Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 5 May 2022

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

1

Tories ready to challenge PM

Disaffected Tory MPs have said they will gauge support for a move against Boris Johnson after the results of today’s local elections are revealed. MP’s “phones will be humming over the weekend”, a former cabinet minister told The Guardian, adding that a poor set of results could be the “tinder” for a leadership challenge. Millions of people are expected to take part in elections across the UK today, with voters in England, Scotland and Wales choosing local councillors. In Northern Ireland, voters will select representatives in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

2

‘Bloody battles’ in steelworks

Ukrainian forces are fighting “bloody battles” against Russian troops inside the Azovstal steel works in Mariupol. A Ukrainian official told Reuters that Russian forces have now entered the factory where the city’s last resistance has been holding out. About 200 civilians are still believed to be sheltering inside, including children. President Volodymyr Zelensky has asked the UN for help saving the lives of those inside the plant, saying: “Everyone is important to us. We ask for your help in saving them.”

3

Heard testifies against Depp

Amber Heard has testified that Johnny Depp struck her during drug and alcohol-fuelled rages that turned her ex-husband into an “awful thing”. Sky News said the actress looked “visibly upset” as she made “several shocking allegations of physical and sexual abuse against her ex-husband” during an emotional few hours on the stand. Depp is suing Heard over a story she wrote in which she described herself as a domestic abuse victim. Depp denies any wrongdoing.

4

Bank tipped to hike rates

The Bank of England is expected to increase its base interest rate to the highest level in 13 years. It is predicted to rise to 1% after inflation hit a 30-year high of 7% in March. The change would mean higher mortgage payments for many home owners, however, those who are saving money would enjoy higher interest payments. Professor David Blanchflower, who sat on the bank’s Monetary Policy Committee between 2006 and 2009, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the move would be an “error”, warning that the UK is already in recession and that the bank should cut rates.

5

Putin health rumours grow

Speculation over the health of Vladimir Putin has grown after a Kremlin insider claimed that the Russian president is due to undergo surgery, possibly for cancer. A Russian Telegram channel alleged that Putin’s doctors have warned him the surgery might incapacitate him for “a short time”, and that during this period the president will briefly hand over the reins of power to a close aide. The Independent said that recent videos and pictures showed Putin “shaky, fidgeting and puffy-looking”, fuelling speculation that he may be suffering from “dementia, Parkinson’s or cancer”.

6

Morgan’s viewers fall by 80%

The audience for Piers Morgan’s new talkTV show collapsed from an average of 317,000 viewers on its launch night to 62,000 viewers a week later – a fall of 80%. The presenter’s sometime friend, Donald Trump, commented on the figures, saying: “Ratings for the Piers Morgan interview with me were great! Unfortunately, after that interview, his show bombed completely because of the fake narrative he tried to portray.” The News Desk, the new channel’s political show hosted by longstanding lobby journalist Tom Newton Dunn, also did not register a single viewer during some of its Tuesday evening broadcast, according to political news site Guido Fawkes.

7

High street lives on, boss claims

The new boss of Sports Direct has insisted the high street is not dead. Michael Murray, who has taken over from his future father-in-law Mike Ashley, plans to open up to 10 new flagship stores across the UK. “I believe if you give people a reason to come and shop, they will shop. They’ve just not had a reason for the past few years,” he said. He also told the BBC that costs were “through the roof”, warning he would have to put up prices.

8

Oil surges after EU calls for ban

Oil prices soared yesterday after the EU announced plans to ban all imports from Russia. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced a phased oil embargo, as well as sanctions against Moscow’s top bank, saying Vladimir Putin “must pay a high price” for his “brutal aggression” against Ukraine. Brent crude, the key oil price benchmark, jumped by $4, or 3.8%, to $108.97 a barrel following the announcement.

9

Heatwaves predicted for summer

A scorching UK summer is twice as likely as usual this year, meteorologists have said in their three-month forecast. The Met Office forecast a 40% chance that the season will be hot, adding that impacts from heatwaves later in the summer are “more likely than usual”. Temperatures are also likely to reach the low 20s this week across southern and south-east England.

10

Fry appointed MCC president

Stephen Fry has been appointed president of the Marylebone Cricket Club after speaking out against the game’s traditionalists. The Telegraph said the comedian and writer “ruffled feathers” in November after telling cricket’s establishment in a speech that the sport’s “very flame” was at risk of going out unless it radically modernises. Fry, who takes up the post in October, said his appointment as president had left him “honoured and proud”.

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