Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 22 Jan 2021
The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am
Ministers mull £500 payment
Anyone who tests positive for Covid-19 in England could be paid £500 to self-isolate under proposals to encourage people with symptoms to get tested and stay at home. A leaked “options paper” from the Department of Health states that a universal £500 payment could cost up to £453m per week - 12 times the cost of the current payouts.
Biden unveils pandemic plan
Joe Biden said his Covid-19 strategy is based on “science not politics” as he signed new initiatives to tackle the pandemic. He plans to ramp up vaccination supplies and force international travellers to provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test prior to traveling to the US. He said the plan is “based on truth, not denial”.
Minister warns of more floods
Environment Secretary George Eustice has warned the “danger has not passed” and more flooding could hit parts of north-western England devastated by recent deluges of rain. After hundreds of people were evacuated from their homes, and the body of a man was recovered from a river in Cardiff, the minister warned: “The water levels remain high and there is the risk of possible further flooding next week.”
IS claims Baghdad bombings
Islamic State said it was behind a double suicide bombing in the Iraqi capital that killed at least 32 people and wounded more than 100. Yesterday’s attack was the biggest in Baghdad for three years. The bombers blew themselves up among a crowd of shoppers at a second-hand clothes market in Tayaran Square. A UN report last year estimated that more than 10,000 IS fighters remained active in Iraq and Syria.
PM warns of lockdown until summer
Boris Johnson has acknowledged that Covid restrictions could last for months, saying it was “too early to say” when asked whether measures could stay in place until the summer. A government source said ministers wanted to “keep this [lockdown] going for as long as they can get away with it to make sure the rate is as low as possible”.
Poll finds immigration shift
Less than half of the British public want to see reduction in immigration to the UK, according to a new poll. The proportion of Britons wanting fewer immigrants to arrive has dropped from 67% in February 2015 to 49% in November 2020. The Ipsos Mori study also found that 12% would like to see an increase in immigration to the UK, compared with 7% in 2015.
Brexit prompts web shopping fees
Online shoppers are being hit with unexpected customs, VAT and delivery fees on orders from the EU as retailers on the Continent grapple with post-Brexit red tape. Tens of thousands of people are being ordered to pay up to a third extra to get their goods. A delivery company asked one shopper to pay £77 in tax and charges to release £245 worth of clothes bought from a French website.
Calls for impeachment delay
The Senate Republican leader wants to postpone the start of Donald Trump’s impeachment trial by a week or more to give the former president time to review the case. Mitch McConnell says the delay would give Trump time to prepare and assemble his legal team, ensuring due process, but Democrats say they want a quick trial so the country and Congress can move on.
Nuclear treaty comes into force
An international treaty banning all nuclear weapons comes into force today. The agreement, which has been signed by 51 countries, is essentially symbolic because the world’s nuclear powers have not signed up. However, it will be legally binding on the smaller nations that have endorsed it. The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament says polling found that 77% of the UK public supports a “total ban on all nuclear weapons globally”.
Bond film delayed - again
Bond fans have been disappointed for a third time by a delay to the release of the next James Bond film because of the Covid-19 pandemic. No Time To Die, which had already been pushed back twice, is now due to come out on 8 October. The 25th instalment in the Bond franchise was originally scheduled for April 2020.