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UK, Italy, Japan join hands for AI fighter jet

The nations will develop a next generation fighter, due to enter service in the mid-2030s, that will eventually replace the Typhoon jet..reports Asian Lite News

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is set to announce a collaboration between Britain, Italy and Japan to develop a new fighter jet that uses artificial intelligence (AI).

According to Sunak, the joint venture aims to create thousands of UK jobs and strengthen security ties, reports the BBC.

The nations will develop a next generation fighter, due to enter service in the mid-2030s, that will eventually replace the Typhoon jet.

It is hoped the new Tempest jet will carry the latest weapons.

Work on developing it is already under way, with the aim to create a combat aircraft that will provide speed stealth, use advanced sensors and even AI to assist the human pilot when they are overwhelmed, or under extreme stress, the BBC reported.

It could also be flown without a pilot’s input if required and could be able to fire hypersonic missiles.

But building such a complex aircraft is extremely expensive — developing the F35 jet was the most expensive programme ever undertaken by the Pentagon — so Britain has been looking for partners.

Italy was already on board, and the addition of Japan is a significant move, at a time when Britain is building closer ties with allies in the Indo-Pacific region worried about a more assertive China.

Other countries could still join the programme. France, Germany and Spain are already working together on their own separate design, as is the US.

For the UK, this agreement is not just about security but also economics, the BBC reported.

The hope is that developing a new fighter jet could create and sustain thousands of UK jobs and open doors to more arms exports.

ALSO READ: UK unveils plan to loosen bank rules

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UK unveils plan to loosen bank rules

Hunt will announce a review of the system as one of 30 reforms to financial services regulation to be launched in Edinburgh…reports Asian Lite News

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is to overhaul the “senior managers’ regime” — rules introduced in response to the 2008 financial crisis that “terrified” senior bankers and held them personally responsible for infractions on their watch.

Hunt will announce a review of the system as one of 30 reforms to financial services regulation to be launched in Edinburgh on Friday, according to people briefed on the plan.

The regime has since 2016 forced senior executives at banks, building societies and credit unions to take personal responsibility for infractions if they had not taken “reasonable steps” to prevent them. Penalties range from fines to bans.

New laws were introduced simultaneously which made it a criminal offence, punishable by up to seven years’ imprisonment and unlimited fines, for senior managers of lenders and major investment firms to cause a bank failure.

Ministers have insisted that Hunt’s “Edinburgh Reforms” will not mark a return to the risky practices that contributed to the 2008 crash and that Britain’s regulatory framework will remain rigorous.

One ally of the chancellor said the senior managers’ regime was seen as too onerous and would be reviewed. “We will introduce an agile but proportionate regulatory framework,” he said. “But we will maintain the high standards for which we are known around the world.”

Described by the Bank of England as a “critical element of the post-crisis reform agenda”, the senior managers’ regime was designed to ensure bankers had “nowhere to hide” for failings on their watch, as the public balked at the lack of accountability for collapses that cost taxpayers tens of billions of pounds.

Hunt will say on Friday that the regime will be reviewed by regulators and the government early next year, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Treasury declined to comment.

By the end of 2019, the rules had been expanded from covering the UK’s lenders to more than 47,000 companies across the City of London.

But while the financial services industry lambasted the rules as being a dead hand on recruitment, enforcement has so far been sparse.

In one of the few penalties issued by regulators, Jes Staley, Barclays’ then chief executive, was fined £640,000 in 2018 for trying to uncover the identity of an anonymous whistleblower.

Several of the key proposals in the Edinburgh Reforms will seek to unwind some of the more constraining features of regulations put in place after the 2008 crash, including loosening “ringfencing” rules for banks.

Hunt has already announced the removal of the cap on bankers’ bonuses and will also order a review of Mifid II, EU legislation that sought to strengthen protection for investors and transparency in financial markets.

City executives have long complained about the red tape imposed by post-crash regulations, but they have also since overhauled their businesses to cope with the demands. Such restructuring means that any reforms to regulations could take some time to lead to changes in how banks and corporate brokers operate.

