Destination Downing Street for Starmer and Reeves as UK election enters endgame

Planet Business: The Telegraph’s uncertain future, Disney’s Inside Out 2 joy, and McDonald’s AI ordering fails

Labour Party leader Keir Starmer and shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves travel to Southampton as they campaign ahead of the UK's July 4th general election. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA

Image of the week: Fast train to Westminster

These are good times for UK Labour Party leader Keir Starmer and shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves, who are on track to become UK prime minister and the first female chancellor of the exchequer respectively. Even better than that, they’ve both managed to bag an aisle seat. What were the chances?

Starmer and Reeves, who could also be seen this week striding purposefully through the frozen aisle section of a Swindon supermarket, were on their way here to Southampton, where they visited the Ocean Gate container terminal and held a Q&A with workers. At it, Starmer said the UK’s Brexit deal with Brussels had been “botched” and a better deal “will have to be negotiated”, while Reeves said Labour wanted to form “a pro-business and a pro-worker government” that was “pro jobs in all parts of the UK”.

Although there is the best part of two weeks still to go, the outcome of the election seems all over bar the shouting, much of which is originating from the front pages of newspapers yet to convert to back-the-winner mode.

But while scare tactics concerning incoming Labour governments usually revolve around the accusation that they will overspend, this time much of the fearmongering seems to imply that Starmer and Reeves will be too sensible.


In numbers: Telegraph black-hole backdrop

£278 million

Black hole left in the finances of the publisher of the Telegraph as a result of loans extracted by the Barclay family, which technically still owns the media group but lost control of it last year. This £278 million (€329 million) sum has been deemed unrecoverable.

£245 million

The extracted cash, which the independent directors of the Telegraph have been unable to trace, is recorded as a provision in the newspaper group’s 2023 accounts. It pushed the company to a record loss of £245 million.

£268 million

Amid this mess, the slightly better news was that revenue increased 5 per cent to £268 million, with 42 per cent of it now coming from digital subscriptions and digital advertising. The process to sell the group remains ongoing, creating what new chief executive Anna Jones calls a “backdrop of uncertainty”.

Getting to know: Riley Andersen

Disney’s new saviour is Riley Andersen, the young heroine of Inside Out (2015) and this puberty-themed summer’s smash sequel Inside Out 2. After a year of underwhelming box office performances, Disney and Pixar will be feeling more joy than sadness as its animated exploration of emotions and how to handle them raked in ticket revenue in its debut weekend in cinemas.

The film, which sees a teenage Riley contend with four new emotions in the shape of anxiety, envy, embarrassment and ennui, banked $155 million (€144 million) at the US box office last weekend, the best of the year to date, and $140 million internationally. That meant it overtook Frozen 2 to achieve the biggest overseas opening for an animated film of all time, while it also collected €13.3 million from the British and Irish box office, marking the biggest opening since Barbie. Inside Out 3 is, unsurprisingly, now in the works.

The list: McRobots

Confusion-prone artificial intelligence food-ordering technology has left egg on faces at McDonald’s – unordered egg. The AI system, which was developed by IBM and uses voice recognition software to process orders, is now being removed from more than 100 drive-through locations in the US where it was in use. Here are five of its finest moments.

1. Nine teas: One woman had nine teas added to her order after the voice software picked up “cross-talk” from another drive-through station.

2. Condiment madness: Another exasperated TikToker tried to order ice-cream without caramel, only for the AI to add multiple cream, ketchup and butter sachets to her order.

3. Nugget overload: One video posted online shows a customer receiving more than 20 unasked-for McNugget meals. What a day.

4. Mountain don’t: One man’s attempt to get Mountain Dew with his meal ended with him having medium Coke foisted upon him instead, because sometimes machines just know better.

5. Bacon ice-cream: If certain chefs served bacon on top of an ice-cream cone, they would charge the GDP of a small country for it and be called a genius. But when McDonald’s AI does it, everyone laughs and calls it a fail.