■ Bank of England hikes rates to highest level since 2009
THE Bank of England has increased interest rates to their highest level for nearly 10 years after the summer heatwave helped the economy bounce back from a snow-hit start to the year.
Members of the nine-strong Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) voted unanimously to raise the base rate from 0.5 per cent to 0.75 per cent.
The move sees rates rise above the emergency low of 0.5 per cent for the first time since March 2009 and marks only the second hike since the financial crisis, after last November’s quarter-point increase.
Millions of borrowers on variable rate mortgages will be affected by the decision, with a quarter-point rise adding around £16 a month or £192 a year to the average mortgage.
■ Hosepipe ban for millions of customers called off
UNITED Utilities has called off its planned hosepipe ban for millions of customers in the north west of England.
The company was due to bring in the restrictions on August 5 but said that slightly cooler temperatures, recent rainfall and water-saving efforts by customers had meant it did not need to introduce them at the moment.
But the firm warned there was still a possibility of restrictions if more rain did not arrive in the coming weeks.
And with the heatwave on the return in parts of the UK, water companies in other areas are also urging customers to conserve supplies.
■ Labour denies Corbyn compared Israel to Nazis
LABOUR has denied Jeremy Corbyn was comparing the actions of Israelis to Nazis when he referred to the sieges of Leningrad and Stalingrad during a rally speech on Gaza.
The party issued the denial as shadow chancellor John McDonnell faced questions over his backing of the creation of a controversial anti-Zionist group in 2008.
The incidents threatened to draw Labour’s leader and his de facto deputy further into the escalating row over the handling of anti-Semitism in the party.
Yesterday, Mr Corbyn apologised for sharing a platform with people who reportedly compared Israel to the Nazis.
■ Macron ‘unlikely’ to break ranks with EU over Brexit
THERESA MAY has been warned not to expect a Brexit breakthrough in talks with Emmanuel Macron tomorrow.
The UK’s former ambassador to France said Mr Macron (pictured above) was ‘the last person’ to want to break ranks with the rest of the European Union to push for a softer stance from Brussels.
Lord Ricketts also criticised foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt’s repeated warnings about the possibility of a no-deal Brexit, saying it was obvious to continental leaders that the UK was not prepared for such a scenario.
The prime minister will cut short her Italian holiday to hold talks with the French president at his country retreat.
■ Portugal and Spain face 47C heatwave
PORTUGAL and Spain are facing a major heatwave with the mercury expected to soar before peaking at 47C (117F) in some areas this weekend.
Temperatures are being driven higher by a hot air mass moving northward from Africa.
Forecasts are for a high of 44C (111F) in the Portuguese city of Evora, 130km east of Lisbon, and the Spanish province of Badajoz across the border.
Portuguese authorities have issued a nationwide health warning, including for dust moving up from the Sahara Desert, while warnings have also been issued for 40 of Spain’s 50 provinces.
The Portuguese town of Beja is expected to record a peak of 47C on Saturday.