Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Thursday 9 Jan 2020

1

Trump backs away from war with Iran as Nato pledges help

Donald Trump has made what The Guardian describes as an “uncharacteristically sober” statement in which the US president sought to de-escalate tensions with Tehran, saying he believes “Iran appears to be standing down”. Nato has reportedly pledged to play a greater role in the Middle East, easing the way for Trump to withdraw US troops from the region.

2

Queen kept in dark as Harry and Meghan quit royal life

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex failed to consult other members of the Royal Family over their plan to step down from royal duties and “work to become financially independent”, according to reports. In a statement released last night, Harry and Meghan also said they will divide their time between the UK and North America. The Queen and other senior royals are said to be “hurt” and “deeply disappointed” by the announcement.

3

Past year ‘worst in retail history since 1995’

UK shops have suffered their worst year since records began, latest figures from the British Retail Consortium show. The industry body says retail sales fell by 0.1% in 2019 - the first annual decline in 24 years. The drop was especially steep in November and December, when sales were down by 0.9%, as Brexit fears took their toll.

4

Plastic packaging ban ‘could make things worse’

Supermarkets axing plastic packaging may be switching to even more environmentally damaging materials, the Green Alliance is warning. A new report from the charity says paper bags and cardboard drinks cartons can be harder to recycle than plastic, while glass bottles are heavier and therefore require more fuel to transport.

5

Soul singer Celeste wins BBC Sound of 2020 award

Los Angeles-born British-Jamaican soul singer Celeste has been awarded BBC Music’s Sound of 2020 gong for artists expected to rise to prominence. Adele and Ellie Goulding are among the previous winners of the award, voted for by 170 critics and industry figures. Celeste, 25, said she was “really happy” to join their ranks.

6

Queen’s granddaughter handed driving ban

Zara Tindall, daughter of Princess Anne, has been given a six-month driving ban after being caught speeding at 91mph in a 70mph zone near her Cotswolds home. The Royal, who already had nine penalty points on her licence, was clocked speeding on the same stretch of road in Gloucestershire where her mother was caught doing likewise in 2001. 

7

Barry Gardiner considering bid for Labour leadership

A potential surprise seventh candidate for the Labour leadership has emerged. Shadow international trade secretary Barry Gardiner announced last night that he will decide whether to stand within 24 hours - just days before nominations close. Gardiner would be seen as an alternative left-wing candidate as centrist Keir Starmer takes an early lead in the contest.

8

Healthy living ‘can give women an extra disease-free decade’

Women can enjoy an extra ten years of life without serious illness if they live healthily, while men may get an average of seven more years, new research in the US suggests. The study tracked 110,000 people for 20 years and found that those who did regular exercise, drank only in moderation, maintained a healthy weight and were non-smokers lived for longer free of cancer, heart problems and type-2 diabetes than their unhealthy peers.

9

Tories launch Town of Year contest in a city

The Government has made an embarrassing misstep by launching its Town of the Year contest in Wolverhampton - even though the Midlands settlement was granted city status back in 2000. Critics claim the blunder is evidence that the Tories are merely paying lip-service with their much-touted push to boost the North and the Midlands.

10

Feature: what a US war with Iran might look like

The ongoing diplomatic crisis between the US and Iran has triggered comparisons with America’s march into war against Saddam Hussein’s regime almost two decades ago.

The Guardian’s Washington correspondent David Smith claims that the growing tensions with Tehran echo the “unstoppable momentum towards invading Iraq” back in late 2002.

A growing number of senior figures in Washington are voicing concerns that their nation could be walking into a full-scale armed conflict. But just what might that look like?

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