Vodafone has apologised after an error meant customers using the mobile network abroad were hit with roaming bills of up to £10,000.

Customers took to Twitter, saying they were unable to use their phones and could not reach the operator.

Many received alerts from Vodafone that their data had run out, despite the fact that many still had data remaining in their monthly allowances.

Vodafone said the issue was caused by a technical error.

Since 2017, under EU regulations UK consumers are able to use the minutes, texts and data included on their mobile phone tariffs when travelling in the EU at no extra charge.

Vodafone customers posted on Twitter that their bills had risen by between hundreds and thousands of pounds within just 12 hours.

‘This is a joke’

Andy Pearch told the BBC that on Sunday, just 24 hours into his holiday in Malta, he had a shock when he received a text message from Vodafone informing him that he had spent £4,902.75 in “additional charges”.

To prevent him from incurring an even larger bill, Vodafone said it was preventing him from making any calls, sending text messages or using mobile data on his phone.

But when Mr Pearch logged onto his Vodafone account using the hotel Wi-Fi, it showed that he still had 14.2GB of data remaining out of his 20GB monthly data allowance.

“Stress is not the word for it,” Mr Pearch said. “My service was cut off from 22:00 last night till about 08:00 this morning.”

Regional sales manager Kevin Navette is currently abroad, but he has been blocked by Vodafone from using his work phone.

Mr Navette told the BBC that he has been charged £3,000 and his service stopped working on Sunday. However, despite contacting Vodafone on Twitter on Sunday and Monday morning, his service is still not working.

“This is my professional phone so it’s big trouble for me,” he said.

Vodafone said: “We are very sorry that some customers could not use their phones yesterday, when roaming abroad. This was due to a technical error, which we have now fixed.

“Some customers are receiving billing messages in error; we are working through these as an urgent priority and are removing any errors from customer accounts. Customers will not be charged and do not need to worry about contacting us as we are proactively checking accounts.”

In August, a similar issue affected Three Ireland. The mobile operator had to apologise after a system upgrade error added bogus roaming fees to customers’ bills and suspended their services.

The Budget has been announced for 6 November, with Chancellor Sajid Javid saying it will be “the first budget after leaving the EU”.

“This is the right and responsible thing to do – we must get on with governing,” he said.

It will be Mr Javid’s first Budget since he became chancellor in July.

The Budget date is normally announced in September. Mr Javid said the Budget would detail the government’s plans to “shape the economy for the future”.

BBC assistant political editor Norman Smith said that in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the full Budget would be delayed and the 6 November announcement would be “a simple economic statement”.

The government’s independent financial watchdog, the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), which produces economic forecasts for the Budget would normally get ten weeks notice to prepare.

The OBR said it was able to prepare some information in advance, but that its forecasts would be based on the UK securing a Brexit deal.

It said since the EU referendum, its forecasts had been based on “broad brush assumptions for a relatively smooth [Brexit] outcome”. The OBR said that approach would continue “in the absence of any specific information”.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said he expected the Budget to be “an electioneering stunt rather than a Budget to rebuild our stalling economy and reset the direction of our country”.

The Budget is the government’s yearly announcement on its plans for tax and spending for the coming financial year, which starts in April 2020.

There are expectations that the chancellor could relax the government’s borrowing rules to give him more spending power.

The rules state that borrowing should remain below 2% of national income, at about £46bn.

Mr Javid has already suggested he is prepared to borrow more to take advantage of current record-low borrowing costs, and has previously said he plans to review the borrowing rules.

In August’s spending review, Mr Javid declared the government had “turned the page on austerity, announcing its largest increase in spending for 15 years.


Naming the date of a Budget is a sign from the chancellor to communicate that at least some Treasury business continues as normal.

But there is nothing routine about a government yet to win a vote in the Commons, trying to pass a Budget.

In theory there will be measures to boost infrastructure, spending and some taxes.

But if there is a no-deal Brexit, the Treasury will instead turn its focus on giving immediate support to the economy, businesses and households.

So, in that case, there would be a delay to the Budget.

In a no-deal scenario, there might be some extra scope for a cut to VAT which could be part of a general fiscal stimulus package for the economy.

Whatever happens, a new set of Budget numbers and economic forecasts is being prepared by the government’s independent financial watchdog, the Office for Budget Responsibility. The Bank of England too will be preparing its new forecasts for the 7 November Inflation Report, and any implications for interest rates.

