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Sunday newspaper round-up: Hong Kong, Air bridges, Vaccine

By Alexander Bueso

Date: Sunday 24 May 2020

Sunday newspaper round-up: Hong Kong, Air bridges, Vaccine

(Sharecast News) - Hong Kong democracy activists yesterday made frantic plans to cover their tracks amid fears of a brutal crackdown by the world's most powerful surveillance state. Many deleted politically sensitive online postings, wiped social media accounts and turned to proxy servers that mask their identities after China announced sweeping national security laws for the territory. - Sunday Times

Business leaders have written to Boris Johnson to demand the urgent creation of "air bridges" to low-risk countries to quash fears that Britain's controversial quarantine "risks major damage to the arteries of UK trade". A letter sent to No 10, seen by The Sunday Telegraph, warns the Prime Minister that a failure to act will "push the UK to the back of the queue as states begin conversations for opening up their borders" as the coronavirus pandemic eases. - Sunday Telegraph

So few people in the UK are being infected with the coronavirus that Oxford University researchers may have to "chase" the disease around the country to test their vaccine. To be confident that a vaccine works, enough people who take part in the trial need to be exposed to the virus - but the rate of infection in parts of the UK is becoming too low. Sir John Bell, regius professor of medicine at the university and an expert in immunology, said the speed at which scientists would discover if the vaccine worked was "entirely dependent" on the number of infections in the population. - Sunday Times

Aerospace giant GKN is offering voluntary redundancy to thousands of staff - raising fears that it is planning sweeping job cuts. The Mail on Sunday can reveal that the plane parts manufacturer, which is owned by FTSE 100 buyout firm Melrose, has asked staff at two of its largest aerospace factories to take voluntary redundancy to limit substantial involuntary cuts that are believed to be looming. Aerospace manufacturers are grappling with a slump in demand in civil aviation and are hoping job cuts will help them to survive the coronavirus outbreak. - Mail on Sunday

When the Bank of England governor says he is not ruling out a cut in the cost of borrowing to below zero, you know there is trouble ahead. Negative interest rates are the last resort of the central banker and not to be used unless absolutely necessary. At least that is the thinking inside the forbidding walls of the Bank's offices on Threadneedle Street. Only a couple of weeks ago, governor Andrew Bailey said, in effect, that the Bank had never lowered interest rates to below zero and wasn't going to start now. - Guardian

The former boss of the London Stock Exchange has warned its $27bn (£22bn) debt-fuelled takeover of the data provider Refinitiv carries serious risks and that parts of its business are "obsolete". Xavier Rolet, the Frenchman who ran the exchange for almost a decade until his departure in 2017, said his former employer's efforts to win competition clearance for the deal could go either way. - Telegraph

Jaguar Land Rover, Britain's largest carmaker, has asked for a support package from the government to help it survive the coronavirus pandemic. Talks are ongoing with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), and the department said it would not provide a running commentary of the discussions, after Sky reported that the bespoke loan request was in excess of £1bn. - Guardian

Britain's largest solar farm, capable of generating enough clean electricity to power 91,000 homes, is poised to receive the greenlight from ministers this week. The subsidy-free renewables park is expected to reach a capacity of 350MW by installing 880,000 solar panels - some as tall as buses - across 364 hectares (900 acres) of farmland in the Kent countryside. - Guardian

An investment tycoon has warned that Lloyds bank is facing an "existential crisis" and suggested it should wind itself up so it can return capital to shareholders. Jeremy Hosking, worth £385m according to The Sunday Times Rich List, asked whether Lloyds was "a for-profit private company or simply a publicly owned utility" after it joined other banks in cancelling dividend payments following pressure from the City regulator. -Sunday Times

Britain could be poised to launch its first ever sovereign wealth fund under plans being examined by the Government, The Mail on Sunday can reveal. Officials are understood to be 'actively considering' a £25billion taxpayer-backed fund to reboot struggling regional firms in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. Under the plan, the Government would buy shares in key businesses outside of London as part of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's agenda to strive to 'level up' the entire country after lockdown ends. - Mail on Sunday

Boris Johnson has been forced to cave into to Conservative backbench rebels opposed to the presence of Huawei in 5G networks and has drawn up plans to reduce the Chinese company's involvement to zero by 2023. The prime minister's retreat is designed to stave off what could have been an embarrassing defeat when his existing proposal to reduce Huawei to a 35% market share was to be voted on in the Commons. - Guardian

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