Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 6 February 2021
The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am
Biden blocks Trump from briefings
President Joe Biden has said Donald Trump should not be given access to intelligence briefings because of his “erratic behaviour”. Although the US has a tradition of allowing former presidents to be briefed on the nation’s security issues, Biden will not keep to it. Asked by CBS News if Trump would receive the briefings, Biden said: “I think not”. He speculated that the former president could not be trusted to keep confidential information to himself.
Ministers plan NHS shake-up
Ministers plan to take more control over the NHS with laws to block the closure of hospitals and overrule bosses. Powers to put fluoride in water and order the health service to prevent obesity will be previewed within weeks. Government sources say that they are responding to calls from health bosses but The Times says the proposals are “alarming some on the NHS front line”.
Over-50s to be jabbed by May
All adults aged 50 and over should have been offered a Covid jab by May, Downing Street has confirmed. The UK had given a first dose to nearly 11 million people as of Thursday and is aiming to reach 15 million vaccinations by 15 February. However, the Health Secretary Matt Hanock warned that supply remained the “most difficult” factor in the roll out.
Carney issues climate deaths warning
The climate crisis means the world is heading for mortality rates equivalent to the Covid crisis every year by the middle of the century unless urgent action is taken, according to Mark Carney. The former head of the Bank of England called for “smart investment,” saying: “The scale of investment in energy, sustainable energy and sustainable infrastructure needs to double.”
Up to 20cm of snow forecast
Storm Darcy is expected to bring heavy snow and gale force winds to parts of England. Forecasters have issued yellow warnings for snow covering the length of Britain from Saturday, with a graver amber warning for the south east of England from early on Sunday morning. A few places could see as much as 20cm of snow as cold air from Russia makes its way across the UK.
Pubs could re-open without alcohol
Pubs and restaurants could reopen in April if they agree not to sell alcohol. The Daily Telegraph reports that a temporary “booze ban” is being considered to ease concerns from Prof Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer, about the effect of drinking on social distancing. Sources said alcohol was “the elephant in the room” after shambolic scenes when pubs reopened last summer.
Police rejects Cummings allegations
Durham police have rejected a 225-page dossier alleging that Dominic Cummings perverted the course of justice. After more than three months considering the allegations the force has decided to take no further action over the journeys made by the former Number 10 adviser during the first lockdown. A former chief prosecutor for the north-west, Nazir Afzal, whose lawyers compiled the dossier, has vowed to carry on his legal fight.
Sunak extends loans deadline
The chancellor will allow small firms more time to repay state-backed loans taken out to help survive the lockdown. Companies will be given an option to extend the length of the loan from six to 10 years under a “pay-as-you-grow” scheme to allow companies “breathing space to get back on their feet”. About £45bn has been borrowed under the Bounce Back Loan scheme.
Army in ‘calamitous’ state
A leaked briefing shows the “calamitous state” of the British Army, reports the Daily Mail. All but one of its 33 infantry battalions are dangerously short of combat-ready troops, with key frontline units having barely half the manpower needed for operational deployment. Tobias Ellwood, a former defence minister, said the news brought into question whether the UK could still meet its obligations as a leading member of Nato.
ICC opens way for Palestinians
The International Criminal Court has ruled that it has jurisdiction over war crimes and atrocities committed in the Palestinian territories, in a judgement that opens the way for the court to open a criminal investigation. Court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda says there was “a reasonable basis to believe” war crimes had occured but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has condemned the ruling.