Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Monday 20 Jan 2020

1

HS2 could soar by another 20%, warns official review

The proposed high-speed rail link between London, the Midlands and North could cost as much as £106bn, according to a new government-commissioned report seen by the Financial Times. The revised figure represents a 20% increase on the previous estimate and is not far off double the £56bn cost projected in 2015. Around £8bn has already been spent on the project.

2

Harry speaks of ‘sadness’ at stepping down

Prince Harry last night told a charity dinner audience in London of his “sadness” at stepping down from royal duties, but said that he and wife Meghan Markle had felt they had “no other option”. The Times claims that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex had orginally hoped to continue with some official duties but have been told to severe all links because of fears that commercial deals they might strike could embarrass the monarchy.

3

House prices rising at record rate

UK house prices have increased over the past month at the fastest rate on record for the time of year, according to Rightmove. The average price of properties coming on to the market jumped by 2.3%, to almost £307,000 - the biggest leap for the period since the property website started its index, in 2002. 

4

BBC presenter Montague ‘won £400k pay deal’

BBC radio presenter Sarah Montague has revealed that she received a £400,000 settlement from the broadcaster last year in reparation for being paid less than her male colleagues for most of her career. The World At One presenter said she had also received “an apology from the BBC for paying me unequally for so many years”.

5

Three men killed in east London stabbing

Two men have been arrested on suspicion of murder after three men died in the street following a triple stabbing in northeast London yesterday.  The Met Police say the suspects, aged 29 and 39, were detained after officers were called to Seven Kings in Ilford just before 7.40pm. All three victims, believed to be in their 20s or 30s, died at the scene and are now being formally identified by investigators.

6

Africa’s richest woman ‘ripped off Angola’

Africa’s richest woman made her fortune by exploiting her family ties to siphon off state assets, according to leaked documents detailing her business interests. The files, seen by BBC Panorama and The Guardian, suggest that Isabel dos Santos and her husband were able to buy state assets including land, oil and diamonds while her father was president of Angola. Dos Santos, who now lives in London, is already under investigation for corruption by the Angolan government, which has frozen her assets in the country. She denies the allegations.

7

Jess Phillips: ‘I’ll stop being statesmanlike’

Labour leadership contender Jess Phillips has vowed to stop trying to appear prime ministerial, after what she described as an “awful” first hustings in Liverpool on Saturday. The usually plain-spoken MP says she caved in to pressure to be more “statesmanlike” and “stopped being real” in a bid to catch up with contest front-runners Keir Starmer and Rebecca Long-Bailey.

8

Waller-Bridge continues winning run at SAG Award

British writer and actor Phoebe Waller-Bridge enjoyed further awards success in Los Angeles last night, winning the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) award for best female actor in a comedy series for her show Fleabag. The biggest award of the night – for best ensemble cast in a movie – went to South Korean film Parasite.

9

Florida: folk singer dies performing on stage

Nashville-based folk singer David Olney died on stage in Florida on Saturday after suffering a heart attack during a performance. Musicians performing with Olney say the 71-year-old apologised to the crowd before closing his eyes. Olney formed The X-Rays in the 1970s, a band that released two albums and opened for Elvis Costello, before splitting up in 1985.

10

Briefing: have scientists found the origin of life on Earth?

A chemical element fundamental to all life on Earth may have arrived from deep space carried on comets, scientists say.

Phosphorus is present in the DNA and cell membranes of all living organisms, but is extremely rare in the universe. The “question of how it actually got to the early Earth has remained a mystery”, The Independent says. Until now.

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