Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Monday 14 Dec 2020

The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am

1

Johnson warning as Brexit talks ‘go extra mile’

A UK source says Brexit talks “still have some legs” as negotiators from both sides begin a new drive to reach a deal after agreeing “to go the extra mile”. Although a deadline to finish talks had been set for Sunday, the prime minister and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen agreed to an extension. However, Boris Johnson has warned a no-deal remains the “most likely” outcome.

2

‘Friendly fire’ antibodies could cause ‘long Covid’

High levels of the immune system’s own antibodies could trigger severe coronavirus symptoms and cause “long Covid”, scientists have concluded. Experts at Yale University found that Covid-19 patients had large numbers of misguided “friendly fire” antibodies in their blood that targeted the organs, tissues and the immune system. Tests have revealed that the more “autoantibodies” patients had in their blood, the worse their disease.

3

Tributes to ‘literary giant’ John le Carré

John le Carré, the author of espionage thrillers including Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, has died at the age of 89. His family confirmed he had died of pneumonia at the Royal Cornwall Hospital on Saturday night. “We all deeply grieve his passing,” they wrote in a statement. Paying tribute, Stephen King wrote: “This terrible year has claimed a literary giant and a humanitarian spirit.”

4

Rules relaxed on blood donations from gay men

Gay and bisexual men will be able to donate blood more easily from next summer, the NHS blood service has announced.  Men in a long-term relationship with another man will be able to donate blood, in a relaxation of the rules that currently require all men who have had sex with men to abstain from sex for three months to give blood. Campaigners say current rules “perpetuate inequality”.

5

Electoral college poised to confirm Biden win

Members of the US electoral college will cast their ballots today and formally send Joe Biden to the White House. The move, by electors from 50 states and the District of Columbia, will be a “moment of historic resonance,” says CNN, which will “activate safeguards stemming from the founders’ fears nearly 250 years ago of a monarchical leader wielding unaccountable power”.

6

Corbyn announces new social justice initiative

Jeremy Corbyn says he will launch an organisation to support social justice, peace and human rights in the UK and around the world. Announcing his Peace and Justice Project, the Labour leader said it would “bring people together” to create “a future that works for the many, not the few”. He says it will focus on combating poverty, inequality and unaccountable corporate power.

7

Home secretary to overhaul Windrush compensation

Priti Patel is to announce an overhaul of the Windrush compensation scheme. Payments will be significantly increased and made available more quickly, with an early preliminary payment of £10,000. During the Windrush scandal British citizens, predominantly from the Caribbean, were wrongly detained, deported or threatened with deportation, despite having the right to live in the UK.

8

Khan calls for school closures as infections rise in London

Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, is calling for the city’s schools to shut as “catastrophic” infection rates pushed the capital towards Tier 3. His spokesman said: “The mayor is backing the early closure of schools and would like the government to consider shutting schools from Tuesday.” However, his demand puts him at odds with Gavin Williamson, the Education Secretary, who has insisted it is a “national priority” to keep children in school.

9

‘Stockwell Six’ cases referred to court of appeal

Two men who were jailed nearly 50 years ago because of the testimony of a corrupt detective are being referred to the court of appeal, where their names could be cleared. Courtney Harriot and Paul Green were part of a group of six young friends from south London who were charged with assault with intent to rob on an underground train in 1972. Their case became known as the “Stockwell Six”.

10

Gunman shot dead as he fires at New York cathedral

A gunman has been shot dead by police after firing semiautomatic handguns outside a New York City cathedral following a Christmas carol concert. The man appeared on stairs outside the cathedral and shouted “kill me” and “shoot me”. As he fired on police officers he was repeatedly ordered to drop his weapons before being shot by the officers.

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