Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 7 October 2021
The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am
PM criticised for ‘vacuous’ speech
Boris Johnson has come under fire from business leaders following his speech to the Conservative Party conference yesterday. Despite winning applause from within the auditorium, free market thinktank the Adam Smith Institute dismissed the address as “bombastic but vacuous and economically illiterate”. The Bright Blue thinktank added that “there was nothing new in this speech, no inspiring new vision or policy”. Responding to Johnson’s pledge to turn the UK into a “high-wage” economy, Richard Walker, the managing director of Iceland, accused the PM of treating businesses like an “endless sponge that can keep absorbing costs in one go”.
US and China agree to talks
Washington and Beijing have agreed in principle that Joe Biden and Xi Jinping will hold a virtual meeting before the end of the year. The tentative agreement emerged from a six-hour sit-down between Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan and China’s top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, in Switzerland. CNN said both nations want to ensure stability in “one of the world’s most consequential and fraught relationships”.
Earthquake strikes Pakistan
At least 20 people have been killed and 150 injured after an earthquake struck Pakistan’s Balochistan province. Women and children are thought to be among the dead. The US Geological Survey said it was a 5.9 magnitude quake that struck at a shallow depth of 9km. The BBC reported that the death toll may increase, and that “many people were killed when structures collapsed”.
‘Historic’ malaria jab approved
A malaria vaccine has become the first to be recommended for widespread use across Africa. Health experts hope the jab, developed by the Brentford-based pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline, will significantly reduce rates of the disease that claims the lives of more than a quarter of a million African children under the age of five each year. Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the World Health Organization director-general, described the approval as “a historic moment”.
Energy and council tax bills to soar
Energy bills could rise by hundreds of pounds next year, according to analysis by consultancy Cornwall Insight. Although the energy regulator Ofgem has said the price cap “will ensure that consumers don’t pay more than is absolutely necessary this winter”, it added that if gas prices stay high, the price cap will also rise. In further bad news, the Institute for Fiscal Studies said that council tax in England could also rise by as much as £220 per year in the next three years.
Anger in Philippines over Marcos presidency bid
Human rights groups in the Philippines are protesting against an attempt by the son and namesake of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos to return his family to power by running for president. The Marcos family has repeatedly denied allegations that it plundered $10bn (£7.3bn) in state wealth while in power from the mid-1960s to 1986. Cristina Palabay of rights group Karapatan told CNN that Marcos’s bid for presidency is “just plain, shameless gall”.
Macron loses patience with Johnson
Emmanuel Macron has “lost patience” with Boris Johnson, according to The Times, and is considering ways to raise the pressure on the PM to force him to comply with Britain’s post-Brexit commitments on fishing rights. Although Macron has yet to comment publicly on the latest tensions, angry rhetoric from his ministers, including threats to cut off British energy supplies and block transport access, have “hinted at deep anger in Paris”, the paper added.
‘Eco-anxiety’ hitting young people hard
Experts have warned that the climate crisis is taking a growing toll on the mental health of children and young people. Mala Rao and Richard Powell of Imperial College London’s Department of Primary Care and Public Health said eco-anxiety “risks exacerbating health and social inequalities between those more or less vulnerable to these psychological impacts”. A 2020 survey of child psychiatrists in England showed that more than half (57%) of specialists were seeing children and young people distressed about the climate crisis.
Tory says MPs are underpaid
A Conservative MP has claimed that newer MPs are being left in a “desperately difficult” situation because of their £82,000-a-year pay packet. Peter Bottomley, MP for Worthing West, told the New Statesman that he is not sure how MPs “manage” on the current salary – which is £50,000 a year higher than the UK average. The Daily Mail pointed out that the comments came as the £20 Universal Credit uplift ended yesterday.
Saudi bid for Newcastle close
The takeover of Newcastle United Football Club by a Saudi-backed consortium is on the brink of being sealed. Following weeks of secret talks, Premier League lawyers were understood to have been “working frantically” to finalise the takeover in the hope of making an official announcement on Thursday, said The Telegraph. The deal would see owner Mike Ashley paid around £305m for the club he has owned since 2007.