Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 22 May 2022

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

1

PM ‘to scapegoat civil servant’

Boris Johnson is expected to “scapegoat” the head of the civil service in a “desperate effort to save his own job,” reported The Observer. Sue Gray’s report will, according to several sources, lay particular blame on Simon Case, the UK’s most senior civil servant, for allowing a drinking culture to develop in which rule-breaking parties became the norm during lockdowns. A source said Case has not been moved from his post already “because Johnson needs a body” when Gray reports.

2

Monkeypox numbers ‘unprecedented’

Scientists have warned that they expect monkeypox cases to continue to rise this week after more than 90 cases were reported in Europe, the US and Australia, including 20 in Britain. The Observer said the global figure is unprecedented for a disease that is normally confined to central and west Africa. However, Paul Hunter, professor of health protection at the University of East Anglia, told The Sunday Times it was extremely unlikely monkeypox would become a pandemic. “This isn’t a Covid situation at all,” he said.

3

Sunak accused of costly ‘vanity project’

Rishi Sunak has been accused of wasting public money on a bid to “repair his image,” noted The Independent. New Treasury contracts reveal that the chancellor is spending a further £500,000 of taxpayers’ cash on focus groups and polling. Researchers have been hired to carry out two focus groups and one national online poll each week until February 2023 – taking the total outlay over two years to more than £1.35m. Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, said “this is little more than a taxpayer-funded vanity exercise for a chancellor desperate to repair his image”.

4

Zelensky calls for diplomacy

President Volodymyr Zelensky has said the war in Ukraine can only be resolved through “diplomacy”. He suggested his country could be victorious against Russia on the battlefield but added that the conflict could only come to a definitive halt “at the negotiating table”. Moscow has intensified its offensive in the eastern Donbas region and fears are growing for the Ukrainian fighters who became prisoners at the end of the three-month siege of Mariupol.

5

Australian PM vows to ‘build’

Anthony Albanese will be sworn in as Australia’s next prime minister tomorrow after leading the Labor Party to its first election victory in more than a decade. The veteran politician promised voters “safe change” and vowed to be a “builder,” in contrast to the ousted PM Scott Morrison who described himself as a “bulldozer”. Morrison was tearful as he told worshippers at Horizon Church in Sutherland:  “I’m very pleased that the last thing I say as a prime minister is here.”

6

Public hurt at royal rehearsal

Five people were injured when parts of spectator stands collapsed at a Trooping the Colour rehearsal at Horse Guards Parade in London. Officials said one stand gave way just before 11am and part of a second stand collapsed a short time later. London Ambulance Service said two patients were taken to major trauma units and three others were treated at the scene with one later transferred to hospital. An eyewitness told the BBC that “everyone had stood for the national anthem and there was a bit of a commotion”.

7

Dog bites rise in UK

The rate of dog bites has risen steadily over two decades, reported The Sunday Times. By analysing NHS data, Carri Westgarth, a lecturer in human-animal interaction at Liverpool University, found that 80% of adults and 91% of children who had been bitten by a dog were victims of the family pet — a threefold rise in 20 years. “We no longer recognise that dogs are dogs,” said Sam Gaines, head of companion animals at the RSPCA. “Some think of them as being either small children or objects that we can treat like toys — dressing them up, for instance.”

8

Tories plan union clampdown

Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, told The Telegraph that he is drawing up laws requiring minimum numbers of rail staff to work during a strike. The legislation would make any industrial action illegal if those levels were not met. Meanwhile, Nadhim Zahawi, the Education Secretary, wants to amend the Employment Relations Act to enshrine the rights of teachers to be accompanied to grievance and disciplinary meetings by an external lawyer or representative of a body other than a union.

9

Bank governor accused of hypocrisy

The Bank of England has come under fire for holding a pay review scheme for its 4,000 staff as its governor, Andrew Bailey, urged the public not to accept big salary rises. The Telegraph revealed that the new “performance and salary review process” was signed off by the Bank’s board at a meeting attended by Bailey. In February, Bailey called on the public not to demand significant pay rises and last week, he argued that higher earners should "think and reflect” about demanding more money from their employers.

10

Charles and Camilla to appear on Eastenders

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall are to guest star in an episode of EastEnders. Charles and Camilla will join the residents of Albert Square for a street party held in honour of the Queen’s 70 years on the throne. They filmed the scenes in March when they visited the soap’s Elstree set and met members of the cast. Prince Charles previously made a cameo appearance in Coronation Street in 2000 to mark the soap’s 40th anniversary.

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