Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Wednesday 18 Dec 2019

1

Blair and Starmer clash on Labour’s future direction

Tony Blair will today urge Labour leadership candidates to pull the party back to the centre ground or risk being “replaced” as the serious opposition. The former prime minister - the only Labour leader to have won a general election in the past 45 years -  will issue the warning during a speech in London as he publishes a damning report on the party’s failure in last week’s election. Last night, shadow Brexit minister Keir Starmer urged against a Labour lurch to the right following the defeat and confirmed he was “seriously considering” running to succeed Jeremy Corbyn.

2

Poor more likely to die after surgery, say researchers

People living in the most deprived parts of the country are significantly more likely to die following emergency surgery than those from richer areas, an analysis of NHS England data shows. Researchers from University College London looked at the outcomes for almost 60,000 people who underwent emergency laparotomies at a total of 178 hospitals and found that the poorest were 29% more likely to die within 30 days of having the abdominal procedure.

3

Trump attacks Democrats in angry letter to Pelosi

US President Donald Trump has sent a six-page letter to House speaker Nancy Pelosi protesting against his impending impeachment for putting pressure on Ukraine to smear his Democrat rival Joe Biden. Trump claims the investigation into his alleged wrongdoing afforded him less due process “than those accused in the Salem Witch Trials” of the 17th century and accuses top Democrat Pelosi of declaring “open war on American democracy”.

4

Australian heatwave: country’s hottest day ever

Yesterday was the hottest day on record in Australia, with the national average temperature hitting a high of 40.9C - breaking the previous record of 40.3C set in January 2013. Forecasters have predicted that the country could get hotter still before the end of this week. The heatwave has resulted in severe drought and a bushfire crisis.

5

Fiat Chrysler and Vauxhall agree $50bn merger

Fiat Chrysler and Vauxhall’s parent company PSA have agreed a merger that will create the world’s fourth-largest car manufacturer, valued at $50bn (£38.1bn). The two firms hope to make annual cost savings of $4bn (£3.1bn) by joining forces but insist there will be no plant closures as a result of the 50:50 merger, to be completed in a year’s time.

6

Wales: man stabbed to death in front of shoppers

A 23-year-old man was stabbed to death in front of shocked Christmas shoppers in the Welsh seaside town of Barry yesterday. Jordan Davies was attacked outside a branch of Iceland. A 24-year-old man, Jordan Brown, has been arrested and charged with murder. Police said the incident had been “extremely distressing” for passers-by.

7

Poland ‘may have to leave EU after reforms’

Poland’s supreme court has warned that the country could be forced to leave the EU if reforms to the judicial process go ahead. The government plans would allow ministers to dismiss judges who question their lawmaking, but the court says the proposals threaten the primacy of EU law and could be an attempt to gag the judiciary.

8

Jewish Chronicle under fire over Islamophobia article

The Jewish Chronicle is facing criticism from Jewish groups for publishing an article in which writer Melanie Phillips claimed that “Islamophobia” is a bogus term used as cover by anti-Semites. The right-wing journalist argued that the “taunt of Islamophobia” is used to silence “any criticism of the Islamic world”, adding: “To equate it with the dehumanising, insane and essentially murderous outpourings of Jew-hatred is obscene.” The Board of Deputies of British Jews has responded that “anti-Muslim prejudice is very real” and that “our community must stand as allies to all facing racism”.

9

World first as Fallon Sherrock beats man at championship darts

Fallon Sherrock last night became the first woman to win a match against a man at the PDC (Professional Darts Corporation) world championships – and only the fifth to play at the event. The 25-year-old, from Buckinghamshire, beat Ted Evetts 3-2. Following her victory, Sherrock said she was “buzzing” to have “made history” and “done it for the girls”.

10

Briefing: who are the Rejoiners?

Boris Johnson’s 80-seat Brexit-supporting Tory majority in the House of Commons all but guarantees that the UK will leave the EU by the end of January.

Remainers who had been hoping for a second referendum or revocation of Article 50 now find themselves without much hope of stalling or stopping the Brexit process. But a new group is emerging.

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