Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 24 May 2022

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

1

New pics put pressure on PM

Boris Johnson has been accused of lying to MPs after photos emerged of him toasting a senior aide at a Downing Street leaving drinks event during a Covid lockdown. ITV News, which published the images, said they “cast fresh doubt” on the PM’s claims that he was unaware of rule-breaking at No. 10 during the pandemic. The photographs have also raised questions about why the Metropolitan Police did not fine Johnson for attending the party, while others present did receive a fixed penalty notice.

2

Monkeypox ‘could become endemic’

Health officials have warned that monkeypox could become endemic if it makes the leap from humans to pets and then to wildlife. The European Centre for Disease Control said that “if human-to-animal transmission occurs, and the virus spreads in an animal population, there is a risk that the disease could become endemic in Europe”. Another 36 cases of monkeypox, which causes a rash and fever, were reported in England yesterday. Health secretary Sajid Javid said that “three unlinked incidents” showed there was “community transmission” of the virus.

3

MPs: Afghan exit was ‘disaster’

The UK’s withdrawal from Afghanistan last year was a “disaster” and a “betrayal”, an inquiry by MPs has found. The Foreign Affairs Committee said there were “systemic failures” and that “mismanagement” of the evacuation “likely cost lives”. Labour’s shadow foreign secretary, David Lammy, said the report “highlights the scale of the government’s incompetence, laziness and mishandling” of the exit. The government has insisted that “intensive planning” went into the withdrawal.

4

Drug could relieve migraine pain

People who suffer from chronic migraines could find relief from a drug found to relieve previously untreatable headache pain, said The Times. In a study, nine in ten patients with debilitating migraines reported immediate pain relief after receiving an infusion of a local anaesthetic called lidocaine, which researchers believe could “break the cycle of pain”. Migraines affect six million people in Britain and they are the second leading cause of work absence, costing the economy £2.25bn a year, added the paper.

5

Former Conservative MP jailed

A former Conservative MP has been jailed for 18 months for sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy. At a trial last month, Imran Ahmad Khan, 48, who was elected as Wakefield’s MP in 2019, was found guilty of groping the boy at a party in 2008. Sentencing Khan, the judge said he did not accept he had “any remorse” for what he had done and added that the victim had been “profoundly psychologically affected” by the politician’s actions. The BBC said Khan “remained impassive throughout his sentencing”.

6

Xinjiang Police Files contradict Beijing claims

Thousands of photographs from inside China’s secret system of mass incarceration in Xinjiang contradict Beijing’s claims that the re-education camps built across the territory since 2017 are nothing more than “schools”, said the BBC. Information in the Xinjiang Police Files, which came from two local Chinese police computer networks, provide “some of the strongest evidence to date” for a policy “targeting almost any expression of Uyghur identity, culture or Islamic faith”, uncovering a “chain of command” running all the way up to the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping.

7

House prices rise despite crisis

Average asking prices for UK properties have jumped by £55,000 since the start of the pandemic, despite the cost-of-living crisis. Rightmove said asking prices rose by £7,400 (2.1%) between April and May, taking the average house price to a new record high of £367,501. “What the data is showing us right now is that those who have the ability to do so are prioritising their home and moving, and the imbalance between supply and demand is supporting rising prices,” said a spokesperson from the property site.

8

WFH ‘preserve of the wealthy’

Working from home is the “preserve of the middle-aged and wealthy”, said The Telegraph, after the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that “high earners are more likely to hybrid work” and that “hybrid and homeworking increased by income bracket”. The ONS found that more than a third (38%) of workers earning £40,000 or more were working from both home and the office between 27 April and 8 May 2022. By contrast, just 8% of those earning up to £15,000 and 24% of those earning between £15,000 and £20,000 were working from both home and the office.

9

Moss to testify at Depp trial

Kate Moss, who was in a relationship with Johnny Depp for three years, will give evidence at his libel trial against Amber Heard. During her testimony, Heard alluded to a rumour that her ex-husband pushed the supermodel down a flight of stairs when they were together. But, The Times added, Moss is expected to “speak warmly” of her time with the actor and contradict Heard’s claim that he is a violent man. Heard’s team is not planning to call Depp to the stand.

10

Queen uses buggy at Chelsea

The Queen used a luxury golf buggy when she visited the Chelsea Flower Show in London on Monday. The 96-year-old monarch, who has mobility problems, was driven around the annual flower show after cancelling a series of events earlier this year. She also recently visited the Royal Windsor Horse Show and made a surprise appearance to officially open the Elizabeth Line last week. Reporting on her appearance at Chelsea, the Daily Mail described the monarch as “the Queen of carts”.

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