Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 31 May 2021

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


‘Third wave’ may have started in UK

A third wave of Covid-19 may have already begun in Britain, according to scientists. With new infections at level last seen in March, experts say that any rise in hospital admissions could leave the NHS struggling to cope as it battles to clear the huge backlog in non-coronavirus cases. The news has cast further doubt on plans in England to lift all lockdown restrictions in three weeks’ time.


Unity plan may oust Netanyahu

Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu has warned that a new unity government would be “a danger for the security” of the country, as a proposed deal threatens to end his time as the country's longest serving prime minister. The far-right politician Naftali Bennett and opposition leader Yair Lapid have agreed to form a coalition government that would oust Netanyahu from his 12 straight years in power.


Denmark ‘helped US spy on Merkel’

Denmark’s secret service has helped Washington spy on European politicians including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, according to a Danish broadcaster. Danmarks Radio claims that the Defence Intelligence Service collaborated with the US National Security Agency to gather information. The US was able to use Danish eavesdropping systems on submarine internet cables, with Denmark’s knowledge and agreement.


Mass abduction at Nigerian school

Gunmen on motorcycles have kidnapped around 200 children following the ambush of a school in Nigeria. Police say the pupils were at the Salihu Tanko Islamic School in Rafi, in the north-central Nigerian state of Niger, when they were abducted by the men, who were firing “indiscriminately”. Abductions carried out for ransom are increasingly common in northern states.


Non-Covid NHS backlog revealed

New data has revealed that some patients have been left waiting two years for vital operations and there has been a 21,000% increase in the number waiting at least a year. There are currently 92,165 orthopaedic patients on hospital lists who have been waiting at least 52 weeks, whereas in January 2020, the number stood at just 436. The Daily Mail says the “damning figures” reveal “lockdown’s devastating toll”.


Renters fear evictions as ban ends

Around a million households fear losing their homes as England’s eviction ban comes to an end today, according to a charity. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation says about 400,000 renters have had eviction notices or been told to expect them. Ministers insist they are balancing the needs of landlords to use the courts with support for tenants by continuing to require extended notice periods.


Two dead after Florida shooting

Two people have been killed and more than 20 injured after three gunmen opened fire at a Florida concert. Shortly after midnight on Sunday, a vehicle pulled up to the El Mula Banquet Hall near Hialeah and three people “stepped out of the vehicle with assault rifles and handguns and started firing indiscriminately into the crowd,” say the police. It is believed the shooting was targeted rather than random but the motive remains unclear.


Highest 2021 temperatures expected

Bank Holiday Monday is set to be the hottest day of the year so far, according to the Met Office. Forecasters say the temperature today will reach 25C (77F), exceeding the year’s previous high of 24.5C, recorded at Kew Gardens, southwest London, on March 30. The Times says the warm conditions are likely to continue for much of this week, with 27C expected in parts of the UK by Wednesday.


Vaccine passports ‘not going to happen’

Plans for a vaccine passport are set to be scrapped, according to the Daily Telegraph. “It’s not a case of ‘it’s finely balanced’. It’s not going to happen,” said a well-placed government source close to a review on the issue. “Everyone says it’s dead.” Opponents of the plan have warned that making people provide proof of their medical status for social events raises ethical questions.


Catholics protest Johnson ceremony

Catholics, including several clergymen, have questioned why Boris Johnson was allowed to be married in a Catholic church following his two previous divorces. The prime minister married Carrie Symonds at Westminster Cathedral in a ceremony with 30 friends and family on Saturday. However, Catholic law, which does not recognise divorce, usually does not permit the remarriage of those whose former spouse, or spouses, are still alive.


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