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Sunday newspaper round-up: BBC licence fee, coronavirus, Storm Dennis, Tesco, Laura Ashley, M&S

By Josh White

Date: Sunday 16 Feb 2020

Sunday newspaper round-up: BBC licence fee, coronavirus, Storm Dennis, Tesco, Laura Ashley, M&S

(Sharecast News) - Downing Street turned on the BBC last night - vowing to scrap the television licence fee and make viewers pay a subscription. The national broadcaster could also be compelled to downsize and sell off most of its radio stations. In a plan that would change the face of British broadcasting, senior aides to the prime minister insisted that they are "not bluffing" about changing the BBC's funding model and "pruning" its reach into people's homes. - The Sunday Times
Anyone suffering flu-like symptoms could be ordered to "self-isolate" for a fortnight if the number of coronavirus cases in the UK hits the hundreds, in what would be a dramatic shift in Government strategy. Over the last week, hospitals across the country have created "isolation pods," to ensure that anyone tested for the virus is kept away from other patients, with efforts to track all close contacts of confirmed cases. - Sunday Telegraph

The UK's withdrawal from the European Union has left a huge €75bn (?62bn) hole in the bloc's budget for the next seven years, 2021 to 2027. "And now we are fighting like ferrets in a sack," said one EU diplomat with a sigh. Covering items ranging from agricultural subsidies to science programmes and the EU's efforts to combat the climate emergency, the new multiannual financial framework (MFF) needs to be agreed by the leaders and an increasingly unpredictable European parliament before the end of the year. - Observer

The 'life-threatening' Storm Dennis has caused flooding carnage all over the country this morning, after the Met Office issued its highest level warning with heavy rain and fierce winds of up to 91mph lashing Britain. At about 7am on Sunday there were 198 flood warnings in place, meaning immediate action is required, and 326 flood alerts telling people to be prepared, covering an area from Scotland's River Tweed to the rivers of west Cornwall. - Mail on Sunday

Hospitals have been ordered to take new measures to stop the coronavirus in the UK as experts said there is a "distinct possibility" that up to 50% of Britons could be affected. Health officials plan to use 24 NHS hospitals to treat patients in the event of a surge in infections. They may also expand NHS 111 services to cope with a rise in calls. - The Sunday Times

Boris Johnson is on a collision course with the rail industry over plans to cap profits in the most radical ?shake-up of the country's train network since privatisation. An eagerly-anticipated "root and branch" review of the railways is due to recommend scrapping the rail franchises in the coming weeks. - Sunday Telegraph

A high-profile housing scheme offering first-time buyers discounted homes will be unaffordable to the vast majority of workers on average or low incomes, it has emerged. The First Homes scheme has been described by ministers as "genuinely life-changing for people all over the country". However, new analysis suggests it will be out of the reach of average earners in 96% of England. - Observer

Boris Johnson's has frozen controversial plans to slap expensive homes with a 'mansion tax' amid fears of a Tory backbench revolt. The tax on high-value properties was due to be rolled out in next month's Budget to help fund the Prime Minister's promise to 'level-up' parts of the country starved of investment. - Mail on Sunday

Laura Ashley's Malaysian owners are scrambling to save the high street chain with an emergency cash injection this weekend after a dispute with its lender led to a funding crunch, raising fears of the loss of more than 2,700 jobs. The fashion and homeware retailer, which has 155 stores in the UK, has been in fraught talks with the American bank Wells Fargo over access to a ?20m funding line designed to keep it afloat. - The Sunday Times

Just Eat shareholders were denied a three-way bidding war for the takeaway app because Uber took fright at the increased aggression of Britain's competition watchdog, The Telegraph can reveal. Uber was gearing up to gatecrash the takeover battle between the Dutch operators Takeaway.com and Prosus with an offer of its own, senior City sources said. A three-way tussle could have driven the final price higher than the ?6bn agreed by Takeaway.com offer approved by Just Eat shareholders last month. - Sunday Telegraph

Britain is in talks with China over giving Beijing's state-owned railway-builder a role in constructing the troubled HS2 high-speed link. The China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC) has said it can build the line in just five years at a much lower cost than is currently forecast, according to the Financial Times. Department for Transport (DfT) officials confirmed "preliminary discussions" had taken place between CCRC and HS2 Ltd, but said no "concrete commitments" had been made. - Observer

Barclays boss Jes Staley would be willing to tell the US authorities everything he knows about paedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein, The Mail on Sunday can reveal. Victims of Epstein last night called on the banking chief to hand over any information he might have about his former client. - Mail on Sunday

One of Britain's best-known listed fund managers is close to taking over a rival to create a powerhouse managing ?67bn of assets. Jupiter Fund Management, which controls about ?45bn in actively managed products, could announce the purchase of Merian as early as tomorrow. Merian, which was spun out of Old Mutual by former Schroders star Richard Buxton, manages assets worth ?22bn. - The Sunday Times

The government-owned firm building HS2 has quietly withdrawn from a set of pledges to protect landscapes, wildlife habitats and residents along the route, The Telegraph can disclose. HS2 Ltd has drawn up a new environmental policy, ditching explicit commitments to "avoid significant adverse impacts on health and quality and life" and "minimise" the effect of the scheme on the environment. - Sunday Telegraph

The competition watchdog has censured Tesco for breaking the law by blocking rivals from opening shops near its stores. On Friday, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said Tesco had prevented competitors opening supermarkets in 23 locations in England and Wales, including five in London. - Observer

Retail giant Marks & Spencer has been hit by a backlash over its plan to stop distributing paper shopping vouchers to thousands of small shareholders from the end of the month. Under a major shake-up, which will affect around half of the company's legion of loyal small investors, the group is scrapping paper vouchers and replacing them with digitally dispatched discounts. - Mail on Sunday


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