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Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 14 February 2023

1

New Brexit deal ‘next week’

A new Brexit deal could be weeks away after the UK “watered down its hardline resistance” to European judges ruling on issues in Northern Ireland, said The Telegraph. Under the reported plan, goods travelling from the mainland UK destined only for Northern Ireland will not face physical customs checks due to a new system of “red” and “green” lanes. According to sources, Rishi Sunak is due to finalise talks with some European leaders later this week, with next week initially pencilled in for the announcement.

The issue of the Northern Ireland Protocol explained

2

Council tax set to rise in April

Council tax for millions of families will soar above £2,100, with bills set to rise by the maximum amount across three-quarters of England. Three in four of the local authorities that have published their plans so far have said they will increase their rates by 4.99% from April. This is the maximum allowed without a local vote, and would add £100 a year to bills for average Band D properties. Low tax campaigners told The Telegraph that the rises are “the last thing hard-pressed households need”, with the cost of living crisis biting hard.

Council tax hikes: everything you need to know

3

Tory businessman in Lab switch

A leading businessman who worked for David Cameron said Labour leader Keir Starmer is “winning” the economic argument against Rishi Sunak thanks to a “seismic” change in the party’s image. Writing for The Independent, former CBI president Paul Drechsler said high street giants and other top firms now talk with “warmth and optimism” about Labour. The article comes after top business figure Iain Anderson quit the Tories after nearly 40 years and switched his allegiance to “impressive” Labour.

Is Labour now the party of business?

4

Sensors recovered from ‘spy balloon’

The US military said sensors from a suspected Chinese spy balloon shot down after crossing the US have been recovered from the Atlantic Ocean. The FBI is examining the items, which Washington believes were used to spy on sensitive military sites. The discovery of the balloon put US officials on “high alert” for other potential foreign intelligence-gathering devices flying in US airways that were not detected by radar, said the New York Post. CNN said the “highly unusual international episode” is becoming “even more bizarre and confusing”.

The UFO fever gripping Washington

5

Gunman shoots three at US university

The gunman is unaccounted for after at least three people were killed in a shooting at a US university. Michigan State University Police said the incident began at around 8.18pm local time when shots were fired at Berkey Hall on the East Lansing campus. Five people were also taken to hospital, some in a life-threatening condition. Police believe there is only one suspect, a short man wearing red shoes and a denim jacket, “who was last seen leaving the student union on foot”, said NPR. 

6

Police ‘missed Couzens chances’

Police missed “clear chances” to identify Wayne Couzens as a potential sex offender and a danger to women before he murdered Sarah Everard, said The Guardian. Although Couzens exposed himself three times, with witnesses recording registration details of vehicles he used, police took no action, leaving Couzens to continue as a serving Metropolitan police officer. Just six days before Everard’s kidnap, rape and murder in 2021, Couzens was reported after exposing himself at a fast-food drive-through restaurant on the London and Kent border.

OCT 21: Sarah Everard: why indecent exposure is still not taken seriously

7

A&E waiting times on the rise

Some hospitals in England have A&E waiting times of over four hours for more than 50% of patients. After analysing data for December and January, the BBC found that Hull University Hospitals, Wye Valley and Shrewsbury and Telford were worst for A&E waits. Ambulances and A&Es have struggled during the NHS’s worst winter since records began but “the impact of those delays has not been felt evenly across the country”, said the corporation. The best trust out of the 107 providing data, Northumbria Healthcare, had fewer than 10% of patients waiting more than four hours.

NHS in crisis: how can we fix the health service?

8

Councillors get ‘vile’ Bulley calls

A local authority said councillors had received “vile” telephone calls over missing Nicola Bulley. Wyre Council leader Michael Vincent said the abusive calls made on Saturday had been reported to police and parish councillors’ contact details have been removed. He said the local authority would “not tolerate” abuse of elected members. Bulley, 45, went missing on 27 January after a riverside dog walk in St Michael’s on Wyre in Lancashire.

Nicola Bulley: the latest theories on her disappearance

9

Firms tried to weaken water clean-up

Several water giants “privately lobbied” to “weaken” the government’s £56bn plan to reduce sewage spills from storm overflows, reported The Times. The companies argued that the move risked driving up consumer bills by up to thousands of pounds, with one firm saying that the cost of living crisis would be a “real humdinger” for cleaning up rivers and beaches. The private arguments were a contrast to the industry’s public stance: Water UK, the trade body, said that “companies agree there is an urgent need to do more and are ready to invest”.

10

Uefa responsible for match chaos

Uefa bears “primary responsibility” for failures at last season’s Champions League final, the European governing body’s review has concluded. The review into the poor treatment of Liverpool fans has found Uefa’s failings “almost led to a disaster”. It also blamed a lack of venue risk assessment by French authorities. Commenting on the report, The Guardian said that “catastrophic organisational and safety failures” turned last the event into a “horrific, traumatic experience for thousands of supporters”.

Uefa Champions League final: blame game begins for chaos in Paris

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