London’s position as the pre-eminent European financial centre has been dented in recent years. London briefly lost its long-time crown of most valuable European stock market to Paris before gains in the pound pushed it narrowly back ahead, while Amsterdam took the title of busiest European share dealing centre.

Leading hedge fund manager Sir Paul Marshall of Marshall Wace recently described the London financial markets as a “Jurassic Park” of old-fashioned companies and investors, and it has struggled to attract the world’s fastest growing companies to list on UK exchanges, often losing out to New York, Shanghai or even Amsterdam.

Labour politicians have criticised the scrapping of the bonus cap and said the UK should not engage in a regulatory race to the bottom, but the government will insist the reforms strike the right balance between stability and innovation.

Others will say that in loosening regulation we risk forgetting the lessons of the financial crisis when excessive risk taking ended in billions in bailouts and a decade of stagnating productivity.

ALSO READ-UK kicks off process to negotiate new trade deal with South Korea

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‘Royals had a problem with Meghan’s acting career’

In the docuseries, according to ‘Variety’, Harry says: “I think we all now know that [Diana] was deceived into giving the interview, but at the same time she spoke the truth of her experience.”..reports Asian Lite News

The first three episodes of ‘Harry & Meghan’, the highly-anticipated Netflix docuseries about Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, dropped on Thursday after a frenzy of speculative reporting in the British media about the content and how damaging it would be for King Charles III and Prince William, reports ‘Variety’.

None of the royal family members agreed to be interviewed for the series, which contains a number of revelations on the Harry-Meghan love story — they met over Instagram and Harry was late for his first date! — and also about the early bumps in their relationship with the family.

The first three episodes, however, do not contain anything that may upset the royal family, but it carries footage from Princess Diana’s controversial ‘Panorama’ interview with the now-disgraced BBC journalist Martin Bashir, which, ‘Variety’ notes, is “likely to anger” the Prince of Wales.

It emerged last year that the interview had been secured via fraudulent means. Earlier this year BBC publicly apologised to William and Harry, and donated the $1.6 million it earned from the interview. Prince William had then said: “It is my firm view that this ‘Panorama’ programme holds no legitimacy and should never be aired again.”

In the docuseries, according to ‘Variety’, Harry says: “I think we all now know that [Diana] was deceived into giving the interview, but at the same time she spoke the truth of her experience.”

In another segment, Harry says that male family members were unsympathetic about the intense press intrusion into his and Meghan’s lives because their spouses had suffered the same.

“Some of the members of the family were like, ‘But my wife had to go through that’,” Harry says. ” ‘So why should your girlfriend be treated any differently? Why should you get special treatment? Why should she be protected?’ And I said the difference here is the race element.”

Harry and Meghan also reveal it was Meghan’s career as an actor — at the time she was appearing in the long-running legal drama series ‘Suits’ — that was one of the “biggest problems” for the royals. Unnamed members of the family reportedly predicted to Harry that the relationship wouldn’t last.

The couple share intimate details about how they met and the first time Meghan met Harry’s relatives, including William and his wife Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, as well as her first interaction with Queen Elizabeth.

Meghan, repeating an anecdote from her interview with Oprah Winfrey last year, says the meeting with the Queen was sprung upon her unexpectedly, with Harry asking her on the drive to Windsor Castle whether she knew how to curtsy.

“How do you explain that to people?” Harry says to the series helmer Liz Garbus. “How do you explain that you need to bow to your grandmother? And that you would need to curtsy, especially to an American. Like, that’s weird.”

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UK kicks off process to negotiate new trade deal with South Korea

CSA Catapult is a semiconductor research and technology organisation funded by Innovate UK which specialises in promoting UK next generation technology around the world…reports Asian Lite News

The UK has kicked off preparations to negotiate an enhanced Free Trade Agreement with South Korea by launching a call for input asking businesses, organisations and individuals to help shape the UK’s negotiating aims ahead of talks.

