Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Sunday 17 May 2020

1

Government approval rating down since lockdown easing

A new opinion poll found that approval ratings for the government over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic have collapsed since the prime minister dropped the “stay at home” message. Net approval – the figure reached when the percentage that disapproves is subtracted from percentage that approves – has fallen to -3% from +42% on 26 March.

2

Concern as new coronavirus cases emerge in Wuhan

Six new coronavirus infections have been discovered in Wuhan, the birthplace of the pandemic. Five weeks after emerging from lockdown, the city has launched a mass testing programme. Officials have claimed testing the population of 11 million would be completed in just 10 days but the testing capacity in the city would not support that ambition.

3

Barack Obama criticises Trump on Covid-19 again

Barack Obama has once again criticised his successor Donald Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Speaking to graduating college students, the former US president said the crisis had shown that many officials “aren't even pretending to be in charge”. Last week, he described Trump’s response to the pandemic as “an absolute chaotic disaster”.

4

Johnson admits ‘frustration’ over coronavirus strategy

Boris Johnson has acknowledged the “complex” easing of England's coronavirus lockdown is causing “frustration”. Writing in the Mail on Sunday, he said that he trusted the “good sense of the British people” to observe the new rules and thanked the public for “sticking with us” so far, but added that more complicated messages were needed during the next phase of the response.

5

Right-wing thinktanks call time on support for austerity

Leading right-wing thinktanks are turning their backs on austerity policies and giving their support to the government’s plans for significant increases in public spending. The Observer says the change of heart from the Adam Smith Institute, the Centre for Policy Studies, the Institute of Economic Affairs and Policy Exchange gives Rishi Sunak clearance to “ramp up UK debts to levels not seen in peacetime”.

6

Key Rwandan genocide suspect arrested in France

French police have arrested a fugitive accused of playing a key role in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Félicien Kabuga, 84, is accused of financing the killings and is frequently listed as one of the world’s most wanted men. He was living under a false identity in the suburbs of Paris, local police and prosecutors said in a statement on Saturday.

7

MPs' report says HS2 project is ‘blindsided by reality’

A report by MPs says that bosses of the HS2 rail project have been “blindsided by contact with reality”. The Public Accounts Committee accused HS2 Ltd and the Department for Transport of lacking transparency and undermining public confidence, warning that the project is “badly off course”. However, the Department for Transport said the project has been "comprehensively reset".

8

Who is on the top of the Sunday Times Rich List?

Sir James Dyson has topped the Sunday Times Rich List for the first time after increasing his net worth by £3.6bn in a year. The inventor made his fortune with the invention of the bag-less vacuum cleaner, which was launched in the 1990s. However, the Rich List reveals that the coronavirus pandemic has wiped £54bn from the wealth of Britain’s super-rich in the past two months.

9

Firefighters hurt as they tackle blaze in Los Angeles

Up to 10 firefighters have been injured in a blaze in downtown Los Angeles. More than 230 firefighters are tackling the fire that followed reports of an explosion in downtown Los Angeles. Writing on Twitter, the Los Angeles Fire Department announced that up to 10 firefighters were “down”. The blaze appears to have started in a storage area in the basement of an apartment building near Little Tokyo.

10

Tributes as comedy legend Fred Willard dies at 86

Fred Willard, the comedy actor famed for his roles in movies including Best in Show and TV sitcoms such as Everybody Loves Raymond and Modern Family has died. His daughter told CNN the star died peacefully on Friday “at the fantastic age of 86 years old”. Paying tribute, the broadcaster Jimmy Kimmel tweeted: “There was no man sweeter or funnier. We were so lucky to know Fred Willard and will miss his many visits.”

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