Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Friday 12 Jun 2020

1

Watchdog says government ignored warnings to stockpile PPE

The government ignored warnings to stockpile gowns and visors, undermining its plan to distribute personal protective equipment during the coronavirus pandemic, according to Whitehall’s spending watchdog. The National Audit Office said this meant less than 50% of the expected pieces of equipment were handed out to frontline workers as the crisis worsened.

2

UK backtracks on EU border checks due to coronavirus

The government is expected to take a “pragmatic and flexible approach” to rigorous EU border checks on imports after the Brexit transition period finishes at the end of this year. The Financial Times says ministers have scrapped plans to introduce full checks after pressure from businesses over the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. 

3

Global markets hit by fears of second wave

Markets have been hit by fears that a second wave of coronavirus cases could cause more economic damage. On Wall Street, the three main share indices saw their worst day in weeks, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average down almost 7%. Markets also fell in Japan, Hong Kong and China. The US Federal Reserve has warned that the American economy faces a long road to recovery.

4

Face masks reduce transmission by 40% claims German study

Compulsory use of facemasks slows the growth in new cases of Covid-19 by 40%, according to a new study from Germany. Researchers used the staggered introduction of masks in shops and public transport across the country as data. They concluded that there is “strong and convincing statistical support” that the masks “strongly reduced the number of incidences”.

5

Former Tory aide says ‘crazy’ Cummings runs ‘reign of terror’

Boris Johnson's chief adviser Dominic Cummings is running “a reign of terror” in Downing Street despite having “crazy” ideas, according to a former aide and friend of the PM. Tim Montgomerie partly blamed the situation for the “mishandling” of the coronavirus response. Montgomerie revealed he had been threatened with “retribution” for speaking out against the government.

6

Trump threatens police-free district in Seattle

Donald Trump has threatened to “take back” a district where protesters have been given free rein in Seattle. Officers abandoned the precinct on Monday after days of violent confrontation with demonstrators. Although Washington state leaders told the US president not to meddle in their affairs, Trump said the area had been overtaken by “domestic terrorists”. The BBC says demonstrations in the area have been largely peaceful since officers withdrew.

7

UK protesters to face fast-tracked justice amid riot fear

Demonstrators will face “24-hour justice” if they cause criminal damage or assault police officers, reports The Times. Amid concern that Britain is facing a summer of disorder, Robert Buckland, the justice secretary, has told magistrates to extend their hours and fast-track cases related to protests. The Metropolitan Police Federation has described the prospect of widespread disorder over the summer as a “perfect storm”.

8

Campaigners slam Sun's J.K. Rowling front page

Domestic violence campaign groups have criticised the front page of The Sun newspaper which has an interview with J.K. Rowling’s first husband under the headline: “I slapped JK and I’m not sorry”. Meanwhile, Harry Potter stars Rupert Grint and Emma Watson have joined Daniel Radcliffe in support of trans people offended by Rowling’s comments.

9

Abandoning two-metre rule could mean millions was wasted

If the government decides to reduce the two-metre physical distancing rule it could mean councils and retailers have wasted millions of pounds. Local authorities and retail groups told The Guardian that much of a £50m government fund handed out to councils in England in recent weeks had been spent on signs and barriers announcing the two-metre distancing.

10

Nigel Farage parts company with LBC after race tension

Nigel Farage is to leave LBC “with immediate effect”, the radio station has announced. “Nigel Farage’s contract with LBC is up very shortly and following discussions with him, Nigel is stepping down from LBC with immediate effect,” said the station’s managing director, Tom Cheal. There has been growing controversy in recent days over the Brexit party leader’s views on race.

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