Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 26 April 2021

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

1

PM said let ‘bodies pile high’

Boris Johnson told No. 10 officials that he would rather see “bodies pile high in their thousands” than order a third lockdown, according to unnamed sources. The Daily Mail reports that the remark came as the prime minister reluctantly imposed the second shutdown on 31 October. Downing Street has strongly denied that the prime minister made the comment, insisting it was “just another lie”. The development comes amid a public war of words between Johnson and his former chief of staff Dominic Cummings.

2

India warns of Covid ‘storm’

India’s prime minister has warned that his country is facing a “storm” of Covid infections, prompting allied nations - including the UK - to pledge help. On Monday, India reported 352,991 new cases, setting a global record for the fifth consecutive day and bringing its total number to more than 17 million. Doctors say hoarding oxygen and vital medicines in homes is “creating panic” and causing shortages in hospitals.

3

Nomadland stars at Oscars

Nomadland has swept the Oscars with wins in the best director, best lead actress and best film categories. Director Chloe Zhao, who was born in China, is the first woman of colour to win the Academy Award for directing. After a year of virtual and semi-virtual awards ceremonies, the Academy held the Oscars in different locations, including London, Sydney, Berlin and Paris, to bring together a streamlined number of attendees in person.

4

UK rejects EU alignment offer

Brussels has asked Boris Johnson to align the UK’s food standards rules to those of the EU in return for easing checks between Britain and Northern Ireland. Commission negotiators say the EU will drop its demand for checks on food crossing into Northern Ireland if the government aligns itself with all EU plant, animal health, environmental and food safety rules. However, the UK has so far rejected the so-called “dynamic alignment” offer.

5

Surge of autumn holiday bookings

Travel companies are experiencing a flood of bookings for autumn holidays as British holidaymakers pin their hopes on the “longest summer ever”, the Daily Mail reports. Skyscanner, the world’s biggest flight-booking platform, said there had been a noticeable shift in Britons’ travel planning, with more holidaymakers seeking departures in September, October and November than ever before. In some cases, reservations for autumn are up by 80% compared with 2019.

6

Johnson rejects Covid inquiry

The government has told bereaved families it is too busy to start an inquiry into the UK’s handling of the Covid pandemic. In a letter sent to lawyers representing the thousands of families calling for an immediate statutory public inquiry, the government said “the very people who would need to give evidence to an inquiry are working round the clock” and “it is not anticipated that the government’s workload will ease in the coming months”.

7

Arrests after London stabbings

Four teenagers have been arrested after two girls were stabbed in London. The arrested boys, all aged between 16- and 17-years-old, are being held on suspicion of attempted murder. The two girls, aged 16 and 17, are in hospital where one is in a serious but stable condition and the other has injuries that do not appear to be life-threatening. Detective Sergeant Rob Merrett, of the Central South Command Unit, said: “This is a shocking incident.”

8

Chad refuses rebel negotiations

Chad’s military transitional government has said it will not negotiate with the rebels blamed for killing the country’s president of three decades. The military council took power last week after Idriss Déby was killed during clashes with rebels. The Guardian says the authorities’ refusal to negotiate “raises the possibility that the armed fighters might press ahead with their threats to attack the capital N’djamena”.

9

Jobs crisis for older workers

The Covid pandemic has caused the biggest annual fall in employment for older workers since the 1980s, according to a leading think tank. The decline in the employment rate for the over-50s has been twice as big as for those aged between 25- and 49-years-old. The Resolution Foundation is calling on the government to tailor retraining opportunities for over-50s after it found that after losing work, older workers take the longest to return.

10

Snakes warning for dog owners

Dog owners have been warned that their beloved pets are at risk of being bitten by adders as warm and dry weather conditions tease them out of hibernation to sunbathe in the grass. Vets in the south-west of England have had to give life-saving emergency treatment to six dogs that were bitten by adders in the space of five days. Adders rarely attack unless they feel threatened or are defending their young.

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