Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 27 February 2022

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

1

Toxic fears as Russia strikes oil depot

Russian missiles have struck an oil depot in Vasylkiv, prompting fears of toxic fumes. In the early hours of the fourth day of conflict, huge explosions lit up the night sky near the Ukrainian capital Kyiv as Ukrainian forces continue to repel Russian attempts to gain control of the key territory. Meanwhile, said The Observer, Vladimir Putin has been deserted by his key ally, China, and had his ultimatum demanding Kyiv’s surrender “defiantly brushed aside” by Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

2

Invasion ‘wouldn’t have happened’ under Trump

Donald Trump had said that the “horrific disaster” of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “would never have happened if our election was not rigged and if I was the president”. Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Florida, the former US president also defended his previous description of Vladimir Putin as “smart”. He said: “The problem is not that Putin is smart – which of course, he’s smart – but the real problem is that our leaders are dumb.”

3

Abramovich relinquishes Chelsea control

Roman Abramovich has surrendered control of Chelsea FC after the government threatened to sanction more oligarchs. In a statement on the club’s website, the billionaire announced that he would hand the “stewardship and care” of the club to the trustees of its charitable foundation. The team manager, Thomas Tuchel had admitted on Friday that he and Chelsea’s players were worried and distracted by the “uncertainty” created by Abramovich being named in parliament during discussions about sanctions in the wake of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

4

Wine sprayed on walls at No 10 party

Downing Street staff sprayed red wine on walls and sat on each other’s laps at the No 10 Christmas party, according to reports. Insiders have told The Sunday Times that drinks events regularly descended into “carnage,” including the festive gathering. The source also claimed staff broke social distancing rules, with photographic evidence in existence of colleagues “sitting on each other’s laps”. However, Stephen House, the Met deputy commissioner, said “many of the circumstances that we’re investigating were events that took place at the end of the working day or as an adjunct to the working day”.

5

North Korea ‘launches missile’

North Korea launched a ballistic missile off the east coast of the Korean Peninsula this morning, according to the authorities in South Korea. Japan’s defence minister Nobuo Kishi agreed, saying North Korea launched “at least one ballistic missile,” that flew a distance of 186 miles and to a maximum altitude of 373 miles. Ships in the region were told to stay away from objects that may have fallen from the air and were also asked to report any sightings to authorities.

6

Poll says PM would lose seat

Boris Johnson and half the cabinet would lose their seats if an election were held now, according to a poll in The Sunday Times. Researchers found that Conservatives would lose 164 seats, leaving them with 201, only three more than when they were led by Michael Howard. They would lose 55 of the 65 “red wall” constituencies that powered Johnson’s landslide win in 2019. The study puts Labour on 352 seats, a gain of 150, with an overall majority of 14 for Sir Keir Starmer’s party.

7

Patel prioritises violence against women

Priti Patel is to announce that violence against women and girls will be awarded the same status as terrorism. In a move to coincide with the first anniversary of the murder of Sarah Everard, the home secretary will announce that she will make tackling violence against women and girls a “strategic policing requirement” and therefore “a national priority for every single police force in England and Wales”. Meanwhile, London major Sadiq Khan has enrolled celebrities and influencers to speak to men via billboards and video to address “pervasive misogynistic attitudes”.

8

Queen cancels diplomatic event

Buckingham Palace said the Queen has cancelled a diplomatic reception on the advice of the Foreign Office. The event had been due to take place at Windsor Castle on Wednesday. Her Majesty, 95, had to cancel planned virtual audiences twice this week following her positive Covid result, but Sky News said it is believed that this particular postponement is because of the conflict in Ukraine. The monarch would have met hundreds of members of the Diplomatic Corps at the event.

9

Death after Las Vegas shooting

One man died and two people suffered critical injuries when 14 people were shot at a hookah lounge in Las Vegas. The shooting happened at about 3.15am as two people got into an altercation and exchanged gunfire, striking multiple people, said a police spokesman, who added that no arrests had been made and no suspect descriptions were immediately available. “My thoughts are with the victim, their loved ones, and all those injured in last night’s senseless shooting at a hookah lounge,” said Dina Titus, a Democratic congresswoman from Nevada.

10

Covid loans remain confidential

The names of thousands of companies that benefited from billions of pounds of Covid loans schemes are to be kept secret, reported The Observer. Under new rules ushered in after Brexit, the government will only publish state subsidies of £500,000 or more. This means just 3% of businesses that claimed support under the bounce back loan scheme are expected to be named. The loan schemes have been described as a “bonanza for fraudsters”.

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