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Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 18 July 2023

1

Migration bill passes Lords

The Illegal Migration Bill will become law after the government won a final series of votes in the House of Lords. The government defeated a number of amendments by peers, including time limits on child detention and modern slavery protections. The bill, which is central to Rishi Sunak’s pledge to stop small boats crossing the English Channel, is a “nasty piece of work”, said Alf Dubs, a member of the House of Lords and patron of the Refugee Council.

Is Rishi Sunak delivering on his five pledges?

2

Assault claims at ‘toxic’ McDonald’s

A “toxic culture” of sexual assault, harassment, racism and bullying has been described by more than 100 current and recent McDonald’s staff in the UK, said the BBC. Workers, some as young as 17, are being groped and harassed almost routinely, said the broadcaster, which said it heard 31 allegations related to sexual assault, and 78 related to sexual harassment. There were also claims of racism and homophobia. “There are clearly instances where we have fallen short and for that we deeply apologise,” said McDonald’s UK.

3

Starmer splits party on benefits

Keir Starmer’s decision not to scrap the two-child benefit cap if Labour wins power has exposed “deep splits” within the party, said The Guardian. Shadow cabinet ministers have argued that if Labour wanted to appear fiscally credible at the next election, it could not make any spending commitments without saying how they would be funded. But a “bad-tempered” meeting of the parliamentary Labour party yesterday saw deputy leader, Angela Rayner, repeatedly quizzed about Starmer’s stance on the two-child benefit limit.

Two-child benefit cap: a litmus test for Keir Starmer?

4

Kremlin threatens food crisis

There are fears of a new food supply crisis in the developing world after Russia withdrew from a deal to allow Ukrainian grain exports through the Black Sea. Moscow announced that the agreement, which expired on Monday, had been “terminated” and would only be revived if its demands over western sanctions were met. Western capitals have accused Russia of “coercing” developing countries into siding with its invasion of Ukraine by “dangling the threat of disrupted food supplies, soaring prices and hunger”, said The Times.

Two dead in Crimea bridge attack as Russia halts Ukraine grain deal

5

‘Long Boris’ blamed ahead of polls

A Conservative backbencher has blamed “Long Boris” for the party’s expected by-election defeats this week. Steve Brine, who chairs the Commons health and social care committee, said the former PM would be responsible for the Tories losing his old constituency of Uxbridge and South Ruislip. “It’s another bit of what I call ‘long Boris’, isn’t it?” he told BBC Radio. James Duddridge, who received his knighthood in Johnson’s resignation honours list, called Brine’s remarks “ill-advised”. There will also be by-elections this week in votes in Selby and Ainsty and Somerton and Frome.

The make-or-break by-elections facing Rishi Sunak

6

Codeine could be restricted

Over-the-counter sales of cough syrup or codeine linctus could be banned because of concerns it is addictive and can lead to serious health problems. The UK medicines safety regulator is receiving rising numbers of reports of drug abuse and dependence to codeine medicines and pharmacists said they are worried about the overdose risk. Codeine linctus is “an effective medicine”, but “as it is an opioid, its misuse and abuse can have major health consequences,” said Dr Alison Cave, chief safety officer of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.

7

Host pulls out of Commonwealth Games

Australia’s Victoria state has withdrawn as host of the 2026 Commonwealth Games because of a huge increase in the expected cost of staging the event. Local premier Daniel Andrews said his government had agreed to host the next edition of the quadrennial event “but not at any cost”. He had been “slammed” for “shattering” Victoria’s reputation, said the Sydney Morning Herald, as the “debt-laden” state “delivers gold medal satire, but not a Commonwealth Games”.

 

Commonwealth Games: a ‘modern and edgy’ or ‘uncertain’ future?

8

Underground climate change threatens cities

“Underground climate change” is deforming the ground beneath cities, a study conducted in Chicago has reported. The researchers found that the shifting of land under urban areas could pose a problem for buildings and infrastructure, threatening long-term performance and durability. The phenomenon is the “warming of the ground under our feet”, said CNN. It is caused by heat released by buildings and subterranean transportation such as subway systems. However, it “does not threaten the safety of people and does not threaten to collapse structures and buildings”, said the lead author.

9

Burnham to tackle train firms

Train companies are facing legal action over their “devastating” plan to close almost every ticket office in the country, said The Mirror. Five regional leaders including Andy Burnham and Tracy Brabin are preparing to launch legal action against the mass closures, arguing that the “shambolic” proposals would punish passengers, including the elderly and disabled. The Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators, has announced plans to close about 1,000 ticket offices across England.

 

Ticket offices: on track for closure?

10

Did Yellen eat magic mushrooms?

The US Treasury Secretary ate “hallucinogenic” mushrooms during her visit to China last week, according to a post on social media. “Our staff said she loved mushrooms very much,” said the Yi Zuo Yi Wang restaurant. “She ordered four portions of jian shou qing. It was an extremely magical day,” it added. During her visit to the country, Yellen surprised observers by “repeatedly bowing” to her Chinese counterpart, who did not reciprocate, said The Times. The paper wonders if the mushrooms explain her “high diplomacy”.

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Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 24 April 2023