Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 6 April 2021

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

1

Anger over Covid passports

Opponents of Covid passports in England have claimed they could create a “two-tier” society if implemented at the end of coronavirus restrictions. Government documents released yesterday said the certificates were likely to become “a feature of our lives”. But many MPs have criticised the plans, with senior Tory backbencher Mark Harper calling for a vote on the issue. Boris Johnson said yesterday that life will start returning to “some semblance of normality” in June as he gave the green light for pubs, shops, hairdressers and gyms to reopen across England from next Monday.

2

Okorogheye hunt finds body

Police searching for Richard Okorogheye have found the body of a man in Epping Forest, Essex. The Metropolitan Police said the discovery was made in a pond in the woodland and inquiries are under way to identify the body. Okorogheye, a student at Oxford Brookes University who has sickle cell disease, has not been seen by his family since 22 March when he left their home in the Ladbroke Grove area of west London.

3

Tories poised for Hartlepool win

Boris Johnson is set for a decisive victory over Labour in the Hartlepool by-election, a new poll has suggested. The phone survey by Survation, commissioned by the Communication Workers Union, puts Jill Mortimer, the Tory candidate, on 49%, up 20 points on the party’s showing at the 2019 general election. Labour’s Paul Williams, meanwhile, is lagging behind on 42%. The Times says the data “raises more questions about Keir Starmer’s electoral strategy”.

4

Navalny in hospital

Alexei Navalny, the jailed Russian opposition leader, has been moved to a sick ward with symptoms of a respiratory illness. The longstanding critic of Vladimir Putin, who declared a hunger strike last week, has accused prison staff of denying him proper treatment for acute back and leg pain, while also alleging that there has been a tuberculosis outbreak on his ward. He has been tested for Covid-19.

5

Khan may decriminalise cannabis

The mayor of London is to explore the possibility of decriminalising cannabis. Sadiq Khan said that should he be re-elected in May, he would set up an independent London drugs commission to examine the potential health, economic and criminal justice benefits of the move. Opinion polls have shown more than half of the UK – and nearly two-thirds of those in the capital – support legalising cannabis for adult recreational use.

6

Mass jail break in Nigeria

Almost 2,000 prisoners have escaped from a jail in Nigeria. The facility in the city of Owerri, in Imo state, was targeted by gunmen who destroyed part of the prison walls with explosives, freeing 1,844 inmates. A police officer was injured in the attack. Authorities said the gunmen were from the Eastern Security Network, a military wing of a secessionist group in southeast Nigeria named the Indigenous People of Biafra.

7

Unrest in Northern Ireland

Violence has broken out once more on the streets of Northern Ireland with a car set alight in Sperrin Park in the Waterside area of Derry and violent incidents in Carrickfergus, near Belfast. The Guardian says loyalists in Northern Ireland have been throwing petrol bombs and burning cars partly because they fear “political marginalisation”. The police said the violence follows efforts by “sinister” groups with paramilitary links to turn younger people against police.

8

Queen cancels more honours

The Queen is quietly stripping honours from increasing numbers of recipients, The Times reports. Over the last decade, a record 70 people had their honours “cancelled and annulled” - more than three times as many as any previous decade since the 1950s. Among those to lose their honours are Harvey Weinstein, the convicted sex offender and film producer, who lost his honorary CBE and Rolf Harris, the Australian entertainer convicted of 12 indecent assaults on girls as young as eight.

9

Starmer sorry for church visit

Keir Starmer has apologised after visiting a church that has been accused of homophobia. The Labour leader visited Jesus House in London last week, sharing a video from his visit marking Easter on social media. The church’s senior pastor, Agu Irukwu, has previously been criticised after speaking out against same-sex marriage and equality laws. Starmer said he “completely” disagreed with the church’s stance and said his visit was a “mistake”.

10

Morgan claims ‘universal support’

Piers Morgan has told Fox News that he has the “universal support” of the British public in his row with the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle. The broadcaster, who left Good Morning Britain last month, told Tucker Carlson he had received enormous public backing, claiming: “Old, young, black, white, it didn’t matter. They’ve been coming up to me in their droves all day every day.”

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