Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 19 June 2021
The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am
Tories warn PM after poll shock
Senior Tories have told Boris Johnson a swathe of seats in the “blue wall” across the south of England could be at risk. Following the Liberal Democrats’ shock victory in the Chesham and Amersham by election, the prime minister has also been told to pay more attention to “traditionally Tory” values. Cabinet colleagues say he should take a more “Tory-focused approach” after the party lost a seat it held for almost half a century.
Cop quizzed Charles over Di death
A police chief says he was forced to interview Prince Charles over allegations he plotted to kill Princess Diana. Speaking to the Daily Mail, Lord Stevens, a former head of Scotland Yard, says he had to “follow the evidence” and quiz the royal over a note his ex-wife wrote claiming he was planning an accident in her car. The interview was conducted at St James’s Palace.
Lloyd Webber backs down
Andrew Lloyd Webber has withdrawn his threat to reopen his theatres without social distancing after being warned his entire staff and the audience could have been fined hundreds of pounds each. The theatre boss also said he was refusing an offer from Boris Johnson to take part in a pilot scheme that would have allowed opening at full capacity. Instead, Lloyd Webber said his new musical, Cinderella, will begin previews on June 25 “at the government’s arbitrary 50% capacity”.
UN calls for Myanmar arms ban
The United Nations has called for a halt to arms sales to Myanmar in response to the violent military coup. In a rare move, the General Assembly adopted a resolution condemning the military junta, which overthrew the elected government in February. “The risk of a large-scale civil war is real,” UN special envoy on Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener, told the General Assembly. She warned that “the opportunity to reverse the military takeover is narrowing.”
Councils blocking isolation pay
English councils are refusing six in 10 requests for Covid self-isolation pay, reports The Guardian. The data comes despite the government increasing funding for the anti-Covid system in March to £20m a month. One council, Hackney in east London, said it had rejected 91% of requests for the £500 payments. The news has sparked warnings from trade unions that a key policy to limit Covid-19 is “failing” in the face of rising infections.
Tory MP accused of sexual assault
A Conservative MP is facing trial after he was accused of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy in 2008. Imran Ahmad Khan, 47, the Tory MP for Wakefield, West Yorkshire, denies “in the strongest terms” an allegation he groped the teenager in Staffordshire. He appeared at Westminster magistrates court by video link from his lawyers’ office. Writing on Twitter, Khan said: “This matter is deeply distressing to me and I of course take it extremely seriously.”
Flying Sikh’ dies of Covid
The legendary Indian athlete Milkha Singh has died at the age of 91 after a month-long battle with Covid-19. Known as the “Flying Sikh,” Singh won four Asian Games gold medals and became India’s first Commonwealth Games champion in 1958. He was also honoured with the Padma Shri, one of India’s highest civilian gongs. In 2013, his story was turned into the Bollywood film Bhaag Milkha Bhaag - Run Milkha Run.
Furloughed ‘don’t want to return’
Some people on furlough don’t want to return to work because it has been “great” for them, a Tory MP has claimed. The former business secretary, Dame Andrea Leadsom, said some have enjoyed the furlough experience because they have a garden, have “great vegetables” growing and have gone on long walks. She also said some people are scared to go back to work. There were 3.4m people on furlough as of 30 April.
Bloomsbury makes jabs compulsory
A leading book publisher will make Covid vaccines compulsory for all of its employees returning to the office. Bloomsbury, which published Harry Potter, told its 700 staff it would introduce a mandatory vaccine policy as it announced plans for a return to the office two days per week. One publishing industry account on Twitter called the decision “outrageous” and “a violation of privacy,” adding that “it doesn’t address the (very valid) cultural and mental health barriers to vaccination”.
England and Scotland share spoils
England and Scotland drew 0-0 at Wembley last night in the first meeting between the two sides in a major tournament since Euro 96. Scotland have received praise for a rugged and determined performance, while some Three Lions fans were critical of Gareth Southgate’s men. The BBC says “the sound of Flower Of Scotland echoing around one end of Wembley and loud jeers emanating from the other” provided a “snap verdict” on the tie.