Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Monday 18 Nov 2019
Conservatives promise £1bn tax break for business
Boris Johnson is to announce a series of tax breaks for small businesses, in the latest election pledge from the Tories. The amount that small firms can claim against employer’s NI contributions will rise from £3,000 to £4,000 as part of the package, which is expected to amount to a total of £1bn in tax relief. Meanwhile, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will promise to modernise the apprenticeship levy.
NHS ‘running short of dozens of medicines’
The NHS is running short of dozens of life-saving medicines, including those used to treat cancer, heart conditions and epilepsy, according to The Guardian. The newspaper has seen a confidential document circulated to some doctors on Friday that listed 17 new drug shortages identified last week alone. A spokesperson for the Royal Pharmaceutical Society said factors behind the shortages include manufacturing problems, global demand for medicines and fluctuations in the exchange rate.
Hong Kong police surround campus demonstrators
Police in Hong Kong have surrounded a university campus where hundreds of pro-democracy protesters are holed up. Following an overnight stand-off, a group of around 100 people tried to leave the site earlier today but were met with tear gas and rubber bullets. Pro-democracy politician Ted Hui, who is inside the campus, told the BBC that many people there were injured but were unable to get help.
Andrew’s Newsnight interview branded a disaster
A Newsnight interview in which Prince Andrew was grilled on his links with paedophile Jeffrey Epstein has been described as a “car crash” by former Buckingham Palace press officer Dickie Arbiter. The Times says that the Prince’s “TV calamity”, screened on Saturday, suggests that the Queen is “losing her grip” on “the Firm”, as the Royal Family is sometimes jokingly known.
Wildfire ‘doubled Scotland’s CO2 omissions’
A huge wildfire in the far north of Scotland in May doubled Scotland’s daily output of greenhouse gases for the six days that it burned, experts say. Research by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) found that 700,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent was released in total by the blaze, which stretched across 22 square miles of dried-out bog in the Flow Country of Caithness and Sutherland.
Rugby star Folau criticised for homophobic sermon
A rugby player who was ditched from the Australian national team earlier this year for making homophobic remarks on Twitter is back in the firing line over a sermon he delivered in a Sydney church yesterday. Israel Folau said the bush fires which have killed six people since last month in eastern Australia were a “little taste of God’s judgement” for homosexuality.
Woman sues health service over Huntington’s disclosure
A woman is suing a London NHS trust because it did not tell her that her father had been diagnosed with the incurable brain disease Huntington’s, on his request. The unnamed woman was pregnant when her father was diagnosed and says she would immediately have had a genetic test and would have terminated the pregnancy. She has now been diagnosed with the disease.
Third bubonic plague case recorded in China
A fresh case of bubonic plague has been recorded in the autonomous province of Inner Mongolia, the third confirmed in China this month. The 55-year-old male patient is said to have contracted the disease after eating wild rabbit. The other two people diagnosed with plague were Inner Mongolian citizens who were residing in Beijing.
NY Times editor: ‘Trump is endangering journalists’
The New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet has accused Donald Trump of putting his reporters’ lives at risk by subjecting them to personal abuse and describing them as “enemies of the people”. Baquet, the newspaper’s first black editor, has faced criticism from the Left for refusing to call Trump racist or sexist, but told The Guardian that he was “not in a position” to determine whether those allegations against the president are justified.
Briefing: What is behind the rise in child allergies?
The number of children admitted to hospital in England with severe allergic reactions has risen every year for the past five years, according to new NHS figures.
The BBC notes that “environmental factors, such as dietary changes, exposure to microbes and pollution” may have played a role in the increase.