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Ministers are reportedly exploring how to block China’s state-owned nuclear energy company from future power projects in the UK.

The change in Britain’s stance towards China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN) could affect the £20bn Sizewell C nuclear energy project in Suffolk, the Financial Times reported.

France’s EDF is scheduled to build the Sizewell site with backing from CGN.

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Raab: No return to normal relations with China

The change could also affect proposals for a new plant at Bradwell-on-Sea in Essex, according to the FT.

It could represent a further hardening in Britain’s stance towards China, after it announced plans to ban equipment made by Huawei from its 5G telecoms network by the end of 2027.

A spokesperson for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) declined to comment directly on the report.

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‘Role of new nuclear is uncertain’

“Nuclear power has an important role to play in the UK’s low-carbon energy future, as we work towards our world-leading target to eliminate our contribution to climate change by 2050,” the spokesperson said.

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“All nuclear projects in the UK are conducted under robust and independent regulation to meet the UK’s rigorous legal, regulatory and national security requirements, ensuring our interests are protected,” the spokesperson added.

A spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry said Britain “should earnestly provide an open, fair and non discriminatory business environment for Chinese companies”, adding that the countries were important trade and investment partners.

“It is in the interests of both sides to conduct practical cooperation in the spirit of mutual benefit and a win-win result,” the spokesperson said.

Reuters news agency reported that EDF declined to comment, while CGN had not responded to a request for comment.

Meanwhile, the UK’s former cyber security chief has raised the alarm over the sale of a Welsh microchip manufacturer to a Chinese-backed company.

Ciaran Martin, the former chief executive of the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), told the Telegraph newspaper that the purchase of Newport Wafer Fab by Nexperia, a Dutch subsidiary of the Chinese company Wingtech, posed a greater threat to British interests than Huawei’s involvement in the 5G network.

Boris Johnson has asked national security adviser Sir Stephen Lovegrove to examine the deal.

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Grocery delivery app Getir prepares to exit UK market

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Grocery delivery app Getir prepares to exit UK market

Getir, the grocery delivery app once valued at nearly $12bn (£9.7bn), is close to pulling the plug on its operations in Britain in a move that would spark concerns for well over 1,000 jobs.

Sky News has learnt that Getir is preparing to announce next week that it is withdrawing from the three remaining European markets in which it operates: the UK, Germany and the Netherlands.

In total, thousands of jobs will be put at risk, including approximately 1,500 in the UK, according to people close to the situation.

The process through which Getir, which has a multimillion-pound commercial partnership with the Premier League’s Tottenham Hotspur, plans to exit the UK was unclear on Friday.

Insiders said, that it could involve a sale of its assets or an insolvency procedure although they added that no decisions had been taken.

Getir has previously denied that any form of insolvency was on the cards for the group or its subsidiaries.

The company is understood to have drafted in restructuring advisers in recent days, while Mubadala, the Abu Dhabi fund that is one of its biggest shareholders, is being advised by AlixPartners.

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Dejan Kulusevski of Tottenham Hotspur during trainin.
Pic: Alex Morton/Tottenham Hotspur FC/Shutterstock
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Getir sponsor Tottenham Hotspur’s training kit. Pic: Alex Morton/Tottenham Hotspur FC/Shutterstock

Getir’s plans to exit the UK and other markets will leave it with operations in the US and Turkey only.

Ultimately, it is expected to seek to operate solely in Turkey, where it was founded.

Meaning ‘to bring’ in Turkish, Getir expanded at breakneck speed to become of the world’s most valuable fast-delivery platforms.

Earlier this week, Sky News reported that the company was weighing a string of asset sales, including FreshDirect, a US-based online grocer it only acquired late last year, as part of efforts to repair its balance sheet.

Getir was valued at nearly $12bn (£9.7bn) just two years ago, and has sought to acquire a number of rivals which have run into financial trouble.

The company has already pulled out of a number of countries, including Italy and Spain, in an attempt to reduce losses.

Its retreat highlights the slumping valuations of technology companies once-hailed as the new titans of major economies.

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Post Office lawyer ‘takes no pride’ working for company

As well as Mubadala, Getir is backed by prominent tech investors including Sequoia Capital and Tiger Global.

The company was one of the hottest start-ups of the pandemic, when financiers rushed to plough billions of dollars into businesses they believed would benefit from structural shifts in the economy.

It raised more than $750m in a funding round in early 2022, but has seen its valuation slump since then.

