UK News

Insights from the UK and beyond

from Breakingviews:

The real UK plan B: protecting against euro chaos

By Hugo Dixon and George Hay
The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

Pundits say Britain needs a plan B to boost growth. What it really needs is a contingency scheme to handle a euro explosion. The central planks should be for the government to keep adequate fiscal firepower in reserve to handle a crisis and to shore up the country’s banks.

The two points are linked. If the government used all its fiscal headroom now in an attempt to prevent a double-dip recession, it might find it had no capacity to react if things go from bad to worse across the English Channel. Debt is already forecast to peak at 78 percent of GDP in 2014/2015, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility. But that assumes the euro zone finds a solution to its problems. If not, the UK will be dragged into a deep recession and its debt will balloon: the tax take would fall, social expenditure would rise and money would be pumped into the banks.

If the single currency breaks up, there will probably be banking panics across the euro zone. Britain’s lenders would also be vulnerable. That’s partly because they hold 15 billion pounds of the sovereign debt of Greece, Portugal, Italy, Spain and Ireland. But the main problem would be their 144 billion pound exposure to those countries’ private sectors. A euro collapse would turn many good loans bad. Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays and Lloyds Banking Group would be the three banks most in the firing line.

from Breakingviews:

New London air hub plan needs public money to fly

By Robert Cole
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Heathrow is a jam-packed embarrassment for those who promote London as a global financial centre. A brand new four-runway hub in the Thames estuary east of the UK capital might relieve the squeeze. The idea is favoured by Boris Johnson, the mayor of London. Central government enthusiasm would be greater if all the funding could be raised from the private sector – although the UK government now says it will explore plans to maintain the UK’s aviation hub status.

from John Lloyd:

A deserving press

By John Lloyd
The opinions expressed are his own.

An inquiry under way in the Royal Courts of Justice London, just a few hundred yards from Fleet Street, once the heart of the British newspaper industry, is becoming -- in the low key way in which the British like to think they always do things (but often don't) -- a global event. It is the consequence of a crisis, as inquiries frequently are. But it will have consequences of its own: one of these may be to redefine journalism for the 21st century.

In July, the forward march of Rupert Murdoch and his son James through the British media and political establishment was halted -- cruelly, abruptly, with every sign of the chaos and clamor which his tabloids usually love, indeed often create. The efforts by his British newspaper subsidiary, News International, to lock in the narrative that phone hacking at the Sunday tabloid News of the World was the preserve of one "rogue" reporter in 2006 -- Clive Goodman, the Royal Correspondent, who had paid for his sins with a short sharp prison sentence -- fell apart. Like Marley's ghost from Dickens' "A Christmas Carol", the awful truth came through the door, dragging a clanking chain made up of mobile phones, mementos of the hackings into the private lives of this celebrity and that politician and, most horrible, of ordinary people, caught in some media storm, for a few days the biggest story in town, and thus regarded as fair game.

from FaithWorld:

Head of Irish Catholic Church agrees deal with sex abuse victim

(Cardinal Sean Brady speaks during a news conference at the Vatican following a two-day meeting with Pope Benedict XVI February 16, 2010. REUTERS/Max Rossi)

The head of the Catholic Church in Ireland has agreed to a legal settlement over his role in administering an oath of secrecy to a teenage victim of clerical sexual abuse in 1975, the victim's lawyer said on Wednesday.

from Left field:

Watch out for Federer in 2012

By Greg Rusedski

There was a lot going on in the press at The ATP World Tour Finals before the event started. The press asked Roger Federer who was the favorite for the event. The press had implied that Andy Murray was the favorite because of the three tournaments he had won in Asia. Federer answered this question by saying that neither he nor Novak Djokovic had played in Asia so how could he be the favorite? Federer came into this event having won the last two tournaments of the year, this event on five different occasions and also as the defending champion. This set up the tournament in a great way because the only way to settle this discussion would be on the court.

The two groups were Group A; Djokovic, Murray, David Ferrer and Tomas Berdych and Group B; Federer, Rafael Nadal, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Mardy Fish. Group B was the more interesting and stronger group.

from Felix Salmon:

Europe’s insoluble problems

Mohamed El-Erian is calling for massive recapitalization of the banking system:

The global financial system is being refined "day in and day out," El-Erian said, and as a result the balance between public and private is shifting and regulation is altering. "This is not being done according to some master plan," but in reaction to a series of crisis management interventions.

None of these piecemeal policy moves restored confidence in the markets, he said. What is needed is a coordinated and simultaneous set of policy actions globally in four areas: restoration of credit markets, elimination of deteriorating assets from balance sheets, injecting capital quickly into the banking system, and regulatory forbearance.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Why Chelsea should keep Andre Villas-Boas

Three Premier League defeats in four games and Champions League last 16 qualification compromised. The last few weeks have been very tough for Chelsea coach Andre Villas-Boas.

Previous managers Jose Mourinho, Luiz Felipe Scolari, Avram Grant and Carlo Ancelotti were dismissed seemingly for less by ruthless owner Roman Abramovich.

from Breakingviews:

Technical measures won’t curb pay extravaganza

By Edward Hadas
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

One of the more puzzling British and American trends in the last three decades is the vast increase in the share of national income allocated to the very rich. The High Pay Commission, a non-governmental UK body which published a report on Tuesday, points out that share of British national income garnered by the top 0.1 percent of earners has moved from 1.3 to 6.5 percent since 1979. The Commission has a 12-point plan to change things.

from James Saft:

Britain eats (leverages) its young

James Saft is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Four years, several failed banks and at least one global recession later, Britain has finally discovered what its young people need: 19-1 leverage.

Britain has announced a new housing initiative, the centerpiece of which is a plan to entice first-time buyers into buying newly-built properties with as little as 5 percent down.

from Photographers' Blog:

NFL touchdown in London

By Suzanne Plunkett

British sports fans are a serious bunch. When it comes to football (they never call it soccer), many would rather lose their home than miss their team score a winning goal. Club allegiance is often demonstrated with tribal passion - influencing tattoos, clothing and even choice of marital partners.

When American football makes a rare appearance in London, it's somewhat of a surprise to see the seriousness of the sport replaced with a more frivolous obsession: cheerleaders.

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