Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 8 September 2021
The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am
MPs to vote on PM’s tax plan
The House of Commons will vote today on whether to raise national insurance to fund health and social care, a day after Boris Johnson announced the manifesto-breaking plan. The prime minister said yesterday: “A global pandemic wasn’t in our manifesto either.” The Telegraph said Johnson has “raised taxes to their highest level since the Second World War” in “one of the biggest political gambles of his premiership”.
Terror suspect in Taliban cabinet
A terror suspect with a $10m bounty on his head has been made Afghanistan’s interior minister. A caretaker government, which “gave no sign of an olive branch to its opponents”, Reuters reported, includes Sirajuddin Haqqani, the movement's deputy leader, who is accused of overseeing some of the worst atrocities of the militants’ insurgent campaign. The 33-strong line-up cabinet is all male, despite vows to set up a broad-based new government.
Activists arrested in Hong Kong
Four activists from the Hong Kong pro-democracy group that organises the annual Tiananmen Square vigil were arrested after refusing to comply with a police order to submit information on national security grounds. Police were acting after the group was accused of working as a “foreign agent”. The Hong Kong Alliance has held an annual candlelight vigil on the anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre since 1990.
Britney’s father ends conservatorship
Britney Spears’s father has filed court papers to dissolve the 13-year conservatorship during which he oversaw his daughter’s life and finances. Jamie Spears wrote that Britney “is entitled to have this court now seriously consider whether this conservatorship is no longer required”. The singer, who has sought to remove him from the role twice in the last two years, has described their relationship as “abusive” and refused to perform under his management.
Tense Grenfell footage to be aired
Previously unseen video footage of Grenfell Tower residents pleading with their MP and landlord in the months before the 2017 disaster is to be broadcast for the first time. During acrimonious meetings with Victoria Borwick, the then Conservative MP for the area, and Peter Maddison, the council landlord’s senior executive at the time, residents complain about conditions in the tower. People who later died in the fire are seen in the footage, which will be broadcast by Channel 4.
Mexico decriminalises abortion
Mexico’s Supreme Court has ruled that criminal penalties for terminating pregnancies are unconstitutional, in a decision that means women can no longer be prosecuted for getting an abortion. Supreme Court Justice Luis Maria Aguilar described the ruling as a “historic step for the rights of women” in a country where abortion is severely restricted in all but four states.
Astra boss caution on boosters
The boss of AstraZeneca has said that Covid booster jabs may not be needed for everyone in the UK. Writing for The Telegraph, Pascal Soriot said that the UK was just “a few weeks away” away from having a definitive answer on the long-term effectiveness of two doses. “Moving too quickly to boost across the entire adult population will deprive us of this insight,” he said in a piece co-written with Sir Mene Pangalos, executive vice president of BioPharmaceuticals R&D.
Amazon pays £3.8m more UK tax
Amazon’s core UK business paid just £3.8m more corporation tax last year than in 2019, despite an increase in sales of £1.89bn. Accounts filed at Companies House show that the corporation tax contribution of Amazon UK Services was £18.3m in the year to December 2020, up 26% from £14.5m a year before. The Guardian reported that profits at the division rose by a quarter over the same period to £128m, while sales soared by 64% to £4.85bn.
Boeing directors face crash suit
A US judge has ruled that Boeing’s board of directors must face a lawsuit from shareholders over two fatal crashes involving its 737 Max plane. Morgan Zurn said the first crash was a “red flag” about a key safety system on the jet “that the board should have heeded but instead ignored”. He said investors had “lost billions of dollars” but the real victims were those who died and their families.
Anti-vax ‘mob’ stone Trudeau
Justin Trudeau said a “mob” of anti-vaccine campaigners that threw rocks at him was “foaming at the mouth”. Stones appeared to hit the Canadian prime minister when he boarded his campaign bus during an increasingly fraught and volatile election. The incident happened just hours after Trudeau vowed no surrender to “anti-vaxxer mobs”. Trudeau has called a snap election for 20 September, seeking a stronger mandate to deal with the pandemic.