Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 27 April 2022

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

1

Covid loan cash seized at border

Suitcases stuffed with cash from taxpayer-backed Covid loans were seized at the border as people tried to smuggle them out of the country, reported The Times. The paper’s investigation found that other recipients of financial support during the pandemic used the money to fund gambling sprees, home improvements, cars and watches. As much as £17bn of the £47bn the government spent on bounce-back loans for businesses will never be paid back and about £4.9bn of it is suspected to have been lost to fraud.

2

Truss: we should give warplanes

Britain should provide Ukraine with warplanes, foreign secretary Liz Truss will say during a keynote foreign policy speech at London’s Mansion House today. Truss will argue that the West “must be prepared for the long haul and double down on our support” for Ukraine, said the BBC. She will also call for a boost in UK defence spending. The US has urged its allies to move “heaven and earth” to keep Kyiv stocked with weapons as it faces more attacks from Russia.

3

Blood pressure pill development

A new twice-yearly blood pressure injection could replace a daily pill. Scientists from Queen Mary University of London and Barts Health NHS Trust are trialling Zilebesiran, a drug that prevents the production of a protein that constricts the blood vessels. Around a third of adults in the UK have high blood pressure but many might not know it, according to the NHS. Around 15 million prescriptions for daily pills such as ACE inhibitors are issued by the NHS each year.

4

Labour Party ‘on thin ice’

Labour chiefs have played down the party’s chances at next week’s local elections, describing Conservative Party claims that the Tories could lose 750 seats as “ludicrous”. “This is going to be a very random set of elections where the story of the night is not immediately clear,” a senior Labour Party source told The Guardian. Shadow cabinet ministers believe the party is on “thin ice” when it comes to its poll lead. Voters in many parts of England get the chance to elect their local representatives on 5 May.

5

MoS editor refuses to meet Hoyle

The editor of the Mail on Sunday has declined an invitation to meet with the Speaker of the House of Commons over an article which claimed Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner crosses and uncrosses her legs to distract Boris Johnson in Parliament. Speaker Lindsay Hoyle said the story was “misogynistic and offensive” and he was arranging a meeting with editor David Dillon and the newspaper’s political editor, Glen Owen, whose name appeared next to the story. Dillon rejected Hoyle’s invitation, insisting that “journalists must be free to report what they are told by MPs”.

6

No-fault evictions continue

A tenant faces a no-fault eviction every seven minutes after the government broke its pledge to outlaw the practice, a charity has told The Independent. Shelter found that nearly 230,000 tenants have been served with a no-fault eviction in the three years since ministers promised to stop landlords from kicking private renters out of their homes for no reason. Last year, the government promised a Renters’ Reform Bill as soon as the Covid crisis eased, but no legislation has followed.

7

Church ‘not a passive observer’

The Church of England is not a “passive observer of migration policy”, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said. “Government and Church are not the same, but we must surely all want to put humanity and fairness at the heart of our asylum system,” said Justin Welby, who was criticised by Boris Johnson for speaking out over plans to send asylum seekers to Rwanda. Writing for The Telegraph, Welby added that “the Church has called for safe and legal routes for asylum seekers” and said he wants to help families to be reunited.

8

Covid cuts could cost lives

“Alarming” cuts at the flagship public health body set up by Boris Johnson to combat Covid could cost lives, experts have warned. Plans are afoot to cut jobs by up to 40% and suspend routine Covid testing in hospitals and care homes to save money. Public health experts warned that cuts to testing and health protection staff were “irresponsible”, shortsighted, and risked a resurgence of Covid. The UK Health Security Agency was launched in 2021, bringing former Public Health England, the National Institute for Health Protection, and NHS Test and Trace under one roof.

9

Calls for Sunak to cut tax

Rishi Sunak was urged to cut tax during a cabinet meeting about tackling the cost of living crisis, reported The Telegraph. Kit Malthouse, the policing minister argued that reducing the tax burden would be the best way to help struggling families, and his suggestion received support in the cabinet room and by former ministers. However, the chancellor is believed to have insisted that further changes relating to tax will have to wait until the autumn Budget.

10

Westwood denies abuse claims

The DJ Tim Westwood has been accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women over a 30-year period. In a joint investigation by The Guardian and the BBC, three women have accused the DJ of opportunistic and predatory sexual behaviour, while four others allege they were groped by him at events. The women were all black and in their late teens or early 20s when the alleged incidents happened. A spokesperson for Westwood said the allegations were completely false and denied in their entirety.

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