Activists urge more scrutiny of standards in trade deals

The leaders of more than 20 major environmental and animal welfare groups have called on the UK government to give MPs and civil society a bigger say over the content of new trade deals as “global Britain” looks to strike agreements around the world.

Amid fears that pressure to strike quick trade deals with the US and Asia-Pacific nations will lead the government to dilute standards on food, the environment and animal welfare, the groups called for the creation of a “scrutiny process” equal to that of the EU and US.

In a letter to Liz Truss, the international trade secretary, seen by the Financial Times, they warned that “time is running out” for the government to enshrine its verbal assurances on maintaining high standards into law in the trade bill that is working its way through parliament.

“The government should, as a matter of urgency, introduce provisions to

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How Boohoo came to rule the roost in Leicester’s underground textile trade

Most doors in Leicester’s ramshackle Imperial Typewriter building were padlocked this week, seemingly in retreat from a Victorian-era scandal pulling at the seams of Boohoo’s fast-fashion business.

Garment workshops that fill this disused factory sew clothes that go to retailers such as Boohoo, the city’s main buyer, for barely more than the price of a coffee.

They are at the heart of an unlikely resurgence of Leicester’s textile trade, which came in tandem with the stellar 14-year rise of Boohoo, from a Manchester market stall to a retailer worth, until this week, more than £5bn.

But the rickety iron staircases and filthy corridors in the Imperial building symbolise allegations that some clothes makers have relied, in part, on flouting labour laws. At the few units still operating this week, workers shied away from questions.

“I’d rather manufacture in Bangladesh than in Leicester, because they’re far further advanced [in terms of

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Coronavirus: Wagamama and Frankie & Benny’s owner says one in 10 sites won’t reopen this year | Business News

The company behind Wagamama and Frankie & Benny’s has warned that one in 10 of its sites will not reopen this year.

The Restaurant Group said the sites, which are mostly at airports, will open in 2021 at the earliest because “footfall is anticipated to remain considerably weak” until then.

It is not clear what this means for staff at the affected restaurants, as the government’s furlough scheme is due to end in October.

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Wagamama has branches all over the UK

Of the group’s other sites, one in four will be open by the end of this month and the rest are expected to be open by the end of September.

The group’s share price closed down 2.24% on Friday.

The Restaurant Group told investors: “We are very pleased to be able to welcome back our customers and colleagues, ensuring that their safety is paramount, while maintaining an enjoyable

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Online bank Smile suffers IT woes as customers struggle to access website and app | Business News

Online bank Smile is trying to reassure customers after days of technical problems with its website and app.

On Wednesday, Smile – which is owned by Co-op Bank – said on Twitter that it was having “intermittent issues with our app and online banking”.

The bank’s 100,000 customers were given a phone number to call during daytime hours for help.

But there were still problems on Friday, and a spokesperson told Sky News: “We’re sorry that our Smile customers have been unable to use our mobile app and online banking as they would usually in recent

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