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Labour’s Starmer sets out vision for UK

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Labour leader Keir Starmer will set out his vision for Britain on Wednesday, promising to show the party is “back in business” by reversing a lurch to the left to try to win back voters lost to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservatives.

Britain’s main opposition party has not won an election in more than 15 years, but Starmer hopes a series of crises and missteps by the governing Conservatives offers him the chance to show Labour as a viable and attractive alternative.

Against the backdrop of COVID-19, Labour hopes to replicate some of the center-left’s successes elsewhere in Europe by focusing on the importance – and often, also, the poor pay – of key workers in health, social care and other essential sectors.

But critics and even some in his party question whether the former human rights lawyer has what it takes to unite a deeply divided party or challenge Johnson’s ability to connect with voters.

“The questions we face in Britain today, are big ones. How we emerge from the biggest pandemic in a century. How we make our living in a competitive world. The climate crisis. Our relationship with Europe. The future of our union,” he will tell delegates at the annual party conference in the English seaside town of Brighton, according to excerpts of his speech.

“These are big issues. But our politics is so small. So our politics needs to grow to meet the scale of the challenge.”

Starmer, 59, wants to underline that the party is under new management after Labour was all but consumed by a civil war between its two wings under leftist former leader Jeremy Corbyn.

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‘Google’ is most searched word on Bing, Google says

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The top entry on Microsoft’s Bing search engine is for its rival Google, Google has said.

The claim was made in court, as Google made its case to appeal against a €4.3bn ($5bn) fine from the European Union for abusing its market power.

The EU accused Google of using Android’s success in the smartphone market to make Google the default search engine.

But Google says its service is simply the most popular.

“We have submitted evidence showing that the most common search query on Bing is, by far, ‘Google’,” lawyer Alfonso Lamadrid told the EU General Court, as first reported by Bloomberg. “People use Google because they choose to, not because they are forced to.

“Google’s market share in general search is consistent with consumer surveys showing that 95% of users prefer Google to rival search engines.”

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Rapid house price growth continues in September

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Annual house price growth of 10% or more has been recorded for each of the past five months, according to data from the Nationwide.

The UK’s largest building society said that prices in September were up 10% compared with a year earlier, a slight slowdown from 11% in August.

The double-digit rise was driven by recent activity in Wales and Northern Ireland, the lender said, with London still seeing the slowest growth.

The typical home now costs £248,742.

Rapidly rising house prices continues to create financial problems for potential first-time buyers, despite record low mortgage rates being offered by lenders.

A recent report by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said that people in tourist hotspots – which have become increasingly popular for relocating buyers – were at risk of being priced out of buying a home in the areas where they worked.

Nationwide bases its house price estimates on its mortgage data, and Robert Gardner, the building society’s chief economist, said that property values had continued to rise more quickly than earnings, which meant affordability was becoming more stretched.

“Raising a deposit remains the main barrier for most prospective first-time buyers. A 20% deposit on a typical first-time buyer home is now around 113% of gross income – a record high,” he said.

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Fuel diverted from large firms to forecourts in UK to ease crisis

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Fuel is being diverted from large firms in the UK to garage forecourts in a move that could threaten to disrupt online deliveries, The Telegraph reported on Wednesday.

UK government officials have instructed executives running Britain’s network of fuel terminals to send tankers heading for large companies to garages and service stations instead, the newspaper said https://bit.ly/3kSWTL6, citing industry sources.

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