Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 3 October 2021

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

1

Tories question levelling up approach

A group of Tory MPs have openly questioned how Boris Johnson can deliver on his promise to increase prosperity in poorer parts of the UK while raising taxes for working people and cutting benefits. One of them, Jake Berry, wondered how the government will “square the circle of how you can level up deindustrialised and poorer communities in the north of England while at the same time taking cash out of their pockets through a national insurance rise and cuts in universal credit”.

2

Energy firm hikes prices by 80%

An energy company has sparked protests from its customers who say it is forcing them to pay higher bills even when many of them are hundreds of pounds in credit to the supplier. The Observer says Bulb’s “bumper” increases – by as much as 80% – could be an indicator of what is in store for customers of other suppliers “grappling with record gas market prices”. Bulb has 1.7m customers.

3

UK to launch cyber attacks

Britain will launch “offensive” cyber attacks in response to similar assaults by “hostile states” such as Russia, said the defence secretary. Announcing plans for a £5bn digital warfare centre, Ben Wallace said the agency, which is expected to employ thousands of hackers and analysts by 2030, would “put Britain at the front” of countries with the ability to carry out cyber attacks.

4

Wayne Couzens guarded parliament

The Speaker of the House of Commons said it was “extremely concerning” to learn that Wayne Couzens was on duty five times at parliament last year. Sir Lindsay Hoyle has asked for an urgent meeting with the Met Police after the Met confirmed Couzens was on armed protection duties at parliament between February and July 2020. Couzens was given a whole-life sentence on Thursday for Sarah Everard’s murder.

5

Anti-abortion rallies in every US state

Tens of thousands of people have been joined rallies across the US in support of abortion rights. The protests were held in opposition to a new Texas law that severely limits access to abortions in the state.In Washington DC, demonstrators marched to the Supreme Court building, holding signs such as “Make abortion legal”. However, the rally was disrupted by some two dozen counter-demonstrators, one of whom shouted: “The blood of innocent babies is on your hands!”

6

Girl dies on Covid on jab date

The mother of a teenage girl who died from Covid-19 on the day that she was due to be vaccinated has paid tribute to her “beautiful, courageous” daughter. Jorja Halliday, a 15-year-old kickboxer from Portsmouth, who had no known underlying health conditions, died on Tuesday, four days after testing positive. She was described by her mother as a “loving girl” who had lots of friends.

7

PM expected to loosen travel rules

Covid-19 travel restrictions are to be lifted on dozens of major overseas destinations as Boris Johnson prepares to announce plans to bring society and the economy back to “normality,” reported the Sunday Telegraph. It is understood that the 54 countries on the Government’s “red list” will be cut to just nine this week - with South Africa, Brazil and Mexico all expected to be opened up to quarantine-free travel in time for the October half-term break. Covid-19 hospitalisation rates appear to have plateaued at 600.

8

London Marathon returns

The London Marathon will return to the capital’s streets today for the first full-scale staging of the race in more than two years More than 40,000 runners will join some of the world's best on the usual course. They will be joined by a similar number completing the distance ‘virtually’ via a tracking app on a course of their choice. Race director Hugh Brasher said this year's event - 40 years on from the inaugural race in 1981 – “could easily be the most memorable ever”.

9

HRT charges could be lifted

A proposed new law would abolish prescription charges for hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for menopausal women. HRT is available on prescription in England for £9.35 a time but the Labour MP Carolyn Harris said that she had enough support for a private member’s bill to legislate that women in England would not have to pay for HRT. The bill will receive its second reading this month.

10

Man dies while subway surfing

A man in New York City died while subway surfing on top of a train on the Williamsburg Bridge. Police say the 32-year-old man lost his footing, fell from the train onto the tracks, and was struck by an incoming train. Officers found him “unconscious and unresponsive” and emergency medical services pronounced him dead at the scene. In 2019, a 14-year-old boy died after getting struck while subway surfing.

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