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Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 20 January 2023

1

Ukraine allies weapons meeting

Dozens of Ukraine allies will meet today to coordinate arms supplies for Kyiv, which has “ramped up” its requests to be provided with tanks, said the BBC. “Tanks for Ukraine are tanks for freedom,” said Yuriy Sak, an adviser to the defence minister. If they were not sent, other countries might one day “have to use them themselves” against Moscow, he warned. London will send 600 Brimstone missiles to Ukraine as the government makes a last-ditch effort to convince Germany to donate western tanks to the country.

Are Western battle tanks really a silver bullet for Ukraine?

2

Levelling up funding row

Analysis by The Guardian has found that Conservative seats were awarded significantly more money per person from the government’s £4bn levelling up fund than areas with similar levels of deprivation. Constituents in Tory seats got £19.47 more a head than those in similarly deprived non-Conservative constituencies in the latest round of funding. Labour and SNP MPs said Tory areas were having “mouths stuffed with gold” and added that the process “stinks” and was “grubby pork-barrel politics”. The government told the paper that the process was “fair and transparent” with “about 45% of investment allocated to areas held by opposition parties”.

Levelling up: simple sound bite or social imperative? 

3

Trump ‘planning Twitter return’

Donald Trump is planning to return to mainstream social media as he step ups his bid to win a second term in the White House. Trump was banned from Twitter, Facebook and Instagram two years ago, after his supporters invaded the US Capitol. Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, is reviewing the ban, while Elon Musk, the owner of Twitter, has already reinstated Trump’s account. Although the former president has yet to tweet again, a source said that he was “probably coming back to Twitter”, telling NBC News: “He’s been talking about it for weeks.”

Will 6 January report end Donald Trump’s 2024 run?

4

Sunak’s seat belt saga

Police in Lancashire said they are “looking into” Rishi Sunak after he was filmed not wearing a seat belt while a passenger in a moving car. The prime minister said it was an “error of judgement” to take his seat belt off to film a social media clip. Not wearing a seat belt carries a maximum £500 fine. The Daily Mail said the episode was part of a “day to forget” for Sunak, in which he also suggested Tories only “idiots” were calling for tax cuts, and was criticised for taking a flight to Blackpool.

Can Rishi Sunak turn things around for the Tories in 2023?

5

Census finds rise in disabled numbers

Census data shows that one in five people in England and Wales now class themselves as disabled. For the first time in census history the category included people suffering with mental health issues, after the Office for National Statistics changed the questions to align more closely with the definition of disability in the Equality Act (2010). The charity Scope welcomed the development. “The lack of understanding about less visible conditions means people face a lot of stigma, discrimination and difficulty getting the right support,” a spokesman said.

6

Russia mercenary video causes Serb outrage

Footage from a Russian news programme that appears to show a mercenary group recruiting Serbians to fight in the war against Ukraine has provoked outrage. Russia’s Wagner mercenary group “made the Serbian-language videos to encourage recruitment for the war”, said the BBC. It is illegal for Serbians to fight in war overseas and Serbia’s president, Aleksandar Vucic, reacted angrily on national TV. “Why do you, from Wagner, call anyone from Serbia when you know that it is against our regulations?” he said. The video has exposed the complex relations between Serbia and Russia with Al-Jazeera noting that Serbia “remains the only European country – apart from Belarus – that did not join Western sanctions against Moscow”.

Why Serbia is shifting ever closer to Russia over Ukraine

7

Hundreds of thousands missed heart pills

Nearly half a million people in the UK missed out on starting medication to help prevent heart attacks and strokes during the pandemic, according to a new study. After combing through prescription data for the first 18 months after Covid hit, the British Heart Foundation found that 491,000 people – 27,000 a month – appear to have missed out on blood pressure pills. “Yet again we’re seeing clear evidence of the major disruption to healthcare people in the UK experienced during the Covid-19 pandemic,” said a spokeswoman.

Are lockdown effects ‘killing more people than Covid’?

8

Met cops charged with child sex offences

Two retired police officers have been charged in connection with a suspected police paedophile ring, reported The Telegraph. The news comes after Richard Watkinson, a serving Met chief inspector who worked in neighbourhood policing, was found dead at his home in Buckinghamshire last week. The 49-year-old had been due to answer bail on the day he was found dead and was to be charged with a number of child sex image offences. Thames Valley Police described his death as unexplained but not suspicious.

9

Harry book hits William’s popularity

Prince Harry’s memoir has dented Prince William’s popularity more than his own, according to an Ipsos Mori poll. Since the book was published earlier this month, William’s ratings have fallen eight percentage points, while his brother’s have slipped by seven points. Meanwhile, the Princess of Wales has dropped seven points and the Duchess of Sussex, five points. However, Prince Harry’s favourability has collapsed over the past five years: it now stands at 23%, compared with almost 70% in 2018.

The most popular British royals in 2023

10

Baldwin charged over fatal shooting

Alec Baldwin faces up to five years in prison after being charged over the fatal shooting on a movie set. Halyna Hutchins was killed and Joel Souza was wounded in October 2021, when a gun Baldwin was using during a New Mexico rehearsal for the film, Rust, fired off a live bullet. Baldwin’s lawyer, who described the charge as a “terrible miscarriage of justice”, told the New York Post it was not his client’s responsibility that the prop gun was equipped with deadly bullets.

NOV 21: Will Alec Baldwin be prosecuted for fatal film-set shooting?

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