Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Sunday 26 Apr 2020

1

Tory grandees tell Boris Johnson to lift the lockdown

A number of Conservative Party donors, cabinet ministers and senior backbenchers are pressing Boris Johnson to ease the lockdown. With the prime minister expected to return to work this week, billionaire financier Michael Spencer, a major donor to Johnson’s leadership campaign last year, led the calls, saying: “We should start loosening up [the lockdown] as soon as we reasonably can.”

2

Trump dodges White House briefing after bleach row

Donald Trump avoided the White House coronavirus briefing yesterday after advisers reportedly warned the president that his appearances were damaging his campaign. Trump, who has attended the nearly-daily White House coronavirus press briefings for a month, wrote on Twitter that the briefings are “not worth the time & effort”. On Friday he had taken no questions and stormed out of the room after just 22 minutes.

3

Military to roll out coronavirus testing units next week

Nearly 100 mobile coronavirus testing units manned by 1,000 soldiers will be rolled out next week as the government scrambles to meet its 100,000 tests a day target. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “Our armed forces will help deliver testing to where it's most needed, using a network of up to 96 mobile units that will be rolled out in the coming weeks.”

4

Calls grow for Cummings to be barred from science meetings

Leading Tories are joining calls to bar Dominic Cummings from meetings of the secret scientific group advising on the coronavirus pandemic. As pressure grows for the committee’s deliberations to be made public, former Brexit secretary David Davis said that Cummings’s presence was wrong, adding: “We should publish the membership of Sage, remove any non-scientist members, publish their advice in full, and publish dissenting opinions with the advice.”

5

Starmer tells the government to treat the public like adults

Sir Keir Starmer has signalled that he believes the government is treating the public like children. The Labour leader has written to Boris Johnson to say: “The public have made great sacrifices to make the lockdown work. They deserve to be part of an adult conversation about what comes next. Simply acting as if this discussion is not happening is not credible.”

6

Mafia bosses released from jail due to coronavirus regulation

A number of Italian mafia bosses have been released from jail under a new coronavirus regulation. Francesco Bonura, an influential boss in the Sicilian Cosa Nostra, is among the gang leaders to have been moved to house arrest, according to Italy's anti-mafia prosecutor. The Rome government has allowed magistrates to transfer inmates who have 18 months or less left in their sentences to house arrest.

7

Kim Jong Un's train spotted as health speculation grows

A train believed to belong to the North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un has been spotted amid feverish speculation over the state of his health. A US-based project that monitors North Korea has released satellite images of the vehicle in the resort town of Wonsan. Question marks over Kim’s health arose after his absence from the anniversary of North Korea’s founding father and Kim’s grandfather, Kim Il-sung, on 15 April.

8

Concern grows as Yemen's separatists claim control of Aden

Yemen’s southern separatists have broken a peace deal with the country’s government and claimed sole control of the regional capital of Aden. In a move that could reignite fighting, the separatist Southern Transitional Council, which is backed by the United Arab Emirates, declared a state of emergency and said it would “self-govern” the key southern port city and other southern provinces. 

9

US scientist blames Covid-19 on intrusion into nature

A leading US scientist has blamed the human race for the coronavirus, saying: “This is not nature’s revenge, we did it to ourselves.” Thomas Lovejoy, who coined the term “biological diversity” in 1980, told The Guardian the vast illegal wildlife trade and humanity’s excessive intrusion into nature is to blame for the coronavirus pandemic. He particularly blamed “wildlife markets, the wet markets, of south Asia and bush meat markets of Africa”.

10

Buckingham Palace fear Harry and Meghan book

Harry and Meghan have co-operated with the authors of an “explosive” new book that risks inflicting further anguish on the Royal Family, reports the Mail on Sunday. Palace insiders fear the biography – provisionally entitled Thoroughly Modern Royals: The Real World Of Harry And Meghan – will be a score-settling exercise by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

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