The Treasury will also reveal its new self-imposed constraints on borrowing – “fiscal rules”- designed to help create more space for spending and tax cuts.

And if there is a Budget a week after a Brexit deal has passed the Commons, there could be a chance that the government could get support for its fiscal measures too.

Or rather it could be part of the pathway to a general election next month.


Workers with picket signs mark every entrance to the General Motors plant in Flint, Michigan. With them is all the paraphernalia of a long stay – tables piled with snacks and water bottles, wood and steel bins to make fires during the night, and dozens of signs bearing the slogan “UAW on strike”.

It’s the same picture at the Hamtramck plant just an hour’s drive away, and there are similar scenes at GM facilities across the US.

Nearly 49,000 workers walked out on strike on 16 September.

“We’re prepared to be out here as long as takes,” says Bill Brewer, a quality control inspector at the Flint plant.

Mr Brewer has worked at GM for 42 years. This is his third strike. It’s the longest one he’s been on.

Each day the strike costs General Motors an estimated $90m (£72.3m).

Workers are also losing money. The United Auto Workers union (UAW) has been providing $250 a week to each striking worker to help them get by, but many have had to dip into their savings.

Stephanie Pink, a 31-year-old mother who has worked at GM’s Hamtramck plant for four years, said the union warned her to save in the weeks leading up to the strike.

“It’s really hard, even with my savings,” she says, “But we’ve got to fight for what’s right.”

The plant she works in is scheduled to shut in January 2020.

The heart of the union’s argument is that employees made concessions during the financial crisis to keep GM from shutting down.

In 2009, GM filed for bankruptcy. Piles of debt and slowing car sales amid a global recession led the company to the brink of collapse. The US government stepped in to keep the company and industry alive. It gave GM roughly $40bn in loans in exchange for a 61% stake in the company.

Workers agreed to pay caps, a two-tier pay scale and allowed GM to hire temporary workers who wouldn’t have job security or benefits.

Since the bailout, GM has rebuilt itself and earned billions of dollars in profits. Employees say they are owed a bigger part of that.

“We put in just as much work in these plants and putting these cars together as anybody else with a suit on or a dress on or with heels,” says Anesha Powell, an engine line worker who has been with GM for nearly four years.

As part of the 2009 deal, the UAW agreed to cap wages at $28 an hour. This has since increased to $30, but had those salaries kept pace with inflation workers would be earning $33.77 an hour, the union says.

In 2018, GM’s chief executive officer Mary Barra earned just under $22m.

Companies working with GM are also making sacrifices as the strike wears on.

Moe Thalji, co-owner of Phoenix Transit & Logistics, says his business has lost $1.3m in gross revenue since the walk-out began.

His logistics business transports GM parts between facilities and the carmaker accounts for 90% of his company’s work. With the plants idle, Mr Thalji’s trucks are too. His lot is filled with dozens of trailers packed with GM parts.

So far he has had to cut more than 100 workers.

“I don’t sleep at night,” Mr Thalji says. “There are families that I am supporting with my company. We’ve been dipping into our savings and we probably have another three to four weeks before we are completely empty.”

The reverberations of the strike are being felt across the state of Michigan where GM has its headquarters. So far the state has lost an estimated $13.8m in gross tax revenue, according to Anderson Economic Group.

The auto industry is Michigan’s biggest employer. As well as the big three US carmakers – GM, Ford and Chrysler – it also has related businesses such as parts suppliers and transportation firms like Phoenix Transit & Logistics.

Manufacturing makes up 19% of Michigan’s economy. The state was experiencing a manufacturing slowdown before the strike began, and there are growing fears that a recession could be triggered if GM workers remain on the picket line much longer.

The UAW is asking for higher wages, assurances that GM will assign new products to US plants that are scheduled to be idled, and changes to a profit-sharing agreement.

But uncertainty about the wider US economy and car industry are also stalling talks.

GM has been investing millions in new technology, including electrification, with no clear sign of when those vehicles will become profitable. Workers are concerned electric cars, which take fewer workers to build, will mean job cuts.

Hanging over all of it is the threat of a broader economic downturn in the US economy.

“We’re looking at the next four years being very uncertain,” says Kristin Dziczek, vice president for the Center for Automotive Research.

She says trade worries and changing consumer habits mean GM might not be able to make some of the concessions the union is after.

For workers that may not be good enough.

