Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Friday 16 Oct 2020

1

Russia targets UK Covid vaccine with ‘disinformation campaign’

Russia is waging a “disinformation campaign designed to undermine and spread fear about the Oxford University coronavirus vaccine”, according to The Times. Pictures, videos and memes and portray the UK-made vaccine as dangerous. Some suggest it could turn people into monkeys because it uses a chimpanzee virus as a vector. The campaign is being targeted at countries where Russia wants to sell its own Sputnik V vaccine.

2

Government scientist says row over lockdown is ‘damaging’

Professor Jeremy Farrar, the Wellcome Trust director and a government adviser, says the argument about England's regional Covid restrictions is “very damaging to public health”. After talks between Westminster and local leaders about moving Greater Manchester to the strictest tier of rules, the city’s Labour mayor Andy Burnham rejected the need for tighter rules and said the North was being treated with contempt.

3

Number 10 ‘startled’ by Macron's Brexit demands

As Boris Johnson's deadline for a Brexit deal passes, The Guardian reports that Downing Street was “startled” when Emmanuel Macron led EU leaders in warning the British PM that he must swallow the bloc’s conditions. The EU has proposed a further “two to three weeks” of negotiations but added that London alone needed to “make the necessary moves to make an agreement possible”. Michel Barnier said he would come to London on Monday to start the new round of talks.

4

Trump and Biden face TV town hall events

Donald Trump and Joe Biden have deflected key questions during separate televised “town hall” events, in which they were interrogated by voters. Trump refused to disavow the QAnon online conspiracy, while Biden again declined to divulge whether he might add judges to the US Supreme Court. Speaking of the president's event, CNN said: “No hour has better illustrated the alternate reality in which Trump exists than Thursday's 60-minute town hall.”

5

House of Commons to stop serving alcohol

Parliamentary bars are to stop serving alcohol for the foreseeable future, bringing them “into line with the national picture”, Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle has said. Greater Manchester is expected to join Liverpool in tier three coronavirus restrictions, which force the closure of pubs. Hoyle said the ban would begin on Saturday, and apply to all  outlets, whether or not food is served.

6

Banknotes found in buttocks of Bolsonaro ally

Police have reportedly seized a wad of banknotes from between the clenched buttocks of one of the allies of the Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro. Chico Rodrigues, the deputy leader in the senate, is said to have been caught with the concealed bundle on Wednesday during a police search of his home. The news is a blow to Bolsonaro’s endeavours to position himself as an anti-corruption crusader.

7

UK notches up wettest day since records began

The Met Office says Saturday 3 October was the wettest day for UK rainfall since records began in 1891. The downpour followed in the wake of Storm Alex and saw an average of 31.7mm (1.24ins) of rain across the entire UK. “We had 30 to 50mm of rain, quite extensively across large parts of the UK that day, and that's quite unusual,” said a spokesperson.

8

Labour MPs defy whip on ‘licence to kill’ bill

Dozens of Labour MPs have defied orders and opposed legislation allowing MI5 and police informants to commit crimes. Some 34 Labour MPs ignored a three-line whip instructing them to abstain during the bill’s third reading. The Times says the development is a sign of the tensions between Keir Starmer and the left. The so-called “licence to kill bill” allows people secretly working for the police and security services to commit criminal acts.

9

Countryfile presenter says British countryside is racist

Ellie Harrison, a presenter on the  BBC’s Countryfile, has said that people in the countryside are racist after government research revealed that many people believed the UK’s national parks were a “white environment”. Writing in Countryfile magazine, she stated: “Even a single racist event means there is work to do. In asking whether the countryside is racist, then yes it is; but asking if it’s more racist than anywhere else - maybe, maybe not.”

10

M&S and Waitrose victorious in Christmas grub taste test

Waitrose and Marks & Spencer have emerged as the winners of an independent taste test of this year’s Christmas food and drink. M&S was awarded top spot for its Christmas pudding, gravy and frozen turkey while Waitrose was victorious in the Christmas cake, champagne and yule log categories. It also won praise for its vegan centrepiece. The honours were handed out by the Good Housekeeping Institute.

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