Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 26 May 2021
The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am
PM ‘wanted to get Covid’
Dominic Cummings will use his appearance before MPs today to claim that Boris Johnson referred to Covid-19 as “kung-flu” and wanted to be infected with the virus live on TV. He will also reportedly accuse the prime minister of having “no serious plan” to protect society’s most vulnerable people from the disease. The Sunday Times has said Cummings’ appearance before a committee “promises to be one of the most remarkable moments in modern political history”.
Government U-turn on hotspots
Ministers have backtracked on travel restrictions to Covid hotspots after what The Guardian describes as “a day of mounting confusion and anger”. Guidance, which had advised against all but essential travel to and from eight areas of England where the Covid variant identified in India has been spreading, will be removed from the government website. Instead, people will be advised to “minimise travel”.
Grand jury to probe Trump
Prosecutors in New York have convened a special grand jury to consider evidence in a criminal investigation into Donald Trump’s business dealings, a source has told the Washington Post. The development is being seen as evidence that the Manhattan district attorney’s office will charge the former president. The two-year investigation has scrutinised Trump’s relationship with his lenders and moves he made for tax deductions and tax write-offs.
Floyd’s sister criticises Biden
George Floyd’s sister says Joe Biden “broke a promise” to enact police reform legislation by the anniversary of her brother’s death. Bridgett Floyd - who boycotted a meeting with the US president - said: “I was going to DC for Biden to sign a bill. Biden has not signed that bill. Biden has broke a promise.” On Tuesday, cities in the US and beyond marked a year since Floyd was murdered by a police officer.
National Trust boss quits
The chair of the National Trust has resigned amid a growing revolt among its members over the charity’s “woke” policies, says the Daily Telegraph. Tim Parker’s move was announced a day after a rebel group of members set out plans to force him out at this year’s AGM. The group objected to “unnecessary controversies,” including the Trust’s report into the links between its properties and the UK’s colonial and slaving past.
Tougher sentences for dog thieves
Dog thieves could face harsher sentences under plans being considered by the government. Ministers are planning to address the crime under animal welfare laws instead of the Theft Act 1968 to ensure that the emotional attachment between owners and their pets is considered in more cases. A total of 2,438 dogs were reported stolen last year, a 19% increase on 2019, according to data from 37 of the nation’s 43 police forces.
Islamophobia report ‘whitewash’
A review into Islamophobia within the Conservatives has been condemned as a whitewash by a senior Muslim Tory. The review criticised Boris Johnson for comparing women wearing the burqa to letterboxes and accused Zac Goldsmith of insensitivity during his mayoral campaign. Lady Warsi, the party’s former chair, disagreed with the review’s conclusion that there was no evidence of institutional racism, saying there were issues “from the top ... to the bottom” of the party.
Think tank says poverty rate soaring
The poverty rate among working households in the UK is the highest ever, according to the Institute for Public Policy Research. It says relative poverty has reached 17.4%. It blames higher rents, soaring property prices and childcare costs.
Labour needs ‘real people’
Kim Leadbeater, the sister of the murdered MP Jo Cox, says Labour needs more “real people” in parliament to reconnect to its former voters. The 45-year-old vowed to “burst the Westminster bubble” if she wins the Batley and Spen byelection in July. The Labour hopeful said there was a “big disconnect between the Westminster bubble and communities like this” because there were too few MPs with “life experience, not just experience in politics”.
Cocaine washes up in Hastings
Cocaine with a street value of £80m has been found on two beaches in Sussex. A huge consignment of the drug was spotted floating in the sea just yards offshore at Hastings by members of the public yesterday morning. Hours later a second shipment was found on the beach by walkers at Newhaven, about 30 miles away. Together, the two loads weighed nearly a ton.