Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 23 April 2021
The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am
PM ‘blames leaks on Cummings’
Boris Johnson “believes that Dominic Cummings is behind damaging leaks including the disclosure of the prime minister’s text messages”, The Times reports. A Downing Street source told the paper that the PM’s former senior adviser was “engaged in systematic leaking” and “bitter about what’s happened since he left”. Johnson was “saddened about what Dom is doing”, the source added.
India travel ban begins
Britons arriving from India must quarantine in a government-approved hotel, as new coronavirus travel curbs come into force. Airlines were refused permission to add extra flights from the country in the run-up to the rule change as people scrambled to return. India recently suffered the world’s highest number of daily recorded Covid cases - 332,503 in 24 hours - and six hospitals in Delhi have completely run out of oxygen.
Britain ‘no longer in pandemic’
Britain is no longer in a pandemic, according to Sarah Walker, a professor of medical statistics and epidemiology at Oxford University and chief investigator on the Office for National Statistics Covid-19 Infection Survey. She said the country had “moved from a pandemic to an endemic situation”. Meanwhile, a study had found that vaccines are showing promising signs of reducing transmission of Covid-19 in Britain.
Biden ‘plans tax hike for rich’
Joe Biden is preparing to propose a tax rise for the wealthiest Americans, according to reports. The US president plans to raise the top rate of income tax and increase taxes on capital gains for people earning more than $1m per year to help pay for childcare and education. Reports that he would almost double the top rate of capital gains tax to 39.6% sparked a sell-off on Wall Street.
Covid travel passports ‘next month’
Millions of people in England could be provided with Covid passports by 17 May to let them take holidays abroad this summer, says The Guardian. The documents are expected to differ from domestic Covid certificates, according to sources. The transport secretary, Grant Shapps, has said the passports “will of course be a part of international travel” and voiced hopes they would not be viewed as controversial.
New Greensill claims for Cameron
David Cameron repeatedly asked the Bank of England and the Treasury to risk up to £20bn in taxpayer cash to help Greensill Capital, The Guardian reports. The former prime minister pushed the UK’s central bank to provide support to Greensill, including by setting up a fund that would buy loans made by the financial services company and its competitors. He insisted that the firm should be a priority for Treasury funding.
Injuries in Jerusalem clashes
Dozens of people have been injured in violent confrontations in East Jerusalem after hundreds of far-right Jewish activists shouted “Death to Arabs” as they confronted Palestinian demonstrators. The Palestinian Red Crescent said at least 100 Palestinians were injured. Al Jazeera says nightly clashes between Palestinians and Israelis in Jerusalem during Ramadan have “laid bare simmering tensions in the holy city”.
Postmasters await appeal news
A group of 42 sub-postmasters and postmistresses will discover today whether convictions for stealing money will be quashed. The convictions came after the Post Office installed the Horizon computer system in branches. The BBC says the system was “flawed”, leading to false allegations of fraud which in some cases resulted in conviction and imprisonment. Some postmasters say they have been shunned by their communities and are still struggling to secure new work.
Bay City Rollers singer dies
The former frontman of the Bay City Rollers, Les McKeown, has died at the age of 65, his family has announced. The Scottish singer fronted the Edinburgh band during their most successful period in the 1970s when they enjoyed hits with I Only Wanna Be With You, Bye Bye Baby, Shang-a-Lang and Give a Little Love. At the height of their fame, the Bay City Rollers were “the biggest pop sensation Scotland had ever seen”, says the BBC.
Gender reveal sparks earthquake fear
A party given by a New Hampshire family to reveal the gender of their baby set off reports of an earthquake, according to police in the state. The family travelled to a quarry to detonate 36kg (80lbs) of explosives, which is normally sold over the counter as a target for firearms practice. “We heard this God-awful blast,” said a local resident. “I’m all up for silliness and whatnot, but that was extreme.”