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Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 10 March 2023

1

UK to give France millions

Rishi Sunak will announce today that Britain will give France hundreds of millions of pounds to help address the small boats crisis, reported The Times. When the prime minister meets President Macron at the Élysée Palace in Paris he is expected agree to give France annual payments for at least three years to invest in police, security and intelligence. One Whitehall source said that at least £75m would be provided in the first year alone. The payments are “likely to be controversial”, said the paper.

Stop the boats: will immigration define the next election?

2

Ambulance delays cause 500 deaths

More than 500 patients died last year before they could get treatment in hospital because the ambulance they called for took up to 15 hours to reach them, found The Guardian. The cases included people who had had a heart attack or whose breathing had suddenly collapsed, or who had been involved in a road traffic accident. “These numbers are deeply concerning,” said Dr Adrian Boyle, the president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, which represents A&E doctors. “This is the equivalent of multiple airliners crashing.”

3

HS2 delay a ‘betrayal’

Ministers have admitted that Britain’s long delayed high-speed rail line between London and Manchester will be pushed back by another two years. Mark Harper, the transport secretary, said construction of the Birmingham to Crewe leg of HS2 would not enter service before 2032 at the earliest and blamed soaring prices for the delay. He added that he remained “committed” to the line linking London, the Midlands and North of England. The government said Euston station’s opening could also be delayed as an “affordable” design is worked on. The Mirror said the delay is “another Tory betrayal of Northern voters” and “makes a mockery of levelling-up”.

Will HS2 be scrapped and what has it cost so far?

4

German church hall shooting

A number of people have been killed in a shooting at a Jehovah’s Witness meeting hall in Hamburg, Germany. German media reports put the number of dead variously at either six, seven or eight. The death toll was expected to grow as the wounded were taken to hospital. The gunman acted alone and is thought to be dead. “There is no reliable information on the motive”, said police. Hamburg Mayor Peter Tschentscher called the incident “shocking”, noted Deutsche Welle.

5

Johnson nominates Dacre again

Boris Johnson has nominated Paul Dacre for a peerage for a second time despite the Daily Mail boss having already been rejected by the appointments watchdog. Sources said Johnson has put forward Dacre’s name for a second time in a “pared-back resignation honours list”, said The Guardian. If the House of Lords appointments commission objects to the nomination again, it will create a “major headache” for Rishi Sunk, who will “have to choose whether to overrule its members or risk the wrath of one of Britain’s most powerful newspaper bosses”.

Paul Dacre: ‘last of his kind’ tabloid heavyweight snubbed for a peerage

6

Hancock warned of ‘race riots’

Leaked Whatsapp messages appear to show that Matt Hancock was told by a cabinet colleague that there could be “race riots” if he locked down “white working-class” areas when the virus was spreading fastest in “non-compliant” neighbouring communities. The implementation of local lockdowns in the summer of 2020 came as the virus was feared to be spreading in “largely deprived, densely populated areas with large Asian populations living in intergenerational households”, said The Telegraph.  A Tory MP told the prime minister that the approach was fuelling “race relation issues”.

7

SNP hopefuls clash in debate

Humza Yousaf has told Kate Forbes that the Scottish Conservatives are “rooting for you to win so that your words are on every single leaflet”. During the first UK-wide televised debate between SNP leadership contenders, Yousaf referred to Forbes’ description of the Scottish government’s record as “mediocre”, saying: “What unfortunately happened in the last TV debate, Kate, was that you essentially gave our opponents so much ammunition to attack us with.” The National said that “candidate’s attacks on the SNP’s record” are “self-serving indulgence”.

Humza Yousaf: ‘Irn-Bru-swigging’ SNP frontrunner

8

Mexican ‘kidnappers’ handed in

A splinter group of the Gulf Cartel in Mexico has apologised for kidnapping four US citizens last week, killing two of them, and has handed in the men it says are responsible. Newspapers in Mexico published a photograph that appears to show five men lying face down on the ground, their hands tied, and their T-shirts pulled up above their heads. “We have decided to turn over those who were directly involved and responsible for the events”, a letter left with the men reads, saying they broke the cartel’s rules over “protecting the lives of the innocent”.

9

UK ‘to import high-carbon beef’

The UK will import high-carbon beef and low-welfare pork as part of post-Brexit trade deals. An influential group of Tory MPs and peers are “gearing up to oppose the deals” and the Climate Change Committee said the UK’s carbon targets could be “compromised by a decision to allow the importation of meat with a higher carbon footprint than our own”, noted The Guardian. A government spokesperson said: it has “always been clear that we will not compromise the UK’s high food safety and animal welfare standards in trade negotiations”.

Brexit: what changed after the UK pulled out of the EU

10

Could WhatsApp be banned?

WhatsApp could be banned in the UK, warned the head of its parent company, Meta. The UK’s upcoming Online Safety Bill could force the messaging app to weaken the end-to-end encryption that secures messages on the service, said Will Cathcart. However, he added, his company would refuse, opening the prospect of the app being banned entirely within the country. Although end-to-end encryption secures messages by ensuring that only those sending and receiving them can read them, some officials have argued that it should be weakened so that messages can be scanned for illegal content, said The Independent.

The debate around the Online Safety Bill and free speech

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