Paloma Faith’s trainers have “WOMAN” written on each sole. I know this because she’s lying on her back, with one leg draped over the other so the underside of her shoe is exposed. She’s tired thanks to a recent, unusual bout of insomnia. “I used to sleep really well,” she tells me. “I don’t feel stressed… but I do think when you have a child, your sleep changes. You have this ‘one eye open’ thing, like an animal ready to attack.”
We’re at a hotel in Mayfair where she’s going to film part of a campaign to thank all the midwives working over the Christmas period. There’s a tree next to the sofa that’s decorated with baubles that glint in the light from outside. Faith has recorded a version of “Silent Night”, “because it’s not very silent when you’re in the ward”, she guffaws.
Our interview is not unlike a therapy session – partly because of Faith’s position on the black leather sofa and our attempts to diagnose her insomnia – but also because she’s in a particularly forthcoming mood. “I look at everyone else around me and feel inferior,” she says, shifting to a sitting position, knees folded against her chest. With no makeup and her bleached blonde hair hanging in soft waves around her face, she looks much younger than her 37 years. It’s been eight months since her sold-out shows at the O2 Arena in London, and she’s itching to get back to work with new music: “I’m about to start [writing a new album], so I’m putting a list together of who I want to work with.”
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In October, Faith released the video for her song “Loyal”, which shows her and her lover wrestling one another in the death throes of their romance, all while their baby is asleep upstairs. It is both dark and comical, complementing the track that deals with the flawed notion of a “perfect” relationship.
After Faith gave birth, she felt confused about what society had told her motherhood would be like, or what she should be like as a mother. “I’ve always been a maternal person, and I don’t want to sound arrogant but I know I’m a really good mum,” she says. “But that doesn’t mean I haven’t struggled or doubted my decision to be one, or that there aren’t days where I feel like I’m a terrible mother or days where I’d just like one day where I was not one.”
“I wanted it to be a feminist statement,” she says of the video, “about the fact that everyone perceives women who have had a child as having to be this subservient mother character. Often it seems socially acceptable for men to stray when their partner has a baby, but actually women have the same desires.”
That’s why you see her swiping on Tinder in the video, she says, laughing. She has a fantastic laugh – more of a Disney chuckle – that scrunches her whole face up. “My poor boyfriend, if he reads this!” she says, referring to her partner, the French artist Leyman Lahcine. “But we’re like best friends and we’ve got a real mutual understanding. He never went into ‘overconfidence mode’ which I think a lot of men do once their wives have had a baby. He’s always a little insecure that he could still lose me, and it’s mutual, which is important. There’s no complacency.”
“Loyal” is a bonus single from the recently-released“Zeitgeistedition” of Faith’s fourth studio album The Architect. She’s currently on track to become the first female solo artist to go double platinum four times: “There are others that could come out and do it first though: Adele, Florence + the Machine… they might pip me to the post,” she says. “Florence is amazing. I’m really happy when I hear she’s successful, whereas some of the others…” she trails off, and just smiles when I ask her which artist’s success she begrudges. “Sometimes I feel like I’m not born for this world, like I just don’t get it,” she shrugs. “I think the artists I admire are timeless. Florence is timeless, Adele is timeless… But there’s so much s**t out there.”
But Faith’s year has been less focused on music and more on acting. She’s currently learning lines for a forthcoming TV series, Pennyworth – a Sixties-set prequel to the DC Comics-based Gotham, about Batman’s butler. Faith is the lead antagonist.
“I’m quite insecure about that because I feel I have to prove myself,” Faith says. “It’s the first time I’ve been cast in something that’s really substantial. I have one of the key roles, and I feel like it’s a chance to prove that I’m not just a singer.”
Her character is called Bet Sykes and she’s a “dark, horrible villain”, according to Faith. “I love it,” she says. “We’ve just finished filming the pilot and we’ve got another nine episodes to film.” It sounds as though the costumes won’t be quite as colourful as the ones she wears onstage: “I look like my old dinner lady! But it’s escapism, and brilliant writing. I’m really fond of the character. There’s nothing of me in it.”
