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Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 23 April 2023

1

Braverman ‘will ignore judges’

Suella Braverman is ready to ignore European judges to start deportation flights to Rwanda, said the Sunday Telegraph. According to the Home Secretary, proposed powers for ministers to ignore temporary injunctions by the European Court of Human Rights are “crucial” to delivering the government’s pledge to stop migrant boats from crossing the Channel. She faces a showdown in the Commons this week as the Illegal Migration Bill returns for its final report stage. The government also begins its legal defence of the Rwanda policy in the Court of Appeal tomorrow.

2

Care homes use ‘revenge evictions’

Care homes in England are using “revenge evictions” to stifle complaints from residents, reported The Observer. Research by King’s College London backed by the Relatives and Residents Association revealed that at least one in 70 care residents in England received a notice to quit last year, with many instances coming after the resident had complained. In one case, a 96-year-old woman was issued a notice to leave her home after her daughter had requested access during the Covid restrictions, fearing her mother was nearing the end of her life.

3

Concern over emergency test

The new deputy prime minister has claimed that an emergency alert being tested this afternoon could be the sound that “saves your life”. People across the UK will hear a loud alarm on their phones for about 10 seconds today at 3pm. Oliver Dowden said the new system will be used in cases of flooding, wildfires or terror attacks. The plan for a test has been controversial, with concern about safety for drivers and for domestic abuse victims who have a ‘secret’ extra phone, unknown to their partner.

4

‘Graduated driving licence’ considered

New drivers aged under 25 may be banned from carrying young passengers as part of a “graduated driving licence”. The plan, which is being considered by the government, has the backing of Support for Victims of Road Crashes, an advisory committee to the Department for Transport. It would impose a ban on carrying passengers under the age of 25 in the first year or six months after passing the test. In the six years to 2020, 590 young drivers and 357 young passengers aged under 25 died on the road.

5

Editor sacked over AI ‘interview’

The editor of a magazine that published an artificial intelligence-generated ‘interview’ with Formula 1 legend Michael Schumacher has been fired. Schumacher, who suffered severe head injuries in a skiing accident in 2013, has not been seen in public since. Despite this, Die Aktuelle ran a front cover with a headline of “Michael Schumacher, the first interview”. The article was produced using an AI programme, which artificially generated ‘quotes’ from Schumacher about his health and family. Schumacher’s family said they plan to take legal action against the magazine.

6

Unstable spy sent to terror camp

A “traumatised” British spy sent by MI6 to a jihadist camp went on to kill his own child, reported The Sunday Times. The man, then in his twenties, had his emotional instability rated at the “highest it is possible to score” by the Secret Intelligence Service. Despite this, MI6 sent him to a village in Waziristan, a “tribally administered mountainous region” on the Pakistan border with Afghanistan that served as a base for Taliban and al-Qaeda terrorists. After his return home, the spy went on to kill his child, who was found dead with numerous injuries.

7

Peer suggests politicised civil service

A Conservative peer who is leading a government review of how the civil service operates has called for a more “robust culture” in Whitehall. Writing for The Observer, Francis Maude, who is expected to report shortly to Rishi Sunak, argued that Whitehall needs “to be more robust and less mealy mouthed about ‘politicisation’”. Plans to bring in more “politicisation” of Whitehall by allowing ministers greater powers to appoint their own civil servants – including some with overt political affiliations – are being considered. His plans “will cause deep alarm across Whitehall”, said the paper.

8

Asbestos still kills 5,000 a year

Asbestos is “the forgotten killer” that is still claiming 5,000 lives a year, said The Sunday Times. The substance has been banned for decades but 1.5 million buildings in the UK still contain the lethal construction material. Asbestos “lingers in the memory, the way the three-day week does, black-and-white TV and the Falklands conflict, a problem from a bygone age that we have put behind us,” said the paper. “Except we haven’t.”

9

Johnson ‘wanted to scapegoat Hancock’

Boris Johnson described Matt Hancock as “f***king useless”, according to a book serialised in The Sunday Times. During the height of the Covid pandemic, Dominic Cummings and his allies referred to the health secretary as “that c***” and the prime minister started joining in, according to Johnson at 10: The Inside Story, by Anthony Seldon and Raymond Newell. “Boris thought it would be useful to keep on Hancock so he could blame him when the inquiry came out,” a No 10 aide told the authors. “It was like a group of rats trapped in a pipe.”

10

Vicar jailed for climate protest

A retired vicar has been jailed for causing a public nuisance after he staged a sitting protest in a busy London road with Insulate Britain. Reverend Mark Coleman, 63, disrupted the City of London during rush hour when he sat in the road at the Bishopsgate junction, along with other activists. Meanwhile, Extinction Rebellion warned it will unleash the “greatest acts of civil disobedience” unless Rishi Sunak meets its demands.

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