Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Wednesday 14 Oct 2020

1

Starmer calls for circuit breaker lockdown

Labour leader Keir Starmer has called for Boris Johnson to “follow the science” and impose a national “circuit breaker” lockdown of at least two weeks. Starmer said the PM must impose a near-total shutdown across England over October half-term because “if we don’t, we could sleep-walk into a long and bleak winter”. Meanwhile, the new three-tier system of Covid-19 restrictions has come into force in England.

2

Biden tells the elderly they are ‘expendable’ to Trump

A day after Donald Trump returned to the campaign trail following his recovery from coronavirus, Joe Biden has told elderly voters in Florida that the US president does not have their interests at heart. “You’re expendable, you’re forgettable, you’re virtually nobody,” Biden said at a rally in Florida. “That’s how he sees seniors. That’s how he sees you”.

3

Merkel tells EU leaders to be realistic on fishing rights

Angela Merkel has told the EU that it must take a pragmatic approach to Britain’s negotiating position in trade talks. Speaking ahead of a crunch summit of leaders, the German chancellor said Brussels must accept that any deal will have to reflect the interests of the UK and the EU. There are fears that disagreements over fishing rights may sink the negotiations.

4

Amazon will be exempt from digital services tax

HMRC has admitted that Amazon will not be affected by the new digital services tax, while small traders who use its online marketplace will be penalised. Despite the boasts of ministers that the new tax would make “global giants with profitable businesses in the UK pay their fair share towards supporting our public services,” Amazon will not have to pay the levy on goods it sells itself. 

5

Redundancies grow at fastest rate on record

The number of people losing their jobs in the UK doubled in the three months to August, the fastest it has grown since records began. The Office for National Statistics said redundancies increased by 114,000 to 227,000 per month. The economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the winding down of the government’s furlough scheme are expected to lead to more job losses.

6

UN rejects Saudi bid to join human rights council

Saudi Arabia failed in its attempt to win a place on the UN human rights council - but China and Russia were elected to the 47-seat body last night. Sarah Leah Whitson, of Democracy for the Arab World Now, said: “It is telling just how badly crown prince Mohammed bin Salman has damaged his country’s global standing for Saudi to lose its election to the UN human rights council while China and Russia managed to win seats.”

7

Covid-19 may cause permanent hearing loss say experts

People who recover from Covid-19 may may be left with permanent hearing loss, according to a report in the journal BMJ Case Reports. It describes the experience of a 45-year-old man with asthma who was admitted to intensive care in a UK hospital. A week after leaving, he developed a ringing sound - tinnitus - and then hearing loss in his left ear. A small number of similar reports have emerged from other countries.

8

Britain joins eight nations in Moon agreement

Britain’s space agency has signed the Artemis accords, a new international agreement governing the exploration of the Moon. The treaty, which creates common technical standards as well as protocols for extracting resources and establishing territorial rights, was also signed by the US, Luxembourg, Japan, Australia, Canada, Italy and the UAE. However, Russia and China did not take part.

9

Medical officer says laughing gas can cause paralysis

Laughing gas, the second most commonly used recreational drug in the UK after cannabis among 16 to 24-year-olds, can cause paralysis, according to a leading health expert. Dr Frank Atherton, the chief medical officer of Wales, said using the drug was “not just a bit of harmless fun”. He added: “We see people who are no longer able to walk or use their arms or legs. Sadly that can be irreversible.”

10

Meghan says she avoids controversy to protect family

The Duchess of Sussex has said she avoids being “controversial” to stop her family being put “in a position of risk”. Meghan said she preferred to stick to “fairly straightforward” topics “like exercising your right to vote”. However, speaking at a virtual summit, she also said she would not feel proud as a mother if she had not tried to “make this world better” for her son.

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