Bitesized Blighty: August 30, 2019

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  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised to "step up the tempo" on securing a deal with the EU before the Brexit deadline, with UK's negotiators set to meet their EU counterparts twice a week in the run-up to a crucial EU summit on 17 October. Speaking to the BBC, he said: "In the last couple of weeks, there has been a great deal of movement from the EU side. They do think the UK is serious, as indeed we are, about doing a deal. Mr Johnson also commented that the more MPs try to block a no-deal Brexit, "the more likely it is that we'll end up in that situation". This news follows a backlash against the prime minister's decision to suspend Parliament next month.
  • The fledgling shale gas sector has faced plenty of hurdles in its battle in the last decade to make fracking commercially viable in the UK. Just over a week after starting on a second well at its Preston New Road site near Blackpool, Cuadrilla, the private company spearheading the UK shale gas drive, was forced to suspend fracking. The cause was a series of earthquakes over the bank holiday weekend that increased in magnitude and culminated in the biggest at a magnitude of 2.9 early on Monday.
  • The death of Britain’s pubs has been greatly exaggerated, according to the Financial Times. For many, the £4.6bn deal by Hong Kong billionaire Victor Li to acquire the UK’s largest-listed pub and brewery group, Greene King, came as a shock. To others it was no surprise at all. Mr Li is betting that those which have survived the closures will thrive. Pubs, the deal suggests, might fulfil a similar role to water companies (which Mr. Li also owns a lot of) with a portfolio of real estate across the UK and predictable revenues from regular drinkers. 

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