Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 16 August 2021

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

1

Taliban take control of Kabul

The Taliban has declared the war in Afghanistan is over after militants took control of the presidential palace in Kabul. Spokesperson Mohammad Naeem said the Taliban respected women’s and minorities’ rights and freedom of expression within sharia law. However, US-led forces have fled and Western nations are rushing to evacuate their citizens. Afghan Americans, former generals and world leaders are criticising Joe Biden for ordering the hasty US withdrawal.

2

Levelling up ‘to cost £2tn’

Boris Johnson’s plan to “level up” the UK will cost £2 trillion, according to a think tank. Centre for Cities said the plans announced so far by the government were a “drop in the ocean” and that ending the north-south divide would cost hundreds of billions of pounds over decades. Paul Swinney, the policy director of Centre for Cities, said: “We’ve had this north-south divide for at least 85 years now. It’s a huge challenge.”

3

Plymouth attack ‘may be terror’

Detectives may yet classify the Plymouth shootings as terrorism, The Times has learned. According to senior counterterrorism sources, declaring Jake Davison’s killings a terror attack because of his ties to the misogynistic “incel” movement has not been ruled out. Officers from the South West Counter Terrorism Intelligence Unit will assess Davison’s phone, computer and online postings, and  if his motivation is directly linked to his identity as an incel, the case could come under the umbrella of counterterrorism policing.

4

Older workers in peril

Economists have warned that older workers are being left out of Britain’s economic recovery after data showed they are more likely to be stuck on the furlough scheme than under 25s. Data from ING revealed that 7.4% of workers older than 55 are on the taxpayer-funded wage scheme as it nears its end next month, sparking fears they will never return to work. The Daily Telegraph says government support packages going forward are “heavily geared towards the young”.

5

Isolation ends for fully jabbed

People who are fully vaccinated against coronavirus no longer have to isolate if they come into contact with someone who has tested positive. Instead of having to quarantine for ten days, they are now advised to take a PCR test, but this is not compulsory. The move has been hailed by Health Secretary Sajid Javid as “another step back towards normality”. At its peak in July, the number of self-isolation alerts sent in England and Wales in a week was just under 700,000.

6

House prices down in August

House prices fell in August due to a dip in demand for bigger homes after the government scaled back its stamp duty tax break. The property website Rightmove said the national average asking price of a home had fallen by 0.3%, or about £1,000, over the past month, and now stood at £337,371. The government began to scale back its stamp duty holiday for property buyers in England and Northern Ireland in July.

7

Home working leads to ‘hidden overtime’

Working from home during the Covid pandemic has caused an “epidemic of hidden overtime” that particularly affects women, leading to a need for new “right to disconnect” laws, according to a report. The Autonomy think tank said unpaid labour was a growing problem in the age of increased home working and called for legislation ruling that employees do not have to take calls or read emails related to work during their time off.

8

Shooting near Regent’s Park

Four people have been treated for gunshot injuries after an incident near Regent’s Park on Saturday night. Scotland Yard said officers were called shortly before 10.10pm to reports of gunshots heard around Clarence Gardens, close to Euston station. Three women and a man were injured in the suspected shooting. There have been no arrests and the incident is not being treated as terror-related.

9

Hichilema wins in Zambia

Zambia’s electoral commission has announced that the presidential election was won by opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema. He defeated President Edgar Lungu by more than a million votes. However, Lungu has disputed the fairness of the election, claiming that election officials from his Patriotic Front party had been chased from polling stations. Lungu was accused of human rights abuses and corruption during his six-year rule.

10

Tributes as Gerd Muller dies

The football legend Gerd Muller has died at the age of 75. He scored 68 goals in 62 appearances for West Germany, including the winning goal in the 1974 World Cup final against the Netherlands. He also netted 547 goals in 594 competitive games during 15 years at Bayern Munich. The club president, Herbert Hainer, said: “FC Bayern wouldn’t be the club we all love today without Gerd Muller. His name and memory will live on forever.”

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