Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 20 January 2022

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

1

Defection ‘unites’ Conservatives

Johnson’s allies believe that the defection of Bury South MP Christian Wakeford from the Tories to Labour has had a galvanising effect, with the move widely criticised from all wings of the Conservative Party. “The atmosphere has totally changed,” one cabinet minister told The Times. “Wakeford’s defection has helped, it’s united the party.” A group of around 20 recently-elected Conservative MPs planning to oust Boris Johnson have granted him a reprieve until an investigation into the Downing Street parties is concluded.

2

Superbugs pose ‘significant threat’

Health leaders have warned of the serious threat posed by antimicrobial resistance after a study found it has become a leading cause of death worldwide, killing about 3,500 people every day. More than 1.2m people – and potentially millions more – died in 2019 as a direct result of antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections, more than from HIV/Aids or malaria. One in five deaths attributable to AMR have occurred in children under the age of five. Deaths caused directly by AMR were estimated to be highest in sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia.

3

Maxwell files for re-trial

Ghislaine Maxwell’s legal team has filed a motion for a re-trial just weeks after she was found guilty of recruiting underage girls to be sexually abused by Jeffrey Epstein. The 60-year-old former British socialite is due to be sentenced in June following her 29 December conviction in New York. Maxwell’s motion for a re-trial follows revelations that a juror may not have disclosed childhood sexual abuse during jury selection, said The Guardian. 

4

Djokovic’s Covid drug firm shares

Novak Djokovic is the controlling shareholder in a biotech firm aiming to develop a treatment for Covid-19 that does not involve vaccination, said Reuters. The world number one, who was deported from Australia over a dispute related to his unvaccinated status, bought an 80% stake in QuantBioRes in 2020. The company is developing a peptide, which inhibits the coronavirus from infecting the human cell. It is expected to launch clinical trials in Britain this summer, said a spokesperson.

5

Biden: Russia will invade Ukraine

Russia will ignore western threats of sanctions and invade Ukraine, Joe Biden predicted last night. The US president also warned that conflict could escalate in the region and reiterated that Moscow would pay a high price for an invasion, said The Times. Russia has accused Britain of “fuelling the crisis” by sending lethal weapons to Ukraine. There are 127,000 Russian troops “poised to invade” near the border, according to a Ukrainian defence intelligence assessment.

6

Man charged with Murphy murder

A man has appeared in court in Ireland charged with the murder of Ashling Murphy. Jozef Puska, 31, was heckled as he was taken from a Garda car to a special sitting of Tullamore District Court on Wednesday evening, said the BBC. His lawyer applied for free legal aid and an interpreter, saying that Puska was a Slovakian national living on €200 (£166) a week. Murphy, a 23-year-old teacher, was found dead after exercising beside a canal in Tullamore, County Offaly, on 12 January. 

7

Face masks dropped in schools

Face masks will no longer be required in the classroom from today, despite protests from teachers’ unions. The move was part of a package of changes announced by the PM on Wednesday, alongside the immediate lifting of guidance advising people to work from home if possible. Boris Johnson said the legal requirement for people with Covid-19 to self-isolate will be axed by March 24, signalling his intention to start treating the virus more like flu.

8

Football fans ‘openly misogynistic’

Researchers have claimed that more than two-thirds of male football fans have misogynistic attitudes towards women’s sport. A study led by Durham University, based on a survey of almost 2,000 male football supporters, found “openly misogynistic masculinities”. Some respondents suggested that women should not participate in sport at all. Others said that they would be better suited to more “feminine” activities than football, such as athletics.

9

Midterms could be ‘illegitimate’

Joe Biden has suggested the 2022 midterm elections could be “illegitimate” after his plan to overhaul the voting system was blocked. At a White House news conference, the US president argued that voting integrity hinged on his bid to enact the most profound changes to US elections in a generation. “I’m not saying it’s going to be legit,” he said, when asked about the possibility of fraud in the forthcoming elections. Biden also vowed to retain Kamala Harris as his 2024 running mate.

10

Workers need 8.7% pay rise to keep up

Workers must demand that their pay rises by 8.7% just to keep up with spiralling inflation and upcoming tax increases, said The Telegraph. The consumer prices index climbed to 5.4% last month – the fastest rate in three decades – and workers will be hit with fresh waves of tax rises. The Bank of England has warned that Britons face a cost of living crisis until the end of next year, after inflation crashed through forecasts to its highest level in 30 years.

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