She’s been watching documentaries about female killers, such as Myra Hindley, or the BBC series Killing Eve, and trying to build on this character and what audiences are so drawn to when it comes to evil women. It sounds like a marked contrast to one of her latest roles, where she appeared as a version of herself in Paolo Sorrentino’s film Youth.
“I said, ‘I’ll just be the version of me that you think I am,’ and that’s what we did,” she says of that role. “The whole film is supposed to be about the falsity of the outwardly projected version vs the reality. I was a secretary who was really plain and unattractive and beige, but in her imagination, I was this sex-crazed, over-saturated personality.
“One of the things I’m told about me and my projected self is there’s inconsistency,” she continues. “I find that challenging to understand because I struggle with the idea that we should all define ourselves so rigidly, that we live in a culture where we have to present a readable version of ourselves and never stray from it.”
An aspect of her character that is often portrayed in the media is how “outspoken” she is, although Faith wonders if today that simply means being unafraid of offering an opinion. She’s had her comments misinterpreted plenty of times but still wants to be the vocal, expressive person she is. And she’s not afraid to air her frustrations with the media.
“It took me eight years to stop being asked a question about being a magician’s assistant,” she says, heaving a sigh. “Or, ‘What was it like working with Pharrell Williams?’ I’ll always say it was pretty much like working with everyone else, for the Pharrell question… What was it like to be a magician’s assistant?” She pauses. “Cramped,” she finishes, dead-pan, before bursting into another peal of laughter.
A recent comment about Theresa May was misinterpreted to the point she felt compelled to issue a clarification on Twitter in October, after she defended the furore around the prime minister’s dancing during her entrance at the Conservative Party conference. Faith had criticised the media attention over the incident, but some took it to mean she was supporting her in everything. And while Faith still thinks the dancing coverage had a lot to do with May’s gender, she also believes the prime minister is making “a real mess” of Brexit.
“I think the most brilliant, courageous thing for her to do would be to realise her career’s over and be the guy that says ‘We’ve made a mistake, really sorry, it’s not possible. I’m going to implement a law that means this cannot be reversed within the next 10 years’,” Faith says. “Then step down. It’d be the non-egotistical thing to do. At the moment she’s running the risk of her only legacy being that she made a s**tshow of the situation.”
“Brexit is very personal to me because my partner is a French passport holder, and my dad is Spanish, and my mum’s English.” She and Lahcine are applying for dual citizenship for their child, and she’s trying to get dual citizenship for herself with Spain. “I don’t know if it’s possible because we haven’t got a deal yet. It’s scary,” she admits. “But I feel optimistic about the new generation. Young people seem so much more clued up, and I’m hoping they’re going to save it all.”
A General Motors Co. worker attends an information meeting at Unifor Union Hall in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada, on Monday, Nov. 26, 2018.
More than 1,100 General Motors employees have already volunteered to transfer from plants where the automaker is cutting jobs to other GM factories, the company said Friday.
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GM has about 2,700 job openings at U.S. manufacturing plants in several states, including Michigan and Ohio, the company said. It will also be providing training and tuition assistance for affected employees as part of its plan to cut roughly 14,000 North American jobs, GM said.
“Strong U.S. and Canadian economies enable us to provide these opportunities now as we position General Motors for long-term success,” GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra said in a statement. “Our focus remains on providing interested employees options to transition including job opportunities at other GM plants. We remain committed to working with local government officials, our unions and each individual to find appropriate opportunities for them.”
The news comes as GM files layoff notices with federal regulators. GM recently said it will cut up to 14,000 salaried and hourly jobs at facilities across the U.S. and Canada. The decision was viewed by some in the industry as a necessary step for GM to stay competitive in the short term and make investments to grapple with disruptive businesses and technologies such as ride sharing and automated driving technologies. However the move has also drawn criticism, particularly from labor leaders, politicians in the affected regions, and President Donald Trump.
The story is breaking news. Please check back for updates.
The head of the non-profit insurer that protects investors from losses in the event a brokerage fails said he was as surprised as anyone to hear about Robinhood’s plans to offer checking and savings accounts for 3 percent interest.
