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Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 22 May 2023

1

Sunak to consult on Braverman

Rishi Sunak will consult his ethics adviser later about Suella Braverman’s handling of a speeding offence. It was revealed at the weekend that the home secretary attempted to get civil servants and a special advisor to arrange her a private speed awareness course while attorney general, the Government’s most senior legal officer, in 2022. The prime minister will consult with Laurie Magnus, who cannot begin an investigation into a minister without Sunak signing-off on an inquiry. Allies of the home secretary told The Telegraph that she is the victim of a smear campaign amid a controversy over her efforts to crack down on net migration.

What should the UK’s net migration target be?

2

‘Drug driving’ on the rise

A “shock” police report found that drug driving has become more prevalent than drink driving, said the Daily Mail. Although an average of 80 motorists are caught every day many may “escape justice” because of delays in processing blood tests, said the paper. Drug driving carries a possible sentence of six months in prison, a minimum one-year driving ban and an unlimited fine. However, it is complicated for police to measure whether drivers are over the legal limit because it varies from drug to drug.

3

NHS app to go private

Patients will be encouraged to use the NHS app to choose treatment in private hospitals as part of plans to cut waiting lists, said The Times. In the coming weeks, Rishi Sunak is expected to begin a drive to promote patient choice, as he publishes a report by an elective recovery task force that will recommend increasing treatment capacity “as far as possible via the independent sector”. There is “an emerging cross-party consensus” that waiting lists will come down only if patients “are given choice about where they are treated”, said the paper.

Is it worth paying for private medical insurance?

4

Greek PM hails election win

Greece’s prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has won national elections, hailing his party’s performance at the polls as a “political earthquake”. However, although his centre-right New Democracy party were heading for almost 41% of the vote, this would leave it five seats short of a majority. During the campaign, Mitsotakis “spoke about the future, prioritising a positive narrative, while his opponent focused on the negative”, said the Greek newspaper, Kathimerini.

5

Disputing claims over Bakhmut

Ukraine has rejected Moscow’s claim to have captured Bakhmut, insisting its forces still have a foothold in the Donbas city. Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin had earlier claimed victory in the city, but there are “conflicting claims in a battle of attrition for a devastated city”, which has “assumed symbolic importance as a measure of which side has the resilience to prevail in the war overall”, said The Guardian. Speaking at the end of the G7 summit in Hiroshima, where he had been seeking to rally international support, the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said: “Bakhmut is not occupied by Russian Federation as of today.”

Why is Bakhmut so important to Russia and Ukraine?

6

Public to foot sewage costs

The public will cover “a lot” of the cost of water companies’ action to prevent sewage spills, admitted the Environment Secretary. Water giants have announced a £10bn plan to reduce the number of sewage discharges into rivers and seas, but Therese Coffey has confirmed that “a lot of” private sector investment in the water industry “gets repaid through bills”. Last week, Coffey claimed that trying to end the sewage issue “overnight” could result in waste backing up into people’s homes.

What’s caused the big stink over Britain’s sewage?

7

Prepayment installations may restart

The energy regulator has launched a code of conduct for UK energy firms that could pave the way for forced installations of prepayment meters to restart ahead of this winter, said the i news site. Neil Kenward, director of strategy at Ofgem, told a hearing in the Welsh Parliament last week that the aim is for a new prepayment code of practice for suppliers to be “fully enforceable before the winter”. Pointing to Europe, where a campaign is growing to halt the forced use of prepayment meters, Greenpeace UK’s climate campaigner, Georgia Whitaker, said: “The UK is one of Europe’s worst offenders when it comes to installing them and that the government hasn’t banned their use already is an utter disgrace.”

Why energy firms are sending in bailiffs during cost-of-living crisis

8

Epstein Gates controversy

Jeffrey Epstein threatened to expose Bill Gates over an affair he allegedly had with a Russian bridge player in her 20s, reported the Wall Street Journal. When Gates refused to support a charity Epstein had set up, Epstein threatened to expose the affair unless he co-operated. Epstein “tried unsuccessfully to leverage a past relationship to threaten Mr Gates”, said a spokeswoman for the Microsoft founder.

MAY 22: The links between Jeffrey Epstein and Bill Gates explained

9

Britain to ‘roast’ in heatwave

Britain is set for a “mini-heatwave” with above-average temperatures expected to stay until next month, said The Telegraph. According to forecasters, the UK will enjoy the hottest day of the year so far on Thursday as temperatures reach 25C (77F) in southwest England, potentially making Britain warmer than parts of Morocco. The UK will “roast” in a “1,000-mile heatwave”, said the Daily Star, while Gloucestershire Live predicted a “blast” of heat across the country.

10

Spanish football in racism storm

A Real Madrid star has claimed Spain’s La Liga “belongs to the racists” after fans targeted him with abusive chants. Brazilian footballer Vinicius Junior has been subjected to racist abuse several times this season while playing in Spain and said the incidents meant Spain was now “known as a country of racists”. A recent match at Valencia’s Mestalla ground was paused after the half-time break as the 22-year-old pointed out to the referee the supporters who were abusing him.

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