Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 4 May 2021

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

1

EU to open to tourists

The EU has confirmed that fully vaccinated travellers will be able to fly to Europe from June. The bloc’s nations will reopen to tourists from countries with low Covid infection rates such as the UK, and to anyone who has been fully vaccinated, by the start of next month under a European Commission plan. The proposals will contain an “emergency brake”, meaning member states will be able to quickly limit travel in response to new variants or increased infections in non-EU countries.

2

Starmer to attack PM on sleaze

Keir Starmer has pledged to clean up British politics after a string of sleaze rows engulfed the Conservative Party. According to party sources, the Labour leader plans to link the row over Boris Johnson’s flat renovations to the early days of the Covid crisis, asking whether the prime minister took his eye off the ball as he sought donors to sponsor the redecoration. Johnson has described the row over his refurbishments as “trivia”.

3

Gates announces divorce

Bill and Melinda Gates have announced their divorce, saying “we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple”. In a statement posted on Twitter, the couple, who have been together for 27 years, wrote: “After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage.” The billionaire pair have three children and jointly run the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Telegraph says the divorce could “become the most expensive in history”.

4

India infections slow

The Indian government has said Covid infections have consistently dropped since 30 April, when it recorded more than 400,000 cases in a single day. It reported 355,832 cases on Tuesday, however, the nation has now passed 20 million cases and experts say the number of deaths and infections are being underreported. Data from crematoriums has indicated that the number of officially reported deaths could be significantly undercounted.

5

Bush slams GOP ‘exclusivity’

George W. Bush has hit out at the Republican Party, arguing that if it stands for “white Anglo-Saxon Protestantism, then it’s not going to win anything”. Speaking on Friday by the Dispatch, an anti-Trump conservative podcast, the former president was responding to news that members of the GOP plan to start a caucus pushing for an “Anglo-Saxon political tradition”. He argued that the party must not “stand for exclusivity”, adding: “To me that basically says that we want to be extinct.”

6

Digital marriage certificates launched

The names of both parents, not just the father, will now be included on marriage certificates in England and Wales as a new electronic system is introduced today. The Home Office said that as well as simplifying the registration system, the new format will “correct a historic anomaly” by allowing for the names of both parents to appear on the marriage entry. It is also hoped the new system will save time and money.

7

New heart scans will ‘save lives’

New 3D scans that can diagnose heart disease in 20 minutes are being introduced by the NHS. The revolutionary technology turns a CT scan of the heart into a 3D image, allowing doctors to see whether it is diseased without invasive procedures such as angiograms. Stephen Powis, the NHS national medical director for England, said the scans “will save thousands of lives and ensure the NHS is able to deliver routine services even quicker than before the pandemic”.

8

Third of political candidates women

The UK’s leading gender equality charity has said more needs to be done to encourage women into politics after data revealed that just one-third of candidates in this week’s English council elections are women. Women make up 42% of the Green Party’s candidates, 39% of Labour’s, 30% of the Liberal Democrats’ and 25% of the Conservatives’. The Fawcett Society said: “Without concerted effort we simply won’t see gender equality and women will continue to be an unheard majority.”

9

Data damns smart motorways

The government’s claim that smart motorways are “as safe as, or safer than” their conventional counterparts has been dealt a blow by the news that death rates on smart motorways with the hard shoulder permanently removed are higher than those on conventional motorways. Highways England’s acting chief executive Nick Harris claimed last week that smart motorways are “the safest roads in the country”. However, “some 38 people have been killed on smart motorways in the past five years”, The Sun reports, “with coroners ruling them responsible for the deaths”.

10

Parliament archive moved to safety

Parliament’s original Acts are to be moved to save the historic documents from fire or flood. Workers have started to pack up 64,000 pieces of legislation and move them to new premises, where they will be safer and more easily accessed. The Telegraph reports that around half the Acts in the parliamentary archive are “rolled membranes of stitched-together parchment bearing hand-written script”, the longest of which measures a quarter of a mile long.

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