News Daily: UK 'front of the line' for US trade - and are hands-free sets safe in cars?

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Image caption Boris Johnson and Donald Trump shake hands at the UN headquarters in 2017

UK 'front of the queue' for US trade deal

In 2016, then-President Barack Obama said the UK would be "at the back of the queue" for a US trade deal if the country voted to leave the European Union. Three years on, President Trump's national security adviser John Bolton has said the UK is "constantly at the front of the trade queue - or line, as we say".

Mr Bolton - who was speaking during a visit to the UK - said a deal, or a series of smaller deals, could be reached "very quickly". He also said the US supported a no-deal Brexit, and claimed he and President Trump were "leavers before there were leavers". "The fashion in the European Union when the people vote the wrong way from the way that the elites want to go is to make the peasants vote again and again until they get it right," he added.

Read our basic guide to a no-deal Brexit here, and learn about the post-Brexit deals the UK has already agreed here.

Is it time to ban hands-free phones while driving?

Drivers could be banned from using hands-free mobile phones in England and Wales, a committee of MPs has suggested. While it has been illegal to use a handheld phone at the wheel since 2003, a hands-free device creates "the same risks of collision", the MPs said. One expert told the committee that taking a hands-free call caused "essentially the same" amount of distraction as being at the legal limit for alcohol blood level.

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Fix 'unfair' business rates, retailers demand

Bosses of more than 50 retailers, including Asda and Boots, have urged the chancellor to reform business rates (the tax on non-domestic properties). The group said the tax had jumped by 50% since the 1990s and was leading to empty shops - with vacancy rates at a four-and-a-half year high. It also said retail accounted for 5% of the economy but paid 25% of all rates. The Treasury said it had a £3.6bn fund "to support our high streets and town centres".

The disappearing pensions of Zimbabwe

By Shingai Nyoka, BBC Africa, Harare

Retired couple Teddie and Vesta always imagined they would live out their golden years with dignity.

He is 85, and served one company for 46 years as a cleaner, eventually rising to become a receptionist. But Vesta says rising inflation has robbed them both of a comfortable retirement. A year ago Teddie's monthly pension was worth $80 (£66). It's now worth $10.

"I am saddened when I see my beloved sitting in that corner from morning to night," Vesta tells the BBC. "I would love to give him a banana, an orange or a cool drink. But we can't afford it. A banana costs $0.40."

The prices of basics like sugar and cooking oil have jumped by 200% in June, according to official statistics. So has healthcare. Meanwhile, the cost of bread has gone up five-fold in four months.

Read more from Shingai here.

What the papers say

Boris Johnson and his partner Carrie Symonds are all smiles as they are pictured together on the front of the Times, the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail. A Downing Street reception for hospice staff was the couple's first official engagement since Mr Johnson became prime minister. However, it's the warm words of President's Trump's national security adviser, John Bolton, that is the focus for the Times. "US promises fast-track trade deals after Brexit" is the headline - but the paper points out that a series of "mini-deals" may not be politically palatable in the US.

Read the full paper review here.

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