Outside the Hamtramck plant, Torrance Willison – who’s worked at GM for 34 years – says: “We had to do a lot of sacrificing. General Motors is on stronger ground because of it. And now we are just hoping to reap some of the benefits.”

Too much money is focused on the big nations in rugby union, making it harder for others to reach the top tier, an ex-England international says.

Rugby Union is played in 119 countries, but only four – England, New Zealand, South Africa and Australia – have won the World Cup since it started in 1987.

Andy Gomarsall, who played in two World Cups for England, thinks it is hard for newcomers to compete with the funding.

He told BBC 5 live that there needs to be a better balance of the money,

“When England play to a full house at Twickenham, the expense, the money they make – it doesn’t sit well with current and former players that you could be playing Fiji, who are struggling to pay the bills just to get players to the game,” he told the Wake Up To Money Business of Sport programme.

“It just seems extraordinary that in this day and age this could ever be a possibility.”

Rugby has a rich pool to pick new host nations from and, according to Deloitte, a potential television reach of four billion.

Mick Hogan, executive director of Newcastle Falcons, says: “None of this exists without money and with World Rugby 85% of the money generates comes from the World Cup, and you have to have big games and big showpiece events that fund the game.

“What we should be doing is looking longer term and not looking at how much money we need to pay the bills next year. How do we get a tier one nation to actually go and play in Fiji, Tonga or Samoa? It just never, ever happens.”

One method of promoting the sport in new rugby playing areas includes World Rugby’s Beyond Legacy programme, which is aiming to grow broadcast audiences for rugby in Asia, and to get one million new Asian players participating in rugby by 2020.

They aim to do this through schemes such as holding rugby lessons in Japanese schools in the host cities of the World Cup and investing in the growth of local teams.

Japan pulled off a shock victory over Ireland in their World Cup Pool A game, defeating them 19-12.

Su Carty, who sits on the World Rugby council and the committee of the Irish Rugby Football Union, reflected on the defeat, saying: “It was a tough day for the Irish, but an amazing day for Japan and an incredible day for the tournament.

“You want teams like Japan coming through and making a statement on the world stage. Their day in the sun isn’t done, and they’ll be committed to build on that great day against us.”

In a major change, this year also marks the first time an Asian nation has ever hosted the World Cup, and there is speculation that the United States could bid for the 2027 World Cup, which would be the first time it has ever been hosted in North America.

Mr Hogan added: “It proves the value that bringing major tournaments to new areas can do. It really can ignite a passion for the sport in that area – and hopefully we see that in the legacy in five, 10, 20 years’ time in Japan and Asia.”

Hosting the Rugby World Cup could also be a wise investment for a nation new to the sport – with EY estimating that the six-week tournament could bring in £1.5bn to Japan’s economy and support 25,000 jobs across the 12 cities hosting matches.

Japan has also invested 40bn yen (£290m) on infrastructure. This has included boosting transport links between the cities, and enhancing the stadiums and team camps with the aim of using them for Japan’s growing domestic rugby scene after the World Cup has ended.

Developing the domestic rugby scene is an important step, especially for Japan as it seeks to capitalise on its continued success. According to Statista, Japan has almost 3,000 recognised clubs with 95,000 active players.

Akira Shimazu, head of Japan’s rugby organising committee, said that the tournament was “on track to deliver a significant economic legacy for our nation”.

Japan’s continued success could lay the framework for other nations in future tournaments – and with the support of the top tier nations, the Rugby World Cup finals could start seeing other teams making their way to the semi-finals and finals of the World Cup.

Labour’s nationalisation plans would cost at least £196bn, according to the Confederation of British Industry.

The employers’ group said the up-front cost of taking control of the water and energy utilities, train firms and Royal Mail was equivalent to all income tax paid by UK citizens in a year.

It was the combined total of the £141bn health budget, and the £61bn spent on education, analysis by the CBI said.

A Labour Party spokesman said it was “incoherent scaremongering” by the CBI.

The CBI’s report, published on Monday, estimated there could be a 10.7% increase in debt from bringing industries back into public ownership.

This would raise debt levels to 94% of GDP, their highest point since the 1960s, and would cost around £2bn per year, according to the study.

‘Eye-watering’

It also claimed that under Labour’s plans, savers and pensioners could suffer an estimated £9bn loss to their holdings, which translates into £327 for every household in the country.