The new deal will upgrade our trading agreement with South Korea, ensuring a more modern and fit-for-purpose deal that builds on our existing £14.3 billion trading relationship and meets the specific needs of the UK. This will include important areas such as digital trade, enhanced climate provisions and further support for small and medium sized businesses.

The news comes following Minister for Trade Policy Greg Hands’ visit to CSA Catapult in Newport last week to discuss how an enhanced Free Trade Agreement could increase UK exports to the growing South Korean market. CSA Catapult is a semiconductor research and technology organisation funded by Innovate UK which specialises in promoting UK next generation technology around the world.

Minister for Trade Policy Greg Hands said, “I’m delighted we are on the cusp of launching trade negotiations with another dynamic market in a fast-growing part of the world. South Korea is a growing market for top-quality British products and services and forms a key part of the UK’s renewed focus on the Indo-Pacific region, securing stronger ties with economies of the future. The opportunities increasing our trade with South Korea presents are significant, not least in digital trade, which is already worth £1.3 billion.”

The new agreement is expected to include dedicated help for smaller businesses, and provisions for investment and digital trade, which will support economic growth and jobs. Further liberalising our services provisions could also boost UK exports of financial and business services to Korea, already worth £1.4 billion in 2021.

The UK is already a top destination for South Korean green investment and could become an even more attractive country to do business in under a new deal.

Korean companies such as SeAH Wind Ltd are investing in the UK. SeAH have recently announced an investment of over £400 million in a monopile foundation manufacturing facility creating up to 750 jobs by 2030.

South Korea is the 10th largest economy in the world and a top-three global producer of vital goods such as semiconductors and ships. In an increasingly unstable world, boosting trade with a like-minded democracy, and trusted ally, will improve our security and resilience.

The UK and South Korea have already signed an agreement to strengthen supply chain resilience confronting global shortages such as of semiconductors, which impacts products including medical equipment, computers and electric vehicles, as well as other supply chain issues caused by the pandemic.

The agreement will help to ensure the smooth flow of key supplies between our two countries, which will support businesses and public services like the NHS to avoid supply shortages.

Gerard Grech, CEO, Tech Nation, said, “We welcome the news of an enhanced Free Trade Agreement between the UK and South Korea, especially in furthering opportunities for export-ready UK tech scaleups looking to expand there. Providing companies with the opportunity to directly input into the deal shows real intent by the UK Government to listen to the tech industry, an approach that is testament to Tech Nation’s contribution to the sector and impactful international work.”

Martin McHugh, Chief Executive Officer, CSA Catapult said, “The Compound Semiconductor Applications (CSA) Catapult supports the growth of UK industry and has a strong track record in building power electronics supply chains for electric vehicles and telecom networks. Closer trade ties between the UK and South Korea are likely to offer growth for the UK, so we will encourage our industry partners to contribute to this consultation.”

Francis Chun, President and CEO, Samsung Electronics UK and Ireland said, “Samsung supports the UK and Korea in continuing to develop their close and positive relationship through comprehensive trade cooperation and the constructive revision of existing trade agreements. We believe that increased trade between the two countries, particularly in the area of technology and innovation, is important and beneficial for businesses and consumers in both countries.”

ALSO READ-UK orders thousands more anti-tank weapons  

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Vikram Doraiswami presents credentials to King Charles

He further added that the resumption of the facility will enable friends from the UK to travel far more easily to India…reports Asian Lite News

Vikram Doraiswami, High Commissioner of India to the United Kingdom, on Thursday presented credentials to King Charles III at Buckingham Palace calling it a “very special moment” for him and his wife.

High Commission of India in London tweeted, “HC @VDoraiswami presented credentials to His Majesty the King at Buckingham Palace, after which he hosted a Vin d’honneur. Thanks to @tariqahmadbt and many Indian and UK friends for being there. @MEAIndia @IndianDiplomacy @indiandiplomats.” Vikram Doraiswami tweeted, “A blink of the eye for a great nation. A moment that has and will be repeated by other, better, reps. And yet, a very special moment for my wife and I, as we follow three ancestors to serve with greatest pride, an Incredibly, heartstoppingly, remarkable India.”

