Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 18 April 2022
The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am
PM ‘instigated’ lockdown party
Boris Johnson has been accused of having “instigated” a Downing Street party. The PM is facing claims that an office gathering to mark the exit of Lee Cain, the former Number 10 director of communications, was not a party “until he arrived”. The Telegraph said Johnson’s actions at the event – which allegedly included pouring drinks for people and drinking himself – “will threaten to derail his argument that all rules were followed”. Senior Tories said that if the party performed poorly in next month’s local elections he could face a fresh coup.
Air strikes across Ukraine
Five people have reportedly been killed and 13 injured in shelling of the city of Kharkiv as Russian air strikes hit multiple targets across Ukraine. The Guardian said the attacks “came as a reminder that the war in the Ukrainian capital is far from over”. Meanwhile, president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has called for more weapons, describing “every delay” as “permission for Russia to take the lives of Ukrainians”. Appealing to countries to send arms, he said Ukraine’s fate “depends upon them”.
Patel bites back at critics
The home secretary said critics of the government’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda have failed to offer solutions. In a joint article for The Times with the Rwandan foreign minister, Priti Patel hailed her own answer to the “deadly trade” of people-smuggling. Yesterday, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said there were “serious ethical questions” about the proposal. The BBC noted that opposition parties and some Tory MPs have also criticised the plan, while more than 160 charities and campaign groups called it “shamefully cruel”.
Surge in food bank used expected
A survey has found that nearly one in 10 parents are “very likely” to use a food bank to feed their children over the next three months. It means that as many as 1.3m parents are expecting to have to visit a food bank. The study, conducted by the Trussell Trust, also found that a third of parents skipped at least one meal to keep up with other costs. A spokeswoman said “as families face the biggest income squeeze in a generation, people are telling us they’re having to make impossible decisions between heating and eating”.
Surprise growth rate in China
China’s economy has recorded a growth rate that surpassed expectations. GDP grew 4.8% in the three months to March 31 compared with the same period last year – faster than the 4% year-on-year increase it registered in the previous quarter and also ahead of the 4.4% growth rate forecast by a Reuters poll of economists. The government has set its 2022 growth target at around 5.5%, the lowest in three decades, noted CNN.
Gay people ‘not welcome’ in churches
The Rev Richard Coles has explained that he is retiring from parish duties because the Church of England increasingly “excludes” gay couples. The parish priest, one of the most famous vicars in the UK, will no longer be vicar of St Mary the Virgin, in the village of Finedon, in rural Northamptonshire – a role he has held since 2011. He noted that gay people “are not welcome” in some churches and said that he can no longer “accept second-class citizenship in the household of God”.
Riots in Sweden over Quran ‘burning’
There has been a fourth day of unrest in Swedish cities, sparked by the apparent burning of a Quran by a far-right, anti-immigrant group. Rasmus Paludan, the extremist who leads the Stram Kurs, or Hard Line, movement said he had burned Islam’s most sacred text and would repeat the action. Vehicles have been set on fire in the southern city of Malmo and three people were injured in the eastern city of Norrköping when police fired warning shots at rioters.
Sturgeon reported for face mask slip
Nicola Sturgeon has been reported to police after video evidence apparently showed her break Scotland’s Covid laws on face masks. The footage showed the first minister not wearing a mask during a local election campaign visit to a barber’s in East Kilbride. Restrictions in Scotland mean it is a legal requirement to wear a face covering in most indoor public places, including shops, public transport and hairdressers. An SNP spokesperson said that “within a few seconds” of arriving at the premises “she realised she hadn’t put her mask back on and immediately put it on”.
Dorset rave upsets locals
Police have struggled to break up all-day illegal Easter Sunday rave in Dorset. The rave was held near Bovington military base on land belonging to the Ministry of Defence and was finally dispersed late on Sunday evening, more than 21 hours after it had started. The local deputy chief constable said: “Understandably, we have received a number of calls from concerned and upset residents who have had their sleep disturbed by the noise levels coming from the illegal event.”
Covid vaccinators stay in NHS
More than 10,000 people who helped deliver Covid-19 vaccinations have now taken permanent roles with the NHS. After 71,000 people took paid roles and thousands more volunteered to help with the rollout, 11,483 have chosen to stay in the health service, including former airline cabin crew members and chefs. Kazeem Reaves Odunsi, who worked as a gym manager before becoming a vaccinator, said: “Being part of a team that was making history and getting to meet people from a range of backgrounds and cultures, I was really inspired to stay on and start a new career in the NHS.”