Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 21 February 2022

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

1

PM to unveil future Covid plan

Boris Johnson is set to argue that the lifting of all remaining Covid restrictions in England this week marks a “moment of pride” for the country. The PM is due to unveil the government’s long-term strategy for living with the virus in a press conference likely to take place this evening, with changes due to come into effect later in the week. Scientists and health experts have argued that the move is premature, while Labour has compared scrapping the legal requirement for anyone with Covid to isolate with having “ten minutes left to play and subbing your best defender”.

2

Storm Franklin evacuates homes

Just days after Storm Dudley and Storm Eunice battered Britain, Storm Franklin has caused severe flooding in parts of Northern Ireland and prompted the evacuation of hundreds of homes in Yorkshire and Manchester. Some 15,700 properties across the UK were without power on Sunday evening with providers warning that the storm could make it difficult to restore power over the coming days. ITV reported that a fourth storm – Storm Gladys – could hit the UK later this week.

3

Queen plans to work from home

The Queen expects to continue carrying out “light duties” at Windsor over the coming week, said Buckingham Palace yesterday after announcing that the monarch had tested positive for Covid-19. The statement from the palace added that the Queen was experiencing “mild cold-like symptoms”. Prince Charles tested positive on 10 February and had met with his mother on 8 February. “I’m sure I speak for everyone in wishing Her Majesty The Queen a swift recovery from Covid and a rapid return to vibrant good health,” tweeted the PM on Sunday. 

4

Biden and Putin to ‘hold talks’

Joe Biden says he has agreed “in principle” to hold a summit with Vladimir Putin to discuss the crisis over Ukraine. The White House said the talks, proposed by France, would only take place if Russia does not invade its neighbour. French President Emmanuel Macron spoke twice to Vladimir Putin on Sunday for a total of nearly three hours, consulting Biden for 15 minutes in between the two calls. The development comes as reports suggest that Russian frontline commanders have been given orders to begin final preparations for an attack on Ukraine, said Sky News.

5

MPs: PM should quit if fined

Two ministers have said the PM should quit if he is fined over Downing Street parties. “If he gets an FPN (fixed penalty notice) he’ll have to go. How can you have a prime minister who has been found guilty of breaking the law?”, one unnamed minister told The Times. Another minister said that “if the Met’s conclusion is effectively that he broke the regulations” then “it’s going to be very difficult for him to stay”. Legal experts say Johnson, who denies wrongdoing, could be fined more than £12,000 if he is found to have breached Covid laws.

6

Credit Suisse denies wrongdoing

A massive Credit Suisse data leak of more than 18,000 bank accounts has revealed the hidden wealth of clients involved in torture, drug trafficking, money laundering, corruption and other serious crimes. The Guardian said the leak “points to widespread failures of due diligence by Credit Suisse” despite “repeated pledges over decades to weed out dubious clients and illicit funds”. The Swiss bank said it strongly rejected the allegations and insinuations about the bank’s alleged business practices or lack of due diligence carried out.

7

Postcode lottery for fraud victims

The Daily Telegraph has found that victims of fraud and scams are nearly 50 times more likely to have their case solved in some parts of the country than in others. Official data showed that victims in North Yorkshire face just a one in a 500 (or 0.15%) chance of their case being solved, compared with a one in 15 (or 7.22%) chance of a fraud prosecution in Dorset – in other words, 46 times higher. “Victims’ chances of getting help shouldn’t depend on where they live,” said Yvette Cooper, shadow home secretary.

8

Record monthly house price rise

Asking prices for homes coming on to the market in Britain rose by a record 2.3% in February, said The Guardian. The listings website Rightmove reported the biggest monthly increase in the two decades it has kept records, with the average cost of a home advertised on Rightmove up by £7,785, to £348,804. Over the past 12 months, home asking prices have risen by 9.5%, added the paper.

9

Jamal Edwards dies at 31

British music entrepreneur and YouTube star Jamal Edwards has died at the age of 31, his company has confirmed. Edwards was the founder of SBTV, an online urban music platform which helped launch the careers of artists like Dave, Ed Sheeran and Skepta. Luton-born Edwards was appointed an MBE for services to music in 2014. “It's impossible to overstate how important Jamal Edwards was to British rap,” said BBC music correspondent Mark Savage. 

10

Australia reopens its borders

Australia has reopened its international border for the first time in nearly two years. The country imposed some of the world’s strictest travel bans after shutting itself off in March 2020 due to Covid. The Guardian said there were “tears, DJs, Vegemite and drag queens as families, friends and lovers reunited at Sydney airport”. The country is hoping for a strong rebound for the tourism industry and other sectors of the economy devastated by the pandemic and closed borders.

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