Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Thursday 12 Nov 2020

1

Chaos in Downing Street as senior Johnson aide quits

One of Boris Johnson’s closest aides has resigned amid reports of internal tensions in No. 10. In a statement, Lee Cain said he would step down as director of communications next month, despite Johnson offering him the role of No. 10 chief of staff. The Times says he quit after Johnsons’ fiancée and senior Downing Street advisers opposed plans to appoint the former Vote Leave staffer to the new role.

2

Health chief encourages elderly to sign-up for jab

England’s deputy chief medical officer has called on the public to urge elderly and vulnerable family members to get the Covid-19 vaccine as soon as it is available. Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said he has told his 78-year-old mother to have the inoculation at the earliest opportunity. The call came as government figures showed the UK’s Covid-19 death toll yesterday surpassed 50,000.

3

Biden gives ‘ultimate Washington insider’ leading role

Joe Biden has named Ron Klain as his incoming chief of staff, promoting his longstanding aide to one of the most powerful positions in the White House. Klain has previously served as chief of staff to Vice President Al Gore during the Clinton administration and Biden during his tenure as President Barack Obama’s vice president. The BBC describes him as “the ultimate Washington insider”.

4

Beijing orders expulsion of Hong Kong opposition MPs

Democracy in Hong Kong has suffered a fresh blow after China ordered the expulsion of four opposition MPs from the territory’s parliament for their “unpatriotic” activities. The remaining opposition members resigned in solidarity, leaving the legislative council dominated by supporters of Beijing. The development follows Beijing’s imposition of a harsh national security law in June this year.

5

Rishi Sunak mulling tax raid on middle class investments

The middle-classes are facing the prospect of a “raid” on their investments as Rishi Sunak looks for ways to repair the public finances amid the coronavirus crisis, reports The Times. Second-home owners, investors and pensioners may have to pay tens of thousands of pounds more in tax under a review ordered by the chancellor that could raise £14 billion a year. 

6

New Yorker ‘fires’ writer after Zoom incident

The New Yorker has parted ways with staff writer Jeffrey Toobin after he reportedly exposed himself during a Zoom conference last month. Toobin tweted: “I was fired today by @NewYorker after 27 years as a staff writer. I will always love the magazine, will miss my colleagues, and will look forward to reading their work.” He is also on leave from CNN, where he is a legal commentator.

7

Four-day bank holiday for Queen’s platinum jubilee

A “once-in-a-generation show” held over a four-day bank holiday weekend is to be organised for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022, the BBC says. The Queen, 94, is said to hope that as many people as possible will have the opportunity to join the celebrations, the broadcaster adds. The culture secretary said the anniversary would be a “truly historic moment” and deserved a “celebration to remember”.

8

Nurse charged with murdering eight babies

A nurse has been charged with the murder of eight babies and attempting to kill 10 more at a neonatal unit in Chester. Lucy Letby, 30, from Hereford, was arrested in relation to the deaths of multiple infants at the Countess of Chester Hospital. She is being held in custody and will appear before Warrington magistrates’ court today.

9

Undercover police officers spied on writer for 14 years

The writer and public intellectual Tariq Ali was spied on by at least 14 undercover police officers, a public inquiry has heard. Previously secret records have revealed how police spied on Ali as he helped promote political campaigns against the Vietnam war, racism, fascism and other progressive causes in the 1960s. At one point, officers reported that he had simply worked on a book about revolutionary Leon Trotsky.

10

Warning that Britain is ‘sleepwalking into a debt crisis’

A charity has said that Britain is “sleepwalking into a debt crisis” after a dramatic rise in emergency borrowing by low-and middle-income households during the Covid-19 pandemic. Stepchange, a debt advice charity, found that household borrowing linked to the pandemic has soared 66% since May, hitting a total of £10.3bn. Phil Andrew, the charity’s chief executive, said: “The worst is yet to come.”

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