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SIPC President and CEO Stephen Harbeck told CNBC on Friday that he had serious concerns about the plan, and contacted the Securities and Exchange Commission’s trading and markets division about it. The SEC could talk to Robinhood about it as early as Friday, he said. Robinhood had not yet contacted SIPC, he added.
The issue has “profound significance” for the financial services industry, Harbeck said.
Robinhood announced on Thursday it would offer no-fee checking and savings accounts alongside its brokerage accounts, with an enticing 3 percent annual interest rate. It was seen as a shot across the bow of traditional banks.
On Robinhood’s website, it explains that users need to sign up for a Robinhood account to get the checking and savings accounts. But it says users do not need to invest to use the accounts, something Harbeck says is contradictory.
Brokerage firms often offer accounts for customers to hold cash until it can be invested in securities, but those accounts aren’t meant to be strictly for savings, Harbeck said. Money sitting in such accounts but not intended to buy securities may not be covered by the SIPC, which insures accounts for up to $250,000 of cash in the case of a broker’s failure.
The former Army sniper has had some experience with that. His tenure at the the Securities Investors Protection Corp., beginning as CEO in 2003, spans the liquidations of Lehman Brothers, Bernard L. Madoff Securities, and MF Global.
Cash balances sitting in accounts collecting interest for a long period of time also skirt the SIPC rules on what’s covered in the event of a collapse, Harbeck said. It may fall under the category of a loan because the brokerage can take that money and invest it income-generating investments like Treasury securities. A loan wouldn’t be covered by the fund. “We want to make sure that investors know there’s some risk there,” he told CNBC.
The SEC, which oversees SIPC, did not immediately return a call for comment. Robinhood did not immediately respond to a call and email for comment.
“The revised approach of the major banks in assessing borrowing capacity is having a material impact on the average household’s access to home financing and a resultant impact on demand.”
ANZ chief Shayne Elliott said regulatory intervention and changes in “where and to whom we lend” had a clear impact on the market.
“There were some figures recently which showed an average family could have borrowed about $550,000 three years ago. Today that figure is closer to $440,000, so that’s a very tangible example of how the borrowing capacity for customers has been curtailed.”
Good borrowers welcome
Concerns about the economic impacts of a credit squeeze have been growing in recent weeks. On Thursday, the Council of Financial Regulators, which includes the Reserve Bank of Australia, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and Treasury, used its inaugural public statement to add extra weight to these fears.
“A tightening of lending standards over recent years has been appropriate and has strengthened the resilience of the system,” the CFR said after its quarterly meeting. “At the same time, members agreed on the importance of lenders continuing to supply credit to the economy while they adjust their lending practices, including in response to the royal commission. Members discussed how an overly cautious approach by some lenders to incorporating relevant laws and standards into loan approval processes may be affecting lending decisions.”
But bank leaders insisted they remain ready to lend, despite their more prudent approach.
“Westpac is open for business,” chief executive Brian Hartzer declared. “Over the last few years we have progressively tightened our processes around expense verification, but we absolutely are still there to support people with good credit who want to buy homes or invest in their businesses.”
The newly minted chief executive of Macquarie Group, Shemara Wikramanayake, said criteria “undoubtedly tightened over the past couple of years, as APRA has encouraged financial institutions to increase lending standards”. But she said that despite the more-rigorous checks, credit remains available to good borrowers, as evidenced by still-solid growth in owner-occupier lending, which is chugging along near 5 per cent.
NAB chief executive Andrew Thorburn said supply of credit wasn’t the only issue in the market.
“There are signs that customers are not demanding credit as much as they were and that’s because there is some concern about what’s happening in the economy – things like cost of living and what’s happening in the housing market.
“But we remain are very much open for business – and we want help Australians who want to borrow to buy a home or to start and grow a business.”
The chief executive of Commonwealth Bank, Matt Comyn, said his bank was determined to keep its loan book open for small business.
“What’s important from our perspective is that we are supporting Australian businesses. We’re a prime beneficiary of Australia performing well and small businesses represent an enormous contribution to GDP output, so it’s certainly our stated objective to provide credit to any business that we would consider to be credit worthy.”
