Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 4 April 2021
The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am
PM excludes pubs from passports
People will be able to visit pubs without having to show a vaccine passport under plans that will be unveiled tomorrow. Boris Johnson will announce an NHS app, showing that the holder has had the jab, a recent negative test or Covid-19 in the previous six months, which will be needed to enter theatres, cinemas and sports and music events after June 21. However, in a concession to rebel MPs, bars and restaurants won’t be included.
Pandemic increases child illiteracy
The government has found that more than 200,000 pupils will move from primary school to secondary school this autumn without being able to read properly. The Sunday Times says the unpublished data, which shows the number of children struggling with literacy has risen by 30,000 over the past year, has “sent a jolt through Downing Street”.
Starmer expects early election
Keir Starmer pledged to “take off the mask” and show the British people why he should be the next prime minister. The Labour leader has told his party to prepare to fight an early general election in May 2023. After a year as leader, he told The Observer that: “it has been frustrating to spend the first year as leader unable to make a speech to a live audience or shake a single voter’s hand.”
Amazon apologises over bottle denial
Amazon has apologised to a US politician for falsely denying that its drivers are sometimes forced to urinate in plastic bottles. When Mark Pocan, a Democrat, had mentioned that the web giant made “workers urinate in water bottles” in a tweet, the official Amazon Twitter account replied: “If that were true, nobody would work for us.” However, the company had to back down after evidence emerged of drivers having to urinate in bottles.
Protests against police bill
Protesters gathered in central London and several other cities in England and Wales to demonstrate against a crime bill that critics say imposes severe restrictions on the right to protest. There were allegations of heavy-handed policing after scuffles between officers and protesters in Parliament Square. Speaking at a rally, Jeremy Corbyn, the former leader of the Labour party, said: “I want to live in a world of peace and justice.”
Winslet slams Hollywood ‘homophobia’
Kate Winslet says gay actors in Hollywood conceal their sexuality due to a climate of “fear” that they will not be cast in straight roles. The Oscar-winning star of Titanic tells The Sunday Times she knows “at least four actors” who have not come out because they believe it would end their career. She attacked the “judgment, discrimination and homophobia” in the film industry.
Porn to blame for school abuse
Head teachers say that the “unfettered access” children have to pornography on their phones and the film Fifty Shades of Grey are partly to blame for sexual abuse at private schools. In a joint statement, the head of Haberdashers’ Aske’s School for Girls Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School, said children were able to watch porn “often depicting aggressive, violent and degrading acts against women [which] have played their part in the burgeoning crisis”.
New unrest in Northern Ireland
There was further unrest in Northern Ireland last night after disturbances broke out in Newtownabbey. Police were attacked with petrol bombs and fireworks at the Cloughfern roundabout in the O’Neill Road area after a crowd of 30 to 40 people blocked the roundabout with two burning cars. Sinn Féin assembly member Gerry Kelly said the disturbances in loyalist areas were “an out-working of the DUP's rhetoric and undermining of the PSNI and criminal justice system”.
‘Madness’ of archbishop criticised
The Archbishop of York’s hiring of a £90,000-a-year chief of staff during a financial crisis for the Church of England has been described as a “slap in the face”. The Most Rev Stephen Cottrell has been criticised for overseeing the “madness of a management-shaped church” and a dismantling of the parish church structure. “It’s sending out all the wrong sort of messages at a time of huge financial pressure for the Church,” said a rector.
Meghan ‘will never return to UK’
A royal author has claimed that Meghan Markle will never return to the UK because of her her “low popularity” with the British public. Anna Pasternak. Told told Fox News: “Will Meghan Markle return to the UK? My speculative answer would be no, not if she can help it.” The author of Princess In Love added: “Sadly, I cannot see her ever becoming a loved and cherished member of the Royal Family… I think that ship has sailed.”