Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 24 Dec 2020
The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am
Brexit trade deal expected today
The UK and EU are expected to announce later today that they have agreed a post-Brexit trade deal after talks about fish quotas continued through the night. The BBC said Downing Street now seemed “very confident” of an agreement that will “establish the terms of their trade for decades to come”. The deal document is believed to be around 2,000 pages long. Both sides have until 31 December to get it ratified by parliamentarians.
Single-dose jab considered
The government may limit some people to just one dose of the Covid jab in order to allow more people to be vaccinated as quickly as possible. The Daily Telegraph says there are “live conversations” with regulators after calls for the move were made by a number of experts. Professor David Salisbury, who led the programme at the Department of Health until 2013, said the move would save more lives.
Trump pardons two more advisers
Donald Trump has granted pardons to his former campaign manager Paul Manafort and former adviser Roger Stone. Manafort was convicted in 2018 on fraud charges resulting from an investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US election. Trump has previously commuted the prison sentence of Stone, who was convicted of lying to Congress. CNN says the US president is becoming “more erratic” in the final days of his presidency.
UK bans travel from South Africa
The UK government has imposed a travel ban on passengers arriving from South Africa after two cases of another new strain of Covid-19 were found in the UK. From 9am, visitors arriving in England who have been in or transited through South Africa in the past 14 days will not be permitted entry and direct flights will be banned, the Department for Transport said.
Maxwell offered ‘divorce of convenience’
Ghislaine Maxwell’s latest application for bail in her sex trafficking case claims that she and her husband had discussed a divorce of convenience “to protect him … from the terrible consequences of being associated with her”. Her husband, the businessman Scott Borgerson, has often been mentioned during pre-trial discussions. The socialite’s lawyers say her marriage is a reason she wouldn’t flee if given bail.
Pound rises on Brexit optimism
Sterling and Asian markets both moved higher today ahead of a post-Brexit trade announcement. As speculation grew that a deal is imminent, the pound gained against the US dollar, rising slightly above $1.35. Japan’s Nikkei gained in early trade while markets in Australia, South Korea and Singapore also enjoyed rises. The euro also strengthened against the dollar, rising by 0.1% to $1.22025, adding to a 0.2% gain overnight.
‘Deepfake’ Queen to give C4 message
Channel 4’s alternative Christmas message will be delivered by a “deepfake” version of the Queen. The broadcaster said the intention was to give a “stark warning” about fake news in the digital age. Deepfake technology can be used to create convincing yet entirely fictional video content. Buckingham Palace told the BBC it had no comment on the planned broadcast.
Deaths mount after Ethiopia massacre
More than 100 people were killed in Ethiopia’s western region of Benishangul-Gumuz yesterday. The attack occurred a day after the prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, visited the region and spoke about the need to bring to justice those responsible for other recent attacks. In a statement, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission said the attack took place in the village of Bekoji, which lies in an area home to multiple ethnic groups.
Priest and nun jailed for 1992 murder
A Catholic priest and nun have been sentenced to life on prison for the killing of another member of their convent in India nearly 30 years ago. Father Thomas Kottoor and Sister Sephy were found guilty of murdering 21-year-old Sister Abhaya in 1992, and destroying evidence of the killing. The court heard that the duo killed her after she came across them engaged in forbidden sexual activity.
Tributes paid to Stella Tennant
The model Stella Tennant has died at the age of 50. Her family said in a statement: “Stella was a wonderful woman and an inspiration to us all. She will be greatly missed.” Paying tribute, Stella McCartney said: “Rest in peace, you inspiring woman. Your soul and inner beauty exceed the external perfection.”