The Chanticleer survey also suggested wages will continue to tick higher in 2019, with several chief executives including Woodside’s Peter Coleman, Boral’s Mike Kane and NIB’s Mark Fitzgibbon tipping growth of about 3 per cent.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the chief executive of banking and insurance group Suncorp, Michael Cameron, said he was seeing “additional demand and competition for people with regulatory and compliance expertise”.
Richard White, of WiseTech, said competition for tech workers remained strong, while there also appears to be mildly stronger demand for labour in the resources sector.
“We’re seeing modest wage growth in our industry, of 3 per cent to 4 per cent, which is just slightly above inflation,” Mr Coleman said. “Yes, the resources cycle has picked up a bit but this doesn’t look anything like the intense competition for workers that Western Australia experienced during the last boom.”
Formula 1 could see a 20% improvement in the quality of racing next year, according to Ross Brawn.
F1’s head of motorsport said he was optimistic changes to the cars for 2019 would enable drivers to race closer together and pass more easily.
“Until the cars run, we don’t know what solutions [teams] have made, but from predictions we’re achieving about 20% improvement,” said 64-year-old Brawn.
However, teams say their research does not tally with Brawn’s predictions.
Many say they are expecting a very small effect, if anything at all.
The changes – which involve a wider, simpler front wing and a wider, deeper rear wing – are aimed at reducing the amount of aerodynamic turbulence produced behind a car, and therefore making it easier for another car to follow closely.
Ferrari trialled a 2019 front wing in practice at the season finale in Abu Dhabi at the end of last month.
Team boss Maurizio Arrivabene said afterwards: “They were supposed to give more possibility to the overtaking. At the moment, the first feedback that I got from our driver is that most probably that objective is not achieved.”
Brawn, who was quoted in an article on the official F1 website, emphasised that the changes for 2019 were part of an ongoing attempt to improve the show, part of which is a much wider revamp of the rules for 2021.
“The point to stress is it’s a philosophy and a culture, not just a one-stop solution,” Brawn said.
“If we don’t achieve everything we want to achieve with these changes, we’ll learn from it, press on and carry on with the next phase of changes – and we’ll keep doing that until we get the cars in a form when they can race each other much more effectively, which they can’t at the moment.
“It’s useful to see if the teams have been able to evolve and take different directions because we don’t want to discover that in 2021.”
The new front wing design came out of research for the 2021 rules but F1 asked the teams for permission to introduce it early to understand its effect, and because they felt it could give an immediate gain.
Brawn said that the teams were helping with research for the 2021 rules.
These are being kept under wraps but he said F1 and governing body the FIA had “issued a framework of what the car could be like with tasks for each team to look at aspects of it”.
There was no further clarification on what exactly that meant.
He added: “We don’t want teams with a lot of resource to gain a march on those who don’t. But it’s a difficult balance because there is a perfectly valid argument that the later you leave the issuing of the information, the more it suits the teams with a lot of resource.”
What about engines?
F1 has been forced to backtrack on plans to make fundamental changes to the engines from 2021.
Cars will now continue to use the complex turbo hybrid engines that have set new standards for efficiency but which have been criticised for being expensive and producing an unevocative sound.
The engines will continue fundamentally unchanged because the manufacturers in F1 asked why it was necessary to make expensive changes when no new companies were pledging to enter.
But Brawn said he had won concessions from the existing manufacturers that would make it more appealing for potential new entrants in the future.
“We have found a compromise,” he said. “There are regulations coming out which would mean new entrants will get support from existing entrants. There will be components and technology that will have to be shared if it is requested.”
And the budget cap?
F1’s new owners Liberty Media have said they want to restructure the prize money system to make it more equitable, and to reduce costs by imposing a budget cap.
Teams have been saying the budget cap is likely to be delayed until 2022 or even 2023, but Brawn said F1 was “on schedule” to introduce one in 2021.
“The fairer distribution [of revenues] among the teams is balanced out by the reduction in costs particularly by the big teams, so their bottom lines will be improved,” Brawn said.
