Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 20 June 2022
The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am
Shapps refuses last-minute rail strike talks
The government is facing bitter criticism for its refusal to join last-minute talks to avert the biggest rail strike for three decades. As millions of people face a week of cancelled trains, Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, insisted it was not the government’s job to negotiate with the unions over pay, conditions, job cuts and safety. However, Tory MP Jake Berry has joined Labour and the TUC in calling for the government to hold talks. Keir Starmer accused Shapps of wanting the strikes to go ahead in order to sow division.
EU bid ‘will intensify Russia’s attacks’
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has warned Russia will intensify its attacks on his country in the coming days. Members of the EU are expected to decide whether to award "candidate status" to Ukraine later this week, which would begin the process of the country’s accession to the alliance. As a result, the Ukrainian leader said he expects “greater hostile activity” from Russia. Vladimir Putin’s spokesperson has warned that any move towards accession would require “increased attention” on Moscow’s part.
Former rebel wins Colombia election
A former urban guerrilla who once served jail time for his political beliefs has won Colombia’s presidential election. Gustavo Petro is expected to usher in the most leftwing government in the country’s history after he earned 50.5% of the vote to 47.3% for his only rival, 77-year-old populist businessman Rodolfo Hernández. His tally of 11.3m votes was the highest in Colombian electoral history. The 62-year-old hailed what he called a “victory for God and for the people”.
Police criticised for burglary failures
Police have failed to solve a single burglary in regions covering nearly half the country over the past three years, found The Telegraph. Of more than 32,000 neighbourhoods analysed, 46% had all their burglary cases in the past three years closed with no suspect caught and charged by police. Sheffield went three years without any of its 104 burglaries being solved. Vera Baird, the victims’ commissioner for England and Wales, warned there was a risk burglars would feel they could steal “with impunity”.
Macron loses control of assembly
Emmanuel Macron has lost control of the French National Assembly following a strong performance by a left alliance and the far right. Less than two months after he was re-elected president, Macron’s centrist coalition lost dozens of seats in an election that has left French politics fragmented. Marine Le Pen’s far-right Rassemblement National made “historic gains” and is on track to win 90 seats, said France24.
Swimming makes ‘seismic’ trans move
Fina, swimming’s world governing body, has voted to prevent transgender athletes from competing in women’s elite races if they have gone through any part of the process of male puberty. The Guardian said the “seismic decision” sets swimming apart from most Olympic sports and Athlete Ally, an LGBT+ athletic advocacy group, labelled the new eligibility criteria “discriminatory”. Fina hopes to create an ‘open’ category for swimmers whose gender identity is different than their birth sex.
IS claims Sikh temple attack
Islamic State has claimed responsibility for Saturday’s attack on a Sikh temple in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul that killed at least two people and injured seven. An affiliate of the group said on its Telegram channel that the attack was “an act of revenge” following insults made by members of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party about the Prophet Mohammed. CNN said that Nupur Sharma, a spokesperson for the party, had made derogatory remarks regarding the Prophet Mohammed during a panel discussion on a news channel.
Starmer to backtrack on free movement
Labour leader Keir Starmer is to deliver a speech about immigration in which he will rule out bringing back free movement with Europe if Labour wins the next general election. Starmer, who has faced repeated criticism for backtracking on the pledges he made during his leadership campaign, had promised Labour members he would “defend free movement as we leave the EU”. However, a Labour source told The Times: “Keir recognises that it’s time to put a line in the sand.”
Attacks on ambulance staff up
Violence against ambulance staff in England has reached a record high, reported The Independent. An estimated 12,626 incidents were reported in the 12 months to April 2022, a rise of 7% on the previous year. Meanwhile, since 2016, the number of paramedics who have been verbally or physically assaulted, or threatened with assault, has nearly doubled, rising from 7,689. Adam Hopper, the national ambulance violence prevention and reduction lead for the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives, said the findings “confirm the worrying trend of increasing violence against ambulance staff”.
Buy now, pay later reforms ‘painfully slow’
Finance guru Martin Lewis has criticised the “painfully slow” pace of progress on regulating the buy now, pay later industry. Despite mounting concern among regulators, MPs and consumer groups about how easy it is for people to buy more than they can afford and potentially build up dangerous levels of debt, promised tougher rules are unlikely to take effect until 2024. Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com, said: “Buy now, pay later regulation is desperately needed.”