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By Christina Georgaki
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Top Stories: Rishi Sunak To Sign Major Security Deal, Doctors On Strike, Silicon Valley Bank Bailout

Rishi Sunak has travelled to San Diego to discuss the AUKUS agreement. (Alamy)

4 min read

Rishi Sunak has travelled to San Diego where he will meet US president Joe Biden and Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese to sign a new nuclear submarine deal.

The pact will see the UK and the US assist Australia in acquiring nuclear-powered submarines as part of the AUKUS agreement. 

Sunak has also announced that the UK will increase investment in defence, launching an update to the 2021 Integrated Review – a framework the government is using to "pursue the UK's objectives and address the risks and threats it faces over the next five years”.

The government has also announced an additional £5bn will be provided to the Ministry of Defence over the next two years to help replenish and improve ammunition stocks, modernise the UK’s nuclear enterprise, and fund the next phase of the AUKUS agreement. 

“As the world becomes more volatile and competition between states becomes more intense, the UK must be ready to stand our ground,” Sunak said on Sunday night. 

“By investing in our armed forces for the long-term, we will be ready for the challenges of today and of the future.

“As I will discuss with our American and Australian allies in the US today, the UK will remain a leading contributor to NATO and a reliable international partner, standing up for our values from Ukraine to the south China seas.”  

The increase in spending on defence is a major victory for defence secretary Ben Wallace who has been lobbying for an increase in spending following Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Junior doctors go on strike for three days over pay

Junior doctors on strike

More than 60,000 junior doctors begin the first day of three days of strike action today in a dispute over pay and working conditions.

The walk out, led by the British Medical Association (BMA) in England, is the longest ever strike by junior doctors after the government failed to reach a pay deal with the union. 

Thousands of procedures and appointments have been cancelled or paused, with junior doctors seeking a 26% pay rise.

The BMA has said that some baristas at food chain Pret A Manger earn more money than newly qualified doctors. While a foundation year one doctor earns just over £29,000 per year the amount of hours worked means this can translate to an hourly rate comparable to minimum wage.

National medical director of NHS England Professor Stephen Powis told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Clearly the more industrial action there is the greater effect it has.

“So far this winter, we’ve already had to reschedule, postpone over 100,000 appointments and procedures.

“Of course if there is then further industrial action that will have another impact. We would like this dispute, along with the other disputes, to be resolved as quickly as possible.”

 Silicon Valley Bank deal saves UK tech companies from collapse

The government has helped secure a bailout of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) after US regulators shut it down on Friday – with HSBC agreeing to buy the UK branch for £1.

The closure of the American SVB, a specialist bank lending to start-up technology companies, is the largest failure of a US bank since the 2008 financial crisis.

The bank's failure risked thousands of UK tech companies, threatening their ability to pay staff and suppliers.

“This morning, the government and the Bank of England facilitated a private sale of Silicon Valley Bank UK to HSBC," chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced on Twitter. 

“Deposits will be protected, with no taxpayer support. I said yesterday that we would look after our tech sector, and we have worked urgently to deliver that promise.”

Noel Quinn, HSBC chief executive, said the acquisition made “excellent strategic sense for our business in the UK”.

“It strengthens our commercial banking franchise and enhances our ability to serve innovative and fast-growing firms, including in the technology and life-science sectors, in the UK and internationally,” he said.

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