The CBI bases its analysis on the nationalisation of:

  • Nine water and sewerage companies and seven water-only companies in England
  • National Grid, and the electricity transmission and distribution networks
  • Rail rolling stock
  • Royal Mail

The report said the confidence of international investors in the UK would be “severely hit” if Labour refused to pay full market value for the industries.

Although the analysis said that the state-owned assets would increase in value and there would be potential revenues generated, the study’s focus was on costs rather than estimates of potential benefits.

Rain Newton-Smith, the CBI’s chief economist, called the price tag “eye-watering”. And she said that £196bn was only the starting point.

“It doesn’t take into account the maintenance and development of the infrastructure, the trickle-down hit to pension pots and savings accounts, or the impact on the country’s public finances.

Fair economy

“There are so many other genuine priorities for public spending right now, from investing in our young people to the transition to low carbon economy and connecting our cities and communities.

“These issues are what keep businesses up at night and what they want to see the government get on with addressing. Nationalisation would waste time, energy and public money.”

A Labour spokesman said the CBI was more interested in protecting shareholders than in creating a fair economy. He accused the organisation of “incoherent scaremongering”.

The party has said that rail nationalisation, for example, would be hugely popular with travellers tired of poor services. And bringing National Grid back under state control would be part of plans to create a National Energy Agency to help usher in Labour’s proposed Green Industrial Revolution.

The spokesman said: “It is disappointing that the CBI seems incapable of having a grown-up conversation about public ownership – which is hugely popular, and common across Europe. It sadly reveals that they are more interested in protecting shareholders than in creating a fair economy.”

John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, has said that nationalisation would be cost-neutral as the companies’ profits would cover the cost of borrowing needed to finance it.

Last week, the Institute for Fiscal Studies, suggested that focusing on the upfront cost of Labour’s plans was the wrong approach. “Economically what matters is whether these assets would be better managed by the public or the private sector,” it said.

Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency must not go ahead until the company proves it is safe and secure, according to a report by the world biggest economies.

In a blow to the social media giant, the report by the G7 group of nations warns cryptocurrencies like Libra pose a risk to the global financial system.

The draft report outlines nine major risks posed by such digital currencies.

It warns that even if Libra’s backers address concerns, the project may not get approval from regulators.

The warning comes just days after payments giants Mastercard and Visa pulled out of the Libra project, citing regulatory uncertainty.

The G7 taskforce that produced the report includes senior officials from central banks, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Financial Stability Board, which coordinates rules for the G20 economies.

It says backers of digital currencies like Libra must be legally sound, protect consumers and ensure coins are not used to launder money or fund terrorism.

While the report, which will be presented to finance ministers at the IMF annual meetings this week, does not single out Libra, it says “global stablecoins” with the potential to “scale rapidly” pose a range of potential problems.

Stablecoins like Libra are different to other cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, because they are pegged to established currencies such as the dollar and euro.

Stifle competition

While this is designed to limit big swings in their value, the report says global cryptocurrencies like Libra can pose problems, including for policymakers setting interest rates.

The report also warns that Libra could stifle competition among other providers and even threaten financial stability if users suddenly suffer a “loss of confidence” in the digital currency.

The draft report says: “The G7 believe that no stablecoin project should begin operation until the legal, regulatory and oversight challenges and risks are adequately addressed”.

It also cast doubt over the viability of the project even if Libra’s backers satisfy concerns raised by governments and central banks.

“Addressing such risks is not necessarily a guarantee of regulatory approval for a stablecoin arrangement,” the report says.

Facebook is facing intensifying international scrutiny of its cryptocurrency project.

A separate FSB report, published on Sunday, warned that the introduction of “global stablecoins” poses a host of regulatory challenges.

Launch delay

In a letter to G20 finance ministers, Randal Quarles, FSB chairman, warns that these challenges “should be assessed and addressed as a matter of priority”.

The FSB is working with officials around the world to identify potential regulatory gaps, and will publish a report next summer.

Facebook has already warned that regulatory scrutiny may delay or even impede the launch of Libra.

Libra is not the only digital currency that faces scrutiny.

JP Morgan’s JPM Coin, which is backed by US dollars, is a stablecoin that is also likely to be examined.

‘Pressure builds’

The Libra Association, including Facebook, will hold its first board meeting in Geneva on Monday.

As well as Mastercard and Visa, Stripe, eBay and Paypal have also withdrawn from the scheme, which is also backed by ride hailing companies Uber and Lyft.

The G7 report acknowledges that cryptocurrencies potentially provide a faster and cheaper way to move money and make payments and says the current system is often “slow, expensive and opaque”.

