Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 13 July 2021

The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am

1

PM warned over ‘freedom day’

Boris Johnson will go ahead with lifting most remaining Covid restrictions on 19 July, despite warnings from his own advisers that the move could result in more than 200 deaths a day. The prime minister urged “extreme caution” as he yesterday confirmed that step four of the roadmap would go ahead. However, experts say up to 4,800 people a day could be admitted to hospital if restrictions are dropped, a decision Labour has described as “pushing down on the accelerator while throwing off the seatbelt”.

2

Patel ‘stoked’ racism ‘fire’

Home Secretary Priti Patel has been accused of hypocrisy after she condemned the abuse of three black England players despite previously refusing to criticise fans who booed the team for taking the knee. England and Aston Villa defender Tyrone Mings wrote on Twitter: “You don’t get to stoke the fire at the beginning of the tournament by labelling our anti-racism message as ‘gesture politics’ [and] then pretend to be disgusted when the very thing we’re campaigning against, happens.”

3

High street enjoys record quarter

Growth in high street sales between April and June made it the best three months on record, industry data has revealed. The British Retail Consortium – the trade body that represents retailers – said warmer weather, people holidaying in the UK and the start of the Euro 2020 tournament powered higher spending. It said retail sales were 13.1% higher in June than in the same month two years ago, while the total for the second quarter of 2021 was 10.4% up on the same three-month period of 2019.

4

Jamaica seeks reparations

Jamaica is to seek billions of pounds in reparations from Britain over historical slavery. Speaking to Reuters, Olivia Grange, minister of sports, youth and culture, said: “Our African ancestors were forcibly removed from their home and suffered unparalleled atrocities in Africa to carry out forced labour to the benefit of the British Empire”, adding: “Redress is well overdue.” Last year, an opposition lawmaker also presented a motion to remove the Queen as Jamaica’s head of state.

5

MPs to vote on aid cut

MPs will today vote on the government’s proposed cut to the UK’s foreign aid budget, choosing to either increase overseas aid spending to its previous level or tie the amount to government borrowing and debt. The government has faced widespread criticism after spending on international development was cut from 0.7% of national income to 0.5% in response to increased spending during the pandemic. A group of philanthropists, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has said they will provide £93.5m emergency funding to cover some UK aid cuts.

6

Dozens dead in Iraqi hospital fire

More than 50 people have died after a fire broke out in a Covid-19 isolation ward at a hospital in Iraq. The cause of the blaze at the Al-Hussein hospital in Nasiriya is unclear, however, early reports suggest it began after an oxygen tank exploded. Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi has ordered the arrest of the head of the hospital. Iraq has recorded 1.4m infections and more than 17,000 deaths from Covid-19, according to Johns Hopkins University.

7

Pupils given notice of questions

Pupils will be told in advance which questions will be in exams next summer to make up for the “considerable disruption” to their schooling. According to plans agreed by the Department for Education and Ofqual, the exams regulator, pupils will be advised by their teachers about which topics they will be examined on during the summer and will be able to choose which questions to answer in certain GCSE subjects. This means that students will not need to revise the entire syllabus.

8

Floods hit southern England

The south of England was hit by torrential downpours that resulted in significant flooding yesterday. The fire brigade in London said it received over 150 calls to flooding incidents in the capital after heavy and slow-moving thundery showers triggered flooding. “Certainly, with the intense rainfall we are expecting, localised flooding and probably some travel disruption are on the way, unfortunately just as people are doing the school run and coming home from work,” the Met Office said.

9

Musk ‘hates’ being Tesla boss

Elon Musk has said that he does not enjoy being the boss of Tesla. Speaking at the start of a trial in which he is accused of pressuring the company’s board into a $2.6bn (£1.9bn) deal to buy a solar panel firm, the billionaire said of his role: “I rather hate it and I would much prefer to spend my time on design and engineering.” He denies that he was in complete control of Tesla’s decision-making at the time of the solar panel investment.

10

Tokyo hotel sorry for ‘apartheid’ signs

A hotel in Tokyo has apologised and removed signs reading “Japanese only” and “foreigners only” from its lifts after the anti-coronavirus precaution sparked outrage ahead of the 2020 Summer Olympics. Akasaka Excel Hotel Tokyu put up the signs in response to guidance from Tokyo 2020 organisers aimed at ensuring Olympics-related guests are separated from others staying at the hotel. The signs caused a backlash on social media, with one Twitter user saying: “Apartheid has been revived in Japan.”

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