Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 13 October 2021

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

1

EU ‘seeks to turn page’ on protocol

The EU is expected to announce new proposals for modifying the Northern Ireland Protocol today, removing many of the obstacles to trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The changes are expected to cover customs, agriculture, food, medicines and the role of the province’s politicians. The Guardian said the bloc will offer to remove the majority of post-Brexit checks on British goods entering Northern Ireland “as it seeks to turn the page on the rancorous relationship with Boris Johnson”.

2

Grieving families call for action

Bereaved families have called for the Covid public inquiry to be brought forward after a damning report by MPs on the handling of the pandemic. Dr Cathy Gardner, whose father died after his care home was infected by the discharge of untested patients in March 2020, said the government should appoint a chair for the planned inquiry now. The Relatives and Residents Association, which represents care home residents and their families, said: “We must urgently learn lessons to ensure older people’s rights are protected now.”

3

Christmas gifts turned away

Containers full of Christmas gifts have been turned from Felixstowe after the port reached capacity. It normally handles about 36% of Britain’s container imports and exports, much of it toys and furniture. A shortage of lorry drivers to move containers, Covid restrictions at ports and a surge in imports has led to a bottleneck. One shipping boss said: “I don’t want to sound like a Grinch but there are going to be gaps on shelves this Christmas.”

4

US agrees to raise debt ceiling

The US House of Representatives has approved a Senate bill temporarily raising the government’s borrowing limit to $28.9tn (£21.3tn), which staves off the risk of default at least until early December. The vote on the $480bn (£353bn) debt limit increase divided along party lines, with every yes from Democrats and every no from Republicans. Joe Biden is expected to sign the measure into law within days.

5

Hancock lands UN agency role

Matt Hancock has taken an unpaid role advising Africa on its economic recovery from the pandemic. Announcing his recruitment, a UN agency praised Hancock for his “success on the United Kingdom’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic”. The appointment came on the day that an official report criticised the “big mistakes” of the government’s response to Covid, which it described as one of the “worst public health failures” the UK has seen.

6

Delivery drivers take on Amazon

Lawyers plan to launch a group action against Amazon over employee rights for delivery drivers. Leigh Day says drivers hired through third-party delivery companies should be given rights enjoyed by employees. Currently, the drivers are classed as being self-employed, meaning they are not entitled to minimum wage and holiday pay. The web giants insisted it is committed to ensuring drivers are fairly paid by the delivery companies they work with.

7

Electric car grants to be cut

The government is reportedly planning to reduce subsidies available for the purchase of electric cars, just weeks before the COP26 climate summit. Ministers have sought to accelerate the green transition by offering grants of up to £2,500 on low-emission vehicles, but The Telegraph said the Treasury wants to “cut the generosity” of the discount scheme. Instead it will seek to shift its focus onto electric charging infrastructure and other vehicles, such as taxis and vans.

8

Squid Game is Netflix’s biggest launch

The Netflix series Squid Game is the streaming service’s “biggest-ever series at launch”, it has said. The dystopian South Korean series, in which contestants who are deeply in need of money play deadly children’s games to win cash prizes, has been viewed 111m times since its launch on 17 September. The next best performer was Bridgerton, which was watched by 82m households in the 28 days following its Christmas debut.

9

Record lottery rollover

A record-breaking Euromillions jackpot will roll over again after no ticket holder won in last night’s draw. However, the £184m prize will not increase for the next draw on Friday as it has reached its maximum level. Instead, said Camelot’s Andy Carter, “any money that would have gone into the jackpot will now boost prizes in the next winning prize tier”. The largest previous UK prize was in 2019 when a ticket-holder won a £170m Euromillions jackpot.

10

Macca says Stones were ‘covers band’

Paul McCartney has dismissed the Rolling Stones as “a blues cover band” and insisted The Beatles drew on a wider array of musical influences. Speaking to The New Yorker, McCartney said “our net was cast a bit wider than theirs”. Last year, McCartney said The Beatles “were better” than the Stones, prompting Mick Jagger to respond: “One band is unbelievably luckily still playing in stadiums and then the other band doesn't exist.”

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