There are currently 1.7 billion unbanked and underserved consumers who could benefit from wider access to financial services, it adds.

Facebook and the Libra Association declined to comment. A G7 spokesman could not be reached for comment.

However, Facebook’s executive in charge of the Libra project said earlier this month that losing the backing of major firms was “liberating”. David Marcus added: “You know you’re on to something when so much pressure builds up.”

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Holiday company adverts are still urging you to whisk your family off on a European city break during the half-term holiday.

Yet the minds of many potential holidaymakers are somewhat scrambled by Brexit. The government’s planned exit day is 31 October – the Thursday in the middle of some schools’ autumn break.

The concern is neatly summed up on the message board of parental chat room Mumsnet, where one post says: “I don’t want to spend lots of money then stress the entire holiday about travelling back.”

In reply, some say they still plan to travel – including one who had delayed their trip from March owing to the original planned Brexit date – while others say they will stay at home.

Operators on the UK’s European Consumer Centre says they are receiving questions from concerned consumers about their rights every day.

So what do you need to think about, assuming – in line with the government, but not Parliament’s, intention – that the UK leaves the EU on 31 October?

Currency and the value of the pound

Getting the most from your pounds when changing them into euros feels like a matter of timing – but nobody can tell you when is the best moment to exchange. This graph shows how sterling has been faring against the euro.

One certainty is that the worst rates are given to those who leave it to the last minute and use a bureau de change at the airport or train and ferry terminals.

Currency experts say the pound may slip in value if an exit without a UK-EU withdrawal deal looks likely, but will rise in value if an agreement can be struck.

At the moment, holidaymakers can exchange at close to the same rate as they would have got at the start of the summer holidays and the same time last year.

Changing £100 during most of last week would have got you just over €111, some €1.46 less than 31 October 2018, and €1.63 more than on 31 July this year, according to figures compiled for the BBC by exchange company Equals. That rate improved by the end of the week.

Sterling’s fluctuation during the past five years means you would have got €4.95 less in August last year, but €32.65 more in July 2015.

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, then using a UK bank card to pay for things in the EU after 31 October could become more expensive owing to extra cross-border bank charges.

Passports and visas

Travellers are much more likely to visit Europe than elsewhere, owing to the cost, the distance and the simplicity.

Anyone on holiday abroad after 31 October needs to check that they have six months validity left on their passport and that it is no more than 10 years old.

That is relevant when visiting most countries in Europe – the full list is here. Travel to Ireland will not change, even if there is no deal. You will continue to be able to travel and work there in the same way as before.

It is probably already too late to renew a passport in the normal manner in time – it usually takes three weeks. Instead, there is a quicker, premium service that is more expensive.

No visa will be needed for stays of up to 90 days out of any 180-day period in the EU or Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland (the European Economic Area). However, you may need a visa or permit to stay for longer.

When arriving at a passport control after 31 October, the government advises that holidaymakers have proof of a return or onward ticket, be able to show that you have enough money for the trip (but must declare cash of £10,000 or more), and be prepared to queue in a different channel to the EU one you may be used to. You may also have to wait for longer.

Illness and accidents – will an EHIC still work?

When family members have had accidents or fallen ill, UK holidaymakers in the EU have been using their EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) to access free medical treatment.

In the event of a no-deal Brexit, it is likely that the EHIC will be invalid. If there is a deal or an agreement after a no-deal Brexit, then its validity, or otherwise, would be contained in the text.

Specifically for those travelling to Spain, a healthcare deal has already been struck so any UK tourists travelling there, after a no-deal scenario, would still be covered as before.

Separate deals have also been agreed with Portugal and the Irish Republic which, immediately after any exit, will accept a passport from UK tourists to ensure they can receive healthcare as before.

Whatever the outcome, people travelling soon after 31 October are being advised by the government to ensure they have appropriate travel insurance.

That means a policy that would cover them not only for accidents, but also for any pre-existing health issues (which may require a specialist policy). This could be a major issue for people who, for example, need kidney dialysis.

Transport and driving in the EU

The government says flights, ferries and cruises, the Eurostar and Eurotunnel, and bus and coach services between the UK and the EU will continue to run as normal, whatever the manner of the UK’s exit.

Some bus and coach services to non-EU countries, such as Switzerland or Andorra, may not be able to run in a no-deal scenario.

