Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 25 Jan 2021

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

1

Pupils ‘forgotten victims’ say MPs

A group of Conservative MPs say schoolchildren have become the “forgotten victims” of the pandemic as a backlash grows against plans that could keep classrooms closed until Easter. The chairman of the education select committee, Robert Halfon, has asked for the government to set out a “routemap” for the reopening of schools in England - but the government says it is “too soon” to say when schools will reopen to all pupils.

2

Brown warns of UK ‘failed state’

The UK risks becoming a “failed state”, Gordon Brown has written in the Daily Telegraph, after the pandemic “brought to the surface tensions and grievances that have been simmering for years” between Downing Street and the various parts of the UK. The former prime minister suggests that Boris Johnson should set up a commission to review how the country is run.

3

Flood defences ‘almost useless’

An Environment Agency inquiry has found that thousands of England’s vital flood defences were in such a state of ruin last year they would fail to protect communities from extreme weather. Storm Christoph recently left at least 600 homes under water as two months’ worth of rain fell in 48 hours in some areas.

4

China leapfrogs US investment

China has overtaken the US as the world’s top destination for new foreign direct investment, according to UN data. New investments into America from overseas companies fell by almost half last year, while direct investment into Chinese firms climbed by 4%. The BBC says China’s top ranking shows its “growing influence on the world economic stage”.

5

‘Jabs for friends’ at vaccine centres

Vaccine centres are offering Covid jabs to friends and family aged under 70 in breach of national policy, according to the Daily Telegraph. However, health chiefs have insisted that drawing up a ‘friends and family list’ helps avoid waste by ensuring that they never throw away any Pfizer vaccine, which can be stored for only five days once thawed. 

6

Boohoo set to buy Debenhams

Boohoo is poised to buy the Debenhams brand and website, but not its stores of workforce, the BBC reports. Debenhams, a 242-year-old chain, is in the process of closing down after administrators failed to secure a rescue deal for the business, with the likely loss of 12,000 jobs. Boohoo has already bought a number of retail brands out of administration, including Oasis and Karen Millen.

7

Terror warning in jails

Extremism is being “encouraged” in prison because convicted terrorists are not prosecuted for radicalising fellow inmates, the terror watchdog has warned. Jonathan Hall, QC, said that there was an “increasing drumbeat of links” between prison and terror attacks. “We need scrutiny of how prisons operate to either contain, or worse encourage, terrorism,” he added.

8

Trump aide to run for governor

Sarah Sanders, Donald Trump’s former chief spokeswoman and one of his closest aides, is expected to announce today that she is running for governor in Arkansas. The daughter of former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee was publicly encouraged by Trump to run for office. The Guardian says she has been laying the groundwork for a candidacy by speaking to Republican groups in the state.

9

Women ‘more attentive’ than men

Women are more helpful than men at catching criminals because they pay more attention, according to Scotland Yard’s e-fit officer. Tony Barnes, who has interviewed more than 2,000 witnesses to make computer-aided images of suspects’ faces, said that women tended to have better visual recollections. “Women are more likely to be thinking about protecting themselves and pay more attention to what’s going on around them,” he said.

10

Call for drink-drive limit to be tightened

A study funded by the government has concluded that the drink-driving limit in England and Wales should be cut for the first time since the 1960s. The report found that the limit should be reduced by more than a third because large numbers of drivers no longer saw it as a significant deterrent. An average of 240 people a year have been killed in alcohol-fuelled crashes since 2010.

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