Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Thursday 3 Dec 2020

1

‘Don’t get carried away’ over vaccine approval, PM warns

Boris Johnson has warned Britons not to get “carried away with over optimism” after the UK approved its first Covid-19 vaccine. The prime minister said the landmark development did not mean “our struggle is over”, while England's Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van-Tam urged patience over the rollout of the Pfizer-BioNTech jab. The first inoculations in Britain will begin early next week.

2

Starmer faces Labour split over Brexit deal

Backbench Labour MPs have warned that up to 60 could rebel if Keir Starmer insists they support any Brexit deal rather than allowing a free vote. The shadow cabinet is also split over whether to back a deal, with two MPs claiming that a frontbench reshuffle has been discussed as a way of containing the uprising. Shadow cabinet sources told The Guardian there were unlikely to be top table resignations.

3

Government to announce ban on live animal exports

The government is to announce plans to ban the export of live animals for slaughter and fattening. Environment Secretary George Eustice, said the plan is part of a renewed push to position Britain as a world leader on animal welfare post-Brexit. An estimated 6,400 animals were sent from the UK to Europe for slaughter in 2018, mostly through the port of Ramsgate in Kent.

4

Covid ‘do not resuscitate’ orders made without consent

The care watchdog has warned that doctors may have made decisions about “do not resuscitate orders” without consent during the first wave of the pandemic. The Care Quality Commission, which saw a leap in complaints about such orders between March and September, said the orders may have been used inappropriately when care services were under extreme pressure due to rising Covid infections.

5

Social media puts warning on Donald Trump speech

Twitter and Facebook have slapped warnings on a 46-minute video statement released by Donald Trump. During the address, the president repeats groundless claims of voter fraud in November’s election and claims US democracy is “under coordinated assault and siege”. Meanwhile, Trump has hinted at a “big Trump Rally” in Georgia as he mulls plans to announce a second re-election bid in 2024.

6

Beijing ‘on steroids’ in bid to influence Biden team

Chinese agents are ramping up efforts to influence Joe Biden’s incoming administration, a US intelligence official has warned. William Evanina, director of the United States National Counterintelligence and Security Center, said Beijing is focusing on people close to the president-elect in an influence campaign “on steroids”. Over 1,000 suspected Chinese agents have also fled the US, according to officials.

7

Government to make exams ‘fairer’ for pandemic students

GCSE and A-level students in England will be given more generous grades and a chance to preview exam topics, in new government measures aimed at making assessments “as fair as possible”. Additional exam aids have been promised to make up for the disruption faced by students during the pandemic. The Department of Education said it has had “extensive engagement” with experts.

8

Gas boilers in firing line of Johnson’s green revolution

Gas boilers could be targeted as Boris Johnson promises to cut Britain’s greenhouse gas pollution at a faster rate than any other big economy. “The big issue is gas boilers,” a government source told The Times. “If we really want to make these kinds of inroads we have to do more to decarbonise people’s homes.” Cutting boilers could be a costly move: a typical heat pump costs between £7,000 and £19,000.

9

United Nations vote to downgrade cannabis

The United Nations (UN) has narrowly voted to remove cannabis from a group of the world’s most dangerous drugs. The move by the organisation’s Commission on Narcotic Drugs passed by 27 to 25 votes and followed the recommendation of the World Health Organization. A UN statement did not say which countries backed or opposed the change, nor why the vote in Vienna was so close.

10

Footfall in shops rockets as lockdown ends

Footfall across shops in England yesterday rocketed by 86.6% compared with last Wednesday, according to hospitality charity Springboard. Analysts said “lockdown fatigue” and the lure of Christmas tempted people back into shops as non-essential stores in England re-opened. The spike is bigger than the rise in footfall seen after the first lockdown ended in June, when visitors spiked by 37%.

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