“If we follow the budget cap proposals, I can’t see a team in F1 which won’t be better off.”
However, agreement has not been reached on this point and insiders describe discussions over 2021 – including the chassis and engine rules, and issues of revenue distribution and cost control – as “an ongoing process”.
Theresa May has insisted her Brexit deal is not dead despite a bruising summit in Brussels in which EU leaders made no significant concessions to help her pass the agreement.
Speaking on Friday after the meeting the prime minister accepted that her “MPs will require further assurances” to pass the controversial plan after the EU ripped up a commitment to help.
EU leaders last night only released a bare-bones statement of “reassurances”, and deleted pledges from earlier drafts which had said the bloc “stands ready to examine whether any further assurance can be provided”.
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But the prime minister insisted that “as formal conclusions, these commitments have legal status and therefore should be welcomed”.
She told reporters that after a round of diplomacy this morning it was clear to her that “further clarification and discussion following the Council’s conclusions is in fact possible” despite the conclusions.
The PM insisted there would be further discussions in the coming days.
Ahead of the meeting some EU officials had suggested a more substantial package to help the PM might be held back until the New Year when it was judged to be more effective – but it is not clear whether this plan is still on the cards.
But even such a further step appears unlikely to assuage Tory eurosceptics, who want a legally binding mechanism for the UK to leave the treaty’s Northern Ireland backstop. The bloc has ruled this out, said it would effectively render the backstop ineffective, and that it will not reopen the withdrawal agreement.
That backstop policy ties the UK to the EU’s customs area and ramps up checks on goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland in order to prevent a hard border with the Republic of Ireland.
“As formal conclusions, these commitments have legal status and therefore should be welcomed. As I have always said, the guaranteed way of avoiding the backstop is to have the future partnership in place by the time the implementation period is over. The EU is very firmly committed to this course,” she said.
“But MPs will require further assurances, and I have discussed that this morning with my EU partners, including Presidents Tusk, Juncker and others.
“I note there has been reporting that the EU is not willing to consider any further clarification. The EU is clear – as I am – that if we are going to leave with a deal this is it. But my discussions with colleagues today have shown that further clarification and discussion following the Council’s conclusions is in fact possible.
“There is work still to do and we will be holding talks in coming days about how to obtain the further assurances that the UK Parliament needs in order to be able to approve the deal.”
Accounts of last night’s meeting suggest the prime minister’s speech, in which she called for help to get the agreement “over the line”, was repeatedly interrupted by Angela Merkel asking her what she actually wanted from them.
Senior UK government officials admitted that the prime minister did not bring any documented proposals with her to the meeting.
The approach puzzled EU diplomats, who for days before the conference had said they needed to see what proposals Ms May had come up with before they could respond to her request for aid.
Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission president, said at a midnight press conference after the discussion: “I do find it uncomfortable that there’s an impression perhaps in the UK that it is for the EU to propose solutions.
“It is for the UK leaving the EU and I would have thought that it was rather more for the British government.”
In the margins of the summit the meeting is already being called “Salzburg 2.0” – a reference to a previous summit in September where the prime minister’s dinner speech also ended up accidentally hardening the EU position.
The statement issued by leaders warns that the withdrawal agreement “is not open for renegotiation”, but clarifying that the controversial backstop will “apply temporarily, unless and until it is superseded by a subsequent agreement” and that the EU will “use its best endeavours” to get it replaced quickly “so that the backstop would only be in place for as long as strictly necessary”.
They assured the UK it was EU’s “firm determination to work speedily” to replace it with a trade agreement.
The statement will be of little help to the prime minister, who is struggling to get her deal through parliament after a bruising confidence vote on Wednesday where over 100 of her own MPs said she should quit.
In one positive for the prime minister Mr Juncker, the commission president, said he wanted talks on the future relationship to begin as soon as the House of Commons had approved the agreement – as a sign that the EU was serious about replacing the backstop. But the token gesture alone is unlikely to persuade Brexiteers.
The Independent has launched its #FinalSay campaign to demand that voters are given a voice on the final Brexit deal.