Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 16 June 2021
The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am
Jab shortages slow rollout
Shortages of the Pfizer vaccine have forced the NHS to slow the rollout of jabs just days after Boris Johnson said that delaying England’s reopening would allow the country to speed through its vaccination programme. The Daily Telegraph says supplies of the Pfizer jab to hotspots in which Covid case rates are rising have been cut. Overall, just 1.2m first doses were dispensed in the last week, compared with more than three million a week in earlier stages of the rollout.
Israel resumes attacks on Gaza
Israel has restarted attacks in the Gaza Strip, in retaliation for incendiary balloons fired from the territory. After several balloons were sent into Israel where they caused fires, explosions were heard in Gaza City in the early hours of Wednesday. It is the first major flare-up since 11 days of fighting between the two sides ended in a ceasefire on 21 May. It is also the first exchange of fire since Israeli's new coalition government came to power last weekend, headed by Naftali Bennett.
Rail recovery ‘will take years’
Rail bosses say major cuts to services will be required to balance the books as passenger demand is expected to remain below pre-Covid levels for years. Industry analysts believe the pandemic will lead to a permanent change in working patterns, slashing the “cash cow” of commuting revenues. The Rail Industry Recovery Group has been formed to oversee £2bn in cuts across the network.
Care staff must be jabbed
Covid vaccinations will be mandatory for care home staff in England and ministers are considering extending the rule to all NHS staff. The move could lead to the government being sued under European human rights law or equalities legislation, and industry groups have warned that the plan could lead to workers quitting rather than get immunised. More than 40,000 people have died of Covid in English care homes.
Inquiry says Met corrupt
The Metropolitan police is “institutionally corrupt”, according to an independent inquiry set up to review the murder of the private detective Daniel Morgan. The independent panel looking into Morgan’s killing in 1987 found that the force’s first objective was to protect itself. Despite five police inquiries and an inquest, no-one has been convicted over the father of two’s death. The Metropolitan Police has admitted corruption had hampered the original murder investigation.
Storm over Saudi execution
Saudi Arabia has executed a man for offences he committed while he was 17, despite the kingdom’s promise that it had abolished the death penalty for minors. Mustafa Hashem al-Darwish was charged with forming a terror cell and trying to carry out an armed revolt, but campaigners say he had already recanted his confession, which they say was made after he was tortured. A leading rights group said his trial was “deeply flawed”.
‘New Lawrence’ warning
Boris Johnson’s former race adviser has warned of another Stephen Lawrence or Jo Cox tragedy if the government continues to provoke culture wars. Speaking publicly for the first time since he resigned in February, Samuel Kasumu said: “If I was going to go to William Hill today and place a bet on what the most likely option is, I’d probably say a Jo Cox, a Stephen Lawrence, a Windrush scandal is where we’re headed.”
Orban under fire for gay ruling
Hungary’s parliament has passed legislation banning the promotion of homosexuality in schools. Viktor Orban’s government claimed that the latest in a string of anti-gay measures was aimed at protecting children and fighting paedophilia. Critics say they will “severely restrict” freedom of expression and children’s rights. One opponent said it was getting “more and more uncomfortable” to live in Hungary “not only for gays, but practically also for everybody”.
Birth rate soars in Germany
Germany’s birth rate has risen to its highest level since 1998, despite predictions of a Covid-induced “baby bust”. Nine months after Europe’s first round of lockdowns was lifted the country joined half a dozen other European states in recording an increase in births. The Times says that demographers had forecast a slump across the developed world as prospective parents struggled with “instability, money troubles and relationship strain”.
Ad boycott hits GB News
GB News is facing a commercial backlash after leading brands including Ikea, Nivea and Grolsch said they would pull their adverts from the network. The “anti-woke” channel is being targeted by activists who are calling for boycotts of brands that advertise with it, on the grounds that it might monetise divisive political issues. However, an industry source said that the actions of a small number of advertisers were unlikely to make a significant difference to GB News’s finances.