Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 31 Jan 2020

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

1

Social distancing ‘could remain all year’

Ministers have been warned that Britain will not be able to abandon social distancing this year unless a vaccine proves to be 85% effective at stopping transmission of coronavirus as well as severe illness. Modelling commissioned by a subgroup of Sage suggests the UK will suffer a third huge spike in deaths unless the vaccination drive cuts transmission significantly.

2

Lawyers leave Trump’s team

Donald Trump’s legal strategy in “disarray” after he “abruptly parted ways” with the two lead lawyers working on his defence for his Senate impeachment trial, reports The Observer.  Butch Bowers and Deborah Barberi, two South Carolina lawyers, are no longer on Trump’s team, a source said, describing the move as a “mutual decision”. Three other lawyers on his team have also walked out.

3

UK applies to join trade pact

The UK is applying to join a free trade area made up of 11 Asia and Pacific nations. The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership covers a market of around 500 million people, generating more than 13% of the world’s income. It includes Australia, Canada, Japan and New Zealand. The BBC says the UK is “eying a new trading club”.

4

Sheeran tops music tax chart

Ed Sheeran is the highest taxpayer of the musicians on the The Sunday Times Tax List, with a total tax bill put at £28.2m. He is one of five leading pop acts, including Queen and Adele, who between them have contributed more than £50m to the public finances in a year. The taxman has also received a windfall from Bohemian Rhapsody, the film about Queen’s frontman, Freddie Mercury.

5

Rashford faces racist abuse

Marcus Rashford says he was subjected to “humanity and social media at its worst” after enduring online racist abuse on Saturday night. The footballer and campaigner, who was awarded the MBE for his work fighting child food poverty, received a number of racist messages on Instagram. Taking to Twitter, he said: “I'm a black man and I live every day proud that I am.”

6

Facebook ‘profits from anti-vax sites’

Facebook is making money from anti-vax sites, claims the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. An investigation found that the social network is allowing users to profit from the spread of potentially dangerous false theories and misinformation about the Covid-19 pandemic and vaccines. A Facebook spokesman said the company was investigating the examples brought to its attention.

7

Baby’s body found on golf course

Police have launched an investigation after a baby boy’s body was discovered at a golf course. The dead infant was found on Friday at Brackenwood golf course in Bebington, Wirral. A postmortem examination is due to take place on Monday and inquiries are under way into the whereabouts of the baby’s mother to check her welfare and offer support.

8

‘Apocalyptic’ situation in Bangui

The Central African Republic capital of Bangui is in an “apocalyptic” situation, claims a former prime minister. Rebels have encircled the city, says Martin Ziguélé, with daily fighting across the country. More than 200,000 people have fled fighting in the Central African Republic since violence erupted over a December election result, according to the UN.

9

Arrests over asylum facility fire

Five men have been arrested in connection with a fire “believed to have been started deliberately” at an asylum facility. The blaze broke out on Friday at the Napier Barracks, a decommissioned military complex in Folkestone that now houses hundreds of asylum-seekers. The facility has been the subject of a recent row between Priti Patel and charities, who have called on the home secretary to close it amid concerns over living conditions.

10

Gambling ban could hit sport

Gambling logos may be banned from sports shirts in the biggest reform of advertising rules in professional sport since tobacco promotion was banned. Gambling companies provide Premier League and Championship football clubs with about £110m a year in shirt sponsorship alone. The move would also have a significant impact on snooker, darts, boxing and rugby league.

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