Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 25 March 2021
The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am
EU and UK seek jab ‘win-win’
EU leaders will today discuss ways of boosting Covid vaccine supplies and improving the rollout of doses across the bloc. The European Commission will ask leaders to support plans for added controls on vaccine exports, which could affect supply to the UK. However, officials from the UK and EU said that “given our interdependencies, we are working on specific steps we can take – in the short, medium and long term – to create a win-win situation”.
North Korea launches missiles
North Korea has launched two ballistic missiles in the second such test in less than a week. South Korea’s joint chiefs of staff said that two short-range missiles had been fired from the Hamju area of South Hamgyong province towards the sea off North Korea’s east coast. Pyongyang is banned from testing ballistic missiles under UN Security Council resolutions.
Pubs may require jabs
Boris Johnson has suggested that pub landlords will be able to deny entry to people who have not been vaccinated. The prime minister said it “may be up to the landlord” to decide whether to require proof that customers have received their jab. Ministers say they may permit bars and big events to abandon social distancing rules if they put in place a proof of vaccination plan.
Suez unblocking ‘to take weeks’
Efforts to unblock the Suez Canal after a container ship became wedged have entered their third day. The vessel, which is roughly the length of four football pitches, is still blocking one of the world’s busiest trade routes. Efforts to re-float the 220,000 ton, 400-metre-long shipping freighter are continuing, but experts fear that the operation could potentially take weeks if the vessel needs to be unloaded. About 12% of total global trade moves through the canal, which connects the Mediterranean Sea with the Red Sea.
Exclusion disparity revealed
Exclusion rates for black Caribbean pupils in English schools are up to six times higher than those of their white peers in some local authorities, The Guardian reports. The analysis also found that Roma children were nine times more likely to be suspended in some areas. Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran, who commissioned the study, said the data showed school children from minority ethnic backgrounds faced “incredible injustice” in the school system.
Cameron may have broken his laws
David Cameron is being investigated over an alleged breach of lobbying laws that he ushered in when he was prime minister. It is claimed that he lobbied the chancellor to secure multimillion-pound Covid loans for Greensill, a firm he was advising. He also approached the Bank of England. These interventions may break laws that forbid third parties from directly lobbying the authorities without declaring themselves on the government’s official register of lobbyists.
H&M faces China backlash
Nike and H&M are facing a backlash in China after voicing concern about the use of forced Uighur labour in the production of Xinjiang cotton. E-commerce platforms have dropped H&M and many Chinese people have called for boycotts of the clothing store. China is accused of committing serious human rights violations against the Uighur minority in Xinjiang. There have been allegations of torture, forced labour and sexual abuse.
‘Long Covid’ worse for women
Middle-aged women are the worst affected by “long Covid”, according to two UK studies. Months after being hospitalised, 70% of patients studied were still affected by symptoms such as anxiety, breathlessness, fatigue, muscle pain and “brain fog”, with women worse affected than men. Commenting on the findings, a researcher said it is possible women have “a different immune response to men”.
Union flag guidance updated
The Union flag will be flown from UK government buildings every day under new guidance devised by the culture secretary. Currently, union flags are only flown on government buildings on set days, but Oliver Dowden said the move would serve as “a proud reminder of our history and the ties that bind us”. Robert Jenrick, the housing, communities and local government minister, said: “Our nation’s flag is a symbol of liberty, unity and freedom.”
Officer sacked after assault
A police officer who has worked with vulnerable children has been sacked after he was abusive and violent towards a former partner. PC Amarjit Dhallu was dismissed from Kent police following a hearing in which it was alleged he had strangled the woman and hit her with a belt. He was also caught on a 999 phone call telling Miss A: “I will smash your fucking face in.”