Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 25 November 2021
The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am
Blame game after migrant deaths
The UK and France have “traded accusations” after 27 people died yesterday in the worst migrant tragedy in the Channel since records began, The Guardian said. Five women and a girl were among the dead after a boat carrying 34 people sank. In a phone call, Emmanuel Macron told Boris Johnson that the two countries “shared responsibility”, adding that the deadly incident should not be exploited “for political purposes”. Johnson responded by saying that efforts by French authorities to patrol their beaches “haven’t been enough”.
New variant ‘of real concern’
A scientist has warned that a new Covid-19 variant that carries an “extremely high number” of mutations may be able to evade the body’s defences. The Guardian reported that the B.1.1.529 variant has 32 mutations in the spike protein, the part of the virus that most vaccines use to prime the immune system against Covid. Only 10 cases have been confirmed, in Botswana, South Africa, and Hong Kong. But Dr Tom Peacock, a virologist at Imperial College London, told the paper the variant “could be of real concern”.
Government props up energy firm
Ministers have allotted nearly £1.7bn to allow energy firm Bulb to continue supplying energy to customers. The company will be run by an administrator until a buyer can be found or until its customers have moved. Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng told the Commons that the new regime was a temporary arrangement, “which provides an ultimate safety net to protect consumers and ensure continued supply”.
Swedish PM quits after hours
Sweden’s first female prime minister has resigned just hours after taking up the post. Magdalena Andersson was announced as the country’s leader on Wednesday before dramatically standing down when her coalition partner quit the government and her budget failed to pass. After the failure of her budget, the Swedish parliament voted for one composed by the opposition, which includes the anti-immigrant far right.
Poverty ahead for 10% of Brits
One in 10 UK families are facing poverty this winter that will leave them unable to cover even basic bills such as food and heating, according to Citizens Advice. A survey by the charity found that one in five adults has cut back on their food shop or turned off the heating, while one in 10 expects to have to use food banks. The consumer group blamed a “triple whammy” of the £20 a week universal credit cut, soaring energy bills and rising inflation for the drop in living standards.
Three guilty of killing Arbery
Three white men have been found guilty of killing a black jogger in a case that the BBC described as a “rallying cry to racial justice protesters”. Ahmaud Arbery, 25, was shot in February 2020 in a confrontation with Travis and Gregory McMichael and their neighbour, William Bryan. Prosecutors said race was a factor in the killing, which led to a wave of racial justice protests and a resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement in the US.
Sunak ‘losing patience with Johnson’
Allies of Rishi Sunak have told The Times the chancellor is increasingly frustrated with Boris Johnson. Sunak reportedly feels that there needs to be greater professionalism after a series of damaging Tory rebellions and government reversals. An ally said the chancellor “goes through things logically” and is “frustrated” with his “chaotic” neighbour on Downing Street. Earlier this week, Liam Booth-Smith, one of Sunak’s closest advisers, was accused of telling the BBC there was “a lot of concern” about the prime minister inside No. 10.
Britain ‘nearest to end of pandemic’
A study has concluded that Britain is nearer the end of the pandemic than any other country in Europe. Crediting a combination of infection and vaccinations, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said England’s high level of immunity means it has the least potential for a devastating wave of cases. The researchers estimated that if all restrictions and vaccinations were to stop today, England would have 10,000 more deaths, compared with 114,000 in Germany.
Protests lead to Solomon Islands lockdown
The Solomon Islands has imposed a 36-hour lockdown in the capital, Honiara, after demonstrations against the prime minister turned violent. Protestors looted stores and set fire to buildings, including the Pacific nation’s parliament. CNN said the protestors were angry about “a host of domestic issues”, including unrealised infrastructure promises and the decision to cut ties with Taiwan to establish a formal relationship with China.
Ban on cosmetic ads for under-18s
Cosmetic surgery companies are to be banned from targeting adverts for procedures such as breast enlargement, nose jobs and liposuction at under-18s. The regulator has announced that clinics will no longer be able to advertise products and procedures designed to change physical appearance during television shows with a large audience of teenagers. Although it is already illegal to perform cosmetic procedures on under-18s, there has previously been no restrictions on advertising to that age demographic.