The Buckingham Palace also informed that King Charles III held audiences with incoming High Commissioners and Ambassadors. The Buckingham Palace tweeted, “Today The King held Audiences for incoming High Commissioners and Ambassadors: His Excellency Mr. Vikram Doraiswami, High Commissioner for the Republic of India. His Excellency Mr. Eitvydas Bajarunas, Ambassador from the Republic of Lithuania.”

Earlier on December 7, Vikram Doraiswami held a meeting with UK’s Deputy National Security Adviser for International Affairs Sarah MacIntosh. During the meeting, both sides discussed bilateral relations and global challenges faced by the world.

High Commission of India in London tweeted, “HC @VDoraiswami met Deputy NSA @SarahMacFCDO today to compare notes on bilateral ties, including Defence, Security, and trade They also discussed global challenges of the day. @MEAIndia @FCDOGovUK.”

On December 5, Vikram Doraiswami announced that India is all set to resume the e-Visa facility for UK citizens travelling to India. In a video message on Twitter, Doraiswami said that the service will be made available to the citizens forthwith and the dates will be announced shortly. He further added that the resumption of the facility will enable friends from the UK to travel far more easily to India.

“We are rolling out e-visas once again and this service will be made available to you forthwith. That should enable friends from the UK far more easily to India. So welcome back, e-visas are up ahead and all of our other services including visas at your doorstep remain available to you. We look forward to a good winter season in which everyone gets to celebrate their festivals in India which is the land of festivals,” Vikram Doraiswami said. (ANI)

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Sunak promises ‘tough laws’ on strikes

Aides did not rule out the possibility that this could include a ban on walkouts by ambulance staff and other emergency workers, or the extension of proposed minimum service level legislation to cover the whole public sector…reports Asian Lite News

Emergency workers could face additional restrictions on their right to strike, after Rishi Sunak declared his intention to impose “tough new laws” to tackle industrial action.

Aides did not rule out the possibility that this could include a ban on walkouts by ambulance staff and other emergency workers, or the extension of proposed minimum service level legislation to cover the whole public sector.

And the prime minister later said he was ready to do “whatever I need to do” to minimise disruption to day-to-day life.

Sunak’s comment came a day after the GMB, Unison and Unite unions announced co-ordinated strikes by NHS staff including ambulance workers on 21 and 28 December.

The government promised legislation to enforce minimum service levels during strikes in essential services as long ago as the Queen’s Speech of 2019.

But a bill to introducing the requirement in the transport sector only is yet to start its progress through the Commons.

Transport secretary Mark Harper today admitted that the legislation will not be in place in time to mitigate the wave of rail strikes due to bring travel to a standstill later this month.

“That legislation may well lead to an improvement in the medium to long term, but however fast it is progressed… it is not a solution to dealing with the industrial action we see at the moment,” Harper told MPs.

Answering questions in the House of Commons, Sunak said he would “take action to protect the lives and livelihoods of the British public” if union leaders “continue to be unreasonable”.

The prime minister told MPs: “The government has been reasonable. It’s accepted the recommendations of an independent pay review body, giving pay rises in many cases higher than the private sector.

“But if the union leaders continue to be unreasonable, then it is my duty to take action to protect the lives and livelihoods of the British public.

“That’s why, since I became prime minister I have been working for new tough laws to protect people from this disruption.”

He later said, “If union leaders are not going to be reasonable, then my priority is always going to be to protect people’s safety and to minimise disruption on their day-to-day lives and I will do whatever I need to do to ensure that that’s what we can make happen.”

The PM’s official spokesperson confirmed work was under way on measures to curb the disruption caused by strikes, but refused to discuss the details of the proposals or put a timetable on their introduction.

