Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 21 June 2021
The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am
Amber data may open holidays
Pressure is increasing on ministers to relax rules on foreign holidays after it emerged that fewer than one in 200 travellers from amber list countries are testing positive on their return. NHS Test and Trace data also shows no “variants of concern” were detected from any passenger returning from one of the 167 countries on the amber list. Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 committee of Conservative MPs, said “it’s time to get the travel industry moving again”.
Sunak plans pensions grab
The Treasury plans a pensions tax raid to help pay for public spending during the Covid pandemic, the Daily Telegraph reports. A trio of changes to how pension contributions are taxed is being considered, including reducing the pensions lifetime allowance from a little above £1m to £800,000 or £900,000, lowering the point above which extra tax charges are applied. “Our job is to keep people out of poverty, not to enrich the middle classes,” said a senior government source.
Polls ‘slap in face’ for Macron
President Emmanuel Macron and his main opponent Marine Le Pen will fail to make the gains they were hoping for in the first round of regional elections, according to exit polls in France. An Ipsos exit poll shows the conservative Les Republicains winning 27% of the vote, with Le Pen’s National Rally on 19% and Macron’s La Republique En Marche on 11%. One of Macron’s party’s MPs called the result a “slap in the face”.
PM told to consult cabinet
Cabinet members are pressing Boris Johnson to consult his ministers more ahead of a difficult period, with pressures over hospital waiting lists, social care reform and court backlogs. Rishi Sunak is among the ministers who are privately pushing the prime minister to use more collective decision-making, rather than keeping all decisions in a “close clique” in No. 10, says The Guardian.
Diana ‘stayed in Paris due to landmine row’
A “Tory backlash” against Princess Diana because of her landmines campaign led her to make the fatal decision to delay returning to Britain before her death, a former aide has told the Daily Mail. Her ex-driver and minder Colin Tebbutt said controversy over her call for the mines to be banned convinced the princess to stay in Paris with Dodi Fayed longer than she originally planned.
Covid-era rail tickets launched
New flexible season tickets have gone on sale aimed at commuters who travel to work only two or three days a week. The new tickets can be used for eight days in any month-long period. They are part of the government's planned shake-up of rail services but are being introduced early in response to the trend towards more home working. Ministers say commuters could save between £60 and £350 a year.
House prices hit record high
Asking prices for houses have hit record levels across every part of Great Britain, according to data from Rightmove, a property listings website. The average price of properties coming to market rose by 0.8% month-on-month in June, reaching a third consecutive record of £336,073. However, experts say much of the “pent-up” demand in the market has “now been met” and the “phasing out of stamp duty reliefs has also taken away some of the urgency to move”.
Government told to plan autumn jabs
NHS trusts and leading doctors say the government must start planning for the autumn booster jab rollout immediately. The experts warned of many unanswered questions, including how long immunity from the original jab lasts, and whether children will be vaccinated. So far, nearly 60% of UK adults have had two jabs of the vaccine, meaning they are fully vaccinated, and more than 80% of adults have had their first dose.
No punishment for armband
German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer will not face disciplinary action for wearing a rainbow armband during his Euro 2020 matches. Uefa has said there is no case to answer because the Bayern Munich star was “promoting a good cause”. After Neuer wore the armband during ties against France and Portugal, to show his support for the LGBTQ+ community, football’s European governing body investigated whether his actions could be seen as a political statement.
PM’s flagship ‘like a trawler’
A leading architect says Boris Johnson’s vision of a new national flagship to replace the royal yacht looks like a “1950s fishing trawler”. After the prime minister announced that the £200m vessel would “represent and promote the best of British” around the world for the next 30 years, Stephen Payne, the designer of the ocean liner Queen Mary 2, said it will be a “very poor” flagship for the UK.