Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 30 October 2021

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

1

France questions UK credibility

France has raised tensions with Britain by warning that the dispute over fishing rights is a test of the UK's global credibility. Emmanuel Macron told the FT that UK backtracking on Brexit commitments “is not a big sign of... credibility”. France and the UK are at loggerheads over post-Brexit fishing rights and licences for French boats. The argument is centred over how many French fishing boats are allowed to fish in UK waters.

2

US may never know origin of Covid

Intelligence agencies in the US say they may never be able to identify the origins of Covid but they can rule out the theory that it was created as a biological weapon. The Office of the US Director of National Intelligence said an animal-to-human transmission and a lab leak were both plausible hypotheses for how the virus spread but there was not enough evidence to reach a definitive conclusion. Around 240m cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed around the world, with more than 4.9m deaths.

3

Beijing ‘snubs Boris on climate’

China has snubbed Boris Johnson’s pleas to do more on climate, according to a report. The prime minister said failure to act “could consign our children, our grandchildren, our great grandchildren, to a life where there are not only huge movements of populations, huge migrations, but also shortages of food, shortages of water”.  However, said The Times, President Xi resisted his appeal before the Cop26 climate conference starting in Glasgow tomorrow.

4

Queen to rest for two more weeks

Buckingham Palace has announced that doctors have advised the Queen to rest for at least another two weeks and not to undertake any official visits. The advice means the 95-year-old will not attend the Royal British Legion’s Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall on the eve of Remembrance Sunday. The Queen’s medical team are taking “sensible precautions”, a source said.

5

Biden said Aukus announcement was ‘clumsy’

Joe Biden has admitted that the announcement of a security and technology pact that blindsided France was a “clumsy” episode. The US president and his French counterpart met in Rome on yesterday - their first in-person discussion since Macron was upset by the Aukus deal. That agreement meant Australia tore up a $66bn contract signed with France to build six diesel-powered submarines. Biden said: “I think what happened was to use an English phrase … clumsy, it was not done with a lot of grace.”

6

Rail journey less than half pre-Covid

The Rail Delivery Group said that in mid-October the number of railway journeys made by those going to work was just 45% of what it was before Covid. Although this was an increase from 33% in late August it was not enough to dampen fears in the sector. The rail industry is running a marketing campaign with the slogan “let’s get back on track”. Industry data has revealed that the number of train journeys made by commuters in Great Britain remains at less than half of pre-pandemic levels.

7

Woman jailed over bubble and squeak murder

A woman has been jailed for a minimum of 18 years for the murder of her husband following a row about bubble and squeak. Penelope Jackson, a retired accountant, stabbed her partner David, 78, three times, before calling the emergency services and telling the operator that her husband of 24 years was “bleeding to death with any luck”. She denied murder but pleaded guilty to manslaughter, saying she had “lost all control” after years of abuse.

8

BBC ‘to analyse content for bias’

The BBC is to appoint external experts to ensure all of its content is impartial, reported The Telegraph. Tim Davie, the director-general, has sought to tackle accusations of bias with an impartiality crackdown, which has included controls on staff sharing their opinions on social media and emphasising the need for neutrality in news roles. Now, external experts will reportedly analyse all the broadcaster’s content for signs of potential bias.

9

Andrew asks court to dismiss claims

Prince Andrew has filed a motion requesting that a New York court dismiss a legal action brought against him by Virginia Giuffre. In the filing, the Duke of York said the case should be dismissed because Giuffre failed to state a claim warranting relief. The Queen’s 61-year-old son also said that if dismissal were not granted, Giuffre should provide a “more definitive statement” of her allegations.

10

Bowie estate in talks to sell catalogue

David Bowie’s estate is reportedly in talks to sell his songwriting catalogue and has attracted bids of around $200m. The FT said talks are at an advanced stage to sell the the rights to songs from a career spanning nearly 50 years, with such albums as Hunky Dory, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, Heroes and Let’s Dance. Last year Bob Dylan sold his entire catalogue for an estimated $300m.

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