Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Friday 17 Jul 2020

1

Johnson pledges £3bn for NHS to prepare for second wave

Boris Johnson will announce £3bn of extra funding for the NHS this winter as ministers prepare for a potential second wave of Covid-19. A Downing Street spokesperson said the prime minister wants the NHS to be “battle ready”. The funding will be made available immediately. Johnson is also expected to publish a new section of the government’s “road map” out of lockdown.

2

Did a phone company fix records for leading sport stars?

A phone company claims it “fixed” phone records for footballer Rio Ferdinand and Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley, The Times reports. Sport Mobile boss John Shepherd reportedly said phone records were requested as evidence for Ferdinand’s 2003 case concerning a missed drugs test and added that he “protected” phone records for Mike Ashley, the billionaire owner of Sports Direct and Newcastle United. Ferdinand and Ashley categorically deny the claims.

3

Moscow hackers target efforts to develop Covid-19 vaccine

Hackers sponsored by Moscow are targeting UK, US and Canadian organisations involved in developing a coronavirus vaccine, according to the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre. Experts say drug companies and research groups are being targeted by a group known as APT29, which is “almost certainly” part of the Kremlin’s intelligence services. The Centre did not state whether the hackers had acquired any medical secrets.

4

British Airways retires Boeing 747 fleet as travel suffers

British Airways will retire all of its Boeing 747s due to the travel downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic. “It is with great sadness that we can confirm we are proposing to retire our entire 747 fleet with immediate effect,” a spokesman told the BBC. Hundreds of BA ground staff face redundancy as the airline slashes costs in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

5

Dutch city cuts ties with Polish sister over LGBT ban

A city in the Netherlands has cut ties with its sister city in Poland after the latter declared itself an “LGBT-free zone”. The authorities in Nieuwegein, near Utrecht, released a statement saying: “In Nieuwegein everyone is allowed to be who he or she is, regardless of his or her sexual orientation, gender, religion or ethnic origin.” In Poland, the country’s president Andrzej Duda won another term after speaking out against LGBT rights.

6

Princess Anne disputes Prince Charles’ views on climate

Princess Anne has disputed Prince Charles’ views on climate change. The royal says that conversations with her brother are “short” because of their differing opinions on the issue. “I don’t even go down the climate change route,” she says. Anne also says that GM crops have been “an enormous advantage in many parts of the world”.

7

White House: science should not block school reopening

The White House press secretary says “science should not stand in the way” of children being sent back to schools in the US. Parroting Donald Trump’s call for pupils to return to classrooms, Kayleigh McEnany said: “The president has said unmistakably that he wants schools to open. The science should not stand in the way of this.”

8

Labour MP quits frontbench after J.K. Rowling controversy

A Labour MP has resigned from Sir Keir Starmer’s frontbench team after being forced to apologise twice in a month. Corbyn loyalist Lloyd Russell-Moyle blamed the “right-wing media” for unleashing online hate. The Brighton Kemptown MP apologised to J.K. Rowling after he accused her of using her own sexual assault as “justification” for discrimination against trans people. He also described Zionism as a “dangerous nationalist idea”.

9

Race commission head apologises for anti-gay comments

Tony Sewell, the newly appointed chair of the government’s commission on race and ethnic disparities, has apologised after The Guardian revealed he had once written of “tortured queens playing hide and seek”. Sewell admitted the comments, which he made after the former footballer Justin Fashanu came out as gay in 1990, were “wrong and offensive”. Sewell has also previously questioned the idea of institutional racism.

10

Donald Trump’s niece’s book sells a million in one day

The revealing book written by Mary Trump, the US president’s niece, sold almost a million copies by the end of its first day on sale and remains at the top of Amazon’s bestseller list. Her controversial book Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man, shifted 950,000 copies by the end of the first day, including pre-sales, ebooks and audio books.

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