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Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 12 March 2023

1

Tories threaten small boats Bill

Rishi Sunak’s small boats Bill could be “watered down by peers and centrist Conservative MPs” who are “concerned over its modern slavery provisions”, said The Telegraph. The government could also face rebellion from backbenchers if it fails to explain details on providing additional “safe and legal routes”, said the paper. The row over Gary Lineker’s suspension from the BBC could “derail parts of the government’s controversial new asylum policy”, added The Observer, with Priti Patel among those concerned about what the bill means for the treatment of children who arrive in the UK.

2

BBC chiefs under pressure to quit

Controversy over Gary Lineker’s suspension from the BBC was “spiralling out of control” last night as it “threatened to bring down the corporation’s most senior leaders”, said The Observer. BBC director general Tim Davie has apologised to licence fee payers after sports programmes were disrupted yesterday, with football shows pulled at the last minute. Speaking to BBC News, Davie said “success for me is getting Gary back on air”. He and the BBC chairman, Richard Sharp, are under pressure to resign.

3

‘Pre-pay premium’ to be scrapped

Extra costs for customers on prepayment meters will be scrapped in the budget. Jeremy Hunt, the chancellor, will abolish the “prepayment premium” from July, saving more than four million households £45 a year on their energy bills, said the Treasury. Households on the pay-as-you-go meters, are typically low income, but they currently pay more on average than direct debit customers because firms managing the meters pass on costs to users. A recent investigation by The Times found that vulnerable customers were being forced by British Gas on to the pay-as-you-go meters.

4

‘Biggest demo yet’ in Israel

Hundreds of thousands of Israelis have taken to the streets in what is being described as the biggest protest in the nation’s history. It was the latest demonstration against government plans for a radical overhaul of the judicial system, which opponents say will undermine democracy. Around 200,000 are believed to have taken to the streets in Tel Aviv, with protests in other cities, such as Haifa, too. Organisers believe half a million protested in total against prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s “constitutional coup”, said Haaretz.

5

Pence turns fire on Trump

Mike Pence said that history will hold Donald Trump accountable for his role in the January 6 2021 attack on the US Capitol, adding that his former boss was mistaken to criticise him for certifying the 2020 election result. “President Trump was wrong,” Pence told the Gridiron dinner, an annual white-tie event in Washington DC. “I had no right to overturn the election, and his reckless words endangered my family and everyone at the Capitol that day, and I know that history will hold Donald Trump accountable.” These were his “most blistering comments yet”, said CNN.

6

Labour would give Wales more power

Sir Keir Starmer said that Wales would “take back control” of its economy under a Labour government. The opposition leader told the Welsh Labour conference he wanted to use the “spirit of devolution” to “transform Britain” and “give the communities and great nations of this country the powers they need to control their destiny”. He pledged that he would give power over funds that replaced EU aid to the Welsh government. However, noted Wales Online, he refused to commit to Wales getting a share of HS2 funding.

7

Sunak to finalise Aukus details

The prime minister will fly to California later to finalise the new defence agreement with his Australian and US counterparts. The 2021 Aukus pact aims to counter what the three nations see as China’s threat in the Indo-Pacific region. Top of the agenda will be the next phase of the AUKUS nuclear submarine programme. Speaking ahead of the talks in San Diego, Rishi Sunak said the UK’s global alliances were “our greatest source of strength and security”. Aukus is “looking like a Nato for the Pacific”, said The Spectator.

8

Has Hunt undermined Brexit?

The chancellor has been accused of undermining Brexit by agreeing to international corporation tax rules, reported The Telegraph. Leading Conservative MPs, including former prime minister Liz Truss and ex-home secretary Priti Patel, have urged Jeremy Hunt not to “rush ahead and surrender sovereign tax rights”. They added that “as a party elected to ensure Britain ‘Takes Back Control’ from the EU”, it is “remarkable” the Tories are considering the move. However, Hunt has “brushed aside” the criticism, said the paper.

9

Black solicitor quizzed by police

A black trainee solicitor said he was stopped by five police officers for “looking suspicious” on his way to visit a client in prison. Eldred Taylor-Camara, 26, of MTC Solicitors, was travelling to HMP Lewes, East Sussex, when he was questioned by British Transport Police officers at Lewes railway station. He said he was questioned closely, leaving him “stressed and physically shaken”. The police said they had received “intelligence” about an “extremely violent” drug dealer in the area and he matched the description.

10

Chinese city mulls flu lockdown

A city in China has caused uproar after saying it would consider the use of lockdowns in the event of a flu outbreak. The city of Xi’an has announced an emergency response plan that would allow it to close schools, businesses and “other crowded places” in a severe flu epidemic. This “prompted a mixture of anxiety and anger” on social media in China, said CNN. “Vaccinate the public rather than using such time to create a sense of panic,” one user wrote on Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter.

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Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 16 February 2023