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David Davis hopes to calm fears of Brexit triggering a “race to the bottom” in production standards in a speech on Tuesday.

The Brexit Secretary will declare that leaving the EU will instead create a “race to the top in global standards”.

Speaking in Vienna, Austria, as part of a series of speeches designed as a PR blitz on Brexit, he is set to say the concerns are “borrowed from dystopian fiction”.

Some critics have raised concerns that quitting the single market could see a drop in food standards – such as chlorinated chickens and milk containing antibiotics being part of a US trade deal.

David Davis
David Davis is due to give a speech in Vienna

He will say some critics “fear that Brexit could lead to an Anglo-Saxon race to the bottom. With Britain plunged into a Mad Max-style world borrowed from dystopian fiction”.

“These fears about a race to the bottom are based on nothing, not history, not intention, nor interest.”

Mr Davis will add: “While I profoundly disagree with them. It does remind us all that we must provide reassurance.”

Raw  butchered chicken in queue
Critics fear quitting the single market could see a drop in food standards. Pic file

He will present the Government’s view as part of a case for a Free Trade Agreement with the EU after Brexit day – saying he is “certain” a good deal can be achieved.

“The agreement we strike will not be about how to build convergence but what to do when one of us wants to make changes to rules,” Mr Davis is expected to tell business leaders.

“Neither side should put up unnecessary barriers during this process.”

He will add that the deal requires “close, even-handed cooperation between these authorities and a common set of principles to guide them”.

Responding, Labour MP and supporter of the pro-EU group Open Britain Chuka Umunna branded Mr Davis’ trailed speech “utterly lacking in any content or vision”.

Chuka Umunna in Millbank studio.
Chuka Umunna said the speech was ‘utterly lacking in any content’

He said: “David Davis insists that Brexit won’t mean a race to the bottom on everything from workers’ rights to environmental standards but not everyone around the Cabinet table agrees with him.

“Theresa May has repeatedly failed to rule out scrapping working time regulations, Boris Johnson wants to get rid of the Social Chapter and Liam Fox says he’s in favour of importing chlorinated chicken from the United States.”

Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable added Mr Davis “might as well be making the case for staying in the EU”.

He said: “It’s the Boris Johnson school of having the cake and eating it, which we already know is unrealistic.”

It comes after speeches by Prime Minister Theresa May and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.

Mrs May announced she wanted a new security treaty with the EU – and said she would “respect” the remit of the European Court of Justice when Britain participated in its agencies.

Mr Johnson set out his pitch for “the great liberal project of the age”. And he refused to rule out quitting this year.

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Girl, 15, dies after bridge collapses into river in France | World News



A 15-year-old girl and a lorry driver have been killed after a bridge collapsed into a river in southwestern France, officials have said.

The 150m-long (492ft) suspension bridge in Mirepoix-sur-Tarn, near Toulouse, collapsed at around 8am local time on Monday.

A lorry, a car and possibly a van were crossing at the same time, the local prosecutor said.

Rescuers attend the scene of a suspension bridge collapse near Toulouse
Rescuers attend the scene of a suspension bridge collapse near Toulouse
Rescuers walk on a suspension bridge which collapsed on Monday morning
Rescuers walk on a suspension bridge which collapsed on Monday morning

The bridge, which was renovated in 2003 by Haute-Garonne council, was limited to 19-tonne vehicles.

Television footage showed one car nose-down in the water with only its rear lights and bumper above the surface.

The mother of the deceased teenager was among three people rescued from the water, the prosecutor said.

The mayor of Mirepoix-sur-Tarn later said on French television station BFM TV that the lorry driver had also died.

The local prefect Etienne Guyot said the total number of casualties was not yet known.

The bridge was inspected every six years and had not shown any signs of structural weakness at its last inspection in 2017, according to the council.

A view shows the collapsed Mirepoix-sur-Tarn bridge in France
A view shows the collapsed Mirepoix-sur-Tarn bridge in France

A criminal investigation into the causes of the accident has been opened.

Following the collapse of a motorway viaduct last year in Genoa, Italy, which killed 43 people, senators called for extra funding to check and repair bridges across France.

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Tata Steel to cut 3,000 European jobs – report | Business News



Tata Steel is planning to cut around 3,000 jobs in Europe, with over half in the Netherlands, a source has told Reuters.

According to the agency, Tata said on Monday that the job cuts are necessary as it wrestles with excess supply and high costs.

But the report said the company insisted there will be no plant closures.

In a statement to Reuters, Tata Steel said that challenging market conditions had been “made worse by the use of Europe as a dumping ground for the world’s excess capacity”.

The move comes 10 weeks after the steel giant announced plans to close two UK operations with the loss of 400 jobs, blaming a failure to sell off its loss-making Orb Electrical Steels business in Newport, South Wales.

The steelworkers’ union accused the company of “breaking its commitments” to the workforce.

Tata employs around 8,000 staff in the Wales.

