Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 11 Feb 2021
The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am
‘Too early’ to book summer holidays
Boris Johnson has warned Brits that it is “too early” to book summer holidays - even within the UK. His comments follow a string on contradictory advice from ministers, causing widespread confusion. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps yesterday said that nobody should be planning a summer holiday either in Britain or abroad. However, Health Secretary Matt Hancock revealed earlier in the day that he had booked a getaway in Cornwall and was “optimistic” about the summer. Travel company Tui has said it expects to run 80% of its normal capacity for this summer, with 2.8 million customers already booked for its holidays.
‘Horror’ videos at Trump trial
Senators presiding over Donald Trump’s historic second impeachment trial have been shown never before seen footage of the 6 January attack on the US Capitol by his supporters. Police inside the building are seen ushering politicians to safety in the video, sometimes within yards of rioters. The impeachment prosecutors took senators on a “wrenching journey” inside the “horror” of the insurrection, CNN says. However, Trump is expected to be acquitted as most Republican senators are likely to vote against impeachment.
Kent Covid to ‘sweep the world’
The Covid mutation first discovered in Kent is likely to become the world’s dominant strain, according to the head of the UK’s genetic surveillance programme. Professor Sharon Peacock told the BBC that the new variant has “swept the country” and will “sweep the world, in all probability”. The professor of public health and microbiology at Cambridge University also said her work sequencing new variants of the virus could be required for at least a decade. The Kent variant has so far been detected in more than 50 countries.
Amsterdam overtakes London on trade
Amsterdam leapfrogged London as Europe’s largest share trading centre last month as the UK’s departure from the EU led to a shift in dealing of stocks and derivatives. An average €9.2b (£8bn) shares were traded a day on Euronext Amsterdam and the Dutch arms of CBOE Europe and Turquoise in January, more than a fourfold increase on December. Anish Puaar, a market construction analyst at Rosenblatt Securities in London, said that the development is “symbolic”, adding that London “has a chance to carve out its own niche on trading”.
PM ‘betrayal’ over cladding
Campaigners have accused Boris Johnson of betraying homeowners after ministers unveiled a £3.5bn fund to remove flammable cladding that could leave an estimated half a million people still facing financial peril. The Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said that homeowners in blocks less than 18 metres tall would be left out of the fund and will be offered low-interest loans instead. The funding comes four years after the devastating Grenfell Tower fire, which left 72 people dead and more than 200 households homeless.
Green revolution ‘could cost $13tn’
A new report has said that oil and gas producing countries face a multi-trillion-dollar hole in their government revenues as the world cuts back on the use of fossil fuels. The report, published by the think tank Carbon Tracker, says some countries could lose at least 40% of total government revenue, adding that its data should serve as a “wake-up call” to oil producing countries and global policymakers.
Flying taxis within five years
United Airlines plans to buy 200 flying electric taxis to ferry passengers to airports within the next five years. The US carrier will also invest in flying taxi firm Archer as part of a $1.1bn (£800m) deal to develop the small aircraft. The taxis will be capable of flying a distance of 60 miles at 150 miles an hour. “With the right technology, we can curb the impact aircraft have on the planet, but we have to identify the next generation of companies who will make this a reality early and find ways to help them get off the ground,” United Airlines chief executive Scott Kirby said.
Scandal-hit drugs boss given OBE
A pharmaceutical firm boss was handed an OBE in the 2019 new year’s honours list, despite reports showing that he overcharged the NHS by £80m. Civil servants who were vetting Vijay Patel for the honour failed to notice that he had featured in a front-page exposé in The Times naming companies accused of overcharging for medicines. Officials then “ignored the information” when it emerged during final checks, the paper says. A Cabinet Office spokesperson said: “Rigorous processes are in place to protect the integrity of the honours system.”
MP threatens court action on leave
A Labour MP is threatening to take the government to court over a bill giving six months’ paid maternity leave to cabinet ministers only. Stella Creasy said the proposed arrangement would effectively award better maternity rights as a reward for political promotion, describing it as being “like a company car”. Creasy, who is pregnant with her second child, pioneered a system of having a “locum MP” in place when she had her first child. Her threat comes as the government moves to change the law to allow Attorney General Stella Braverman to take paid leave.
Springsteen arrested on drink driving
Bruce Springsteen was arrested in New Jersey last year and charged with driving while intoxicated and reckless driving, officials have revealed. The singer was also cited for consuming alcohol in a closed area of a national park on the same day, 14 November. Celebrity news site TMZ says the veteran rock star is due to appear in court in the next few weeks. His song “The Rising” last year featured prominently in Joe Biden’s presidential campaign.