Last September, Getir also announced a sharp cut in the size of its workforce, axeing roughly 2,500 jobs, or about 10% of its global employee base.

Founded in 2015, Getir was one of a crop of companies promising city-based consumers rapid delivery of groceries and other essential products.

During the COVID crisis, the industry saw sales explode, with emerging trends such as working from home fuelling investor confidence that the boom was sustainable.

Many of its rivals have already gone bust, while others have been swallowed up as part of a desperate wave of consolidation.

Getir itself bought Gorillas in a $1.2bn stock-based deal that closed in December 2022.

“Getir principally doesn’t comment on rumours,” a spokeswoman said on Friday.

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Post Office lawyer ‘takes no pride’ working for the company

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Post Office lawyer 'takes no pride' working for the company

A lawyer for the Post Office at the height of the Horizon IT scandal has told the public inquiry he feels “no pride” to be employed by the company.

Rodric Williams, a civil law specialist who joined the organisation in 2012, told the hearing he was “truly sorry” for being associated with the “greatest miscarriage of justice we’ve seen”.

A first day of evidence for the New Zealand national, now among three legal leads at the Post Office, saw Mr Williams admit a “bunker mentality” among staff in relation to the media’s coverage of the faulty Horizon IT system.

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In his second day, Mr Williams was pressed on what he knew about the Post Office’s ex-head of security John Scott allegedly shredding minutes from a meeting concerning Horizon bugs.

The inquiry heard the Post Office feared sub-postmasters who had been convicted of offences jumping on a “bandwagon” and challenging their convictions if damaging documents surfaced as part of the mediation process.

The word came as part of a 2013 meeting between the Post Office’s in-house and external lawyers, which read: “It was widely agreed that there was likely to be a ‘bandwagon’ approach in relation to defendants challenging their previous convictions.”

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Mr Williams was also accused of knowing “perfectly well” that the Post Office had “relied on a liar and a perjurer to convict innocent people” following expert evidence provided by leading Horizon engineer Gareth Jenkins in the trial of sub-postmistress Seema Misra.

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Seema Misra: It still gives me nightmares

She was suspended from her branch in 2008 and handed a 15-month prison sentence, while eight weeks pregnant, in November 2010 after being accused of stealing £74,000.

The inquiry heard how the Post Office received advice from external barrister Simon Clarke in 2013 suggesting an expert witness, Mr Jenkins, and the Post Office had “breached their duties” to the court, and subsequent advice suggested meeting minutes talking about Horizon bugs had been shredded.

Questioned on his views on the wrongful conviction of Mrs Misra, Mr Williams told the inquiry: “I take no pride, comfort or confidence in having worked for an employer that has engaged in conducting the greatest miscarriage of justice that we’ve seen, or however it has been described.

“I don’t know where to go with this – it’s awful that people with convictions had them, and had them for the length of time that they did.

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Review into Post Office system

“And for my part in that, I’m truly sorry that I’ve been associated with this. I’m truly sorry for that.”

Chairman Sir Wyn Williams interjected: “I think the point, Mr Williams, is at a moment in time, namely 2014, when on any sensible reading of Mr Clarke’s advice from July 2013, there was a problem about Mr Jenkins’s evidence, the Post Office and you personally appeared to still be asserting to the world that the conviction was safe, amongst other things, because expert evidence had been called and the jury, by inference, must have accepted it.

“Those two things don’t sit very easily together, do they?”

Rodric Williams gives evidence to the inquiry. Pic: POHI
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Rodric Williams also gave evidence on Thursday. Pic: POHI

Mr Williams replied: “No, they don’t, sir. No, they don’t.”

Addressing the destruction of meeting minutes in advice given to the organisation, Mr Clarke had written: “An instruction was then given that those emails and minutes should be, and have been, destroyed: the word ‘shredded’ was conveyed to me.”

Counsel to the inquiry Jason Beer KC asked: “Presumably you were quite shocked to read it?”

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Ex-Post Office boss under fire

The Post Office lawyer replied: “Yes.”

Mr Beer later asked: “What steps did you take to ensure that it was investigated in any way whatsoever?”

After the witness said he did not recall, the counsel to the inquiry continued: “Is the answer none?”

Mr Williams replied: “I can’t remember what happened at that time 11 years ago – so what I felt needed to be done or should be done I can’t recall now.”

