Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 9 June 2021
The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am
Bezos and Musk ‘paid no tax’
A leaked report has claimed that America’s richest executives, including Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, have avoided paying income tax over several years. The investigative journalist group ProPublica says Amazon’s Bezos paid no tax in 2007 and 2011, while Tesla’s Musk paid nothing in 2018. Financier George Soros paid no federal income tax for three consecutive years, it claims. The billionaires used “tax strategies which are perfectly legal”, says Sky News. The White House said the FBI would investigate the disclosure of private tax information.
Sunak open to four-week delay
Rishi Sunak would accept a delay of up to four weeks to the final stage of England’s reopening roadmap, according to The Guardian. As ministers consider extending restrictions, a Whitehall source said the chancellor was not attached to the 21 June re-opening date. “The Treasury’s main thing is that freedoms are irreversible and businesses have clarity,” the source said. The prime minister is set to announce on Monday whether the re-opening will go ahead as planned.
‘Butcher of Bosnia’ appeal denied
Former Bosnian Serb army leader Ratko Mladic will have to serve his life sentence after an appeal against his war crimes convictions was rejected. The 79-year-old, known as “the butcher of Bosnia”, was sentenced to life in prison in 2017 after being found guilty of genocide for atrocities committed during the 1992-95 Bosnian war. The EU said the UN court’s decision to uphold Mladic’s life sentence “brings to an end a key trial in Europe’s recent history for war crimes, including genocide”.
Ministers ‘U-turn’ on foreign holidays
The government was accused of a U-turn over foreign holidays after George Eustice, the environment secretary, said that Britons should “holiday at home” because of the threat posed by coronavirus variants. Eustice said that although the government had intended to add countries to its quarantine-free travel “green list”, allowing holidays abroad, this was no longer possible because of the spread of the Delta variant. A travel consultant told The Times that the traffic light system for foreign travel was “dead”.
Oxford removes Queen portrait
Students at an Oxford University college have voted to remove a portrait of the Queen because she is regarded as a representative of colonial rule. A committee from Magdalen, one of the wealthiest and most traditional Oxford colleges, agreed by a substantial majority to remove the print of a 1952 photograph, because “for some students, depictions of the monarch and the British monarchy represent recent colonial history”.
Frost tells EU to drop threats
Brexit minister Lord Frost has told Brussels to abandon threats of legal action and trade tariffs against Britain. Frost is due to meet his EU counterpart, Maros Sefcovic, as tensions grow between the two parties over the implementation of the Northern Ireland protocol. The bloc says the UK has refused to engage with proposals to ease restrictions on food and medicine crossing the Irish Sea but London says it has sent ten papers to the European Commission.
Tests sent to north-west
Covid vaccination and testing is being accelerated in areas of north-west England to try to deal with the rise in cases of the Delta variant. The military will help the whole of Greater Manchester and Lancashire to carry out extra tests. The Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, has called on the government to go further and said vaccine supplies should be given to the area earlier than planned.
PM denies MPs vote on aid cut
Boris Johnson is refusing to offer the House of Commons a vote on aid cuts, in defiance of the speaker. Earlier this week, Lindsay Hoyle ordered No. 10 to take parliament “seriously” and show MPs “due respect” by allowing them to register their views on the decision to cut aid spending from 0.7% to 0.5% of GDP. However, Downing Street dismissed the call, insisting that its decision was “in accordance” with the law.
PornHub ‘had higher UK audience than TV giants’
More than half of UK adults watched online pornography during the pandemic, according to Ofcom. The watchdog found that the most popular porn site was PornHub, which was visited by 50% of all males and 16% of all females in the UK in September 2020. The Guardian points out that this gave the site a far larger audience than mainstream television channels such as Sky One, ITV4 and BBC News.
Lloyd Webber tells government to arrest him
Andrew Lloyd Webber has said he is willing to risk arrest if the government tries to postpone the re-opening of theatres. The world premiere of his £6m production of Cinderella depends on social distancing being lifted as planned on 21 June, and Lloyd Webber tells The Daily Telegraph: “We are going to open, come hell or high water”. Asked what he would do if the government demanded a postponement, he replies: “We will say: come to the theatre and arrest us.”