Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 20 June 2021
The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am
Hancock ‘hid jab data’
Matt Hancock delayed informing Boris Johnson about a major study showing the effectiveness of Covid vaccines against the Delta variant. The health secretary reportedly knew about the Public Health England data three days before senior met last Sunday to decide whether to postpone the planned June 21 reopening until July 19. The Sunday Telegraph says the “bombshell disclosure raises the possibility that the [government] could have opted to press ahead with lifting the restrictions on Monday”.
UK third wave ‘definitely under way’
A third wave of the coronavirus pandemic is “definitely under way,” says a government scientific adviser. Prof Adam Finn, a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, told the BBC: “We can conclude that the race is firmly on between the vaccine programme, particularly getting older people’s second doses done, and the Delta variant third wave.” Public Health England has reported a 79% rise in the number of cases of the Delta variant.
Bercow switches to Labour Party
John Bercow has switched his political allegiances to join the Labour Party. The former Tory MP and Speaker of the House of Commons said he regards the current Conservative Party as “reactionary, populist, nationalistic and sometimes even xenophobic”. He said Boris Johnson has no interest in those less privileged than himself. Explaining why he joined Labour, he said: “I am motivated by support for equality, social justice and internationalism. That is the Labour brand.”
Palestinians say Israel lied about jabs
The Palestinian Authority has cancelled a vaccine agreement with Israel that was to have seen at least one million doses of the Pfizer vaccine transferred to the West Bank and Gaza. Health officials in Ramallah say that Israel misled them over the expiry date of the batches. They say Israel had told them the vaccines expired in July or August, but it turned out the true date was June.
Thinktank says inflation will hit 4%
The Resolution Foundation says the government should prepare for a jump in inflation this year that will eat into household living standards and force more low-income families into poverty. The thinktank says inflation could rise above 4% in the next few months as the economy opens up and consumers begin to spend some of the savings they have built up. Figures released last week showed the CPI measure of inflation rose to 2.1%.
Reveller has hand blown off in raid
A party-goer had his hand blown off as hundreds of police attempted to break up an illegal rave in France. Local authorities say there were "very violent clashes" lasting seven hours after police arrived at the rave at horse racing track near the town of Redo. The event had been held in memory of Steve Maia Caniço, a 24-year-old man who drowned in the Loire river in Nantes in 2019 after police raided a music festival.
Two years for those who name rape victims
People who name rape victims on social media will face up to two years in jail under plans being considered by the government. Justice Secretary Robert Buckland wants to raise the maximum sentence from the current six months to two years in order to protect the anonymity guaranteed in law to rape victims. A Ministry of Justice source said: “We need a tougher maximum penalty because identifying a victim of rape or serious sexual assault is a terrible thing to do.”
Man dies after truck incident at Pride parade
A man has died after a truck driver hit spectators at the start of a Pride parade in Florida. Fort Lauderdale mayor Dean Trantalis said the pickup truck driver appeared to be part of the parade but then suddenly accelerated, crashing into the victims. Trantalis said he believed it was a deliberate attack but Chris Caputo, city commissioner for Wilton Manors, the location of the parade, tweeted: “It seems increasingly probable it was an accident.”
Harding would reduce foreign doctors
Dido Harding has vowed to end England’s reliance on foreign doctors and nurses if she becomes the next head of the NHS. The former head of Test and Trace has applied to succeed Sir Simon Stevens to lead the health service. She said she would challenge the “prevailing orthodoxy” that it is better to import medical professionals from overseas. According to the House of Commons Library, almost 14% of the workforce is not British.
Bidens say farewell to Champ the dog
Joe and Jill Biden have announced their family dog Champ has died. In a statement, the US president and the First Lady said the 13-year-old German Shepherd was a “constant, cherished companion” in their “most joyful moments and in our most grief-stricken days”. They said “our hearts are heavy today”. Champ was bought from a breeder as a puppy after the 2008 election and spent his early years at the Naval Observatory, the US vice president's residence.