Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Wednesday 21 Oct 2020
EU ‘to allow Boris Johnson to claim victory’
The European Union is hoping to seal a Brexit trade deal by allowing Boris Johnson to claim he was the victor in the negotiations, according to Bloomberg. EU officials and diplomats from Europe’s biggest capitals say they are relaxed about London’s recent posturing, as they feel it is necessary for Johnson to be able to sell a compromise to the pro-Brexit camp at home.
Matt Hancock defends £60m offer for Greater Manchester
Matt Hancock, the health secretary, has said the “door is open” to more talks on a £60m support package which “remains on the table” to help Greater Manchester deal with Tier 3 Covid rules. The city’s mayor, Andy Burnham, said local people faced a “a winter of real hardship” after the strictest restrictions were imposed by central government yesterday.
Trump opened Chinese bank account ‘to seek Asian deals’
Donald Trump has admitted that his company has a Chinese bank account, after The New York Times discovered evidence of its existence in leaked tax records. The US president has been critical of US firms doing business in China, sparked a trade war between the two countries and accused his Democratic presidential rival Joe Biden of being too close to Beijing. Trump’s spokesman said the account was set up “to explore the potential for hotel deals in Asia”.
Royal Mail to start home pick-up service for parcels
Royal Mail will start collecting parcels and mail from people's homes in a bid to capitalise on a surge in online shopping. The BBC says the postal company, which is on track to make a loss in 2020, is joining an “already crowded parcel-collection market” where it faces rivals such as DPD, Hermes and DHL. There will be 72p charge per parcel, plus postage costs.
Police in Nigeria open fire as protests continue
Nigerian police have shot at least two people, according to Reuters, during protests in Lagos. More than 20 officers reportedly opened fire on demonstrators in the city’s Lekki district on Tuesday. The authorities have already imposed a 24-hour curfew on the 20 million people who live in Africa’s largest city in a bid to end the unrest over a now-disbanded police unit.
Warning signs for Joe Biden despite large lead
Although Joe Biden has a double-digit national lead over Donald Trump, a new poll conducted by The Independent found that among black voters and white people with a college degree his lead is significantly smaller than Hillary Clinton’s 2016 results. Both groups are considered demographically important for this year's election - although Biden has a much larger lead than Clinton among other groups.
Government threatens to take over Transport for London
The government has been accused of demanding “punitive” conditions in its bailout negotiations with Transport for London. The Financial Times says ministers have told Sadiq Khan that they would take direct control of Transport for London unless he accepts measures including higher council tax, a larger congestion charge zone and higher tube and bus fares in return for rescue funds after coronavirus led to a huge drop in revenues.
Government minister says teaching white privilege is illegal
A minister has claimed that schools which teach pupils that “white privilege” is an uncontested fact are breaking the law. The women and equalities minister Kemi Badenoch says the government does not want children being taught about “white privilege and their inherited racial guilt”. She said schools must remain politically impartial and should not openly support “the anti-capitalist Black Lives Matter group”.
Sadiq Khan says London's 10pm curfew must be scrapped
London’s 10pm curfew should be abandoned to help venues deal with Tier 2 coronavirus restrictions, according to the mayor of London. Sadiq Khan said the curfew does not “make sense” and extending hospitality opening hours would boost cash flow. Scrapping the restriction “would allow more sittings of single households in restaurants throughout the evening,” he added.
Bank of England figure argues for negative interest rates
A top Bank of England policymaker says negative interest rates could soon be needed to boost the economy as the second Covid wave hits the recovery. Gertjan Vlieghe said that in countries where negative rates have been tried, “the effect has generally been positive”. The move would reduce costs for borrowers, but savers would suffer.