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Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 18 May 2023

1

PM criticised for economy claim

Critics said Rishi Sunak is out of touch with ordinary families after he claimed the economy was looking up and people’s household incomes were “hugely outperforming” expectations despite the cost of living crisis. The PM also said there were “lots of signs that things are moving in the right direction” with the economy. Labour’s Treasury spokesperson, James Murray, said: “Almost every word that comes out of the prime minister’s mouth shows how utterly out of touch he is and disconnected from the reality of life for working people in our country.”

Sticky inflation and sluggish growth: why does UK economy continue to struggle?

2

Prince Harry and Meghan car chase

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have said that they were involved in a “near catastrophic car chase” involving paparazzi photographers in New York. The couple said they were subjected to a two-hour “relentless pursuit” by a “gang” of paparazzi in blacked-out vehicles. New York City police said that although the journey had been “challenging” there had been “no reported collisions, summonses, injuries, or arrests”. New York’s mayor said he “would find it hard to believe there was a two-hour high speed chase”. The taxi driver who drove the couple during the episode said he didn’t agree it had been “near catastrophic”.

3

Health cost of obesity discovered

Obese patients cost the NHS twice as much as those of healthy weight, a new study has found. The “first of its kind” report, presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Dublin, “lays bare the costs of obesity to the taxpayer”, said The Telegraph. An average of £1,375 a year is spent on each of the heaviest patients but those who are not overweight only cost the health service an annual average of £638. Two in three adults in the UK are overweight or obese. It came as a study in the US found that nearly half of children who were assigned the “skinny jab”, sold under the brand name Ozempic, lost enough weight to no longer be classed as clinically obese.

Obesity drugs: is new ‘skinny jab’ a game changer or a quick-fix fad?

4

Labour after ‘better Brexit’

Keir Starmer has said he would try to renegotiate the Brexit deal if he won power, according to the Daily Mail. The Labour leader said the UK needed “a better deal”. Speaking to the BBC, he said: “Of course we want a closer trading relationship, we absolutely do. We will make Brexit work. That doesn’t mean reversing the decision and going back into the EU but the deal we’ve got, it was said to be oven-ready, it wasn’t even half-baked.” Responding to the comments, the Mail said: “Now the mask has slipped.”

Could the UK really be pulled back into the EU?

5

UK ‘turns blind eye’ on property

The BBC said that UK has so far failed to impose fines worth as much as £1bn on foreign firms breaking a landmark transparency law. Since 31 January, overseas companies that own UK property can be fined up to £2,500 a day unless they declare their owners. Even though around 5,000 are still to do so, no fines have yet been issued but ministers say they are “building cases”. Helena Wood, from the Royal United Services Institute think tank, said the new register’s “ability to retrofit an existing system based on 30 years of turning a blind eye was always going to be limited”.

6

Warning on 1.5C danger

The World Meteorological Organisation has said the planet is now more likely than not to breach 1.5°C of warming by 2027.  This would mean that “several ‘tipping points’ – past which the planet would become less liveable and climate change would accelerate – are thought by scientists to become possible or even likely”, said Daniel Capurro, environment correspondent for the i news site. Doug Parr, chief scientist at Greenpeace UK, told the paper the news must become “a rallying cry to intensify global efforts to tackle the climate crisis”.

1.5C global warming threshold to be passed within a decade

7

No.10 distances itself from Starkey

Downing Street has distanced itself from remarks made by David Starkey, who claimed that left-wing activists want to “replace” the Holocaust with slavery. In a speech on the final day of the National Conservatism Conference, which was also addressed by members of Rishi Sunak’s top team, the controversial historian took aim at the Black Lives Matter campaign. “The idea that they are there to defend black lives is a preposterous notion,” he said. He added that “they want to replace the Holocaust with slavery” and “there is jealousy of the moral primacy of the Holocaust”.

National conservatism: the beliefs underpinning the first UK ‘NatCon’ conference

8

DeSantis bans children from trans procedures

The governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, has signed bills banning children from undergoing transgender medical treatments or going to drag shows, and restricting pronoun use in classrooms. DeSantis said the laws would make the state a “refuge of sanity” but critics called the measures “mean spirited”, said the BBC. The measures are “out of step” with established procedures for trans people back by major medical organisations like the American Medical Association, said The Independent. The Republican governor is expected to declare his candidacy for the 2024 White House race as early as next week.

Ron DeSantis: a faltering White House bid

9

Kwarteng won’t say sorry

Kwasi Kwarteng has refused to apologise for the financial turmoil sparked by his time as chancellor. The Tory MP, whose mini-budget during the Liz Truss reign triggered turbulence in the financial markets and drove up mortgage rates, said he was “not in the business of forgiveness”. Speaking to Channel 4 News, Kwarteng said: “I’m not going to apologise.” He added: “I don’t believe that politicians are endlessly, you know, apologising for everything that has gone in the past. I’m looking forward.”

Kwasi Kwarteng: the 38-day chancellor

10

Sting expects AI ‘battle’

Sting says musical artists face “a battle” to defend their work against the rise of songs written by artificial intelligence. “The building blocks of music belong to us, to human beings,” he told the BBC, adding that “defending our human capital against AI” is going to be a battle. Meanwhile, the Watergate reporter, Carl Bernstein, has warned that AI is a “huge force” which poses challenges for the future of journalism. “We need to know what’s real as opposed to what’s false,” he said.

Chat GPT, Generative AI and the future of creative work

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