Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 8 June 2021
The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am
‘Grim data’ may ‘delay reopening’
Boris Johnson’s roadmap for ending coronavirus restrictions in England could be delayed by a fortnight following a “downbeat” briefing from Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance, The Times reports. After the pair presented data that the paper describes as “fairly grim”, ministers feel that a fortnight’s delay would enable all over-50s to be fully vaccinated and leave sufficient time for jabs to take effect before restrictions are lifted.
EU threatens ‘sausage war’
The EU will start a “sausage trade war” with Britain if Boris Johnson overrides the Brexit treaty so that shops in Northern Ireland can keep selling British sausages, The Telegraph says. Maros Sefcovic, vice-president of the European Commission for interinstitutional relations, said the EU would react “swiftly, firmly and resolutely” if Britain unilaterally extended the grace period in the Northern Ireland Protocol. He added that the bloc will ensure the UK “abides by its international law obligations”.
Boundaries shake-up revealed
Electoral officials have revealed plans for a major shake-up of parliamentary constituencies in England. Keir Starmer’s seat of Holborn and St Pancras would be moved and renamed as Kentish Town and Bloomsbury. The existing Cities of London and Westminster seat would also disappear to become City of London and Islington south and another new constituency, Westminster and Chelsea east. The Guardian says the aim of the project is to make every constituency’s population of registered voters close to the average of just under 73,400.
Report adds to Wuhan speculation
A US government national laboratory report on the origins of Covid has concluded that the theory that the virus leaked from a lab in Wuhan is plausible and deserves further investigation. The report from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California drew on genomic analysis of the Covid-19 virus, according to The Wall Street Journal. US officials have accused China of a lack of transparency on the origin of the virus, with Joe Biden giving members of the US intelligence community 90 days to deliver a more definitive conclusion.
PM backs suspended cricketer
Boris Johnson has called on the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to rethink its decision to suspend Ollie Robinson over racist and sexist tweets sent while he was a teenager. The prime minister supported the Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, who described the suspension as “over the top”, adding that Robinson’s comments were made almost a decade ago and he has since apologised. Meanwhile, the ECB is looking into claims that a second England player posted “historical offensive material”.
Beckham backs Unicef jab call
Unicef has said millions of coronavirus vaccines could be wasted if rich countries send large amounts of leftover doses to poorer nations in one go. The charity is calling for a steady supply throughout the year as developing countries do not have the resources to use them all at once. A host of celebrities, including Billie Eilish and David Beckham, are backing Unicef’s call for the G7 to donate 20% of their vaccines by August.
Alzheimer’s drug passes hurdle
The first new drug for Alzheimer’s disease in nearly 20 years has cleared a big hurdle after US regulators gave conditional approval for its use. Regulators in the UK and Europe will not make their own rulings on Aducanumab, which targets proteins in the brain to slow the progress of the disease, until the autumn. However, campaigners in Britain said that US approval of the potentially life-altering treatment was “promising”.
Muslim family attack ‘premeditated’
Police in Canada say four members of a Muslim family have been killed in a “premeditated” vehicle attack. The assault took place on Sunday in the city of London in Ontario province. A boy aged nine, the family’s only survivor, is in hospital with serious injuries. A 20-year-old Canadian man has been charged with four counts of murder and one count of attempted murder. Police said “it is believed that these victims were targeted because they were Muslim”.
McCann case ‘solved within months’
Detectives investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann believe the case could be solved in months. A prosecutor in Germany said his team is “pleased” with the progress of the investigation since they announced convicted paedophile Christian Brueckner as their prime suspect, adding that they had received “very interesting tips”. He said the team hopes they can “solve the disappearance” within “several months”.
Knightley says all women harassed
Keira Knightley has said sexual harassment is such a big problem in society that she “literally” does not know any woman who has not been subjected to it, including herself. Speaking to Harper’s Bazaar, the British actress said that from groping to being flashed, “everybody” has been harassed in some way, a situation she described as “fucking depressing”.