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Bitesized Blighty: February 1, 2019

Toyosi Adebayo

  • The Art Of The Deal: As anyone who has been reading the news over the last three years knows, the only thing certain about Brexit is its uncertainty. Tuesday’s vote in the Commons did little to bring clarity to the conditions under which the UK is set to exit the European Union. This was because MPs predictably voted down amendments to the Prime Minister’s Brexit plan a.k.a Brexit Plan B. A rejection which included a 317 to 201 vote, ordering Theresa May to reopen negotiations with the EU, with the Irish border remaining a major bone of contention for Brexiteers. In the face of this development, the EU was emphatic following Tuesday’s votes that it is not prepared to renegotiate the Brexit deal; specifically as May signed the initial Brexit Plan last November, thereby formally closing the Withdrawal Agreement negotiations. As the drama over Brexit continues, one likely factor that is becoming clearer is the extension of Article 50 beyond March 29. However, this action requires approval from all the other 27 EU member states.
  • Equal Pay For Equal Work: On Thursday, Asda, the third largest British supermarket retailer and a subsidiary of retail giant Walmart, lost its Court of Appeal case over equal pay dispute of its staff. In what is been deemed a major step forward in fair pay dispute, Asda’s low paid shop staff - who are mostly women - will be able to compare themselves with the - mainly men - higher paid warehouse staff. This loss in the Appeals Court follows the initial ruling against the supermarket by the Employment Tribunal in October 2016 and a subsequent unsuccessful 2017 appeal in the Employment Appeal Tribunal. Following Thursday’s ruling, the Court of Appeal denied Asda’s right to appeal, however the BBC reports that the supermarket intends to take its case to the Supreme Court. Leigh Day, the legal firm representing Asda’s low paid shop floor staff also represents over 35,000 staff across the UK’s four biggest supermarket in similar cases. The firm says if all the supermarkets should lose their cases and are ordered to pay, payment made to eligible staff could total upward of £8bn. 
  • Of Fire and Ice: With the Met Office issuing an Amber weather warning, Brits will soon be feeling a freeze on par with the Polar vortex hitting Middle America, as the temperature is expected to dip as low as -3°C (26.6 °f) in London, -14.4°C (6.1°F) in Aberdeenshire. Due to this, experts say gas demand will spike in the next ten days with Brits burning more gas than in the last four years, in efforts to keep warm from Arctic temperatures. The 'danger to life' warning will see travel, power and mobile phone coverage affected in the capital and across the country, as snowfall and extreme weather are bound to severely disrupt services throughout the country. Transport for London (TfL) however outlined a well-rehearsed procedure earlier this week, to ensure the capital keeps moving despite warnings of 10cm depth of heavy snow and ice. Although, nowhere in the TfL’s plan did they set out a Chicago-style plan, to set the rail tracks on fire in order to keep the trains running. #NoDracarys 

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