Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Wednesday 9 Dec 2020

1

Chance of Brexit deal ‘very slim’ as PM flies to Brussels

Boris Johnson will arrive in Brussels today for post-Brexit trade talks with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. The EU’s chief negotiator has warned the chance of a deal is now “very slim”. If there is no breakthrough at the dinner this evening a no-deal Brexit would be likely. However, Downing Street said that if the discussion goes well, negotiations could resume on Friday.

2

Biden pledges 100m vaccinations in first 100 days

The US president-elect Joe Biden, who takes office in January, has set a target of delivering 100 million Covid vaccinations in his first 100 days in office. “My first 100 days won’t end the Covid-19 virus” he said. “I can't promise that. We did not get into this mess quickly. We're not going to get out of it quickly.” A report has paved the way for a Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to be approved and rolled out for Americans.

3

Sir Patrick Vallance warns of another year of masks

The public may have to wear masks for another year, despite the start of Britain’s national vaccination programme, Sir Patrick Vallance has warned. The chief scientific adviser said: “It may be that next winter even with vaccination we need measures such as masks in place. We don't know yet how good all the vaccines are going to be at preventing the transmission of the virus.”

4

Mass strike in India over new farming laws

Farmers across India are on strike in a dispute over new agriculture laws, with thousands blocking key roads on the edge of New Delhi. The industrial action follows three rounds of inconclusive talks between the two sides over laws that farmers say are against their interests. The governing Bharatiya Janata Party insists the reforms, which allow private players a greater role in the farming sector, will not harm farmers.

5

Five dead after helicopter crashes in Alps

A helicopter has crashed in the French Alps killing five of the six people on board. The private aircraft was carrying out a rescue mission when it went down near the town of Bonvillard in the Savoie area. Officials say the crash could have been caused by poor weather conditions. France's air accident bureau said that it had opened an investigation.

6

Old Etonians defend sacking of ‘misogynistic’ teacher

Former Eton pupils have supported the school for sacking a teacher they accuse of promoting the idea that “men are violent and women are compliant”. A group of former pupils urged the institution not to reinstate Will Knowland, who was dismissed after refusing to delete a video which set out his rebuff to feminism, sparking a row about free speech. Writing to The Times, they say the decision to sack Knowland was justified by the “intellectually feeble, misogynistic and vitriolic nature” of the video.

7

England rugby ace joins dementia group action

Rugby legend Steve Thompson has been diagnosed with early onset dementia and is joining a group of former players in a potentially landmark legal action for the sport. Thompson, who won the Rugby World Cup with England in 2003, said he cannot remember winning the trophy and would not want his own children to play the game “the way it is at the moment”.

8

Grenfell insulation workers ‘joked about safety’

Employees at the insulation firm behind one of the flammable materials used on Grenfell Tower joked about how their product was not fully tested before being classed as fire safe, an inquiry has heard. Referring to a safety benchmark in instant messages, Arron Chalmers told his colleague Pete Moss that the insulation “doesn't actually get Class 0 when we test the whole product tho LOL!” Moss also described it as a “s**t product”.

9

Two millions British families to be pushed in poverty

Destitution levels in Great Britain are expected to double in the wake of the pandemic, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. The study forecasts two million families, including a million children, will struggle to afford to feed themselves, stay warm, or keep clean as the Covid-driven recession deepens. It adds that government polices were driving sharp rises in extreme poverty even before Covid struck.

10

European football tie abandoned after racism storm

Paris St-Germain's game against Istanbul Basaksehir was called off last night when a match official was accused of using a racist term towards one of the away side’s backroom staff. The Turkish club's players protested after their Cameroonian assistant coach Pierre Webo was shown a red card in the 16th minute of the game. Uefa said the game would resume today, adding it “will be conducting a thorough investigation”.

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