Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 11 April 2022

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

1

Macron and Le Pen lead polls

Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen are the leading candidates in the first round of the French presidential election, setting up a rematch of the 2017 run-off. Of the 97% of votes counted, Macron secured 27.35% and Marine Le Pen 23.97%. “Make no mistake, nothing is decided,” Macron told cheering supporters. Le Pen called on every non-Macron voter to join her to “put France back in order”. Voters will return to the polls on 24 April to decide whether Macron stays in the Elysee for a second term.

2

Ukraine economy ‘to shrink by 45%’

The World Bank said it expects Ukraine’s economy to shrink by 45% this year as a result of the war. Anna Bjerde, the bank’s vice-president, said Ukraine needs “massive financial support immediately”. The institution is also forecasting a steep recession in Russia as a result of sanctions. On Sunday, Ukraine’s prosecutor general told Sky News that the bodies of more than 1,200 people had been found in the Kyiv region since Russian forces withdrew from the area.

3

Sunak self-refers to ethics chief

Rishi Sunak has referred himself to the independent adviser on ministers’ interests amid an ongoing controversy over the financial affairs of him and his wife. Taking to Twitter, the chancellor said he hoped a review would provide “clarity” following revelations about his wife’s tax arrangements and his use of a US green card. However, noted The Guardian, the inquiry will only cover his ministerial career, and there are still questions over his lack of any declaration of financial interests between 2015 and 2018.

4

Covid left Queen ‘exhausted’

The Queen said Covid left her “very tired and exhausted” after she contracted the virus earlier this year. The monarch tested positive for coronavirus in February and had what Buckingham Palace described as “mild cold-like symptoms”. During a virtual hospital visit, the Queen shared her experience with another former Covid patient, whose father and brother died as a result of the illness. “It does leave one very tired and exhausted, doesn’t it? This horrible pandemic. It’s not a nice result.”

5

Martin Lewis warns of civil unrest over bills

Money-saving expert Martin Lewis has warned that civil unrest over rising energy bills “isn’t far away”. Speaking to The Telegraph about the recent increase in the price cap for household energy bills to £1,971, Lewis said: “We need to keep people fed. We need to keep them warm. If we get this wrong right now, then we get to the point where we start to risk civil unrest”. The MoneySavingExpert.com founder added that “when breadwinners cannot provide, anger brews and civil unrest brews – and I do not think we are very far off”.

6

Employment growth up to pre-pandemic

Employment growth in the UK returned to pre-pandemic levels in March, reported The Guardian. The business advisory firm BDO said UK companies reported the fastest growth in the labour market since February 2020. Managers in the manufacturing and services sectors were the most enthusiastic to hire new staff. But a BDA spokesperson warned that this “strong form could come to an end” as the cost of living crisis, rising inflation and conflict in Ukraine “distract businesses from growth and place pressure on the employment index”.

7

Warning on maternity services

Almost half of NHS maternity services in England are unsafe, putting babies’ lives “at risk”, said The Times. Of the 193 NHS maternity services in England, 80 are rated as “inadequate” or “requires improvement” by the Care Quality Commission, meaning they do not meet basic safety standards. The assessments come years after families raised concerns about preventable deaths resulting from poor care. Only two NHS maternity services in England – 1% of the total – are rated “outstanding”.

8

Hong Kong reporter arrested

A Hong Kong journalist has been arrested for allegedly conspiring to publish “seditious materials”, according to a senior police source. Allan Au, a 54-year-old reporter, was arrested in a dawn raid by Hong Kong’s national security police unit. The Guardian said the arrest is a “blow against press freedom”. In May, the territory is expected to get a new Beijing-anointed leader in the form of former security chief John Lee, who oversaw the police response to the 2019 democracy protests and subsequent crackdown.

9

Cabaret and Pi win at Oliviers

A theatrical adaptation of Life of Pi and a revival of the musical Cabaret were the winners at the Olivier Awards last night. Cabaret stars Eddie Redmayne and Jessie Buckley won acting prizes while the show was named best musical revival. Life of Pi star Hiran Abeysekera said he felt “overwhelmed” to win the award for best actor. It was a “jubilant night for theatre” at the Royal Albert Hall, said the BBC, as the stage industry celebrated a year in which performances resumed after Covid lockdowns.

10

Fan’s mum criticises Ronaldo

The mother of the Everton fan allegedly assaulted by Cristiano Ronaldo has spoken out over his “shocking” attempt at an apology. Sarah Kelly said her 14-year-old son Jacob has dyspraxia as well as autism. She said that Jacob could not sleep on Saturday night, that his phone is broken and that he suffered pain and bruising on his hand. She and her son had just watched their first Premier League match together when Ronaldo appeared to slap Jacob’s phone to the ground as he left the pitch. The footballer, who could face a police investigation, has apologised for his “outburst”.

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