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Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 21 January 2023

1

Sunak apologises after fine

The prime minister has been fined for not wearing a seatbelt in a moving car while filming a social media video. After Lancashire Police said it had issued a 42-year-old man from London with a conditional offer of a fixed penalty, Downing Street said Rishi Sunak “fully accepts this was a mistake and has apologised”. The spokesperson added that the PM would pay the fine. It is the second time Sunak has been fined in the past 12 months after he was punished for attending Downing Street parties during lockdown, noted The Guardian.

2

Stagecoach denies trafficking charge

Scottish businesswoman Dame Ann Gloag has been charged with human trafficking offences. It is believed that the allegations relate to people who were brought to Scotland as part of the Stagecoach founder’s charity work with the Gloag Foundation. Her husband and two other members of their family have also been charged but all four strongly deny the charges against them. Dame Ann is one of Scotland’s richest women, noted Sky News.

3

NZ PM ‘will move party to the right’

Chris Hipkins, the minister for education and policing, has been named as New Zealand’s next prime minister. He was nominated uncontested by the Labour party caucus following the surprise resignation of Jacinda Ardern on Thursday. Taking on the role would be “the biggest responsibility and the biggest privilege of my life”, Hipkins said. “Get ready for a major political reset”, said the New Zealand Herald, predicting he would move the party to the right.

4

Suicidal calls go unanswered

Suicidal people are being put at risk of serious harm with one in five calls to NHS helplines going unanswered, according to a study by the BBC. One man who died had told staff he wanted to end his life, but was not referred for support, and another caller said after repeatedly trying to get through, staff eventually told her to “think happy thoughts”. At least 418,000 calls went unanswered in 2021-22. NHS England said crisis lines had seen “record demand”.

5

Questions mount over Zahawi

Rishi Sunak is under pressure to sack Nadhim Zahawi from the cabinet after it was reported that the Tory party chairman paid a penalty of more than £1m to settle an investigation into his tax affairs, said The Independent. The paper said that the former chancellor “tried to gag” it and prevent it from revealing that he was being investigated by the National Crime Agency and HMRC last year. Amid mounting questions, Zahawi and HMRC refused to comment.

6

Rape myths ‘block police investigations’

Myths about rape – including the belief that a woman’s behaviour plays a part in her rape – are held by police officers investigating allegations of the crime, government-funded researchers have found. “We massively pre-judge the credibility of the victim,” a senior officer told the researchers. “We investigate the victim more than the offence itself.” It is believed the trend contributes to the 1.6% charge rate in rape cases in England and Wales.

7

Javid calls for GP charges

A former health secretary has argued that charging for GP appointments and A&E visits is “crucial” to the survival of the NHS. Writing for The Times, Sajid Javid said that the principles of the NHS “cannot survive much longer” as patients face lengthening waits for emergency and routine care. He called for a “hard-headed conversation” about “extending the contributory principle”. However, Nigel Edwards, chief executive of the Nuffield Trust think tank, said “in cost-effectiveness terms” the proposal is “penny-wise but pound-foolish”

8

Berlin blocks tanks request

Germany has blocked an offer of tanks for Ukraine, causing “shockwaves” among Nato allies, said The Times. Berlin’s defence minister, Boris Pistorius, used a meeting of Ukraine’s allies to refuse approval of the supply of German-made Leopard 2 tanks by countries including Poland and Spain. Under weapons re-export rules, Germany’s agreement is necessary for the supply. Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the president of Ukraine, said: “You can absolutely keep talking like this for another six months, but here people are dying every day.”

9

Starmer ‘should move party to the right’

A right-leaning thinktank has suggested that Keir Starmer’s Labour should consider moving to the right on social issues, reported The Guardian. The study by Onward claims that even a relatively small rightward shift could see it hoover up floating voters who have a left-leaning stance on economic matters but are more traditional on cultural policies, delivering a 1997-style landslide for Labour at the next election.

10

Biscuits fall out of fashion

Young people are shunning biscuits in favour of samosas, said The Telegraph. With “little time” for three sit-down meals, teens and twentysomethings are more likely to snack on smaller bites throughout the day, according to food and drink experts. The development has prompted warnings that biscuit sales are at risk if the younger generation does not establish the traditional habit of dunking a custard cream or a bourbon in their cuppa.

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