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Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 1 June 2023

1

US debt deal goes to Senate

The House of Representatives has approved a deal to allow the US to borrow more money, just days before the nation was due to start defaulting on its debt. The measure passed the chamber by a comfortable vote of 314-117. The bill now heads to the Senate with only five days to go before the government would run out of cash to pay debts. The development was a “dramatic conclusion” to “weeks of tense negotiations between the White House and Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy”, said CNBC. 

US debt ceiling: can Congress avoid default?

2

Johnson ‘hands over messages’

Boris Johnson said he has given the government all the WhatsApp messages and notebooks demanded by the Covid-19 inquiry. A spokesperson said that the former PM had passed all the material “to the Cabinet Office in full and unredacted form”, and that he urged the Cabinet Office to “urgently disclose it to the inquiry”. The inquiry, which begins public hearings in two weeks, is investigating how ministers handled the pandemic. The government has so far refused to hand over material it does not consider relevant.

Covid inquiry: what’s in Boris Johnson’s WhatsApps?

3

Will Labour raise taxes?

The policy promises made by Labour would cost the equivalent of a 3p rise in income tax, according to analysis by the i news site. Although all policy announcements are scrutinised by Rachel Reeves, the shadow chancellor, to ensure they do not require additional tax or borrowing, the outlet estimated Labour’s policies will require an additional £20bn of funding every year. The party would struggle to meet its spending promises without raising taxes, said the head of the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

Rachel Reeves: Starmer’s new ‘de-facto’ deputy

4

Racial disparity on Covid fines

Black people were three times more likely to receive Covid fines in England and Wales, a study commissioned for Britain’s police chiefs has discovered. The report, commissioned by the National Police Chiefs’ Council and conducted by academics at the University of Edinburgh, also found that fines were seven times more likely to be issued in the poorest areas than the richest. It is “the most detailed analysis yet” of “who was fined and the fairness of how police used emergency powers to enforce lockdown rules”, said The Guardian.

5

Bulgaria to share boats intelligence

Bulgaria will support Rishi Sunak’s efforts to tackle the small boats crisis, reported The Times. Sunak will launch a new partnership with Bulgaria to boost intelligence-sharing between the National Crime Agency and the Bulgarian police on the organised crime groups that smuggle boat equipment and people across the border. Bulgarian border police have prevented 11,000 illegal entries across its border with Turkey since January, a 40% rise on the same period last year.

Illegal pushbacks and abandonment at sea: is EU facing a new migrant crisis?

6

Uni funding ‘broken’

The current funding model for UK higher education is “broken”, said vice-chancellors, as they called on ministers to review the system of tuition fees, which have been capped at about £9,000 for more than 10 years. Higher education funding is forecast to drop to its lowest level in real terms since the 1990s, said The Guardian. Prof Chris Husbands, the vice-chancellor of Sheffield Hallam University, suggested “a teaching grant for higher-cost subjects, underpinned by loans which could be set at the cost of teaching lower-cost subjects, plus a maintenance offer for poor students”.

The pros and cons of university tuition fees

7

Youngsters die off Bournemouth beach

A 17-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl have both died following an incident off Bournemouth beach. Announcing an investigation, Dorset Police said a man in his 40s, who the force said was on the water at the time, has been arrested on suspicion of manslaughter. The two youngsters died after being pulled from the sea off Bournemouth Pier. Eight other people were treated for non-life-threatening injuries after the incident, to which emergency services were called yesterday afternoon.

8

ITV launches Schofield probe

ITV’s chief executive Dame Carolyn McCall has asked a barrister to head a review into its handling of a relationship between Phillip Schofield and his younger colleague. The channel has instructed Jane Mulcahy KC, of Blackstone Chambers, to “carry out an external review to establish the facts”. Meanwhile, said the Daily Mail, Schofield’s “fragile’ former lover abandoned his promising TV career” to work in a pub in a rural village in the Lake District after the relationship ended.

Phillip Schofield: TV royalty’s fall from grace

9

‘Life-changing’ migraine pill approved

Patients who suffer frequent migraines will be offered a “life-changing” new drug on the NHS which prevents headaches from setting in, said The Times. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, which approved the drug yesterday, said that 145,000 people will be eligible in England. The pill blocks the activation of a protein in the brain CGRP that triggers attacks. Studies show that, as a preventative treatment, Rimegepant halves the frequency of moderate to severe headaches.

10

Nasa still hasn’t found aliens

Only a small fraction of 800 reports of unidentified flying objects investigated by US authorities remain truly unexplained, found a panel set up by Nasa. “We have 50 to 100-ish new reports each month,” said Sean Kirkpatrick, director of the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office and one of the panel members. The numbers of those sightings that are “possibly really anomalous” are 2% to 5% of the total database. NASA is “searching for life in any form” but “has not found life beyond Earth yet”, said the panel chair.

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