Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Monday 31 Aug 2020

1

Chancellor told tax hikes could ‘choke off’ recovery

Rishi Sunak has been warned that tax rises could “choke off” the UK’s recovery from Covid-19, spark an exodus of top talent and cripple the nation’s investment appeal in the wake of Brexit. Business leaders, economists and Tory MPs spoke out as Sunak considered hiking corporation tax from 19 per cent to 24 per cent. They argue that the focus should be on supporting a continued economic recovery.

2

Scientists say rush for a vaccine could make pandemic worse

The rush for a Covid-19 vaccine could worsen the pandemic, leading scientists have said. After ministers announced that the UK would take emergency powers to speed any vaccine through the regulatory processes, experts say it would be better to wait for at least 30-50% effectiveness. Prof Sir Richard Peto of Oxford University and an adviser to the World Health Organization, condemned the “nationalistic rush” and “capitalistic rush” for a vaccine.

3

Election ‘electrified’ as Trump and Biden clash over Portland

Donald Trump and Joe Biden have traded blame over the violence that has erupted at protests in Portland, Oregon. The US president blamed the Democrat mayor of Portland, Ted Wheeler, for allowing the “death and destruction of his city” but Biden said the president was “recklessly encouraging violence”. CNN said the “hyper-sensitive issues of civic violence and racial justice” have “suddenly electrified” the election.

4

Head teachers say budget cuts risk safety of pupils

Head teachers have warned that they are being forced to balance pupil safety against financial stability due to budgets being stretched by the Covid-19 pandemic. A government support fund, which closed in July, has not reopened in time for the return of millions of pupils this week, notes The Guardian. Meanwhile, Labour says next year's A-level and GCSE exams in England should be pushed back to mid-summer.

5

Plastic bag prices to double to 10p from next spring

The fee for plastic shopping bags in England will be doubled to 10p and extended to all shops from April 2021. Environment Secretary George Eustice described the UK as “a world-leader in this global effort”. A public consultation last year found that the “vast majority” of people backed government plans to raise the fee. Ministers say they are fighting a “war on plastic waste”.

6

UK records largest weekend Covid figures since mid-May

More than 1,700 people in the UK have been reported to have tested positive for Covid-19 in the largest weekend number since the middle of May. The Guardian says the government data continues a “worrying trend” of a growing number of cases since the beginning of July, amid “persistent concerns over a second spike in the autumn”. There was just one new death, bringing the total to 41,499.

7

Piers Corbyn says his £10,000 fine came ‘from on high’

Piers Corbyn has been fined £10,000 following an anti-lockdown rally in Trafalgar Square. The brother of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said there is “no justification whatever” for the penalty which “appears to have come from on high”. The Metropolitan Police confirmed a 73-year-old man arrested in Trafalgar Square on suspicion of breaking the new Health Protection Regulations 2020 had been handed the fine.

8

Chief constable says Floyd killing could happen in UK

Britain’s only ever black chief constable says that a George Floyd-style killing could happen in the UK. Speaking to The Guardian, Michael Fuller said that stop and search was leaving black people feeling “humiliated” and “alienated”. Speaking of the Floyd killing, he added: “It could happen here. We have had equally appalling incidents.”

9

Roads data suggests back-to-work push is failing

The government’s push to get people back to work appeared to be failing as a survey by the AA found that 40 per cent of people who normally drove to work were working from home all or part of the time. This rose to 54 per among senior or middle managers and professionals. Steve Barclay, the chief secretary to the Treasury, says he is “keen to get people back in the office”.

10

Jockey Club boss complains of ‘stitch-up’ as she steps down

The chief executive of the Jockey Club has quit after an independent inquiry upheld allegations of bullying, racist comments and the circulation of offensive material. However, Delia Bushell has accused Britain’s oldest and most prestigious horse-racing organisation of a “deeply unpleasant stitch-up”. In her resignation letter she attacked the Jockey Club for harbouring what she called “longstanding discriminatory undertones” and ignoring “serious complaints against senior men”.

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