Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 6 February 2022

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

1

Camilla to be Queen Consort

The Queen has announced that she wants Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, to be known as Queen Consort when Prince Charles becomes King. In a message to mark Accession Day, and the start of her Jubilee year, Her Majesty has expressed her “sincere wish” that Camilla will be known as queen consort when the Prince of Wales becomes king. A Clarence House spokesman said the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall were “touched and honoured”.

2

PM makes two key appointments

Boris Johnson has announced two new appointments to his backroom staff that he said will “improve how No 10 operates”. Cabinet Office minister Steve Barclay will become the PM’s chief of staff and Guto Harri – who was an adviser to Johnson when he was mayor of London - will become director of communications. The appointments follow a raft of resignations earlier this week. A Johnson ally told The Sunday Times: “He’s making very clear that they’ll have to send a Panzer division to get him out of there.”

3

Russia ‘70% ready to invade’

Washington claims that Russia has gathered around 70% of the military capability needed for a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in the coming weeks. The claim is an estimate based on the latest intelligence assessments, but officials would not provide evidence for it. Moscow is said to have sent more than 100,000 troops to near Ukraine’s borders but has repeatedly denied it is planning to attack. CNN said that American leaders are “caught in Putin’s guessing game” which has put “Washington in a frenzy”.

4

Andrew to testify under oath

Prince Andrew will give evidence under oath next month as part of the civil sexual assault case against him. He will face a deposition, which means giving evidence to lawyers for use in court. "We agreed to voluntarily produce the duke for a deposition on 10 March," a source told Sky News. Virginia Giuffre is suing Andrew in the US but the prince has repeatedly denied the allegations.

5

Tory says Johnson exit ‘inevitable’

One of Boris Johnson’s most loyal backbenchers has said it is now “inevitable” that Tory MPs will remove him from office over the “partygate” scandal. Speaking to The Observer, Sir Charles Walker, a former vice-chairman of the 1922 Committee of backbench Conservative MPs, encouraged Johnson to jump before he is pushed, saying: “He is a student of Greek and Roman tragedy. It is going to end in him going, so I just want him to have some agency in that.”

6

Boy trapped in well dies

A five-year-old boy who spent four days trapped in a 32m (105ft) deep well has died, Morocco’s king has announced. The effort to liberate the boy, named as Rayan Awram, had gripped the nation. The statement from the royal palace described Rayan’s death as a “tragic accident”, adding: “His Majesty King Mohammed VI called the parents of the boy, who died after falling down the well.” The precise circumstances of how he fell in the well are unclear.

7

Private schools ‘gamed’ self-marking

Dozens of private schools at least doubled the proportion of A*s handed out to their A-level pupils last year compared with 2019, reported The Sunday Times. In 2019, 16.1% of private school pupils had their A-levels graded A*. In 2021 — when teachers decided what marks to award their pupils — the proportion jumped to 39.5%. Robert Halfon, of the Commons education select committee, said that the “ginormous” increases at private schools could have cost pupils at state schools places at top universities.

8

Le Pen calls Macron ‘despicable’

Marine Le Pen, the head of the National Rally, has described Emmanuel Macron as “not only despicable but depressing”. During the first official rally of her presidential campaign, she told some 3,000 people gathered in the Champagne capital of Reims: “There is a link between security and immigration. I will be the president who will give security back to France.” A new poll has put her level with her far-right rival, Eric Zemmour.

9

Tory donor wants money back

A leading Conservative party donor is demanding the repayment of £200,000 in donations. Mohamed Amersi said he was excluded from elite political events and never received the prizes he had bid for at fundraising auctions, including breakfast with Boris Johnson and a Japanese meal with Jeremy Hunt. Amersi said: “You would expect [what is arguably] the oldest political party in the world would treat a significant donor with courtesy and respect.”

10

Mirren responds to casting criticism

Dame Helen Mirren has responded to the controversy over her casting as Golda Meir by questioning whether this means Jewish actors cannot play non-Jewish roles. The actress upset some by accepting the lead role in the upcoming biopic about Israel’s first female prime minister due to the fact that she is not Jewish. Accepting there was “a discussion to be had” about casting, Mirren asked: “You know, if someone who’s not Jewish can’t play Jewish, does someone who’s Jewish play someone who’s not Jewish?”

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