Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 3 September 2021

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

1

PM ‘to announce tax hike’

Boris Johnson is expected to raise taxes to pay for the biggest overhaul in social care in a generation and bring down NHS waiting lists. In a “major political gamble” and a “manifesto-breaker”, said The Daily Telegraph, the PM will announce a rise in National Insurance that will increase deductions from about 25m salaries. The Conservative manifesto for the 2019 election stated: “We promise not to raise the rates of income tax, National Insurance or VAT.”

2

Biden calls for climate spending

Joe Biden has said “historic investment” will be necessary to deal with the climate crisis, as the US reels from flash flooding and tornadoes that have killed at least 46 people. After the remnants of Hurricane Ida swamped cities from Virginia to New England, the president said parts of his country are facing climate-related destruction and that tackling it is “a matter of life and death”.

3

Patel could ban laughing gas

Possession of laughing gas, one of the most popular drugs among 16- to 24-year-olds, could be criminalised after Priti Patel ordered experts to review its effects. The home secretary said she was ready to “take tough action” on the widespread use of nitrous oxide, which is taken mostly through balloons filled from small metal cylinders. The Royal Society for Public Health said it was not clear that criminalising possession had any effect on a drug’s level of availability or use.

4

Terror attack targets Auckland

Police in New Zealand have shot dead a man who injured at least six people during a knife attack at a supermarket in Auckland. Three of the victims are in a critical condition. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the “despicable” act of terrorism was carried out by a known extremist who had been kept under constant police surveillance. The New Zealand Herald described the knifeman as an “Isis lone wolf”.

5

Cummings eyes US politics

Dominic Cummings has published a blueprint to take over US politics and is appealing for cash from Silicon Valley billionaires to find a candidate to beat President Biden. Writing on his blog, the former Downing Street adviser said that a “tiny and cheap” investment of £1.5m to £2m could beat Donald Trump in Republican Party primaries and land a president who would abolish the Pentagon and much of the federal government.

6

Pet snatching to be criminalised

Pet abduction is to be made a criminal offence after a rise in snatchings during the Covid lockdowns. There has been a 250% rise in dog thefts driven by the pandemic as demand for puppies soared. Although theft of a pet is currently treated as a loss of an owner’s property, ministers want a new law to acknowledge the emotional distress it can cause. People who steal pets could be sent to prison for seven years under government plans.

7

Racist chants directed at England

England football players were subjected to racisr chanting during their 4-0 win over Hungary last night at a World Cup qualifier. A Sky Sports News reporter said he heard “sporadic monkey chants from various areas of the crowd” at the Puskas Arena in Budapest. England’s players had been booed loudly as they took a knee to protest against racism and Raheem Sterling was pelted with paper cups and bottles when he opened the scoring for England.

8

Taliban hails China partnership

The Taliban has described China as the Taliban’s “principal partner” in the international community. A spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said Beijing was “ready to invest in and reconstruct” Afghanistan and expressed the hope that China would provide a gateway into global markets. The Telegraph said the remarks “offer the clearest indication to date of the diplomatic direction in which the Taliban is turning” as well as how it intends to solve the economic crisis “crippling the country”.

9

Virgin admits to space errors

Virgin Galactic has revealed that a “mishap” occurred during Richard Branson’s debut passenger trip to space. Although it hailed the 53-mile-high flight as a success in July, the company has now admitted that its rocket ship, VSS Unity, underwent a “change in trajectory” as it thundered towards space. The Times says the news has “shed a new and troubling light on Branson’s endeavours”.

10

Abba fans cheer new album

Abba have thrilled fans by announcing their first studio album for 40 years. Abba Voyage will be released in November, in advance of a “revolutionary” set of concerts where virtual avatars will play hits like Mamma Mia and Waterloo. A purpose-built venue in east London will house the show. The quartet, who split up in 1982, said they ended up back in the recording studio while working on the stage show.

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