Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 16 March 2021

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

1

Police may patrol nightclubs

Plain clothes police officers could start patrolling bars and nightclubs as part of government plans to protect women from “predatory” offenders. Ministers say they want to take “immediate steps to provide further reassurance” for women and girls in the wake of the killing of 33-year-old Sarah Everard. Police made a number of arrests at the latest vigil in Everard’s memory in central London last night.

2

Jong-un’s sister warns US

The sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has warned the US not to “cause a stink” if it wants peace. Kim Yo-jong also criticised the US and South Korea for conducting joint military exercises. Pyongyang has yet to acknowledge Joe Biden’s arrival in the Oval Office, however, the US president is nonetheless preparing to set out his Korean policy. Relations between the two nations remain tense due to North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.

3

WHO boosts Oxford jab

The World Health Organization has called on countries to continue the rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab, stating that there is no evidence of a link between the vaccine and blood clots. Germany, France, Italy and Spain are among a string of European countries that have halted vaccinations following incidents of blood clots developing after the vaccine was administered. However, experts say that there were no more than the number of blood-clot incidents typically reported within the general population.

4

Everard cop ‘removed from duties’

A Metropolitan Police officer involved in the search for Sarah Everard has been removed from duties after sharing an “inappropriate graphic” on WhatsApp. The image reportedly depicted a uniformed officer abducting a woman. Meanwhile, The Times reports that the Met commander in charge of policing the vigil for Everard on Clapham Common on Friday was the head of the section of the force in which PC Wayne Couzens, the officer arrested in connection with her murder, worked.

5

Moscow link to No. 10 refurb

The £2.6m refit of Downing Street’s new White House-style briefing room was carried out by a Russian-owned company, The Times reports. The renovations were handled by Megahertz, a company owned by a Moscow-based firm that has carried out work for Russia Today, the state-controlled broadcaster. Rachel Reeves, the shadow Cabinet Office minister, described the project as Boris Johnson’s “latest vanity project”.

6

Return of 95% mortgage offer

Yorkshire Building Society is set to become the first lender to reinstate 95% mortgages in the mainstream market, nearly a year after the pandemic led to the withdrawal of low-deposit home loans. The deal, which will only be available to first-time buyers, will include strict conditions on lending, including ruling out flats and new-build homes. It will have a rate of 3.99% fixed for five years and will come with a £995 fee.

7

Patel reveals Met talks

Priti Patel has said that she had had “extensive discussions” with the head of the Metropolitan Police, Cressida Dick, before officers broke up the peaceful vigil for Sarah Everard on Friday evening. The home secretary said that she had told the Met Police commissioner that people should be allowed to lay flowers, but added that the vigil was later “hijacked” by protesters. Labour has demanded that Patel publish minutes of the meeting.

8

Government to lift ‘gene editing’ ban

The government is set to lift the ban on gene modification in agriculture so that animals, crops and livestock can be genetically engineered to boost their yields. The technique is currently banned in the UK and Europe due to safety concerns, however, it is permitted in some other parts of the world. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said it has “real concerns about gene editing and the animal welfare issues involved”. However advocates say it is “essentially the same as traditional breeding techniques”, the i news site adds.

9

Beijing ‘biggest security threat’ to UK

China poses the “biggest state-based threat” to Britain’s economic security and presents a “systemic challenge” to prosperity and national values, according to a landmark defence, security and foreign policy review. The 100-page document, Global Britain in a Competitive Age, said sensitive sites and technology must be made more secure to allow Britain to trade safely with an increasingly powerful China.

10

Thorntons to close its stores

Thorntons has said that none of its stores will reopen after the third coronavirus lockdown is lifted putting more than 600 jobs at risk. The Covid-19 pandemic forced the chocolate maker’s shops to shut their doors during the crucial Christmas and Easter holidays. However, sales through its website have increased by more than 70% and the company says it will continue to sell its chocolate online.

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