Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 29 October 2021
The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am
Mortgage rates set to rise
City economists have forecast that millions of households face higher mortgage payments with interest rate rises expected next week. The Times said the markets are convinced that the base rate will rise from 0.1% to 0.25% next Thursday and believe that it could reach 1% next May, four months earlier than previously expected. Barclays, HSBC, NatWest and TSB have already announced mortgage rate increases.
NHS could prescribe e-cigarettes
E-cigarettes could be prescribed on the NHS to help people quit smoking. In a historic move, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency is inviting manufacturers to submit goods for approval to be prescribed, meaning England could become the first country in the world to prescribe e-cigarettes as a medical product. E-cigarettes are not completely risk-free but they carry a small fraction of the risk of cigarettes, explained the BBC.
UK summons France ambassador
The government has condemned “unjustified” threats from France and summoned the country’s ambassador as the row over post-Brexit fishing rights escalates. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss wants Catherine Colonna to explain what she describes as “disappointing and disproportionate threats”. Two Royal Navy patrol vessels have been put on a state of “high readiness” to tackle potential port blockades by French fishing boats.
Under-fire Facebook rebrands as Meta
Facebook has changed its corporate name to Meta as part of a wider rebrand. The controversial social media company said the new name would better “encompass” what it does, as it moves into virtual reality. Mark Zuckerberg outlined plans to build the “metaverse” – a digital world layered over our own, comprising virtual reality headsets and augmented reality. The rebrand comes as the company is facing controversy over how it handles user safety.
Oil bosses face US grilling
Oil bosses have appeared before US lawmakers to face allegations they misled the public about climate change. On the first occasion that leading executives from the industry have answered questions publicly and under oath, major producers were grilled about the impact of fossil fuels on the environment. “Some of us actually have to live the future that you are all setting on fire for us,” Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told them.
Taiwan admits US troop presence
The leader of Taiwan said the threat from Beijing is growing “every day,” as she confirmed the presence of US troops on Taiwanese soil. Speaking to CNN, President Tsai Ing-wen said Taiwan was a “beacon” of democracy. She became the first Taiwanese president in decades to acknowledge the presence of US troops on the island for training purposes. The last official US garrison left in 1979.
Professor quits after trans row
A professor accused of transphobia is quitting her post at the University of Sussex. Philosophy professor Kathleen Stock, who rejects the allegation, said she would be leaving after “a horrible time” and a “difficult few years”. She faced criticism for her views, after she said she believes gender identity does not outweigh biological sex “when it comes to law and policy”, and that people cannot change their biological sex.
Biden lands in Europe
Joe Biden has arrived in Europe for two international summits. The US president landed in Rome for a G20 summit where plans for a global minimum tax will be on the agenda. America’s second Catholic president will also meet Pope Francis at the Vatican today. He will then head to Scotland on Sunday night for the United Nations climate conference, COP26, in Glasgow.
Rayner apologises for ‘scum’ remark
Angela Rayner has apologised unreservedly for calling Conservatives “scum” after reflecting on the “threats and abuse” faced by politicians. Labour’s deputy leader said that though she is “angry about where our country is headed and policies that have made life harder for so many people I represent” she “would like to unreservedly apologise for the language” she used. Her apology came after a man was sentenced for sending a threatening email telling her to “watch your back and kids”.
Flight diverted after serious assault
A US flight was diverted to Denver after a passenger physically assaulted a flight attendant in “one of the worst displays of unruly behaviour we’ve ever witnessed,” said American Airlines. The flight from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City to Santa Ana, California, landed in Denver where police removed and apprehended the passenger. A source said “the attack was unprovoked,” adding the passenger went to the back of the plane and punched the flight attendant twice in the face and broke her nose.