Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 31 May 2022

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

1

PM angers rebel MPs

Boris Johnson’s “lurch to the right” following the Partygate scandal is adding to the anger of rebel Conservative MPs, reported The Guardian. Several Tory MPs said they believed the threshold of 54 letters withdrawing support for Johnson was “close to being crossed – or may have been already”. Crossing the threshold will trigger a no-confidence vote on whether the PM should continue in office. On Monday, former attorney general Jeremy Wright became the latest ex-Cabinet minister to come out against Johnson, writing on his website: “For the good of this and future governments, the prime minister should resign.”

2

EU agrees on oil sanction

The EU has agreed on a plan to block more than two-thirds of Russian oil imports. European Council chief Charles Michel said the agreement cut off “a huge source of financing” for the Russian war machine but the BBC noted that the ban is a compromise that will not affect pipeline oil imports for now, following opposition from Hungary. The sanctions package will also see Russia’s largest bank, Sberbank, cut off from SWIFT, the major global system for financial transfers from which the EU previously banned several smaller Russian banks.

3

Queen’s tree scheme criticised

Campaigners said that the Queen’s new tree planting initiative has been sponsored by companies with links to deforestation. The Green Canopy scheme has asked people across the country to “plant a tree for the jubilee” in honour of the Queen’s 70 years on the throne. However, the initiative’s “platinum” sponsors include McDonald’s, which has been linked to deforestation in Brazil, and Coutts, which campaigners accuse of profiting from deforestation. “It’s an insult to the volunteers taking part to use their efforts to greenwash the reputations of companies that drive deforestation across the world,” said Greenpeace UK.

4

Police fail on 999 targets

Police forces are routinely failing to answer emergency calls within target times, according to the first national data which has been released. Home Office stats show that Humberside answered just 2% of its calls within the target, while Northumbria took more than a minute to answer one in six of its emergency calls. The data, based on 5.2m emergency calls across the UK between last November and April, revealed that 29% of them were not answered within the target time of ten seconds. “Calling 999 can literally be a matter of life and death,” said home secretary Priti Patel. 

5

Government cancels P&O contract

Ministers have cancelled a contract with P&O Ferries after it sacked nearly 800 workers without notice in March. The Home Office announced that the agreement with the Border Force agency would come to an end with “immediate effect”. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps tweeted: “We’re reforming maritime law to stop firms exploiting legal loopholes and protect workers’ rights.” The Insolvency Service has begun criminal and civil investigations into the circumstances around the redundancies.

6

Arrest after Mona Lisa attack

A man disguised as an old woman launched an attack on the Mona Lisa on Monday. Onlookers said the man jumped out of a wheelchair at the Louvre in Paris before attempting to smash the protective glass in front of the Leonardo da Vinci painting. A 36-year-old man has been arrested and placed in psychiatric care after he smeared a glass screen encasing the famous artwork with cake in a protest against artists not focusing enough on “the planet”. The work – thought of as the most famous painting in the world – was unharmed thanks to its bulletproof glass case.

7

Rape victims treated as ‘suspects’

The UK’s information commissioner said police and prosecutors should immediately stop collecting large amounts of personal data about rape and sexual assault victims. John Edwards said many victims are treated as “suspects” and are asked for an “extraordinary” amount of information, including medical records and school reports. He said this is a factor in the very low conviction rates for serious sexual offences. The CPS said prosecutors and investigators are asked to “carefully consider” when to seek a victim’s data.

8

Coffee habit ‘could extend life’

A moderate coffee habit could cut the risk of early death by up to 31%, according to new research. A study of more than 171,000 Brits found that those who enjoy a couple of cups of coffee per day live longer than non-drinkers. The research team, from Southern Medical University in Guangzhou, China, said chemical compounds found in coffee are understood to have a variety of effects likely to boost health, including reducing inflammation, aiding metabolism and improving insulin sensitivity.

9

Uefa launches Paris inquiry

Uefa has announced an independent inquiry into the scenes outside the Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid, including French police using tear gas on crowds. The kick-off at the Stade de France in Paris was delayed by over half an hour, with Liverpool ticket-holders seen waiting in huge queues. French authorities have blamed the problem on “industrial-scale” ticket fraud. French sports minister Amelie Oudea-Castera said there were “no problems” with Madrid supporters and the Spanish club had controlled their travelling fans better than Liverpool, who had let their supporters “out in the wild”.

10

Sperm donor kept condition secret

A court has heard that a sperm donor who offered his services through social media fathered 15 children to lesbian women without telling them about his inheritable condition. James MacDougall, 37, gave the private sperm donations despite knowing that he suffered from the incurable Fragile X syndrome, which leads to low IQ and developmental delay. He is asking a court for access to four of the children he fathered. Every year, around 2,500 men and women in the UK have a baby with the help of a sperm donor.

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