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Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 21 May 2023

1

Calls for Braverman inquiry

There are calls for an investigation into the home secretary after it emerged that she sought advice about arranging a private speed awareness course. After Suella Braverman was caught speeding last summer, she faced three points on her licence and a fine, or a course as part of a group. Then the attorney general, she tried to arrange a one-on-one course through civil servants and her adviser. The revelations “raise questions about whether she breached the ministerial code”, said The Sunday Times.

2

Tsunami’ victory for Sinn Féin

Sinn Féin is now the largest party in both local government and Stormont for the first time after “tsunami” of gains in council elections, said the BBC. With all seats counted, the party has won 144, up from the 105 councillors returned in 2019. “In the end it was more a coronation for Sinn Féin than a contest,” said the BBC. DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said unionism had to take a “long, hard look” at how it manages elections, noted the Belfast Telegraph.

3

Tributes to Martin Amis

Martin Amis, one of the most celebrated British authors of his era, has died aged 73. The novelist died of oesophageal cancer at his Florida home, his wife, the writer Isabel Fonseca, told the New York Times. Paying tribute, Sir Kazuo Ishiguro, said Amis “was a standard-bearer for my generation of novelists”. Amis “wrote sentences lesser scribes would die for”, said Will Self, while Boris Johnson tweeted that he was “the greatest, darkest, funniest satirist since Evelyn Waugh”. The Observer said Amis “epitomised literary fame in an age of glitz”.

4

‘Furious diplomacy’ for Zelensky

Ukraine’s leader Volodymyr Zelensky has arrived at the G7 summit and is joining key negotiations today. He will “attempt to win support from the wider international community” during a “furious round of diplomacy” on the final day of the summit in Hiroshima, said The Observer. The president said his government is preparing “new joint steps” with G7 partners, including weapons, air defence, fighter jets and economic measures.

5

‘Soul Survivor’ head suspended

A religious leader accused of massaging and wrestling teenagers has been officially suspended by Soul Survivor, the Anglican church that he founded. Mike Pilavachi, who established the church in 1993, was suspended as an employee with immediate effect, Soul Survivor Watford said. He has been accused of engaging with young males in wrestling fights and giving them full-body oil massages in their underwear. The investigation into Pilavachi has “snowballed” as “new allegations came to light”, said Church Times.

6

Schofield quits This Morning

Phillip Schofield said he has agreed to step down from ITV’s This Morning “with immediate effect”. After more than 20 years on the daytime TV show, he said: “I understand ITV has decided the current situation can’t go on.” His departure comes after damaging reports suggesting he and co-host Holly Willoughby had fallen out behind the scenes. The Mail on Sunday said that ITV acted after Willoughby gave bosses and ultimatum, stating: “It’s him or me.”

7

Tory donor accused of ‘fraud’

A leading donor to the Conservative Party is being investigated over allegations of fraud and money laundering. Karan Chanana, head of the global rice brand Amira, has given more than £220,000 to the Tories. He is being investigated in India over claims that tens of millions of pounds of bank loans were unlawfully diverted into shell entities. The allegations come as Whitehall “faces mounting pressure to tighten up rules on foreign donations and improve diligence checks”, said The Observer.

8

Starmer to sound NHS alarm

Labour will warn that the NHS is unsustainable without significant reforms that require more than just money. In a speech tomorrow, Sir Keir Starmer will outline his vision for modernising the NHS and announce health-related performance targets if his party wins the next election. He will say he owes the NHS “everything” and that the health service’s problems are not just about cash. His shadow health secretary, Wes Streeting, has previously warned that the NHS must “reform or die”, noted The Independent.

9

Italy flood toll could rise

More than 36,000 people have now been forced from their homes by deadly floods in northeast Italy, said local officials. Severe downpours earlier this week killed 14 people, and as more rain fell, local authorities extended the red weather alert to Sunday. The death toll could rise further over the weekend, said Euro News, after the flooding “left a trail of destruction in its wake, damaging homes and shops”.

10

Heat pump noise review

The government has launched a review of heat pumps amid concern they might be too noisy. Heat pumps, which are positioned outside a home, often emit a “constant hum” of between 40 and 60 decibels, “about the same as a fridge or dishwasher”, said the Sunday Telegraph, and “there are fears that the cumulative impact of many heat pumps in a residential area could tip over into disturbance”. The news comes days after British Gas warned that heat pumps could leave some homes colder than those with a gas boiler.

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