Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 12 April 2021

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

1

‘Behave responsibly’ urges PM

Boris Johnson has urged the public to “behave responsibly” and continue to take steps to “suppress Covid” as the latest stage of lockdown easing comes into effect. Pub gardens, indoor gyms and hairdressers can now reopen in England. However, social distancing and masks are still required, and experts have warned that failing to abide by the rules could cause a rebound in cases.

2

Queen mourns ‘huge void’

The Queen says the Duke of Edinburgh’s death will leave “a huge void” in her life. As she mourns privately, Prince Andrew told reporters yesterday that Britain had lost the “grandfather of the nation”. Sophie Wessex said Prince Philip died “gently”, as if “somebody took him by the hand”. Prince Harry has returned to the UK from the US to attend the funeral.

3

Cameron says he broke no rules

David Cameron has admitted it was a mistake to lobby ministers informally on behalf of the financier Lex Greensill. Breaking his silence on the saga, the former prime minister insisted the value of his shares in Greensill’s collapsed company was “nowhere near” the figure of £22m reported in The Observer yesterday and said he had “very little to do” with Greensill while in No 10, despite the financier describing himself as a “senior adviser”.

4

Israeli sources claim sabotage

A nuclear facility in Iran suffered “sabotage” a day after it unveiled new uranium enrichment equipment, the country’s top nuclear official says. After the Natanz nuclear facility ground to a halt, Israeli intelligence sources were quoted in Hebrew-language media claiming credit for the attack. They said that a cyber attack by the Mossad foreign intelligence agency inflicted “severe damage at the heart of Iran’s enrichment programme”.

5

Universities won’t grade spelling

University tutors are being told not to mark down work for spelling mistakes because insisting on correct English could be seen as “homogenous north European, white, male, elite”. The Times says several institutions are adopting “inclusive assessments” and Hull University says it will “challenge the status quo” by dropping the requirement for a high level of written and spoken English.

6

Ex-banker wins Ecuador vote

A conservative former banker has won Ecuador's presidential election following a run-off vote. With almost all the ballots counted, Guillermo Lasso had won 52.5% of the vote compared to his opponent, the left-wing economist Andrés Arauz, who won just 47.5%. Upon his third bid for the presidency, Lasso told supporters he accepted the “challenge of changing our country’s destiny”.

7

Covid deaths lowest since September

Coronavirus deaths in Britain fell to just seven on Sunday, the first time the UK has reported single figures for nearly seven months. Britain has not seen such a low figure since five cases were reported on September 13, which was also a Sunday. No hospital admissions data was published over the weekend. The total number of deaths in which Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate is now 149,968.  

8

Sturgeon says PM will grant referendum

Boris Johnson will allow a second independence referendum if the SNP wins a majority in the election next month, according to Nicola Sturgeon. The party leader told The Guardian: “You cannot stand in the way of that - and I don’t think that is what will happen.” The Sunday Times says some UK government ministers think a second referendum would be inevitable if the SNP wins.

9

Black unemployment at 1980s high

The unemployment rate among young black people was the same in the last quarter of 2020 as in the time of the 1980s Brixton riots. Analysis by The Guardian found that more than 40% of young black people are unemployed - a rate three times higher than white workers of the same age. Experts say the pandemic has exposed deep-rooted inequalities that still exist in the employment market.

10

China casts doubt on its jabs

The efficacy of Covid vaccines in China is low, the nation’s top disease control official has admitted. Beijing has developed four different vaccines approved for public use, though some trials abroad had suggested efficacy as low as 50%. In what the BBC describes as a “rare admission of weakness”, Gao Fu, head of the Chinese Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, said the current jabs “don't have very high rates of protection”.

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