Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 6 March 2022

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

1

Zelensky tells Ukraine to fight on

Volodymyr Zelensky has told Ukrainians they have “withstood the blow” of Moscow’s invasion and urged citizens to continue fighting. The Ukrainian president told his nation: “You need to go out and drive this evil out of our cities.” US President Joe Biden spoke with Zelenskiy yesterday to discuss the West’s response to the invasion. A planned mass evacuation of civilians from Mariupol was aborted as Russia continued shelling the key southern city.

2

PM warned about misleading claim

The government was warned repeatedly about its misleading claims about job figures before the official statistics watchdog reprimanded Boris Johnson, reported The Observer. The UK Statistics Authority said there had been “a series of informal discussions” before the regulator took the “unusual” step of issuing two public rebukes to Johnson. The PM has repeatedly claimed that more people are in employment in the UK than before the pandemic but the number of self-employed people has dropped significantly so the total number of people in work is down by 600,000.

3

Queen to settle in Windsor

The Queen has made Windsor Castle her permanent home and main official residence. The Sunday Times reported that the monarch, 95, who has lived at Buckingham Palace for most of her 70-year reign, has “come to prefer life at the castle” after spending much of the past two years there. She not thought to have spent a night at the palace since March 2020. The castle was previously only the Queen’s weekend home and her residence for Easter and Royal Ascot week in June.

4

Advisers ‘misled’ over lockdown

A government adviser has claimed that scientists abandoned their objectivity, “misled” with alarming models and failed to consider the harm lockdown would cause. In his memoir, The Year The World Went Mad, Prof Mark Woolhouse, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling, said that the government advisers “weren’t looking at the bigger picture”. He claimed that anyone who supported the first lockdown on the basis of saving 500,000 lives was “misled”.

5

Visa and Mastercard quit Russia

The payment companies Mastercard and Visa say they are suspending operations in Russia in protest at what Visa’s CEO called “Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine”. Earlier, PayPal shut down its services in Russia, blaming “the current circumstances.” The Ukrainian government had previously called on financial companies to suspend operations in Russia. The clothing chain Zara and smartphone maker Samsung have also suspended trading in Russia after it invaded Ukraine.

6

Northern Ireland protocol ‘same as Ukraine’

A former Brexit Party MEP has claimed the European Union’s treatment of Northern Ireland is on a par with Vladimir Putin’s bloody invasion of Ukraine. “The only difference is we bowed to the EU without a single shot being fired,” said Ben Habib, in an attack on the Northern Ireland protocol. Boris Johnson has said he is refraining from triggering Article 16 of the agreement, because it would be wrong to be “talking about this subject” while the conflict rages.

7

Pregnant asylum seekers harassed

Maternity rights campaigners say vulnerable migrant and asylum-seeking women are being issued huge bills ahead of giving birth or aggressively pursued for payments during their pregnancy. The Observer noted that one trust asked a migrant woman for a £5,000 deposit for her birth, and another demanded monthly repayments of £800 from a woman who could not afford to pay and referred her to a debt collection agency while she was still pregnant. The Royal College of Midwives has called on the government to scrap the “punitive” NHS charging of pregnant migrant women.

8

Starmer attacks PM on parties

Sir Keir Starmer has accused Boris Johnson of breaking Covid lockdown rules and attempting to cover up “wrongdoing”. The Labour leader said the pandemic had left every family “touched by worry or tragedy”, yet they had “followed the rules”. Speaking at a party conference in Scotland, he continued: “But, some – and one man in particular – felt that the rules just didn’t apply to him. I refuse to accept that. I refuse to accept the pain and sacrifice of so many British families being cheapened, or laughed at.”

9

Pensioner blown over by helicopter

An elderly woman has died after being blown over by a helicopter as it landed at a hospital. A Devon and Cornwall police spokesman said “Whilst the helicopter was in the process of landing on the helipad, the downdraft caused one member of the public, an 87-year-old woman from the Plymouth area who was on a nearby footpath, to be blown over.” He added that the woman sustained a “serious head injury” and later died in hospital.

10

Williamson knighted ‘for PM campaign’

Sir Gavin Williamson was awarded a knighthood because he helped Boris Johnson’s leadership campaign, it has been claimed. Although the controversial former education secretary was officially awarded the honour for public service, a source told The Sunday Times that the real reason was his role in helping Johnson become prime minister. “It is no more complicated than that,” they said. An online petition to strip Williamson of his knighthood has reached nearly 10,000 signatures.

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