Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Tuesday 21 Jan 2020

1

Johnson suffers Brexit bill defeat in Lords

Boris Johnson has suffered his first parliamentary defeat since the Conservatives won a majority in December’s election, with the upper chamber passing three amendments to the prime minister’s Brexit bill. The changes include a move to protect the rights of EU citizens in Britain after Brexit, by giving them ID cards to prove their status. However, the Tory-dominated Commons is expected to overturn the amendments.

2

IMF predicts UK will outperform eurozone

The International Monetary Fund has released an economic forecast that predicts the UK will grow faster than the rest of the eurozone following Brexit - as long as Britain avoids a no-deal exit from the EU. The financial watchdog suggests the UK economy could see economic growth of 1.4% this year and 1.5% next year, while the euro zone is expected to see 1.3% and 1.4%. 

3

US Senate planning speedy Trump impeachment trial

The US Senate is ready to hear the opening arguments in what is only the third impeachment trial in the country’s history. Republican majority leader Mitch McConnell last night unveiled a resolution to move the trial of Donald Trump forward at unprecedented speed, with a schedule that would consign key proceedings to late, potentially post-midnight hours. House Democratic aides claim the scheduling is an effort to “conceal the president’s misconduct in the dark of night”.

4

Lecturer imprisoned in Iran feels ‘abandoned’

A British-Australian academic who has been imprisoned in Iran on espionage charges since 2018 says she feels “abandoned and forgotten”. A series of letters written by Kylie Moore-Gilbert last year have been smuggled out of prison. They reveal her fears that her mental health is suffering and that Tehran allegedly tried to recruit her as a spy.

5

Woman seeks justice 42 years after gang rape

A woman who claims to have been gang-raped more than four decades ago at the age of 17 ago has launched a fresh bid for justice. The unnamed woman says her life was ruined by the attack by members of a rugby team from south Wales in a hotel room in Plymouth, Devon, in 1978. Police have released efit images of two men who were present but appeared to have wanted to stop the rape.

6

NHS England ‘facing huge negligence fees bill’

NHS England faces paying out £4.3bn in legal fees arising from clinical negligence cases, the BBC reports. The predicted cost, revealed following a freedom of information request, includes outstanding claims and projected estimates for others in the future. The Department of Health has warned that the cost of clinical negligence suits is “unsustainable”.

7

Fourth virus death in China

A fourth person has died in China after contracting a new strain of coronavirus that is spreading rapidly across the country. The news of the 89-year-old’s death came as scientists confirmed that the disease can be passed from person-to-person. The latest victim lived in Wuhan, the city at the centre of the outbreak.

8

Royal adviser objects to Harry’s ‘royal’ site

A senior courtier has said the Duke and Duchess of Sussex should not be allowed to use the title “Sussex Royal”, after the couple successfully negotiated with the Queen to withdraw from public duties. Thomas Woodcock, Garter King of Arms, said it would not be “satisfactory” for Harry and Meghan to carry on using the branding on their Instagram feed, called Sussexroyal, and website of the same name.

9

Men create ‘Earth sandwich’ across globe

Two men who met online have created an “Earth sandwich” by placing slices of bread on the ground at precisely opposite points on the planet’s surface at exactly the same time. Etienne Naude of Auckland, New Zealand, recruited the help of a man who lives in southern Spain for the stunt. The resulting “sandwich” was 7,917 miles thick.

10

Briefing: what is in the Russia report?

Boris Johnson is under pressure to publish a government investigation into Russian interference in recent UK elections.

The SNP’s Commons leader Ian Blackford has urged the PM to “begin appointing members of Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee” (ISC) – a move necessary to allow the controversial document to be released. But what exactly is in the Russia report?

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