There is a chance of disruption on some roads while still in the UK if there is a no-deal Brexit. There are plans in place for lorries if they are delayed on their way through ports, but any spillover could mean delays for holidaymakers.

Insurers say that refunds or alternative arrangements for Brexit-related cancellations will be the responsibility of travel or credit and debit card providers first, and only after that could people with policies that include travel disruption cover make a claim.

Anyone driving their own vehicle after 31 October if there is no deal will need a GB sticker on it and also a “green card”. This is actually a document made of green paper from your insurer which has proof of insurance on it. Those towing a trailer or caravan will need two.

Generally, it takes one month to receive a green card, so anyone who has left it too late may need to buy insurance locally for the duration of their stay.

All motorists – either taking their own vehicle or hiring one – may need an International Driving Permit (IDP) when driving in some, but not all, EU countries (you can check if you need one on the Post Office website) in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

The extra expense – an IDP costs £5.50 – may be mitigated by the opportunity to buy some duty-free alcohol or tobacco on the way back in a no-deal scenario.

Calling home and using mobile data

The “roam like at home” rules are expected to end after a no-deal Brexit. Again, if there is a deal, it will need to be included in any agreement.

The current rules, in place since June 2017, mean there are no extra charges for making or receiving calls and using data from your domestic allowance while in the EU.

If it no longer applies, using a mobile or tablet on holiday after 31 October could, in theory, get more expensive.

In practice, competitive pressures mean that the big network operators say they have no plans to return to roaming charges, whatever happens.

Bringing the dog on holiday

Even if you have an EU Pet Passport, this would no longer be valid if the UK leaves without a deal.

Given that it takes about four months to complete all the requirements necessary for pet travel from a so-called unlisted country, which the UK would become, then pets will not be coming on any half-term, or indeed Christmas, breaks with an owner yet to start that process.

If there is an agreement, or an extension to the UK’s membership, then the pet passport should still be accepted.

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Your guide to Brexit jargon

Mastercard, Visa, eBay and payments firm Stripe have pulled out of Facebook’s embattled cryptocurrency project, Libra.

Their move, first reported in the Financial Times, follows the withdrawal of PayPal, announced last week.

It represents a huge blow to the social network’s plans to launch what it envisions as a global currency.

The project has drawn heavy scrutiny from regulators and politicians, particularly in the US.

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg will appear before the House Committee on Financial Services on 23 October to discuss Libra and its planned roll-out.

Regulators have raised multiple concerns over Libra, including the risk it may be used for money laundering.

Mercado Pago, a payments firm serving mostly Latin America, also pulled out. It means of the six payments-related firms first involved in Libra, just one, PayU, remains. Netherlands-based PayU did not respond to the BBC’s request for comment on Friday.

In a statement released on Friday, eBay said it “respected” the Libra project.

“However, eBay has made the decision to not move forward as a founding member. At this time, we are focused on rolling out eBay’s managed payments experience for our customers.”

A spokesperson for Stripe said the firm supported the aim of making global payments easier.

“Libra has this potential. We will follow its progress closely and remain open to working with the Libra Association at a later stage.”

A spokesperson for Visa said: “We will continue to evaluate and our ultimate decision will be determined by a number of factors, including the Association’s ability to fully satisfy all requisite regulatory expectations.”

The Libra Association, set up by Facebook to manage the project, said of the departing companies: “We appreciate their support for the goals and mission of the Libra project.

“Although the makeup of the Association members may grow and change over time, the design principle of Libra’s governance and technology, along with the open nature of this project ensures the Libra payment network will remain resilient.

“We look forward to the inaugural Libra Association Council meeting in just 3 days and announcing the initial members of the Libra Association.”

Facebook’s executive in charge of its Libra effort wrote on Twitter that losing the firms was “liberating”.

“I would caution against reading the fate of Libra into this update,” wrote David Marcus, who before joining Facebook was PayPal’s president.

“Of course, it’s not great news in the short term, but in a way it’s liberating. Stay tuned for more very soon. Change of this magnitude is hard. You know you’re on to something when so much pressure builds up.”

Last week, PayPal said it would no longer be part of the Libra Association, but did not rule out working on the project in future – prompting a strong reaction from the Association.

“Commitment to that mission is more important to us than anything else,” it said in a statement. “We’re better off knowing about this lack of commitment now.”

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The US has agreed to suspend its next tariff hike on Chinese imports after two days of trade talks in Washington.

US President Donald Trump said negotiators had reached a “phase one deal” that would include increased agricultural purchases and address financial services and technology theft.

