Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Friday 20 Dec 2019

1

MPs to vote on Johnson’s revised Brexit bill

The Commons will vote today on whether to adopt Boris Johnson’s revised EU withdrawal bill. The prime minister has removed concessions made to Labour on workers’ rights and has reduced legal protections for refugee children in the tougher new bill, which is expected to pass comfortably after the Conservatives claimed a 80-seat majority in last week’s UK general election.

2

Two killed and two injured in London stabbings

Four men were stabbed in two unrelated incidents in London last night. A man in his 20s was pronounced dead at the scene after being stabbed shortly after 7pm in Walthamstow, and a second man was taken to hospital with knife wounds. Just over an hour later, a man in his 30s was found with fatal stab wounds in Barnet and another was treated for non-life-threatening injuries. An arrest has been made in connection with the Walthamstow incident. 

3

FCA boss Bailey tipped to be new Bank governor

The head of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is being widely tipped to be become the next governor of the Bank of England after Mark Carney steps down at the end of January. Andrew Bailey was deputy governor of the Bank before taking his current role as chief executive of the City watchdog. The Financial Times says the appointment may be announced today.

4

Ketamine-like drug approved for treating depression

A drug similar to the illegal party drug ketamine has been licensed for the treatment of depression in the UK. Taken as a nasal spray, esketamine is one of the first fast-acting drugs for depression and the first in decades believed to work in a fundamentally different way in the brain.

5

Sailor stranded in UAE for three years finally heading home

An Indian sailor whose plight was highlighted by The Guardian after spending three years stranded on a rusting cargo ship in the United Arab Emirates is hoping to return home by Christmas after finally being paid most of his wages. Vikash Mishra is just one of an estimated 5,000 sailors believed to be abandoned at sea by their employers.

6

Ancient treason laws set for overhaul following Skripal case

Britain’s treason laws, enshrined in the Treason Act of 1351, are set to be updated, according to an announcement in the Queen’s Speech on Thursday. The archaic laws may need to be revised to allow the prosecution of those who leak secrets to “hostile states”, ministers say. The decision was in part prompted by the poisoning last year in Salisbury of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal.

7

Heathrow third runway plan facing 12-month delay

Heathrow bosses have warned that the construction of a third runway at the airport will be delayed for at least a year, after the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) rejected their spending plans. The CAA refused a request to lift spending on the project from £650m to £2.4bn before planning consent is even granted, saying that passengers could end up shouldering the cost if Heathrow does not win permission to expand.

8

Town councillor calls for babysitting allowance

A Devon town councillor is calling for a change in the law so that she and other parents in the role can claim for the cost of babysitting or childcare while they attend meetings. Ashburton Town Council in Devon is supporting mother-of-three Saskia Hogbin’s plea. At present, only county and district councillors are eligible for such an allowance in Devon, with the laws varying from county to county.

9

Biochemist crowned Miss America

The Miss America beauty pageant has been won by a 24-year-old biochemist who impressed the judges with a chemistry experiment. Pharmacy doctorate student Camille Schrier, previously Miss Virginia, won a $50,000 (£38,000) scholarship. Her victory comes after pageant bosses announced last year that contestants would no longer be judged on their outward appearance.

10

Briefing: will Big Ben bong for Brexit day?

More than 50 MPs have launched a campaign for Big Ben to chime to mark Brexit “freedom” day.

The 160-year-old Elizabeth Tower in which the bell sits is currently undergoing a £60m restoration, and has been silenced to protect the hearing of construction workers at the site.

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