Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 11 May 2021

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

1

Queen’s speech ‘for heartlands’

The government will today promise to put “rocket fuel” under its levelling-up agenda with a Queen’s Speech aimed at the “forgotten 50%” who do not go to university. The Guardian expects a legislative programme “focused on adult education and home ownership”, while The Times says the plans are “designed to make good on pledges to give the new Tory heartlands priority”.

2

Israel attacks Gaza

The Palestinian Health Ministry has said 20 people, including nine children, have died after Israel launched air strikes against targets in the Gaza Strip. The attacks came after Hamas fired rockets towards Jerusalem following an Israeli police raid on the al-Aqsa mosque that left hundreds of Palestinians injured. Nights of violent confrontations between Israeli police and Palestinian protesters in East Jerusalem have threatened to trigger a wider conflict.

3

Hugging allowed from next week

People in England will be allowed to hug loved ones from next week, Boris Johnson has announced. Outlining the “single biggest step” to unlocking society, the prime minister encouraged people to “exercise caution and common sense” as national restrictions are eased further. Indoor mixing and overnight stays in groups of up to six people or two households will also resume, with leisure venues such as cinemas also reopening.

4

Starmer warned of challenge

Keir Starmer was warned at the weekend that Angela Rayner could topple him as Labour leader if she was demoted in a post-election reshuffle. Supporters of the deputy leader threatened a leadership challenge on Sunday after Starmer moved to sack Rayner from her role as party chairwoman after disappointing election results. “There were a lot of people encouraging her to run and saying they would back her,” a friend of Rayner told The Times.

5

Gove: delay Scottish referendum plans

A second Scottish independence referendum should not be held until the “public services backlog” created by the Covid pandemic is cleared, Michael Gove has said. The Cabinet Office minister, who also chairs the government’s Union policy and implementation committee, said the damage to key public services caused by the pandemic was “one of the biggest challenges” the government faced, concluding that “we can’t really say that we’ve recovered” until that was fixed.

6

NBC joins Globes backlash

The Golden Globes will not air on NBC next year, bringing to an end a decades-long relationship between the network and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA). The network said it would not broadcast the show in 2022 due to a lack of diversity after it was revealed the HFPA had not had a single black member for 20 years. WarnerMedia, Netflix and Amazon Studios have also already refused to participate in HFPA-related events.

7

Chinese population growth down

China has reported its slowest population growth since the early 1960s despite the nation scrapping its controversial one-child policy in 2015 to encourage more births. Beijing said the overall population of China grew to 1.41178 billion in the 10 years to 2020, up by 5.38%. The increase reflects an average annual rise of 0.53%, down from 0.57% reported from 2000 to 2010.

8

Man charged with PCSO murder

Police investigating the death of a community support officer have charged a 21-year-old man with the murder of PCSO Julia James, whose body was found in Akholt Wood near her home in Snowdown, Kent. Callum Wheeler, from Aylesham, is due to appear at Medway Magistrates Court via videolink on Tuesday. Crimestoppers has offered a reward of up to £10,000 for information that leads to James’ killer being convicted.

9

‘Zoom-free Fridays’ at banks

HSBC is trialling “Zoom-free” Friday afternoons as it becomes the latest major UK business to tackle “working from home fatigue and burnout”, The Telegraph reports. Citigroup has also banned Zoom meetings on Fridays after its Chief Executive Jane Fraser said it had become “apparent we need to combat the ‘Zoom fatigue’ that many of us feel”.

10

Riley claims Corbynite vendetta

Rachel Riley has told the High Court that Jeremy Corbyn supporters attempted to get her sacked from her job at Countdown. The broadcaster said she feared bosses at Channel 4 would terminate her contract after a former Corbyn aide, Laura Murray, said she was “as dangerous as she is stupid”. Riley, who has brought libel proceedings against Murray, said she became victim of a  “concerted campaign... to get me fired from my job”. In April 2020, Justice Nicklin ruled that Murray’s tweet was defamatory.

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