Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 25 April 2022

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

1

Macron vows to unite France

Emmanuel Macron yesterday secured a second term as France’s president following a convincing run-off victory over Marine Le Pen. The leader of La République En Marche!, who won by 58.55% to 41.45%, told supporters that now the election was over he would be a “president for all”. Le Pen won more than 12m votes in a historic high for her party. The result was met with unrest, with protesters throwing fireworks at a police car in Lyon and police firing tear gas on dozens gathered in Paris.

2

Gray report could see PM quit

Sue Gray’s report into lockdown parties on Downing Street is so “excoriating” that senior officials believe it could leave Boris Johnson with no choice but to stand down, it has emerged. The Times said the senior civil servant’s inquiry is understood to be “damning” of the prime minister both for attending some of the events and the culture in No. 10 under his leadership. “It will make things incredibly difficult for the prime minister,” an official told the paper. “There’s an immense amount of pressure on her — her report could be enough to end him. No official has ever been in a position like this before.”

3

NHS outsourcing mental health

The NHS is paying £2bn a year to private hospitals to care for mental health patients because it does not have enough of its own beds. The Guardian reported that the private sector receives about 13.5% of the £14.8bn the NHS in England spends on mental health, up significantly from £951m in 2005. Independent mental health care providers now make 91% of their income from the NHS. Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, said there has been a “dangerous gradual reduction” in NHS beds.

4

Russia attacks last holdout

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak has said Russian forces are “continuously attacking” the encircled Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol. CNN said the site has become one of the last significant holdouts of Ukrainian forces in the city, and is sheltering hundreds of soldiers and civilians. Earlier, Washington confirmed that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin travelled to Kyiv for talks. It was the highest-level visit to Ukraine by US officials since the war began.

5

Mobile companies ‘profiteering’

A new chapter in the cost-of-living crisis has begun after Britain’s biggest telecoms providers announce inflation-busting increases in the cost of broadband and mobile phone deals. The Times has found that the average price of a new broadband connection has jumped by 12% since the turn of the year, with existing broadband and mobile network customers also seeing prices surge mid-contract. A former industry chief executive said: “It does seem a bit outrageous.”

6

‘Sexist’ Rayner report criticised

A number of MPs have condemned The Mail on Sunday’s suggestion that Labour’s Angela Rayner tries to distract Boris Johnson in the House of Commons by crossing and uncrossing her legs. Rayner described the report as a “perverted smear” that showed women in politics faced misogyny every day. Johnson tweeted: “I deplore the misogyny directed at her anonymously today.” Keir Starmer added that “the sexism and misogyny peddled by the Tories is a disgraceful new low from a party mired in scandal and chaos”.

7

Live music royalties still low

Concert revenues fell almost 30% in 2021, despite concerts resuming in the summer. Takings were just £8m for the year, according to PRS for Music, down from £11.3m in 2020 and £54m in 2019. The body’s CEO Andrea Martin said “we will see a bounce back this year” amid “renewed optimism” in the sector and more than 240 major tours planned for the UK. However, revenues are not expected to reach pre-pandemic levels until 2023.

8

Data disputes PM’s Rwanda claim

Boris Johnson’s claim that “tens of thousands” of people who have arrived in the UK without authorisation could be sent to Rwanda has been disputed by the Refugee Council. Fewer than 200 people who came to the UK would have been sent to Rwanda last year, its analysis of government figures has found, and the group estimates that this year the number is not likely to be much higher. Enver Solomon, the CEO of the charity, said: “This analysis shows the real impact this bill will have on desperate men, women and children who are simply trying to find safety when fleeing the dangers of war and persecution.”

9

Deaths in fresh Darfur clashes

Clashes in Sudan’s Darfur killed at least 168 people yesterday, an aid group has said. Darfur has suffered a spike in deadly conflict since October, triggered by disputes over land, livestock and access to water and grazing. The latest violence began on Friday in the Krink region of West Darfur, when armed tribesmen attacked villages of the non-Arab Massalit minority in retaliation for the killing of two tribesmen. A civil war began in 2003, with ethnic minority rebels fighting against the Arab-dominated government of then-president Omar al-Bashir.

10

Cashless car parks ‘scary’

OAPs have complained that cashless car parks are discriminatory as councils adopt app-only payment systems. More than a dozen councils in England and Wales have gone completely cashless in car parks, and many more machines do not take coins, requiring a phone or bank card instead. Sheila Miller, who coordinates an elderly swimming group in Kent, told The Telegraph: “It’s ageist and absolutely discriminatory against the elderly. Putting in bank details on a mobile can be scary for the older generation as they are afraid of scams.”

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