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Top Stories: UK Joins Asia Trade Deal, Economy Grew At End Of Last Year

Kemi Badenoch secured the new trade bloc deal in the early hours of Friday morning (Alamy)

4 min read

The UK has joined an Indo-Pacific trade partnership which the government says will show what the country can achieve in international trade post-Brexit.

Eleven countries already form the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), including Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

The bloc agreed for the UK to become the first European country to enter on a phone call with Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch at 1am on Friday morning.

Badenoch said the agreement is a “huge moment” and claimed it will give the economy a £1.8bn boost "in the long run".

“This is a huge moment for our country,” the trade secretary said in a statement.

“It gives us new access to the world’s most dynamic markets, putting the UK at the heart of the Indo-Pacific region, where the majority of the world’s middle class consumers will live in the decades ahead.

She said the member countries represent the “future” of global trade and economic growth. 

UK economy grew at end of last year

ONS data shows the telecommunications industry fared better than expected at the end of 2022 (Alamy)

The UK economy increased economic output in the final quarter of last year, according to official data. 

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that GDP increased by 0.1 per cent between October and December, after having shrunk by 0.1 per cent in the previous quarter. 

This growth means the country narrowly avoided going into recession, but the UK is still the only G7 economy to not to have recovered GDP to previous levels from before the Covid-19 pandemic.

"The economy performed a little more strongly in the latter half of last year than previously estimated, with later data showing telecommunications, construction and manufacturing all faring better than initially thought," ONS statistician Darren Morgan said.

Rishi Sunak promises guidance for schools on gender identity

CHILDREN in school
The government will publish guidance on issues surrounding gender identity in schools (Alamy)

The Prime Minister has said he will publish guidance for schools on how to navigate students’ gender identity issues.

The teaching union Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) has accused the government of “dragging its feet” and said schools have been waiting for guidance for "several years" while teachers have been “caught in the crossfire”.

The right-wing think tank Policy Exchange published a report showing that many secondary schools were not telling parents when children are questioning their gender identity, claiming this “routinely disregards” safeguarding principles.

However, some LGBT rights groups, including Stonewall, have criticised the report, saying it presents “safeguarding concerns” for children who might be outed to family members who are not supportive. 

ASCL General Secretary Geoff Barton was also critical of the Policy Exchange report, saying it was “yet another example” of being part of a “public minefield of strongly held and opposing views”.

"Meanwhile, the government has still not produced guidance for schools on supporting pupils who identify as trans or who are questioning their gender identity, despite this having been under discussion for several years,” he said.

"This is clearly needed so that schools are able to draw on an established set of guidelines rather than constantly being caught in the crossfire between opposing views and beliefs."

Rishi Sunak said he recognised the area is “sensitive” on a visit to the UK Atomic Energy Authority in Oxfordshire.

“For the summer term we will make sure that we publish guidance for schools so that they know how to respond when children are asking about their gender,” he said. 

“These are really sensitive areas, it’s important that we treat them sensitively and that parents know what’s going on.”

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