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28 Jun 2020 | 18:52

Sunday newspaper round-up: Coronavirus, British Airways, BT Group

(Sharecast News) - Britain is on a "knife edge" and likely to see an increase in coronavirus cases by July, a Government adviser has warned. Sir Jeremy Farrar, the director of the Wellcome Trust and a member of the Government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said he was concerned that there will soon be a surge of new infections caused by lockdown restrictions being eased towards the end of May. - Sunday Telegraph British Airways has told its longest-serving cabin crew they will have to take a 20% basic pay cut and change working patterns if they are to be retained, as it prepares to lay off up to 30% of its workforce. The proposal comes almost two months after BA notified unions of plans to lay off 12,000 staff after coronavirus grounded almost all passenger flights. - Guardian

BT has claimed that Boris Johnson's plan to give all Britons superfast broadband by 2025 will require a 'Herculean effort' as doubts grow about the ambitious target. The Prime Minister revealed his plan last year to connect the whole of Britain to one gigabit per second broadband by 2025 and committed £5billion to the goal. But industry sources say the already ambitious plan has been thrown into doubt by coronavirus delays. The industry also faces disruption if controversial Chinese firm Huawei is stripped out of the network. - Mail on Sunday

More than 50 years ago hydrogen fuel cells helped put Neil Armstrong on the moon, but mainstream usage of the technology has remained elusive since. Now there are signs that may be changing, with a spate of new investments even amid the coronavirus pandemic. In the UK, the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, this week told MPs that the government will experiment with hydrogen fuel cells for an entire town's bus network. Earlier this month, the Department for Transport gave £400,000 to the Hydroflex project, run by the University of Birmingham and rail-leasing company Porterbrook, to bring the first hydrogen train to UK main lines in the next few weeks. - Guardian

Fast-growing online beauty retailer The Hut Group (THG) has reignited speculation that it is heading for a long-awaited £5bn stock market debut after lining up meetings with an array of blue-chip investors including Schroders, T Rowe Price and Fidelity. Bankers are pushing privately held online retailers to consider floating after the enforced closure of all non-essential shops for three months because of the coronavirus lockdown funnelled more business onto the web. - Sunday Times

Donald Trump's government has warned Hitachi against selling a nuclear power project to China as tensions between Washington and Beijing escalate. Officials from the US State Department are understood to have heaped pressure on the Japanese industrial giant as it weighs options for the Horizon nuclear project on Anglesey, north Wales. Hitachi last year put Horizon on hold and wrote off £2bn after repeated delays by Westminster in signing off a support package. - Sunday Times

Virgin Atlantic is trying to raise up to £900m within days to avoid collapse. The airline, founded by Sir Richard Branson, has pumped up its bailout plans from £750m and is in talks with debt funds as hopes of a state-backed rescue fade. Virgin's increased cash call underlines the dire state of an industry battered by the grounding of planes and the government's quarantine diktat. Long-haul carriers such as Virgin are due to be among the slowest to see passenger numbers recover. - Sunday Times

Sir Mark Sedwill has announced he will stand down from his role as Cabinet Secretary, National Security Adviser and head of the Civil Service in September. The Sunday Telegraph first reported Sir Mark's expected departure under Boris Johnson's plans for a Whitehall revolution. His departure signals that a long-planned shake-up of the Civil Service by Dominic Cummings, Mr Johnson's chief aide, is gathering pace. - Sunday Telegraph

Unemployment in Britain could soar to levels not seen since the 1980s unless ministers boost support for businesses struggling because of the lockdown, Labour warns today as the main parties join battle over how to rescue the economy from the wreckage of the Covid-19 crisis. New analysis by the House of Commons library shows that up to one million people could be added to the current jobless total of 2.8 million, unless extra support is given from August. Unemployment in the UK peaked at 3.3 million in 1984 under Margaret Thatcher. - Guardian

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