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30 October 2019

Five things you need to know today: Election at last, and Donald Tusk waves goodbye

Also: Grenfell report sees light of day.

By New Statesman

Election, at last

The top story today, and presumably for the next five weeks, is that Britain is set for its first December election since 1923. The bill allowing for the snap poll on 12 December passed the Commons last night, and is making its way through the Lords today. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the campaign would be “tough”, while Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn claimed it would offer a “once-in-a-generation” chance to change the country.  More on this everywhere you turn for the foreseeable future.

Grenfell report published

The campaign group Grenfell United, which represents survivors and bereaved families, has attacked the leak of the independent report into the fire as “unacceptable”. The report, which has already featured heavily in the Telegraph but is not due to be published until later today, is expected to focus heavily on mistakes by the fire brigade, not those by politicians or business. 

Gove’s technical schools failing

The University technical colleges (UTCs) launched by Michael Gove in 2010 have cost nearly £800m, but are literally half empty, a National Audit Office report has found. Of the 58 UTCs which have opened, 10 are no longer operating as technical colleges – while the rest are operating at less than half capacity.

Tusk’s last message

Donald Tusk has warned that this week’s Brexit extension may be the last. “To my British friends,” the outgoing EU council president tweeted, “The EU has formally adopted the extension. It may be the last one. Please make the best use of this time.” As if we listened the last time.

Tusk, who is standing down at the end of next month, added that he would keep his fingers crossed for us.

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M&S launches “buy now, pay later” service

And finally, retailer Marks & Spencer is to begin offering a “buy now, pay later” service online in an attempt to attract younger customers. The retailer has teamed up with fintech company Clearpay to allow customers the option of paying for orders of between £30 and £800 in interest free installments over six weeks. That should make paying for all those Christmas election parties a bit easier.