Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 22 April 2021
The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am
Mercer slams ‘cesspit’ government
The former veterans’ minister Johnny Mercer has described Boris Johnson’s government as a “cesspit” and “the most distrustful, awful environment I’ve ever worked in”. Mercer, who resigned on Tuesday, accused ministers of being “cowards” for not implementing a controversial pledge to end “vexatious historical investigations” of veterans who served in Northern Ireland. He added that “almost nobody tells the truth” in the government and that failure to protect former members of the armed services was a “gross betrayal of people who signed up to serve in the military”.
‘Summer surge’ of cases likely
The UK is likely to see a “summer surge” of Covid-19 infections, a government scientist has said. Professor Adam Finn, a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, said modelling points to a rise in cases during the upcoming months. Boris Johnson agreed that most scientists were “firmly of the view” that there would be a third wave of the virus at some point this year, but added that the easing of lockdown will go ahead as planned.
Calls for Dyson inquiry
Labour is demanding a “thorough investigation” into Boris Johnson’s contact with entrepreneur James Dyson. Shadow Cabinet Office minister Rachel Reeves said text messages between the prime minister and Dyson – which show Johnson saying he could “fix” a tax issue for the billionaire - open up a “new urgent corridor of inquiry”. Government insiders told The Guardian that Johnson is regularly texted by business leaders and politicians.
US police kill black man
A police officer in North Carolina has shot and killed a black man while serving a search warrant. The sheriff’s deputy in Elizabeth City was placed on leave pending a review by the state Bureau of Investigation, said Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten. The incident has raised tensions over policing in the wake of the Derek Chauvin trial and killing of teenager Ma’Khia Bryant.
Record food parcel demand
A record 2.5m food parcels were handed out by the UK’s biggest food bank charity during the first year of the pandemic. The Trussell Trust said low-income families have experienced “historic” levels of need. It added that while its own outlets had experienced a 33% increase in the number of food parcels they distributed, this was a fraction of the total food aid handed out by thousands of other charities, schools and councils.
Report highlights synagogue racism
Security guards at synagogues and other Jewish venues regularly stop Jews of colour for bag searches while lighter skinned friends or relatives are waved through the doors, a report on racial inclusivity in the Jewish community has found. Some of those interviewed said they no longer went to synagogues because of being stopped at the entrance. Stephen Bush, the political editor of the New Statesman who led the investigation for the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said: “Racial diversity should never be a reason for exclusion.”
William calls for climate ‘invention’
Prince William has called for the same “spirit of invention” behind Covid vaccines to be harnessed to tackle climate change. In a letter to The Times, the Duke of Cambridge and other prominent figures, including Sir David Attenborough and the actress Cate Blanchett, argue that the threat facing the planet is “the most pressing challenge in human history”. Launched last year. William’s £50m Earthshot Prize will encourage the best ideas for tackling climate change.
Car bomb outside Pakistan hotel
A car bomb in Pakistan outside a luxury hotel where the Chinese ambassador was reportedly staying has killed four people and injured 12. Video and photographs from the scene show vehicles ablaze in the hotel’s parking lot and thick smoke billowing from the blast. The province of Balochistan, near the Afghan border, has suffered decades of insurgency by separatists who demand independence from Pakistan.
BAME personnel not honoured
Tens of thousands of predominantly black and Asian service personnel who died fighting for the British Empire were not properly commemorated due to “pervasive racism”, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission has said. “The events of a century ago were wrong then and are wrong now,” said the Commission after it found individuals were not formally remembered in the same way as white troops.
Queen thanks well-wishers
The Queen has thanked well-wishers and said that she was “deeply touched” by their support after the death of the Duke of Edinburgh. On her 95th birthday, which she yesterday spent at Windsor Castle, she wrote: “My family and I would like to thank you all for the support and kindness shown to us in recent days. We have been deeply touched, and continue to be reminded that Philip had such an extraordinary impact on countless people throughout his life.”