Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Wednesday 6 May 2020

1

Calls for inquiry as UK reports highest death rate in Europe

The UK has reported the highest coronavirus death toll in Europe, with the government’s tally of fatalities in people who tested positive for Covid-19 reaching 29,427. That total exceeds the 29,029 recorded in Italy - until now Europe’s worst-hit country - and experts say the true UK figure will be significantly higher. The president of the Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association, Dr Claudia Paoloni, has called for a public inquiry.

2

Rishi Sunak plans to reduce wage subsidies

Rishi Sunak is preparing to “wean” businesses and workers off the government’s furlough scheme amid concerns that the nation has become “addicted” to wage subsidies. The chancellor is reportedly considering cutting the 80% wage subsidy and lowering the £2,500 cap on monthly payments. The Treasury may also lower the income threshold for self-employed workers claiming grants from £50,000 to £30,000.

3

Lockdown advisor quits after breaking own rules

Professor Neil Ferguson has quit as a government adviser on coronavirus following reports that he broke lockdown rules. The Daily Telegraph says Ferguson allowed a friend, reported to be his lover Antonia Staats, to visit him at home - in breach of the official lockdown rules that he helped draw up. In a statement announcing his departure, the Imperial College London epidemiologist said he had made an “error of judgement”.

4

Donald Trump to wind down coronavirus task force

Donald Trump has confirmed that the White House coronavirus task force will be winding down, with Vice-President Mike Pence suggesting it could be disbanded within weeks. Speaking during a visit to a mask-manufacturing factory on Arizona, Trump said: “We are bringing our country back.” New confirmed infections per day in the US currently top 20,000, and daily deaths exceed 1,000.

5

Gove says UK may accept tariffs on goods for EU deal

The UK may accept tariffs on goods in order to strike a trade deal with the EU, says Michael Gove. The Cabinet Office minister said such charges would be “a missed opportunity”, but added: “If that is the price that we have to pay then there we go.” He also repeated the line that there would be no extension to the Brexit transition period beyond 31 December.

6

Elderly man killed in stabbing in village shop

An elderly man died and three people were injured in a stabbing at a Co-op store in a Welsh village yesterday. South Wales Police said the elderly man was pronounced dead at the scene of the attack, in Penygraig, while another man is in a stable condition at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff. Two others suffered non life-threatening injuries. A 29-year-old woman was later arrested on suspicion of murder.

7

China closes in on Moon goal with rocket launch

China has launched a new rocket and prototype spacecraft, according to state media. A Long March 5B rocket took off from the Wenchang launch site, with an unmanned prototype spacecraft successfully separating minutes later and entering its planned orbit. The Guardian says the launch is a “major test” of China’s ambitions to operate a permanent space station and send astronauts to the Moon.

8

Gatwick gets green light for second runway

Gatwick Airport’s plans for a £500m second runway have moved a step forward, after being approved by the Civil Aviation Authority. The Times says the move effectively allows Gatwick to push ahead without a development consent order. Britain’s second-busiest airport is expected to submit detailed proposals for 50,000 extra flights a year as part of its recovery from the coronavirus crisis.

9

Advertising watchdog raps Lord Sugar over ad tweet

Alan Sugar has been told to delete a tweet promoting a teeth-whitening kit after failing to make clear that it was an advert. The Apprentice host had posted that a product from the brand Stylsmile would make a “perfect Xmas gift”. However, he owns a 50% share in the business. Sugar has argued that his connection with the business is well known.

10

Man killed and two injured in water buffalo attack

A 57-year-old farmer has been killed and two other people injured in a water buffalo attack in Wales. Gwent Police said: “We received a report of an incident at a commercial property in Gwehelog, Monmouthshire, at around 2.50pm on Tuesday, after two men and a woman were attacked by a water buffalo.” A neighbour said the buffalos on the farm had always appeared to be quiet.

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