Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 23 November 2021

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

1

Tories ‘losing confidence’ with PM

Conservative MPs are losing confidence in Boris Johnson after a rambling speech to business leaders at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI). The “chaotic” address came as the prime minister was also accused of losing his focus on a series of key policies from social care to rail, The Guardian said. Johnson lost his place during the speech and diverted into a lengthy tangent about Peppa Pig. A Downing Street source told the BBC there is “a lot of concern inside the building about the PM“, adding: ”It’s just not working.”

2

NHS bill ‘allows corporate takeover’

Anti-privatisation campaigners have warned a bill passing through the Commons this week could entrench the role of private sector firms in the NHS. The Health and Care Bill has been described as an “NHS corporate takeover Bill” by Labour MP Zarah Sultana, while Unite the Union branded it an “NHS privatisation Bill”. Health Secretary Sajid Javid dismissed these objections as “complete nonsense”.

3

Dozens die in Bulgaria bus fire

At least 46 people have died after a bus crashed and caught fire in Bulgaria. A senior interior ministry official confirmed that children were among the dead and that seven people — who jumped out of the burning bus — had been taken to hospital with burns. The cause of the crash and fire is being investigated. Local media reports said the vehicle may have hit a curb or a guardrail.

4

Rittenhouse ‘supports BLM’

The teenager who was last week cleared of murder during racial unrest in the US state of Wisconsin has told Fox News that his case “has nothing to do with race”. Kyle Rittenhouse said that he supported the Black Lives Matter movement, adding that his case was about “the right to self-defence”. The 18-year-old killed two men and wounded a third in the city of Kenosha in August 2020. The BBC said he has become a “patriot to some and a vigilante to others”.

5

Exercise may be offered before anti-depressants

New NHS guidelines have ruled that millions of people with mild depression in England should be offered therapy, exercise, mindfulness or meditation before antidepressants. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommends the “menu of treatment options” be offered to patients by health professionals before medication is considered. Antidepressant use has soared in recent years, with more than 20m handed out to patients in just three months last year.

6

US may send arms to Ukraine

Washington is considering sending military advisers and weaponry to Ukraine as Moscow builds up troops on its southwestern border. US officials are considering “preparing allies” for another Russian invasion, according to CNN. But some fear that the move would be seen as an inflammatory escalation. Retired Lieutenant Colonel Cedric Leighton told the broadcaster that any additional assistance to Ukraine risks “further heightening tensions” with Moscow.

7

Black Friday deals cheaper elsewhere

Some 98.5% of products promoted as a “Black Friday deal” by big retailers are likely to be available for the same price or less at some point over the next six months, it has been revealed. After monitoring the prices of 201 items marketed under Black Friday promotions last year at retailers including Amazon, Currys and John Lewis, the consumer group Which? found that shoppers looking for the best deals may be better off waiting.

8

‘Groupthink’ leaves UK vulnerable

“Groupthink and risk aversion” among civil servants leave the country at risk to threats from climate change and cyberwarfare, according to the woman who led Britain’s vaccine taskforce. In what The Times described as “an outspoken attack on foot dragging in Whitehall”, Kate Bingham warned that the country would have faced months of delay in getting vaccines if it had been up to the normal machinery of government, adding that the civil service “is dominated by process, rather than outcome, causing delay and inertia”.

9

Spacey must cover studio losses

Kevin Spacey must pay the studio behind House of Cards more than $30m (£22.4m) because of losses incurred after his firing for alleged sexual misconduct, arbitrators have ruled. The scandal around Spacey meant MRC had to fire him, halt production of the show’s sixth season, rewrite it to remove his character and shorten it from 13 to eight episodes to meet deadlines. The delay resulted in tens of millions in losses, a filing has claimed.

10

Brits drop gender categories

The Brit Awards has announced that it will drop gender-specific categories in its annual celebration of music talent. There will now only be a single Artist of the Year and International Artist of the Year after musicians including Sam Smith, a winner in 2015, and Will Young, a winner in 2003 and 2005, said the previous system excluded non-binary artists. Smith had called for the awards to be more “reflective of the society we live in”.

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