Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 20 October 2021

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

1

Treasury warns of green tax rises

Householders face new taxes or reduced public spending to pay for the country’s rapid transition to net zero, the Treasury said yesterday. Boris Johnson pledged that Britain could meet its ambitious net zero targets “without so much as a hair shirt in sight” but Rishi Sunak seemed less confident. He said the Treasury would have to deal with a £37bn-a-year black hole in its finances because of the loss of revenue from fuel duty. The Times said there are “splits” at the top of government over the costs of decarbonisation.

2

Steve Bannon could face trial

A US congressional committee investigating the attack on the Capitol on 6 January has found Steve Bannon to be in contempt of Congress. The former aide to Donald Trump had been summoned to testify before the panel but refused to appear. House majority leader Steny Hoyer accused him of a “shameful rejection of the search for truth”. If the full chamber approves the contempt finding Bannon could face trial and a year in prison. 

3

Rate rise ‘would be reversed’

Markets are betting that the Bank of England will have to start cutting interest rates again immediately after stamping out a surge in inflation. Analysts have forecast a string of interest-rate rises from 0.1% to about 1.2% by the end of next year, but many expect the bank to “reverse course after hurting the economy by increasing interest borrowing costs too quickly”, The Telegraph reported. 

4

Bolsonaro ‘should be charged’

Brazil’s president should be charged with murder for his role in his country’s “stratospheric” Covid death toll, a draft Senate report has stated. The report claims that Jair Bolsonaro made a “deliberate and conscious” decision to delay buying vaccines, causing 95,000 unnecessary deaths. The pandemic has killed more than 600,000 Brazilians, the second-highest death toll in the world.

5

Lorry shortage could last a year

MPs have been warned that the shortage of HGV drivers could continue for a year amid “terrifying” increases in food and drink prices. Driver numbers have plunged by 53,000 over the past four years and the Road Haulage Association has estimated that the industry is short of about 100,000 drivers. An industry chief told the Commons business committee: “Things are not visibly getting better.”

6

Transgender admiral sworn in

The US assistant secretary for health has been sworn in as the first transgender four-star officer in the country’s history. Dr Rachel Levine, now an admiral of the US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, described the occasion as “momentous” and “historic” during her swearing-in speech on Tuesday. “May this appointment today be the first of many more to come, as we create a diverse and more inclusive future,” she said.

7

North Korea confirms missile test

North Korea has confirmed it has tested a new submarine-launched ballistic missile. State media said the missile, yesterday, had “advanced control guidance technologies” which could make it harder to track. Although the UN prohibits North Korea from testing ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons, Pyongyang has carried out a series of weapons tests in recent weeks, launching what it said were hypersonic and long-range weapons.

8

Pension age ‘should rise by two years’

Britain’s state pension age must increase by two more years to avoid a debt crisis, said the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. The group argued that each time life expectancy rises by three years, governments should delay retirements by two years to split the benefit between work and retirement. Britain has already begun increasing the state pension age, which will move from 65 to 68 by the late 2040s.

9

Gove harassed by protesters

Michael Gove has been targeted by anti-lockdown protesters, who shouted obscenities at him as he walked alone in Westminster. The minister was accosted by people who surrounded him and hurled abuse. One person pointed a camera in his face and asked him “How do you justify the illegal lockdown being pushed on this country?” Downing Street said the “harassment and intimidation of anyone going about their daily business is completely unacceptable”.

10

Sala operator ‘knew pilot was unqualified’

A jury has heard that the man who organised the flight in which the footballer Emiliano Sala was killed knew the pilot did not have a commercial licence and was “not competent” to fly in bad weather. The court heard that when David Henderson was told the plane had crashed he messaged a friend: “Bloody disaster. There will be an enquiry.” He told another contact: “Opens up a whole can of worms. Keep very quiet.” Sala and the pilot, David Ibbotson, died in the crash in January 2019.

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