“We keep the powers under review and obviously in light of what we are seeing with effectively rolling strikes, the prime minister thinks it is right to push ahead with new powers,” said the spokesperson.

The work was being done “at speed”, led by chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Oliver Dowden, he added.

A Labour spokesperson said the party regards minimum service levels as “unworkable” and will oppose the legislation currently before the Commons.

Responding to the PM’s comments, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said:  “The right to strike is a fundamental British liberty. With inflation running at 11 per cent, Rishi Sunak wants to make it harder for working people to win better pay and conditions.

“Public sector workers would love to be able to deliver minimum service levels. But 12 years of Conservative cuts and mismanagement have left our public services falling apart at the seams. Rather than attempting cheap political pot shots, the government should be getting around the table and negotiating with unions about pay. So far, ministers have seemed more interested in sabotaging talks than trying to resolve disputes.”

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “No-one will be fooled by this attempt to divert attention away from the sheer incompetence of this government.

“We will not be intimidated by anti-trade union attacks. If they put more hurdles in our way, then we will jump over them. We are ready industrially and financially. As general secretary of Unite I will continue to fight and win for workers.”

ALSO READ-Sunak caves under pressure over housebuilding targets

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UK orders thousands more anti-tank weapons  

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said, “These next generation light anti-tank weapons have played a decisive role in supporting Ukraine’s army to drive back Russia’s illegal invading forces…reports Asian Lite News

Thousands of new anti-tank weapons will be assembled in Northern Ireland and delivered to the British Army, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace announced today (7 December).

A £229 million deal has been agreed with Swedish manufacturer Saab for Next Generation Light Anti-Tank Weapon (NLAW) systems, which are assembled at Thales’ facility in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

The UK has provided thousands of NLAWs to Ukraine to support the defence of their nation following Russia’s unprovoked and illegal invasion. With NLAW, a single soldier can take out a heavily protected modern main battle tank from 20 to 800 metres away.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said, “These next generation light anti-tank weapons have played a decisive role in supporting Ukraine’s army to drive back Russia’s illegal invading forces. Working with our first-class industry partners, we are continuing to fulfil our commitment to NATO by ensuring our Armed Forces will receive a steady supply of these weapons over the coming years, whilst supporting UK jobs across the length and breadth of the country. Secured through Defence Equipment and Support – the MOD’s procurement arm – today’s agreement will see several thousand units delivered to UK Armed Forces across 2024-2026, in addition to around 500 being delivered in 2023 through a separate procurement.”

NLAW is a shoulder-launched missile system that attacks a tank from above. It combines the simplicity of light anti-armour weapons with the advantages of heavy, crew-operated guided missile systems.

It is as a result of this agility, reliability and accuracy that the NLAW has been an important capability in Ukraine’s fight back against Russia’s illegal invasion, making up part of the 10,000 anti-tank weapons the UK has supplied to the Ukrainian armed forces.

The UK continues to be actively engaged with industry, allies and partners to ensure we can equip Ukraine with vital military support while replacing, at pace, equipment and munitions granted in kind from UK stocks.

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UK universities wooing Indian students with ‘bring your family’ offers

A graduate visa, previously known as the post-study visa, gives one permission to stay in the UK for at least two years after successfully completing a course in the country….reports Asian Lite News

Universities in the UK are paying education agents that recruit Indian students to lure them with an offer, which allows them to bring along their families to the country, a media report said.

According to the Telegraph, commissions are paid to agents who market “graduate visas” and help potential Indian students get visas for their spouses and children.

A graduate visa, previously known as the post-study visa, gives one permission to stay in the UK for at least two years after successfully completing a course in the country.

Indians received 41 per cent of the total number of Graduate Route visas after it was introduced in 2021, according to recent UK immigration statistics.

While some agents come up with offers assuring a “full-time job” for a spouse as well as a two-year “stay” in the country, others tell prospective students to hurry as the UK could soon put restrictions on dependents.

The report comes as immigration situation in the country is becoming a migraine for the Conservative party-led government with net migration numbers rising to an estimated record of 504,000 in the year to June.

