Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 11 June 2021
The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am
PM hails UK-US ‘common ground’
Boris Johnson has described Joe Biden as a “breath of fresh air” after he yesterday met the US president for the first time on the eve of the G7 summit in Cornwall. “There’s so much that they want to do together with us, from security, NATO, to climate change”, the prime minister said of the White House administration. Despite tensions over post-Brexit trade arrangements in Northern Ireland, Johnson also hailed the “common ground” between the UK, US and EU on preserving the Good Friday Agreement.
Unlocking ‘to be delayed for month’
The government is considering delaying the end of coronavirus restrictions for a month to give businesses “certainty” and allow more time for people to receive two vaccinations. The Times reports that ministers believe a two-week delay would not give businesses the certainty they need as it might have to be extended. Health chiefs, including Danny Mortimer, deputy chief executive of the NHS, have asked No. 10 for a delay to the end of restrictions.
Brewdog responds to criticism
A co-founder of Brewdog has vowed to learn from furious criticism of the beer company by 60 ex-staff. Speaking to the BBC, James Watt said allegations of a “culture of fear” and “toxic attitudes” at the company would help make him a better manager. In an open letter, signatories had complained of a “cult of personality” around Watt and his co-founder Martin Dickie, adding that a “significant number” of former staff had “suffered mental illness as a result of working at Brewdog”.
Hancock attacked over PPE claim
Frontline medical staff have slammed Matt Hancock after he claimed there was no PPE shortage during the Covid pandemic. The health secretary yesterday told the Health and Social Care select committee: “There is no evidence I have seen that a shortage of PPE led to anyone dying of Covid. There was never a point where we ran out at a national level.” However, after 850 medical and social care staff were killed by the virus, Nurses United UK said: “How can Hancock deny the PPE shortage when we’ve seen nurses wrapped in plastic bags?”
Rowling and Ross back trans ruling
JK Rowling has backed a woman who yesterday won a landmark ruling protecting those who believe transgender people cannot change their biological sex. Tax expert Maya Forstater had claimed that she was discriminated against after she was sacked for insisting that trans women are male or “honorary female”. However, a court said her “gender-critical beliefs” fell under the Equalities Act as they “did not seek to destroy the rights of trans persons”. Harry Potter author Rowling was joined by swimmer Sharron Davies and the broadcaster Jonathan Ross in voicing her support for Forstater.
Ending NHS delays ‘to cost £40bn’
Downing Street has estimated that it could cost up to £40bn to bring down NHS waiting times and end long delays after the disruption of the pandemic. After the latest NHS England performance figures showed that the total number of people waiting for hospital treatment, especially surgery, had topped five million for the first time, the Cabinet Office told Boris Johnson that he may have to commit anywhere between £2bn and £10bn a year for up to four years to tackle the problem.
Olympic swimmer quits over ‘perverts’
An Australian swimmer has withdrawn from upcoming Olympic trials after complaining of “misogynistic perverts” in the sport. Announcing her decision to withdraw, Madeline Groves said: “Let this be a lesson to all misogynistic perverts... and their boot lickers”. In 2020, the swimmer said she had complained “a few years ago” about an unnamed person in the sport that had made her feel uncomfortable.
Macron warns PM on protocol
Emmanuel Macron has told Boris Johnson that “nothing is negotiable” with the Northern Ireland Protocol. Asked at a press conference about British demands for aspects of the protocol to be reworked, the French president said: “I think this is not serious - to want to have another look at something in July that was finalised in December after years of discussions and work.” The prime minister’s spokesperson rejected Macron’s comments, saying “we continue to keep all options on the table, because time is short”.
Cummings launches paid-for newsletter
Dominic Cummings has announced plans for a paid-for newsletter, launching a profile on Substack, an online platform for subscription publishing. Although some information about the coronavirus pandemic and his time in Downing Street will be given out for free, revelations about “more recondite stuff on the media, Westminster, ‘inside No 10’, how did we get Brexit done in 2019 [and] the 2019 election etc.” will be available only to those who pay £10 a month for a subscription.
New coronaviruses found in bats
Researchers in China have said they had found new coronaviruses in bats, including one that may be the second closest yet to the genetic makeup of the Covid-19 virus. Experts from the University of Shandong collected samples from forest-dwelling bats between May 2019 and November 2020. “In total, we assembled 24 novel coronavirus genomes from different bat species, including four SARS-CoV-2 like coronaviruses”, the researchers said.