Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 14 March 2021

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

1

Met under fire over vigil

The Metropolitan police commissioner, Cressida Dick, is facing angry criticism of her force’s handling of a London vigil in memory of Sarah Everard last night. Priti Patel, the home secretary, and Sadiq Khan, the London mayor, have both demanded an explanation from the Met, after officers grabbed women at the vigil in Clapham, south London. Police said four arrests were made at the vigil to “protect people's safety”.

2

‘Summer of fun’ promised

Thousands of fans are expected to be allowed to watch the FA Cup Final at Wembley Stadium as the public is told to prepare for a “summer of fun” in Britain. The Sunday Times says there will be a full return to sport, theatre, nightclubs and music festivals after June 21. Oliver Dowden, the culture secretary, said: “I want the country to have a summer of fun and I am working to achieve that.”

3

Biden reaches out to North Korea

Joe Biden has attempted to contact to North Korea through multiple channels but Pyongyang has been unresponsive, reports CNN. “To reduce the risks of escalation, we reached out to the North Korean government through several channels starting in mid-February,” said an official, adding: “To date, we have not received any response.” Biden is expected to outline his overall policy on North Korea in the coming weeks.

4

Bill an ‘assault’ on civil rights

Concern is growing over a new bill that will limit public right to protest. The police, crime, sentencing and courts bill, which is due before the House of Commons tomorrow, has been described as a “staggering assault” on the right to protest by civil rights groups. Liberty said: “We must reject the politics of division that the government is exploiting through this bill, and protect each other and our ability to stand up to power.”

5

Bitcoin soars past milestone

Bitcoin has risen for the first time above $60,000 (£43,100) as its record-breaking run marches on. The cryptocurrency has more than tripled in value since the end of last year and its total market value last month exceeded $1tn. However, points out the BBC, Bitcoin has a track record of “wild price swings” and has fallen sharply a number of times since it was created in 2009.

6

Brexit disruption to continue

The collapse of Britain’s trade with the EU will continue into the summer despite government claims that normal service has resumed, reports The Guardian. The warning comes after the most dramatic monthly fall in exports from the UK to the EU since records began 20 years ago. Delays and confusion at the UK’s ports could put hundreds of small and medium-sized exporters out of business.

7

Sri Lanka close to burka ban

Sri Lanka has moved a step closer towards a ban on the burka and other face coverings in public. The Public Security Minister, Sarath Weerasekara, said that he had signed a cabinet order that now needs parliamentary approval. He said everyone had a right to wear a face covering, adding “that has to be seen from a rights point of view, and not just a religious point of view”.

8

Anger over Hebdo cartoon

The controversial French magazine Charlie Hebdo has sparked controversy again with a front cover cartoon of Queen Elizabeth kneeling on the neck of Meghan Markle, echoing the death of George Floyd. The cartoon is titled “Why Meghan quit”, with the Duchess of Sussex saying, “Because I couldn’t breathe any more”. The Runnymede Trust, the UK’s race equality thinktank, said the cover was “wrong on every level”.

9

Assad’s wife faces probe

Asma al-Assad, the first lady of Syria, could face prosecution and the loss of her British citizenship after the Metropolitan Police launched an investigation into allegations that she incited and encouraged terrorist acts during the country’s 10-year civil war. An international law chambers based in London has provided evidence of the first lady’s power in the Syrian ruling class and passionate support for Syrian armed forces.

10

Murray Walker dies

Formula 1 commentator Murray Walker has died at the age of 97. The broadcaster commentated on his first grand prix for the BBC at Silverstone in 1949 and became synonymous with motorsport for decades before retiring in 2001. Paying tribute, F1 legend Damon Hill said: “Murray has been with me for my whole life and I don't think anybody thought this day would come, but sadly it has.”

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