Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 23 May 2021

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

1

Herd immunity ‘was PM’s policy’

Dominic Cummings has accused Boris Johnson of a secret Covid policy of herd immunity that would have led to “catastrophe”. The controversial former Downing Street aide said the “shocking truth” was that herd immunity was the government’s plan until less than a fortnight before the first lockdown. He claims it was abandoned only when No 10 was warned that it would lead to “hundreds of thousands choking to death” on hospital wards.

2

Bashir says he didn’t harm Diana

Martin Bashir has apologised to Princes William and Harry but insisted he did nothing to harm their mother with his Panorama interview. “I never wanted to harm Diana in any way and I don’t believe we did,” the under-fire broadcaster told The Sunday Times. He also pointed out woes the princess faced from elsewhere. “Even in the early 1990s, there were stories and secretly recorded phone calls. I wasn’t the source of any of that,” he said.

3

Jabs effective against variant

The Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines are highly effective against the variant identified in India after two doses, according to a study. However, although two doses of either vaccine offer a similar level of protection against symptomatic disease from the Indian variant as they do for the Kent one, both jabs were only 33% effective against the Indian variant three weeks after the first dose.

4

Runners died in China’s extreme weather

Twenty-one people have died during a mountain ultramarathon cross-country race in northwest China. Hail, freezing rain, and gale-force winds caused a sudden drop in temperature as the race reached its high-altitude stage yesterday afternoon. More than 700 people joined a rescue team that spent the night searching for five people who were originally listed as missing, before finding their bodies in the early hours of Sunday.

5

Queen ‘deeply upset’ with Harry

The Queen is “deeply upset” by “very personal” criticisms of her family by Prince Harry, claims the Mail on Sunday. A royal source said: “Harry’s grandmother has taken this very personally and is deeply upset by what Harry has said, in particular his comments about Charles’s parenting and suggesting his father knows no better because of how he was brought up.” However, The Sun claims Prince Charles is keen on reconciliation with his son.

6

First black billionaire on rich list

Strive Masiyiwa has become the first black billionaire to join The Sunday Times Rich List, with wealth estimated to be £1.087bn. Now a Zimbabwean telecoms tycoon, he fled civil unrest in his homeland at the age of seven and later waged a five-year battle against Robert Mugabe’s regime to launch his business. He is currently trying to secure enough vaccines for Africa’s 1.3bn-strong population.

7

Spacey set to return to film

Kevin Spacey is poised to return to the big screen for the first time since facing sex abuse allegations. The Hollywood star has been lined up for Italian film alongside Vanessa Redgrave, despite the threat of charges over sexual assault accusations hanging over him. Three years ago, Spacey was accused by more than a dozen men of inappropriate behaviour and abuse spanning several years.

8

UK finishes last at Eurovision

The UK finished last in the Eurovision Song Contest after receiving the dreaded “nil points”.  It is the fifth time the UK has come last, and the second time it has received nil points. The BBC says the nation’s hopeful, James Newman, “put on a brave face, smiling and cheering as the bad news was delivered”. Italy won the contest in Rotterdam with the song Zittie e Buoni.

9

Most Premium Bond holders never win

Three-quarters of Premium Bond holders have never won a single prize, despite investing a collective £108bn. The Sunday Telegraph found that 15.9m of 21.4m Premium Bonds customers have not won a single prize since records began in 2007. A savings expert said: “My advice is to look at other savings products.” Premium Bonds enter customers into a monthly draw instead of interest, with prizes ranging from £25 to £1m.

10

‘Nooses’ found at Amazon centre

Amazon has paused construction of a new fulfilment centre in Connecticut after the discovery of seven apparent nooses at the site. Police say they are investigating the incidents as potential hate crimes along with the FBI’s civil rights division. “Hate, racism, and discrimination have no place in our society, and certainly are not tolerated in any Amazon workplace,” said a company spokesman.

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