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Following an interjection by chairman Sir Wyn Williams urging him to answer the question, Mr Beer continued: “Should the serious or very serious matters raised in Mr Clarke’s advice have been investigated by the Post Office?”

The witness said: “Yes.”

Asked if consideration was given to reporting the matter to the police, Mr Williams said: “I don’t believe so, no.”

Mr Beer continued: “Would you have been concerned if you found out that it was said to be the head of security that had given an instruction to shred documents?”

Mr Williams replied: “Yes.”

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Rishi Sunak pledges to remove benefits for people not taking jobs after 12 months

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Rishi Sunak pledges to remove benefits for people not taking jobs after 12 months

People who are fit to work but do not accept job offers will have their benefits taken away after 12 months, the prime minister has pledged.

Outlining his plans to reform the welfare system if the Conservatives win the next general election, Rishi Sunak said “unemployment support should be a safety net, never a choice” as he promised to “make sure that hard work is always rewarded”.

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Mr Sunak said his government would be “more ambitious about helping people back to work and more honest about the risk of over-medicalising the everyday challenges and worries of life” by introducing a raft of measures in the next parliament. They include:

• Removing benefits after 12 months for those deemed fit for work but who do not comply with conditions set by their work coach – such as accepting a job offer

• Tightening the work capability assessment so those with less severe conditions will be expected to seek employment

• A review of the fit note system to focus on what someone can do, to be carried out by independent assessors rather than GPs

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• Changes to the rules so someone working less than half of a full-time week will have to look for more work

• A consultation on PIP to look at eligibility changes and targeted support – such as offering talking therapies instead of cash payments

• The introduction of a new fraud bill to treat benefit fraud like tax fraud, with new powers to make seizures and arrests.

He insisted the changes were not about making the benefits system “less generous”, adding: “I’m not prepared to balance the books on the backs of the most vulnerable.

“Instead, the critical questions are about eligibility, about who should be entitled to support and what kind of supports best matches their needs.”

But Labour said it was the Tories’ handling of the NHS that had left people “locked out” of work, and a disabled charity called the measures “dangerous”.

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The latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows 9.4 million people aged between 16 and 64 were “economically inactive”, with over 2.8 million citing long-term sickness as the reason.

Mr Sunak said 850,000 of them had been signed off since the COVID pandemic and half of those on long-term sickness said they had depression, with the biggest growth area being young people.

He also claimed the total being spent on benefits for people of working age with a disability or health condition had increased by almost two-thirds since the pandemic to £69bn – more than the entire budget for schools or policing.

“I will never dismiss or downplay the illnesses people have,” said the prime minister. “Anyone who has suffered mental ill health or had family and friends who have know these conditions are real and they matter.

“But just as it would be wrong to dismiss this growing trend, so it would be wrong to merely sit back and accept it because it’s too hard, too controversial, or for fear of causing offence.”

Rishi Sunak during his speech welfare reform.
Pic: PA
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Rishi Sunak during his speech on welfare reform. Pic: PA

The prime minister said he knew critics would accuse him of “lacking compassion”, but he insisted “the exact opposite is true”, adding: “There is nothing compassionate about leaving a generation of young people to sit in the dark before a flickering screen, watching as their dreams slip further from reach every passing day.

“And there is nothing fair about expecting taxpayers to support those who could work but choose not to.

“It doesn’t have to be like this. We can change. We must change.”

But Labour said the “root cause of economic activity” was down to the Tories’ failure on the health service, with record NHS waiting lists hitting people’s ability to get back in the workplace.

Acting shadow work and pensions secretary Alison McGovern said: “After 14 years of Tory misery, Rishi Sunak has set out his failed government’s appalling record for Britain: a record number of people locked out of work due to long-term sickness and an unsustainable spiralling benefits bill.

“Rather than a proper plan to get Britain working, all we heard today were sweeping questions and reheated proposals without any concrete answers.”

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey called it “a desperate speech from a prime minister mired in sleaze and scandal”, adding: “Rishi Sunak is attempting to blame the British people for his own government’s failures on the economy and the NHS and it simply won’t wash.”

Meanwhile, disability charity Scope said the measures were a “full-on assault on disabled people”, adding they were “dangerous and risk leaving disabled people destitute”.

James Taylor, director of strategy at the charity, said calls were already “pouring in” to their helpline with people concerned about the impact on them, adding: “Sanctions and ending claims will only heap more misery on people at the sharp end of our cost of living crisis.”

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