Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Friday 20 Nov 2020
Priti Patel poised to keep job with PM’s backing
Boris Johnson is expected to defend his embattled home secretary despite an official inquiry’s ruling that she breached the ministerial code by bullying civil servants. Priti Patel is set to apologise after a Whitehall investigation found that she had “not always met the high standards” required of ministers but the prime minister reportedly intends to reject calls for her to quit.
Biden slams ‘irresponsible’ Trump after Georgia confirmation
US president-elect Joe Biden’s victory in Georgia has been confirmed by a recount, in a fresh blow to Donald Trump’s attempts to cast doubt on the election result. The Democrat beat his Republican rival by 12,284 votes in the state, according to the audit. Biden has denounced Trump as one of the “most irresponsible presidents in American history”.
Vulnerable being let down by legal system ‘on its knees’
A criminal justice system in which crown court cases have been delayed until 2023 is leading to the innocent being penalised more than the guilty, according to the chair of the Criminal Bar Association in England and Wales. A combination of deep cuts to the Ministry of Justice since 2010 and the Covid crisis has left the system “on its knees”, says James Mulholland QC. “Very vulnerable people who have to go through the system are being let down,” he added.
Macron hands ultimatum to Muslim leaders in France
French President Emmanuel Macron has given Muslim leaders 15 days to accept a “charter of republican values” that will state that Islam is a religion and not a political movement. Macron is also introducing a bill to tackle “Islamist separatism” that would give children an identification number to ensure they are attending school.
Brexit talks suspended after Barnier colleague catches Covid
Talks between David Frost and Michel Barnier were suspended yesterday after a member of Barnier’s personal team tested positive for Covid-19. Frost, the UK’s chief negotiator, said he would remain in “close contact” with Barnier but a UK government source said the situation was “not ideal” as deadlines for an agreement continue to pass.
Sunak considering pay cap for millions of workers
Around five million public sector workers will have their salaries frozen as Rishi Sunak seeks to rebuild the public finances, according to The Times. The chancellor is expected to use next week’s spending review to limit pay rises in the public sector to inflation or below. Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said a new pay cap would be a “cruel body blow” to health workers - although The Times says the NHS would be exempt from the measure.
Thousands of jobs at risk as Jaeger enters administration
The fashion chain Jaeger has plunged into administration, putting more than 4,700 jobs and almost 500 shops at risk. The 136-year-old chain is on the brink of disappearing, along with sister brand Peacocks, after being hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. Both chains are owned by retail billionaire Philip Day.
Vatican explores how Pope ‘liked’ photo of Brazilian model
The Vatican has said it is investigating after the Pope’s Instagram account ‘liked’ a photograph of a scantily clad Brazilian model. “We can exclude that the ‘like’ came from the Holy See, and it has turned to Instagram for explanations,” said a Vatican spokesperson. The official account had registered approval of an image of Natalia Garibotto, who was dressed in school uniform.
High Court paves way for legal action over care home deaths
Two bereaved daughters, who lost their fathers to Covid-19 while they were living in care homes, have been granted a full hearing against the government, NHS England and Public Health England after taking their case to the High Court. Dr Cathy Gardner and Fay Harris accuse the government of breaching the human rights of care home residents.
Rubber ducks become unlikely icons in Thai protests
Huge rubber ducks, brought to pro-democracy rallies in Thailand as a joke, have become symbols of resistance after they were pressed into service as makeshift shields when the authorities turned a water cannon on the activists. The demonstrators are enraged by the government's decision to reject a proposal for constitutional reform.