Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 18 August 2021
The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am
UK to take 20,000 Afghan refugees
The UK government has promised that up to 20,000 Afghan refugees will be resettled in the UK in the next five years after the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan. In the first year, 5,000 refugees will be eligible, with women and girls given priority. Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood, chairman of the defence select committee, told the Daily Mirror that it was a “woefully inadequate response”. Opposition parties also say it does not go far enough.
Exiled Taliban chiefs return
The Taliban’s top leaders have landed in Afghanistan, arriving from Qatar where many were in exile. The group’s co-founder and deputy leader Mullah Baradar is back in the country for the first time in 20 years, and 11 years after he was arrested in neighbouring Pakistan by the country’s security forces. CNN says his return will “fuel concerns” that the approach of the new government will mirror that of the Taliban when it was last in power.
Pension triple lock to go
The pension “triple lock” is set to be watered down next year in a move that will save the Treasury billions of pounds. Ministers have advised Boris Johnson to scrap a long-standing pledge to raise the state pension by either the inflation rate, average earnings or 2.5%, whichever is higher. During the Covid pandemic average earnings have risen by 7.4% because lower-paid workers were more likely to be furloughed or made redundant.
Watchdog postpones ME report
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) has delayed publication of a long-awaited guide to treating ME, also known as chronic fatigue syndrome or CFS, just hours before it was due to be made public. Charities and patient groups had welcomed the report, but Nice said it needed more conversations with patient groups and professionals after last-minute disagreements about its contents. An earlier draft of the report scrapped a recommendation for exercise therapy, which had proved controversial.
UK-Ireland trade affected by Brexit
Exports from Ireland to Great Britain soared in the first six months after Brexit but trade in the opposite direction declined. The Irish Central Statistics Office said exports to mainland Britain rose by 20% to €6.7bn (£5.7bn) in the first six months of 2021, an increase of more than €1.1bn compared with the same period in 2020. Imports from Great Britain fell by more than €2.5bn (£2.13bn) or 32% to €5.3bn (£4.5bn).
Prosecutors ‘want to talk to Andrew’
Prince Andrew is considered a “person of interest” by US prosecutors investigating Ghislaine Maxwell and others linked to the paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, The Times reports. A source says that officials want to interview the duke about his friendship with Epstein. “He doesn’t seem to want to talk to us,” the source reportedly said. Earlier this month, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who has said she was abused by Epstein, filed a civil complaint against Andrew in a US court.
Aspirin may be used for breast cancer
Doctors say aspirin may help fight some breast cancers by making difficult tumours more responsive to anti-cancer drugs. A team at the Christie NHS Foundation Trust, in Manchester, are beginning a trial with triple-negative breast cancer, an uncommon but aggressive form of the disease. If the results are encouraging there could be further clinical trials of aspirin for incurable secondary triple-negative breast cancer, which affects around 8,000 women in the UK each year.
Nando’s suffers chicken shortage
The chain restaurant Nando’s plans to lend some of its staff to its suppliers to help “get things moving” after chicken shortages hit some of its shops. The group has had to shut around 50 outlets temporarily after apparently running short of its key ingredient. “The UK supply chain is having a bit of a [night]mare right now,” the company wrote on Twitter. Last week rival fast food chain KFC said some items were missing from its menus due to “disruption”.
New rules for farmed animal transport
Farmed animals being transported will benefit from more headroom and shorter journey times under plans to improve welfare conditions. Stricter rules will also be brought in on transporting livestock in extreme temperatures and there will be a maximum journey duration of between four and 24 hours, depending on the animal. Environment Secretary George Eustice said: “We are legislating to ban the export [overseas] of live animals for slaughter and fattening.”
Cole apologises for burqa photo
The model Lily Cole has apologised for sharing a photograph in which she is wearing a burqa. She was accused of “putting Instagram posturing before universal human rights” after posting the image in the same week as Kabul fell to the Taliban, raising fears for women’s rights in Afghanistan. “I hadn’t read the news at the time I posted so it was incredibly ill timed,” she said.