China’s top negotiator Liu He also said he was “happy” with progress.

The US was due to raise tariffs on some Chinese goods to 30% next week.

US share markets, which had risen on reports of a deal, closed higher, but shed some gains in the final minutes of trade as it became clear any agreement was relatively limited.

‘A deal, pretty much’

“We’ve come to a deal, pretty much, subject to getting it written,” Mr Trump said, adding that negotiators would begin discussing additional phases as soon as this set of agreements is put to paper.

Mr Trump said he might sign the deal alongside Chinese President Xi Jinping at a United Nations summit in Chile in December.

The US has claimed progress in the past on similar issues, such as increased agricultural purchases and foreign exchange and currency, without the dispute being resolved.

Another planned tariff hike, in December, remains on the table, said Robert Lighthizer, America’s top trade negotiator.

Lobby group Farmers for Free Trade said the promise of increased agricultural purchases by China – to between $40bn and $50bn, according to Mr Trump – was welcome, but noted that details were scant.

“While we are pleased that tariffs aren’t going up, this agreement seemingly does nothing to address the crippling tariffs farmers currently face,” said Brian Kuehl, the group’s co-executive director.

“From the very beginning of the trade war, farmers have been promised that their patience would be rewarded. To date, the deal they’ve been promised has not come.”

Long dispute

The US and China have imposed tariffs on billions of dollars worth of each other’s goods over the past 15 months, casting a pall over the global economy.

The US wants better protection for US intellectual property, and an end to both cyber theft and the forced transfer of technology to Chinese firms.

It also wants China to reduce industrial subsidies and improve access to Chinese markets for US companies.

This week’s talks were the first high-level negotiations in more than two months. They kicked off amid a backdrop of renewed tensions, as the US blacklisted 28 Chinese entities over human rights concerns.

US business groups, which have largely opposed the tariffs, said they hoped the breakthrough would set the stage for a bigger deal that would remove the import tax hikes already imposed.

Mr Trump said the range of issues under discussion warranted breaking up the negotiations into parts.

“It’s going to be such a big deal that doing it in sections and phases I think is really better,” he said.

Planes owned by failed airlines could to be used to repatriate passengers – instead of being immediately grounded – under government plans.

Proposed legislation would enable collapsed carriers to be placed into “special administration”, it said.

This would mean aircraft and crew could continue flying in the short-term.

Under the existing system, the grounding of planes when an airline goes bust leaves passengers at risk of being stranded.

When the government wanted to bring Thomas Cook customers back to the UK after the travel firm collapsed in September, it had to ask the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to get hold of 150 aircraft from around the world.

The regulator operated nearly 700 flights at a cost of £100m, in effect by building a shadow airline.

Even though some passengers were not Atol-protected – meaning they would not have been eligible to automatically claim the cost of an alternative flight – the decision was taken to try to repatriate everyone and avoid people being stranded abroad, or facing long waits to get home.

The proposed legislation would allow the CAA to use an airline’s existing infrastructure, planes and staff to bring people back, which has not previously been allowed by the UK’s insolvency laws.

The government said that this would mean less disruption and would cost taxpayers less.


Analysis

By BBC business reporter Howard Mustoe

When a company goes under, any assets it rents – like planes – will be seized by their owners. The rest of the firm’s belongings will be auctioned off to pay off creditors, such as bond investors and banks. In other words, there’s always someone who has a claim to the airplanes of a bust airline.

Borrowing the hardware for a short period to bring passengers home makes perfect sense, and makes thing much easier for the government.

To rescue Thomas Cook’s passengers they needed to cobble together a short-term fleet, and do so quietly to avoid causing a panic and turning the company’s likely demise into a certainty.

But this new plan does mean making the planes’ owners wait a bit before they get them back.


The recommendation of “keeping the fleet flying” is from a review into airline insolvency published in May this year which looked into the protections available to air passengers.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “We’ve seen recently the huge impact airlines collapsing can have on passengers and staff.

“To bring over 140,000 Thomas Cook passengers home, the government and UK CAA worked together round the clock and, with the support of people across the globe, carried out the biggest peacetime repatriation exercise in UK history.

“I’m determined to bring in a better system to deal with similar situations in future, helping ensure passengers are protected and brought home quickly and safely.

The report also recommended the introduction of a 50p levy per air fare to cover the cost of bringing UK passengers home when an airline goes bust.