Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 20 May 2022

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

1

Report to ‘name and shame’

Sue Gray has written to senior civil servants to warn them that she plans to identify them in her report, the deputy political editor of ITV News understands. The report, which is likely to be published next week, is expected to include “scathing criticism of senior political and civil service figures”, said The Telegraph. Downing Street said Boris Johnson has been told that he faces no further police action after the Met announced the end of its inquiry into lockdown breaches in Westminster. The force issued a total of 126 fines to 83 people for events happening across eight different dates.

2

Pelosi issues protocol warning

The US House Speaker has warned that any unilateral move by the UK that changes the Northern Ireland Protocol could endanger British prospects for a free trade deal with the US. Nancy Pelosi described foreign secetary Liz Truss’s confirmation that the government plans to table legislation that would nullify parts of the protocol as “deeply” concerning. She warned that “if the United Kingdom chooses to undermine the Good Friday accords, the Congress cannot and will not support a bilateral free trade agreement with the United Kingdom”.

3

Sleeping pills replaced by app

Nearly one million patients with insomnia will be prescribed a self-help app instead of sleeping pills. The Times said the “groundbreaking” move means GPs will now be offering Sleepio, a six-week digital therapy programme, as the first-line treatment. Experts at the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence believe the move could save the NHS money and reduce the use of potentially dependency forming medicines such as zolpidem and zopiclone. Globally, around one in three people will suffer from insomnia at some point in their life.

4

US ‘could end food blockade’

Washington is considering sending advanced anti-ship missiles to Ukraine in order to sink Moscow’s war vessels and end the Kremlin’s naval food blockade. Vladimir Putin has been blamed for creating a global food crisis by blocking Ukrainian ports to prevent grain and other produce from leaving the so-called “breadbasket of Europe”. When Putin “blocks our ports… he is blackmailing the world”, said Ala Stoyanova, the deputy governor of Odessa. Bryan Clark, a naval expert at the Hudson Institute in Washington, said Ukraine could “take out the largest Russian ships since they have nowhere to hide in the Black Sea”.

5

WFH police investigating murders

Police detectives are investigating rapes and murders while working from home, reported The Telegraph. Several forces now have official “hybrid working” policies which allow officers to carry out inquiries without leaving their houses. Simon Kempton, the national treasurer at the Police Federation, said that “broadly speaking… pretty much any sort of an inquiry that could be done with a laptop or a phone” can be conducted from home, “whether it’s shoplifting or a murder or anything in between”. A government source described the revelation as “baffling”.

6

Dorries: Snow did C4 ‘no favours’

Jon Snow did not do Channel 4 “any favours” when he allegedly “shouted obscenities about the Tory Party” at the 2017 Glastonbury Festival, Nadine Dorries told the Commons’s digital, culture, media and sport select committee. “I am not going to justify a news programme whose anchor went out shouting obscenities about the Conservative Party,” she said, The Telegraph reported. The culture secretary added: “They didn’t do themselves any favours sometimes on the news programme and I think that is probably as much as I want to say about that.”

7

Arab MK quits Israeli coalition

Israel’s government is in crisis after a member quit, leaving it as a minority in parliament for the first time, said the BBC. The Arab member of Israel’s most diverse coalition to date said she could no longer support its leaders’ policies towards her community. “Again and again, the heads of the coalition preferred to take harsh hawkish right-wing steps on key issues related to Arab society,” said Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi. The Jerusalem Post said her departure, which gives the opposition a majority of 61 to 59 MKs, could bring about an election in the autumn.

8

Biden backs Nordic Nato bids

Joe Biden has offered his “strong support” for Finland and Sweden’s Nato bids. The US president said the two countries already meet all of the military alliance’s requirements “and then some”, said Reuters. Biden added that their troops “have already served shoulder to shoulder with US and Nato forces in Kosovo, in Afghanistan and in Iraq” and both nations are “working in coordination with the United States and our other allies and partners to support the brave people of Ukraine”.

9

Fears over North Korea Covid spread

World Health Organisation (WHO) officials fear that an unchecked spread of Covid-19 in North Korea could lead to deadlier new variants spreading across the planet. The regime reported 263,370 new “fever cases” and two deaths, taking the country’s total caseload to 2.24m, including 65 deaths, according to state media. Although the regime said it was seeing “good results” in its battle against the virus, analysts believe North Korean authorities are underreporting deaths. The WHO said this week that North Korea was refusing offers of vaccines, medicines, tests and technical support.

10

Tributes paid to ‘pioneer’ Vangelis

Tributes have been paid to the Greek composer Vangelis, who has died at the age of 79. Reports suggest that the musician, who won an Oscar for the soundtrack to 1981’s Chariots of Fire, died in hospital in France. David Puttnam, who produced the Oscar-winning film, told the BBC that Vangelis had created “a new musical landscape”. Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis described Vangelis as “a pioneer of electronic sound”, while US composer Austin Wintory said that he “changed an entire era of music”.

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