Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Friday 11 Dec 2020
The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am
PM says no-deal a ‘strong possibility’
Boris Johnson has told his ministers to prepare for the “strong possibility” of a no-deal Brexit. The prime minister says the UK risks being “locked in the EU’s orbit” by Brussels’ latest demands. However, he insisted he was still prepared to “go the extra mile” by flying to Paris or Berlin for face-to-face talks with EU leaders.
London ‘faces tier three within days’
London now has the highest coronavirus rates in England, the latest data from Public Health England shows. The capital had 191.8 positive test results per 100,000 people for the week of 30 November to 6 December, a rise of 20% on the previous week. An MP told Sky News that the capital is set to go into the strictest tier three of restrictions. “I think the decision is pretty much made,” he or she said.
Barbara Windsor dies at 83
Tributes are being paid after the actress Dame Barbara Windsor, best known for her roles in EastEnders and the Carry On films, died aged 83. Her husband said she had passed away peacefully from Alzheimer’s at a care home last night. Danniella Westbrook, who played her on-screen daughter Sam Mitchell in EastEnders, said: “Bar, you will always be in my heart forever.”
Trump steps up execution rate
Donald Trump is racing through a string of federal executions during his final weeks in office, breaking with a 130-year-old tradition of pausing executions during a presidential transition. Brandon Bernard was put to death in Indiana last night after last-minute clemency pleas were rejected by the US Supreme Court. The 40-year-old was the youngest offender to be executed by the federal government in nearly 70 years.
HMRC uses debt collectors based in tax havens
The tax authorities have been accused of hypocrisy after it was revealed that they have used debt collection firms whose owners are based in tax havens. The news comes after The Times revealed that firms hired by HMRC have sent letters to families during the pandemic accusing them of “deliberately” choosing not to repay debts and threatening to “take things you own and sell them”.
Palestinians angry as Morocco builds ties with Israel
Morocco has agreed to normalise relations with Israel as part of a US-brokered agreement in which Washington will recognise Morocco’s claim over Western Sahara. The region is the subject of a dispute between Morocco and the Algeria-backed Polisario Front. Bassam as-Salhi, a Palestinian official, said the deal broke a longstanding agreement in the Arab world to isolate Israel until it ends its occupation of the Palestinian territories.
Covid causes biggest fall in emissions since 1940s
The response to the Covid-19 pandemic has led to the biggest annual fall in carbon dioxide emissions since the Second World War. A new study found that emissions have declined by around 7% this year, with the UK and France witnessing the greatest falls. However, China has enjoyed such a significant rebound from coronavirus that overall emissions may end up growing there this year.
Lloyds Bank says black staff paid 20% less
Lloyds Banking Group has becoming the first major UK lender to reveal its ethnic pay gap, disclosing that its black staff are being paid nearly 20% less than their colleagues. Britain’s biggest high street lender said the disparity was due to a lack of black staff in senior positions which come with larger salaries and bigger bonuses. Black employees make up 1.5% of Lloyds staff, but hold only 0.6% of the top roles.
Biden and Harris named Time magazine’s people of year
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have been named Time magazine’s people of the year for 2020. Announcing the news, the magazine said: “Together, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris offered restoration and renewal in a single ticket.” Former president Barack Obama and outgoing president Donald Trump have also received the honour. Last year’s winner was climate activist Greta Thunberg.
Kay Burley to take ‘agreed’ six month absence
Sky News presenter Kay Burley will be off air for six months after hosting a birthday party that broke Covid-19 restrictions. Meanwhile, reporters Beth Rigby and Inzamam Rashid have agreed not to be on air for three months. All three journalists will remain on full pay throughout their “agreed” absences. Sky said that “all those involved regret the incident and have apologised”.