Evening Update Wednesday 15 July 2020

New French Prime Minister Jean Castex has been  addressing deputies this afternoon to set out his government's plans. In a wide-ranging speech lasting about an hour, he said that employment and unemployment will be his government's "top priority for the next 18 months". He announced an additional 6 billion euros for the French health system. He also announced that over 20 billion euros would be made available for environmental projects, giving the examples of the "thermal renovation of buildings", the reduction of greenhouse gasses, local and sustainable food production and investment in future green technology.

He also announced what he referred to as "a revolution" in the decentralization of French government, saying that new public sector jobs would be assigned to the departments in priority over central government. He said that he wanted to defend secularism and wanted to prevent "certain groups from closing around ethnic or religious affiliations". M. Castex said that as regards the coronavirus, his government's strategy is the wearing of masks and to intensify screening. The measures were then debated by deputies before being put to a vote. The government received the votes of 345 deputies, with 177 voting against and 43 abstentions.

Several political leaders have questioned the security surrounding President Macron after he was approached by a small group of yellow vest protestors while walking in the Tuileries gardens yesterday evening. The president entered into a discussion with the protestors regarding violence during protest marches. In a tweet, Alpes Maritimes Deputy Eric Ciotti asked how the President could take "such risks" and said that there was "again a security problem around him". However, a government spokesperson said today that the President's security hadn't been compromised because he had his agents around him.

The local council in Grasse has voted to pay a bonus of up to 1,000 euros to certain municipal employees in recognition of their contribution during the coronavirus crisis. The bonus for employees such as municipal police, hygeine and health service agents and those involved in helping the homeless, will be calculated on the basis of a daily or half-daily rate up to a maximum of 1,000 euros for work done between March 17 and May 10 inclusive.

A motorcyclist has died in an accident in Saint-Raphael. The 24 year old from Frejus couldn't be revived by firefighters at the scene of the accident on the route de Saint-Barthelemy.

A 57 year old woman has died in a house fire in Six-Fours-les-Plages. Firefighters discovered the woman's body on the first floor of the property. Police have been on the scene to try to establish the circumstances surrounding the fire.

French Minister of the Interior, Gerald Darmanin has offered his support to "those who protect our lives" after a firefighter was shot while responding to a call. Several firefighters were ambushed in Etampes in the Essonne department after receiving a call stating that vehicles were on fire. The six firefighters took refuge in a nearby police station. The wounded man was hospitalised but isn't in a serious condition.

Two paragliders have died in an accident in the Haut-Savoie. An instructor and his trainee were on a two seater paraglider which crashed onto the roof of a house after falling 200 metres.


BUSINESS

Apple has won a tax case before the European Union's second highest court. The EU's General Court said it had annulled a decision by the European Commission that Apple had to pay Ireland €13bn in back taxes. In a statement Apple said "This case was not about how much tax we pay, but where we are required to pay it...we're proud to be the largest taxpayer in the world as we know the important role tax payments play in society." However, the EU still has the right to appeal the decision to the European Court of Justice.

Burberry has announced plans to cut 500 jobs as part of a reduction in costs of 55 million pounds. 150 of the jobs will go at the fashion brand's UK head offices. It said that there would be no store closures, either in the UK or internationally, but said that it wanted to "improve retail efficiency".

In the UK, the Guardian newspaper is planning to cut up to 180 jobs. In a statement to staff management said that the pandemic had created an “unsustainable financial outlook" for the newspaper, with revenues expected to be down by more than £25m on the year’s budget.

Inflation in the UK rose slightly to 0.6% in June. The CPI measure of inflation increased from 0.5% in May. The Office for National Statistics said that food and alcohol prices fell, but prices for clothing and games rose. The new figures show that inflation still remains well below the Bank of England's target of 2%.


SPORT

Rugby Union...The British and Irish Lions' tour of South Africa will go ahead as planned in July and August next year. The team said that an enormous amount of planning goes into putting on a Lions series, so it was crucial that a decision was made in good time.

Football... The Premier League and EFL have said that the summer transfer windows will be open for 10 weeks between 27 July and 5 October. However, the dates still need to be approved by Fifa. They also said that there will be a domestic-only window between 5-16 October.

Manchester United player Marcus Rashford is to receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Manchester for his campaign against child poverty. Rashford successfully campaigned for the UK government to allow about 1.3 million children to claim free school meal vouchers in England's summer holidays.

There are four games in the English Premier League tonight. Burnley play Wolves. Manchester City host Bournemouth. Newcastle United play Spurs and Arsenal play Liverpool.

Cycling.... It's been announced that Adam Yates will compete in this year's Tour de France and his twin brother Simon will race in the Giro d'Italia. Their team, Mitchelton-Scott, said that their focus at the Giro d'Italia will be to support Simon Yates and ultimately try to win the race. The rider led the Giro d'Italia for 13 days two years ago but the race was ultimately won by Chris Froome.

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