Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 5 July 2022

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

1

PM ‘knew of whip complaint’

Boris Johnson was made aware of a formal complaint about Chris Pincher’s “inappropriate behaviour” while Pincher was a Foreign Office minister between 2019 and 2020, the BBC reported. The complaint has raised suspicions over what Johnson knew about the MP for Tamworth before he made him deputy chief whip in February. Last night, No. 10 insisted that the PM was unaware of any “specific allegations” being looked at about Pincher and that in the “absence of a formal complaint it would not be appropriate to stop the appointment”.

2

Police arrest Illinois suspect

Police in the US have arrested a suspect after six people were killed and at least 24 were injured in a mass shooting at an Independence Day parade in Highland Park, Illinois. The alleged gunman appeared to fire shots from a rooftop, authorities said, and a “high-powered rifle” has been recovered from the scene. Robert E Crimo III, 22, was detained after a brief chase, according to Chicago police officers. The BBC noted that one mass shooting has taken place in the US every week of 2022.

3

Starmer rules out EU return

The UK “will not go back into the EU” under a Labour government, Keir Starmer has said. In a speech, the Labour leader also pledged to tackle what he called a “fatberg of red tape and bureaucracy” caused by Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal. The Guardian said the speech ended Labour’s “habitual silence on the subject since the referendum” and the BBC described it as “one heck of an about-turn” from Starmer, who previously attended a rally in favour of a second referendum.

4

Single-sex toilets made compulsory

The equalities minister said the government wants all new public buildings in England to have separate male and female toilets. Kemi Badenoch said it was “vital that women feel safe” and “that their needs are respected”. The government said the rise in gender-neutral toilets “raised safety concerns from women who feel they are losing privacy and being unfairly disadvantaged”. However, transgender rights campaigners argue that gender-neutral toilets can protect trans people from hostility and discrimination.

5

NHS drones to fly pills

The NHS will trial the use of drones to fly chemotherapy drugs to cancer patients to avoid the need for long journeys to collect them. If the trial, which will fly doses from Portsmouth to the Isle of Wight, is successful, it will lead to drones being used for similar drops elsewhere. Amanda Pritchard, NHS England’s chief executive, said “delivering chemo by drone is another extraordinary development for cancer patients” and showed the NHS will “stop at nothing to ensure people get the treatment they need as promptly as possible, while also cutting costs and carbon emissions”.

6

Oil protest at Constable work

Climate protestors glued their hands to the frame of a painting by John Constable at the National Gallery in a protest against plans to license new oil and gas projects in the UK. The Just Stop Oil activists also attached their own version of the painting, which was intended to represent “an apocalyptic vision of the future”. The protesters each placed a hand on the frame of Constable’s The Hay Wain and knelt beneath it, according to reports. The demonstration prompted “a swift evacuation of art lovers, tourists and a class of 11-year-old children on a school trip from the room where the painting hangs”, said The Independent.

7

Brewery boss discusses bullying claims

The CEO of a brewery company who was accused by hundreds of employees of bullying and misconduct has said he is seeing a specialist in order to explore whether he has autism. James Watt was accused by BrewDog staff of abusing his power in an open letter published last year and was described in The Sunday Times in April as a “cold-eyed” person who struggled to “express empathy or read social cues”. In an interview with Steven Bartlett on the Diary of a CEO podcast, Watt said he had been “too intense and demanding” and added: “I might have some kind of light-level autism in the mix.”

8

BBC admits Westwood complaints

The BBC has admitted it did receive complaints against Tim Westwood despite previously insisting it was unaware of any concerns about the DJ’s behaviour. In April, the corporation said it had “seen no evidence of complaints” but now admits it is reviewing six complaints relating to the BBC radio presenter, including one that was referred to the police. Westwood stepped down from his show on Capital Xtra after almost 20 years in April following accusations by several women of sexual misconduct and predatory behaviour. He denies all allegations against him.

9

Universities to award fewer firsts

Universities in England will give out fewer firsts and 2:1s in a bid to address the grade inflation that occurred during the Covid pandemic. The plan, laid out by Universities UK and GuildHE, which collectively represent nearly every university in the country, will see establishments use 2019 as a yardstick for the proportion of upper-second and first-class degrees awarded. Steve West, president of UUK and vice-chancellor of UWE Bristol, said the UK’s universities have a “global reputation for excellence and we must keep confidence in the value of our degrees high”.

10

Footballer arrested for rape

A Premier League footballer has been arrested on suspicion of rape. The 29-year-old, who has not been named, was arrested in north London and taken into custody on Monday morning. “On 4 July, an allegation of rape of a woman in her 20s was reported to police. It was reported the alleged rape happened in June 2022,” said the Met Police’s statement. The force added that the man “was arrested at an address in Barnet on suspicion of rape and taken into custody where he remains. Inquiries into the circumstances are ongoing”.

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