Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 26 April 2022

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

1

Musk reaches Twitter deal

The board of Twitter has agreed to a $44b (£34.5b) takeover offer from Elon Musk. The sale will put the Tesla chief executive in charge of a company that the billionaire has frequently criticised, claiming it has not lived up to its potential as a platform for “free speech”. Industry experts fear that “Musk’s desire for free speech on Twitter” could mean “rolling back some of the platform’s work to curb hate speech, misinformation, harassment and other harmful content”, said CNN.

2

‘15,000’ Russian troops killed

About 15,000 Russian troops have been killed during the invasion of Ukraine, according to British intelligence. This means Russia has lost more troops in 61 days of fighting in Ukraine than the US and its allies lost during 20 years of conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq. “I don’t celebrate the loss of anyone’s life and when I see the huge casualty rates of Russian soldiers [and] as a former soldier I think it is a disgrace, a betrayal of those young men,” defence secretary Ben Wallace told MPs. The conflict shows no sign of abating as it enters a third month.

3

Calls to relax prescription rules

The president of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has called on Sajid Javid to allow pharmacists to alter prescriptions during medicine shortages, said The Guardian. The plea to the health secretary follows news that some women are travelling hundreds of miles to seek hormone replacement therapy (HRT) products due to shortages. Around one million women in the UK use HRT products to treat symptoms of the menopause and a change in the law “will save time for patients, pharmacists and doctors, as well as [lessen] the anxiety for women waiting for medicines”, said the RPS’s Claire Anderson.

4

Hepatitis surge in young kids

A surge of hepatitis cases in young children has been linked to lockdown and social distancing, reported The Telegraph. Dr Meera Chand – who is heading the UK Health Security Agency’s investigation into the dramatic rise in cases – said the virus may be hitting young children hardest because lockdown restrictions meant they were not exposed to it during their formative years. UK health officials said they had detected as many cases in the past three months as they would normally expect to see in a year.

5

Nandy: Starmer getting ‘distracted’

Keir Starmer has been confronted by his shadow cabinet for focusing too much on lockdown parties and failing to make enough political capital from the cost of living crisis. The Telegraph reported that the Labour leader was challenged by Lisa Nandy, the shadow levelling up secretary, at the most recent shadow cabinet meeting. He was warned that the party must not “lose sight” of the cost of living crisis by getting too “distracted” by the “partygate” scandal, a source close to Nandy said.

6

ATM closures ‘cut poor adrift’

People who rely on face-to-face banking and cash are in danger of “being cut adrift” as branches and ATMs close, according to analysis by Which?. Writing to the Treasury, the consumer group said that “unless legislation is introduced urgently, the ability to access, spend and deposit cash could be permanently lost for many consumers, leaving some of society’s most disadvantaged at risk of financial exclusion”. Those who still use cash tend to be older, from more vulnerable backgrounds or have very low incomes, said the BBC.

7

Cameron defends Prevent programme

David Cameron has accused Muslim groups who criticise the Prevent counter-extremism programme of “enabling terrorism”. Writing in The Times, the former PM said the government had failed to tackle claims that the programme was Islamophobic. Cameron’s words accompanied a new report by the right-leaning Policy Exchange think tank, which is calling on ministers to end all funding and partnerships with organisations that it claims have campaigned to “undermine” Prevent. Launched in 2006, the government-led, multi-agency Prevent programme aims to stop individuals at risk of radicalisation from becoming terrorists.

8

Kim to ‘strengthen’ nuclear arsenal

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has vowed to step up his country’s nuclear arsenal, said the BBC. “We will continue to take steps to strengthen and develop our nation’s nuclear capabilities at the fastest pace,” he said, adding that their nuclear forces “must be ready” to be deployed at any time. His remark came a day after North Korean state media boasted that the country has gained an “invincible power that the world cannot ignore and no one can touch”.

9

Civil service bites back at Mogg

The UK’s top civil servant has privately warned Boris Johnson against forcing government workers back to the office. Spot checks on office working by Jacob Rees-Mogg, who left notes reading “sorry you were out when I visited” on empty Whitehall desks, have caused anger and seen the Cabinet Office minister branded “the milk monitor”. Simon Case told the PM that Rees-Mogg’s strategy was unwise. Several permanent secretaries have also privately voiced frustrations at Rees-Mogg’s “stunt,” said The Guardian.

10

Depp: ‘burn’ texts were jokes

Johnny Depp has said text messages he sent about burning and drowning his former partner were a joke based on a Monty Python sketch. During a 2013 text exchange with British actor Paul Bettany, Depp wrote: “Let’s burn her. Let’s drown her before we burn her.” The actor has sued Heard over a story she wrote in which she described herself as a victim of domestic violence. He denies any abuse. Heard has sued back, with a $100m counterclaim against her former husband.

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