While ministers are considering curbs on the number of dependents allowed into the UK and restricting foreign students attending “low-quality” courses, experts warn that the restrictions will bankrupt UK universities, which depend on foreign students for money.

The British High Commission revealed recently that it granted 1.27 lakh student visas to Indians in the year ending September 2022, an increase of 273 per cent over the same period in 2019.

According to reports, India surpassed China to become the largest source of students for the UK with 161,000 students, including 33,240 dependents, coming to the UK last year.

New Way Consultancy (NWC) says it works for more than 70 universities and is paid on commission for each student it recruits, the Telegraph reported.

NWC said that foreign students and their dependents contributed to the UK economy not just through fees of 10,000 pounds to 26,000 pounds but also via an NHS surcharge of 400 pounds a year for the student and 600 pounds for a dependent.

“International students are not migrants, they never stay here,” Moe Sobahan, NWC’s recruitment head told Telegraph.

He warned that curbs on graduate work visas will force Indian students to shift to countries like Australia and Canada, ultimately leading to the end of the student market in the UK.

ALSO READ: UK, US announce new energy partnership

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King visits Gurdwara, lauds ‘langar’

“The Gurdwara encouraged other places of worship to tackle misinformation regarding vaccine hesitancy,” it added…reports Asian Lite News

In a nod to Britain’s diversity, King Charles paid obeisance at a newly-built gurdwara at Luton, a town just outside London, and mingled with the devotees. Children from across faiths were present to welcome him, holding the Union Jack and the Sikh flag of ‘Nishan Sahib’.

With photos and videos, social media posts by the royal family’s officials handles said the king also met volunteers who run the Luton Sikh Soup Kitchen Stand, “which provides vegetarian hot meals seven days a week, 365 days a year at the Gurdwara”.

He also lauded the community for their services during the Covid pandemic over the past almost three years. It ran a pop-up Covid vaccine clinic, which was one of the first of its kind in the UK, said the royal family’s Instagram post.

“The Gurdwara encouraged other places of worship to tackle misinformation regarding vaccine hesitancy,” it added.

The UK has over 5 lakh Sikhs who account for about 1 per cent of the country’s population. The UK Parliament has had several Sikh members — Labour Party’s Tanmanjit Singh Dhesi currently being among prominent MPs.

On the royal family’s Insta post today, among people who commented was one who said: “KC at his best. He is the Head of the Church of England. But he has frequently talked about being a Leader/Friend of the Faiths. I believe that his heart is well meant, contrary to other views.”

ALSO READ-Prince Harry gets warning from King Charles

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Hancock to step down as MP

The 44-year-old drew criticism from party colleagues after disappearing from parliament to be in the show…reports Asian Lite News

Matt Hancock, the former UK health minister suspended by the ruling Conservatives for appearing in a reality TV show, said Wednesday that he will step down as an MP.

He is the latest member of Rishi Sunak’s beleaguered ruling Tories to announce he will not stand at the next election with the party languishing in the polls.

Hancock, who was sacked as health minister during the pandemic after he was caught breaking social distancing rules with an aide he was having an affair with, angered many by flying to Australia to appear in “I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!”

He reached the final of the show having endured being stung by a scorpion, sprayed with slime and made to lie in a pit of spiders and cockroaches, but was suspended from the Tory parliamentary party.

In a letter to Sunak, Hancock wrote: “It has been an honour to serve in parliament and represent the people of West Suffolk.

“I will play my part in the debate about the future of our country and engage with the public in new ways.”

He also added that the party was due to reinstate him as a Tory MP, “but that is now not necessary”.

The 44-year-old drew criticism from party colleagues after disappearing from parliament to be in the show.

More than a dozen Tories MPs, including former finance minister Sajid Javid, have said they will not contest their seats at the next election — due before January 2025 at the latest.

Former leaders Boris Johnson, Theresa May and Liz Truss, however, aim to hold on to theirs.

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