In an exclusive interview, UK Energy secretary Ed Davey – one of the few Lib Dem big hitters in the Cabinet – has slammed a “Tea Party tendency” in the Conservative Party for holding back progress on numerous green infrastructure projects. Davey is concerned that the obstructive mood among backbenchers is percolating its way into the party leadership, threatening tens of billions of pounds’ worth of public investment already tied up in the schemes.
For Davey, the tendency is a threat to UK economic recovery as a whole. “Noises off at the margins are undermining investors’ confidence and that is undermining green growth – and that is undermining the central purpose of the government, which is deficit reduction,” he told the paper. Projects hanging in the balance include developments in the fields of new nuclear power, wind and solar energy, and carbon capture.
Former Defence secretary Dr Liam Fox has provided a boost to the proposed merger between UK aerospace giant BAE and its pan-European counterpart EADS, stating that the deal should go ahead if certain national-security hurdles are overcome. “Of course, there are risks to a merger,” he wrote. “The most significant [being] undue political influence from France and Germany. A merger should only be agreed if it can be curtailed … There are [also] those in the US who may seek to use the merger to reverse BAE’s recent successes there.”
It could be the end of the road for conventional road tax, according to Transport minister Norman Baker. With the current switch in drivers’ tastes towards cleaner, electric cars, Baker’s department has spotted the potential for a dip in revenue from fuel duties that would have to be made up for in other ways, such as a pay-as-you-drive toll system. “The Exchequer is not just going to say, ‘Oh, we’ve lost some money’, they’re going to do something about it,” Baker said. “In the medium term, there’s no question that we’re going to have to move towards road-pricing.”
Upon the occasion of the Singapore Grand Prix, McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh indicated that recent controversy over Lewis Hamilton’s contract has had an unexpectedly positive effect on the star driver’s performance. “He’s in a really good place right now and really focused,” said Whitmarsh. “All the chatter has forced him to put the barriers up – not contemplate, not discuss, not think about it – and focus on driving a racing car. Which is good.” Unfortunately, Hamilton was forced to pull out of the Grand Prix halfway through thanks to mechanical failure.
James Bond’s choice of tipple has come under redtop scrutiny, following the management decision of Dutch brewing giant Heineken to spend a whopping £28m on sponsoring the new 007 adventure Skyfall, due out in November. As well as the inevitable product placement in the film itself, Heineken’s investment has bought a Daniel Craig-powered ad campaign in which the actor, in character as Bond, glugs from one of the brewer’s green bottles. Presumably, an endless lake of vodka-martini is no longer suitable for a hero who has chalked up some 50 years of bone-crunching action.
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry. There’s no easy way to say it – I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” So said Lib Dem leader and deputy PM Nick Clegg in the remixed version of the video apology he issued last week for making a promise on tuition fees that his party couldn’t keep. With the attendant humiliation still hanging heavy over party and leader alike, it would perhaps have come as no consolation that the remix – spawned by satirical website The Poke – has done so well in the download stakes that it romped to Number 35 in the UK singles chart. For anyone who has yet to hear it, it goes something like this…