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Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 18 February 2023

1

Sunak faces Tory rebellion on Brexit

Rishi Sunak is facing the prospect of a fresh rebellion as he embarks on a weekend of frantic diplomacy in a bid to break the post-Brexit deadlock in Northern Ireland. Hardline Brexiters in the Conservative party are “suspicious of concessions made by the UK”, said The Guardian, while The Times said that landing a protocol deal that will win favour with all sides will be “the most significant test” of Sunak’s leadership to date.  

2

Qatar banker bids for Man Utd

The chair of one of Qatar’s biggest banks has confirmed his foundation will bid to buy Manchester United. Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani is chairman of Qatari bank QIB and the son of a former prime minister of Qatar. BBC Sport said that Ineos, owned by Sir Jim Ratcliffe, also officially made a bid before Friday’s “soft deadline” for proposals. The current bids are “only indicative”, said the Manchester Evening News, and once bidders reach the next stage of the process, relevant financial information will be disclosed.

3

‘New Covid Wave’ sweeps UK

A “new wave” of Covid is under way in the UK as levels rise in most parts of the nation, said The Independent. A total of 1.2m people in private households in the UK were likely to have Covid-19 in the week to 7 February, up 20% from the previous week, according to the Office for National Statistics. Most age groups in England have seen a jump in prevalence of Covid, with rates highest among secondary school-age children.

4

Did US shoot down hobby balloon?

Joe Biden may have ordered the military to shoot down a hobbyist group’s small balloon by mistake, reported Politico. The Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade, a group based in Illinois, said one of their pico balloons went “missing in action” on February 11. A member said that when they heard of the incident, they thought: “That could be one of our balloons.” The member, who said they are “not angry at all”, told the outlet that government officials had reached out to some of the hobby group’s members.

5

Voters back prosecution of water bosses

Most voters want water company bosses whose firms pollute rivers to be threatened with criminal prosecution, according to a poll for the ipaper. At present, although the companies themselves can be held liable for pollution, individual executives rarely are. Asked whether bosses should be prosecuted, 72% of people supported the idea, with only 5% opposed. Campaigner Feargal Sharkey said the government “needs to stop behaving like a marriage guidance counsellor and act, and act now”.

6

Bulley force to investigate itself

Lancashire Police will hold an internal review into their investigation of the disappearance of Nicola Bulley. A spokesperson told the ipaper that a date for an internal review to be carried out by the force’s head of crime, Pauline Stables, has been agreed. The news comes amid growing criticism of the force’s handling of the investigation, after it disclosed the personal health information of the missing 45-year-old. The force has resisted calls for an outside force to review its strategy.

Are the police mishandling the Nicola Bulley investigation?

7

Dead migrants found in Bulgaria

Police in Bulgaria have made four arrests after 18 people, including a child, were found dead in an abandoned truck in Bulgaria. The health minister said that another 34 people, including five children, were rushed to hospital. “There has been a lack of oxygen to those who were locked in this truck,” he said. “They were freezing wet, they had not eaten for several days.” The truck appeared to have been illegally transporting a group of migrants and the discovery is believed to be the deadliest incident involving migrants in Bulgaria.

8

Islamic State blamed for Syria attack

Dozens of people were killed on Friday in an attack east of Homs in central Syria that was blamed on Islamic State. “Fifty-three citizens who were truffle hunting were killed during an attack by the terrorists of IS to the south-west of the town of Al-Sukhna,” state television said. Many people, including women and children, have been targeted in recent years while truffle hunting in of Syria, noted The Guardian. If it confirmed that Islamic State was responsible, the attack would mark the deadliest by the group since January 2022, noted Al Jazeera.

9

Sensitivity changes made to Dahl’s books

Hundreds of changes have been made to Roald Dahl’s stories in Puffin’s latest editions of his books, said The Telegraph. A “discreet notice” at the bottom of the copyright page states that “this book was written many years ago, and so we regularly review the language to ensure that it can continue to be enjoyed by all today”, with language related to weight, mental health, violence, gender and race, cut and rewritten, said the paper.

10

Burrell ‘wants to share secrets’

Princess Diana’s ex-butler Paul Burrell said he “must share her secrets with William and Harry” as he is “terrified” that he may take the secrets to his grave. Speaking to The Mirror, the former royal servant who was known as Diana’s “rock”, said: “I know some of it isn’t pretty, but if I leave this place and go somewhere else they’ll never know. I think they should know.” Burrell revealed last month that he had prostate cancer.

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