Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 2 September 2021

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

1

Boosters planned for vulnerable people

Up to 500,000 people with severely weakened immune systems are to be offered third Covid-19 vaccine shots. The NHS will provide third doses for those aged 12 and over who have severely compromised or suppressed immune systems following a recommendation from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation. The Guardian said the news will “increase debate over the rollout of booster jabs for the wider population”.

2

Foreign Office knew of Taliban risk

The Foreign Office’s own risk assessment warned that the Taliban could return rapidly to power, it has been revealed. During a hearing with MPs, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab was asked why he had not acted on the Foreign Office guidance that warned of “rapid Taliban advances” which could lead to a “Taliban return to power”. When Raab asked for the source, Tom Tugendhat, chair of the foreign affairs select committee, said: “It’s your principal risk report.”

3

Trudeau snap poll may backfire

Opinion polls in Canada suggest that Justin Trudeau’s decision to call a snap election to secure a majority government is at risk of backfiring. Having comfortably led almost every poll for more than a year, Trudeau’s Liberal Party is now trailing the Conservative Party. He currently presides over a minority government and called the snap election in the hope of achieving a stronger mandate to guide Canada through the remainder of the Covid-19 pandemic.

4

Whitehall allowed to work from home

Civil servants at the Treasury are to be allowed to work from home permanently , it has emerged. Adverts for new jobs reveal that most of the department’s staff will never have to come back to their desks full time, and will be free to stay at home for two or three days a week. The Telegraph says the news “threatens to undermine Rishi Sunak as he attempts to revive cities by pushing for office workers to return”.

5

Jabs cut ‘long Covid’ risk by half

Being fully vaccinated against Covid-19 cuts the risk of suffering from “long Covid”, according to fresh research by King’s College London. Among the minority of people who get Covid despite two jabs, the odds of developing symptoms lasting longer than four weeks are cut by 50%, the study found. Health Secretary Sajid Javid added that vaccines have so far saved more than 105,000 lives and prevented more than 24 million infections in England.

6

Death for militants who killed gay activists

Members of a militant group have been sentenced to death by a court in Bangladesh over the brutal killing of two gay rights campaigners. Xulhaz Mannan, the editor of Bangladesh’s first magazine for LGBT people, and actor Mahbub Rabbi Tonoy were hacked to death in the capital Dhaka five years ago in an attack claimed by Ansar Al Islam, the regional arm of al-Qaeda. Six Islamists were found guilty of murder and sentenced to death.

7

Oxford chancellor ‘embarrassed’ by Gove

The University of Oxford’s vice-chancellor has said she is “embarrassed” that Michael Gove studied at the institution following his comments in 2016 that people have “had enough of experts”. Professor Louise Richardson said the development of Covid-19 vaccines, such as the one devised by Oxford and AstraZeneca, proved the importance of experts, adding: “With the vaccine, it seems like the public can’t get enough of experts.”

8

Meat could be next culture war

The Times has said the issue of food consumption “promises to open a new front in Britain’s culture wars” after a study found that Tory and Leave voters are far more attached to traditional meat-based food. Labour voters expressed more openness to “greener” plant-based alternatives, according to a YouGov survey that found 48% of Conservatives would never consider occasionally swapping meat for a plant-based protein. Only 28% of Labour voters said the same.

9

Bank of England appoints fiscal hawk

The Bank of England has appointed a new chief economist who is a hawkish critic of limitless money printing. Huw Pill, formerly of the European Central Bank and Goldman Sachs, risks “ruffling feathers at Threadneedle Street”, said The Telegraph. In 2019, he argued that “unelected central bank technocrats” enjoying “unconstrained discretion” with policy is not “consistent with liberal democratic principles”.

10

Storey wins record gold

Cyclist Sarah Storey has won another gold medal to become Great Britain’s most successful Paralympian. The 43-year-old broke Mike Kenny’s record by landing her 17th gold medal at her eighth Paralympics. The veteran defended the women’s C4-5 road race title which she has held since London 2012 to pick up the record-breaking win. She said she could not “explain or compute” what had just happened following the race.

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