Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Tuesday 11 Feb 2020

1

HS2 rail project gets go-ahead from Johnson

Boris Johnson will announce today that the Government is to push ahead with building the HS2 high-speed rail link from London to the North, despite concerns over the environmental impact and spiralling cost. However, the prime minister will also say that the northern routes will be put under review in a bid to find potential savings. 

2

Coronavirus ‘could reach 60% of world population’

The new strain of coronavirus that has has now killed more than 1,000 people in China could infect 60% of the global population if left unchecked, Hong Kong’s most senior public health epidemiologist has warned. Professor Gabriel Leung says other countries may need to consider adopting the containment methods brought in by the authorities in Beijing.

3

Jamaica deportation goes ahead despite court ruling

A flight deporting convicted criminals to Jamaica has left the UK today despite a Court of Appeal judge ordering the Home Office to grant many of the detainees a reprieve amid concerns over their access to legal advice. The judge told the Government on Monday night that phone outages at detention centres had prevented detainees from contacting their lawyers. It is not yet known how many people were on board the flight.

4

Gove warns businesses to get ready for border checks

Cabinet minister Michael Gove has told UK businesses to prepare for “inevitable” border checks that will affect “almost everybody” who exports to the EU once the Brexit transition period ends. In the first official confirmation that the Government is going to impose trade barriers from next year, Gove told delegates at a Cabinet Office event in London last night that “you have to accept we will need some friction”.

5

Sinn Fein to try to form ruling coalition following election success

Irish Republican party Sinn Fein has called for coalition talks after winning 37 seats in Ireland’s general election - just one less than Fianna Fail and two more than Prime Minister Leo Varadkar’s Fine Gael party. Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald has said she hopes to form a coalition government without working with either of the other two main parties.

6

Maldives apologises to tourist over bikini arrest

Officials in the Maldives have apologised to a British tourist who was filmed being arrested by police officers who claimed she was dressed “inappropriately”. The officers allege that the bikini-clad woman, who was walking on a road on the island of Maafushi, was unruly and drunk, but a police chief has admitted her arrest was “badly handled”. Tourists in the Maldives are allowed to wear swimwear in resorts but are subject to local dress codes elsewhere.

7

David Baddiel defends Holocaust denier interview

Comedian and writer David Baddiel has defended giving TV air time to a man who claims there were no gas chambers at Auschwitz. Baddiel, whose Jewish grandparents fled Nazi Germany, interviewed Dermot Mulqueen for a BBC documentary marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the death camp in Poland.

8

Walking fans asked to help save abandoned footpaths

The Government has set a deadline for footpaths not currently marked on maps of England and Wales to be registered and protected by 2026 - after which the public’s right to access any that are not transcribed will no longer be protected. Walking group Ramblers says an estimated 10,000 miles of historic paths are at risk of being lost, and has urged lovers of the outdoors to use its new mapping site to register routes.

9

Virtuoso’s £150,000 piano smashed by movers

Canadian virtuoso pianist Angela Hewitt has spoken of mourning for her “best friend” after movers in Berlin accidentally smashed her customised concert grand piano beyond repair. The F278 Fazioli – the only one in the world fitted with four pedals – was dropped as it was moved onto a trolley for transportation following a recording session.

10

Briefing: a look at ‘golden decade’ for solar physics

The European Space Agency’s ground-breaking Solar Orbiter probe has been launched as part of a landmark mission to study the polar regions of the Sun.

The BBC reports that the probe is “packed with cameras and sensors that should reveal remarkable new insights on the workings of our star”, with researchers aiming to “better understand what drives its dynamic behaviour”.

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