News in brief
The journalist and free schools advocate Toby Young was forced to resign from the board of the new higher education watchdog, the Office for Students, just eight days after his appointment was announced, following a backlash over offensive comments he has made in the past. Critics of Young’s appointment highlighted the numerous sexually charged comments he has made in public about a female former colleague, as well as television presenters, politicians and other women, as evidence of his unsuitability for a position the Department for Education has said demands high standards of personal conduct.
Environmental campaigners believe that public pressure is about to force the environment secretary, Michael Gove, to introduce a blanket ban on the commercial trade in ivory in the UK. A consultation on what form a proposed ban should take has closed, and the government says it will give its response soon. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said there had been “a massive public response to the government’s proposed ban on ivory sales”. More than 60,000 responses were received, making it one of the biggest consultations in Defra’s history. Of the responses analysed, the overwhelming majority support a ban.
Under-18s will not be able to buy products containing harmful levels of acid or corrosive substances from several major retailers, following the launch of a voluntary government plan. The voluntary ban comes ahead of proposed legislation to prevent minors from purchasing products that contain potentially harmful levels of acid, thus curbing the number of acid attacks.
More than 130,000 UK firms will be forced to pay the VAT sales tax upfront for the first time on all goods imported from the EU after Brexit, under legislation that was being considered by MPs on Monday. The VAT changes spelled out in the taxation (crossborder trade) bill are causing uproar among UK business groups, which say that they will create acute cashflow problems and bureaucracy.