eurosceptics’ belief that Britain faces a choice between “pick-and-choose or out”.

The ambassador told the Guardian columnist Jonathan Freedland: “This is really a choice between out and out … If you pick and choose you blow up the single market.”

Boomgaarden’s intervention follows the warning by the chairman of the Bundestag’s European affairs committee, Gunther Krichbaum, that Britain should not seek to blackmail its EU partners.

Philip Gordon, the US assistant secretary for European affairs, spoke out against a referendum on Wednesday as he said that Washington wanted Britain to remain a “strong voice” in the EU.

The leader of the Conservative MEPs warned that strident Euroscepticism was in danger of giving the impression of Britain “snarling like a pitbull across the Channel”. Richard Ashworth told a seminar organised by the Business for New Europe group and the European parliament: “We’re raising the tempo so that expectations are becoming too great.” He warned that Britain was making itself “pretty unattractive and difficult to work with”.

Douglas Alexander, the shadow foreign secretary, said: “This week British business, then the Americans and then the Germans, joined a growing chorus of concern about the real risk of David Cameron pushing Britain towards exit from Europe. This is not a prime minister in control of the agenda, or even of his party. It is weakness and not principle that is now driving David Cameron’s thinking, yet sadly he seems intent on putting the unity of his party over the best interests of the country.

“Labour are clear that any decision on a referendum should be based on changes in Europe, not movements in the polls. We believe Britain’s interests are best served by focusing on reform in Europe, not exit from Europe.”

British officials are familiar with Merkel’s thinking on a treaty revision. They believe that after the European Central Bank’s success governor Mario Draghi in stabilising the euro, Merkel sees less urgency in formalising arrangements for a fiscal union.

But they believe the basic idea that eurozone governance arrangements will need greater democratic accountability underpinned in an EU treaty will eventually come to the fore again. “Europe is dealing with an existential crisis,” one British source said.

Vince Cable, the business secretary, showed Liberal Democrat unease about the prime minister’s plans which he described as a “massive disruption”. He said: “I have to say that this whole issue of raising again in a fundamental way British membership and the terms of membership is a massive disruption and deeply unhelpful in my job. I have to spend my time talking to business people, British and international, trying to have the confidence to invest here and create employment and the recent uncertainly is just deeply uncomfortable for the country. I think the warning shot across the bows yesterday from the United States was actually quite helpful as well as very timely.”