Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Monday 21 Sep 2020

1

Whitty to warn UK at ‘critical point’ in pandemic

The chief medical officer will today warn that the UK is at a “critical point” in the coronavirus pandemic. In a televised address to the nation, Professor Chris Whitty will say the country faces a “very challenging winter”, with the current trend of the virus heading in “the wrong direction”. Boris Johnson is understood to be considering a two-week “circuit breaker” lockdown in England to reverse rising numbers.

2

Conservative donor paid $8m by Putin ally

The husband of one of the Conservative Party’s biggest donors was funded by a Russian oligarch with close ties to Vladimir Putin. Lubov Chernukhin has given £1.7m to the Tories, including paying to spend time with the last three prime ministers. But leaked files seen by the BBC show Chernukhin’s husband received $8m (£6.1m) from a politician close to the Kremlin.

3

Ex-judge says parliament ‘surrendered’ over Covid laws

Parliament “surrendered” its role by waving through emergency laws restricting freedoms during the coronavirus pandemic, the former president of the Supreme Court has claimed. Writing in The Guardian, Lady Hale said the Coronavirus Act gave the government “sweeping” powers and saw “draconian” regulations introduced. Hale, the first woman to lead the Supreme Court, retired in January.

4

Did Boris Johnson fly to Italy for Lebedev meeting?

Boris Johnson spent a weekend away in Italy earlier this month, it has been claimed. Perugia airport and sources told Italian newspaper La Repubblica that the prime minister had been in the city to baptise his son, Wilfred, in a home owned by Evgeny Lebedev, the Russian-British newspaper owner who Johnson nominated for a peerage last month. Downing Street said the “claim is wrong”.

5

‘Real breakthrough’ in prostate cancer treatment

Trials showing that two drugs can hold prostate cancer at bay have been hailed as a “real breakthrough” that could usher in a “new era” in treating the disease. The findings mean a drug called olaparib, originally designed to treat breast and ovarian cancers, could be approved for use in Britain and become the standard treatment for men with certain forms of advanced prostate cancer.

6

China’s population may be in decline

China is preparing to launch a seventh national census that will see the world’s most populous country attempt to count 1.3 billion people. According to state-run media, around seven million census workers will fan out across the country, collecting names, ID numbers, gender, marital details and other information. The count may show a decrease in the country’s population for the first time in decades.

7

Labour accuses the government of mismanaging funds

Labour’s shadow chancellor will today to accuse the government of mismanaging billions of pounds spent during the coronavirus response. In a speech to members, Anneliese Dodds will accuse Tory ministers of a “cavalier” approach to public spending. However, Conservatives have accused Labour of offering “recycled” economic plans that would hold the UK back and “hinder our recovery from coronavirus”.

8

Ex-MP holds parliamentary pass despite jail term

Former Tory minister Jonathan Aitken was handed a grace-and-favour parliamentary pass despite House of Commons rules that ex-MPs jailed for more than a year are ineligible. The information commissioner has warned that the pass system appeared to be so unregulated that it risked being vulnerable to abuse. In 1999, Aitken was jailed for 18 months after admitting perjury and perverting the course of justice.

9

Undercover probe shows Tesco’s chickens suffering

Chickens reared by suppliers for Tesco, Lidl and Sainsbury’s are suffering severe lameness and may spend their final days in pain, according to an undercover investigation by The Times. Footage captured by the paper showed chickens struggling to support themselves and unable to feed properly. Others had reddened raw skin and were covered in faeces and ammonia burns from lying in their own waste.

10

‘Death throes’ of diesel as green sales surge ahead

Sales of eco-friendly cars have overtaken diesel for the first time. Bolstering claims that fossil-fuel vehicles are in terminal decline, official data shows that 33,000 pure electric and hybrid cars were registered between April and June, compared with 29,900 diesel cars. Experts said the figures show Britain is witnessing the “death throes of diesel”.

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