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Wednesday newspaper round-up: Covid loan fraud, Brexit costs, tax rises, Tesla, TalkTV

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Suitcases filled with cash from taxpayer-backed Covid loans were seized at the border as people tried to smuggle them out of the country, a Times investigation reveals today. Border force officials have stopped people at airports across Britain “carrying large amounts of money suspected from coronavirus bounce-back loans”, a Home Office source said. – The Times

Brexit has pushed up the price of food imported from the EU, compounding Britain’s unfolding cost of living crisis, according to a report. The thinktank UK in a Changing Europe (UKICE) said trade barriers introduced after leaving the EU had led to a 6% increase in UK food prices between December 2019 and September 2021, adding to the rising financial pressure for households. – Guardian

Rishi Sunak was urged to cut tax during a Cabinet meeting about tackling the cost of living crisis, after official figures revealed record-high tax receipts for the Treasury. While colleagues suggested reducing the cost of childcare and scrapping MOTs to help ease the pain of rising bills and prices, Kit Malthouse, the policing minister, argued that reducing the tax burden would be the best way to help struggling families. – Telegraph

Investors in Tesla yesterday showed their disapproval of Elon Musk’s plans to take control of Twitter, sending the shares sharply lower. The electric carmaker’s stock market valuation dropped below $1 trillion amid scrutiny of how its chief executive and largest shareholder intends to finance his $44 billion purchase. – The Times

Britain’s economy will suffer an £8bn hit this year from a reduction in the size of the workforce caused by a pandemic-induced rise in ill-health, research from a thinktank has shown. A report from the Institute for Public Policy Research said a combination of long Covid, NHS disruption and an increase in mental illness meant 400,000 workers had gone “missing” since the global health crisis began. – Guardian

Liz Truss will call for an increase in defence spending on Wednesday, saying the West has overseen a “generation of underinvestment” which led to the invasion of Ukraine. In what is billed by aides as a major foreign policy speech, the Foreign Secretary will say that the traditional Nato target of spending two per cent of GDP on defence should be a minimum. – Telegraph

At least £100 million of taxpayer-backed Covid loans went to companies formed after the start of the pandemic, raising questions about whether the money went to businesses it was designed to help. The cash was intended to support existing firms hit by the fallout from the pandemic but a loophole meant new companies, which the policy was not targeted at, were also able to benefit. – The Times

A P&O Ferries passenger ship which operates between Scotland and Northern Ireland was stranded in the Irish Sea for two hours on Tuesday, after a mechanical failure. The European Causeway, which sails between Cairnryan and Larne, lost power before arriving at the Northern Irish port. – Guardian

Rupert Murdoch’s TalkTV beat the BBC, Sky News and GB News with its flagship show at launch, as hundreds of thousands tuned in for Piers Morgan’s interview with Donald Trump. Piers Morgan Uncensored raced ahead of rivals with an average viewership of 316,800, which peaked at 400,000, as the combative presenter made his debut in the 8pm slot. – Telegraph

Google fell short of Wall Street’s expectations last night as concern over a global economic slowdown piled further pressure on advertising budgets. Shares in Alphabet, its parent company, fell after it posted a steeper drop in profits than analysts had forecast after a bumper run in recent years. – The Times

More than 200,000 private renters in England have been served eviction notices without doing anything wrong in the three years since the government first promised to ban the practice, housing campaigners have claimed. Every seven minutes, a tenant has been landed with a no-fault eviction notice since Theresa May’s Conservative government first committed to scrap them in April 2019, according to research by Shelter, the housing charity. – Guardian

The average battery-powered car can now travel almost 260 miles on a single charge after an “electric decade” in which ranges have trebled and the number of available vehicles has surged almost 15-fold. An electric car in the UK has an average battery range of 257 miles compared with 74 miles in 2011, according to industry trade body the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). – Telegraph

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