News in brief

The Guardian Weekly - - UK News -

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.

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