All 26 jobs at its Wolverhampton Engineering Steels Service Centre will also be lost.

The Indian corporation began overhauling its European business in June, including its steel-making plants in the Netherlands and Wales and downstream operations across the region.

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‘European steel imports are at their peak’: Liberty House chairman Sanjeev Gupta – September 2019

Tata’s quest to boost profitability follows a European anti-trust decision to block a joint venture with Germany’s Thyssenkrupp in May.

Last week Chinese steelmaker Jingye signed a provisional deal to buy British Steel, after it went into compulsory liquidation in May, safeguarding up to 4,000 jobs.

Jingye said it plans to invest £1.2bn in British Steel over the next decade.

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Hong Kong: How long will China tolerate embarrassing protests and will it use force? | World News



China has accused the UK and US of interfering in the internal affairs of Hong Kong as authorities struggle to contain months of protests in the city.

It comes after fresh violence on Monday as Hong Kong police, firing rubber bullets and tear gas, clashed with anti-government protesters armed with petrol bombs and other weapons.

Here, Sky News looks at the options facing China and whether it is likely to use force to stop the protests.

How long can China tolerate this?

The protests are hugely embarrassing for China, without doubt.

They have put a huge dent in Chinese president Xi Jinping’s carefully crafted image as infallible leader.

The Hong Kong government and Beijing have badly mishandled the unrest. The longer it goes on the more damage is done.

There is also always the danger that it could inspire protest and disorder on the Chinese mainland.

Students holed-up in the Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

Protesters pull back after a night-long siege

Is that happening?

No sign of it yet.

The government’s total control of the media means most Chinese people aren’t seeing the protests in the way we are.

There is also some evidence that those Chinese who do know about it have little sympathy for the protesters, who they see as privileged and more free and so with little to complain about.

China's ambassador to Britain Liu Xiaoming speaks to members of the media during a press conference relating to continuing unrest in Hong Kong, at the Chinese Embassy in London on November 18, 2019. - Beijing will not sit back and simply watch if the protests in Hong Kong become "uncontrollable", China's ambassador to Britain Liu Xiaoming warned at a London news conference on Monday. "If the situation becomes uncontrollable the central government would certainly not sit on our hands and watch," he told reporters in London, adding: "We have enough resolution and power to end the unrest." (Photo by Niklas HALLE'N / AFP) (Photo by NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP via Getty Images)
China’s ambassador to Britain, Liu Xiaoming, accused the UK and US of interfering

What else is China worried about?

The magic fraction to remember is two-thirds. That is the amount of China’s foreign investment that comes through Hong Kong.

That makes it hugely important to Beijing. And it will only continue if Hong Kong continues to be seen as semi-autonomous, apart from mainland China and where the rule of law remains supreme. Otherwise investors will be scared away.

Police detain protesters who attempt to leave the campus of Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) during clashes with police in Hong Kong, China November 18, 2019. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
Police detained protesters who tried to leave the Hong Kong Polytechnic University campus

What’s that got to do with the protests?

Protests don’t seem to have reduced that valuable foreign investment pouring through Hong Kong. In fact it’s gone up since they began.

But if China takes any action jeopardising Hong Kong’s special status, the opposite could be the case.

Hong Kong is ruled on the principle of “one country two systems of government”. Investors like that.

If Chinese forces were to replace Hong Kong police and crush the unrest it would be waving goodbye to “one country two systems”. And farewell to a lot of foreign investment.

HK officers threaten to use live ammunition

Is one country two systems still a thing?

Sometimes it looks like China is pulling all the strings, but it is still not getting involved directly.

It can still say this is Hong Kong’s problem and quarantine some of the fallout. As soon as it intervenes directly, it has ownership.

Clashes in Hong Kong
A police vehicle was set alight as protesters and officers clashed at the university

is China threatening to use force?

Not explicitly. But it has been staging very public “riot control” exercises on the mainland, showing Chinese forces tackling civilian protest.

It also has doubled its military presence. Since the UK handed back control of Hong Kong to China in 1997, Beijing has stationed People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops in barracks there.

They are rotated on a regular basis, but last time that happened, the existing garrison did not go home so it has twice as many soldiers as normal.

But these are PLA soldiers – trained to fight wars, not urban protest.

An anti-government protester uses a bow and arrow
An anti-government protester uses a bow during clashes with police

Might they still try it?

Analysts say only as a last resort.

The unrest is embarrassing and damaging but, without spreading, it is not an existential threat to the Chinese communist regime. So why risk jeopardising all that foreign investment?

What else are Beijing’s options?

  • Covert means. Rumours are rife of Chinese agents-provocateurs engineering incidents turning public opinion against the protests. There’s not a lot of evidence supporting it
  • Or it could play the waiting game hoping eventually the protests will subside? It has tried that for six months and so far they are only escalating
  • Western diplomats say the only way out of this crisis is a political solution involving compromise by the Hong Kong government and protesters. China could try and encourage this, but so far seems to be insisting on Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam holding the line

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