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Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 23 June 2023

1

Relatives mourn Titan crew

Families of the five men killed on board the Titan sub have expressed “profound grief” after the US Coast Guard confirmed that the crew died after a catastrophic event. Meanwhile, film director James Cameron said his sources in the deep-sea exploration industry detected a “loud bang… at the same time that the sub comms were lost”. Cameron, who directed the 1997 movie “Titanic”, compared the two disasters, saying: “We now have another wreck that is based on unfortunately the same principles of not heeding warnings.”

2

Rates rise ‘will cause pain’

Banks are to meet Chancellor Jeremy Hunt after yesterday’s surprise decision by the Bank of England (BoE) to hike interest rates to 5%, up from 4.5%. BoE governor Andrew Bailey admitted that the unexpectedly steep rise in rates since December 2021 would cause “difficulty and pain” for many. The Telegraph’s Ambrose Evans-Pritchard said the Bank is making a “catastrophic error”. Rishi Sunak will take personal responsibility for tough measures to bring inflation back under control, saying he was “100% on it”.

Will interest rates come down again?

3

Migrants die after boat sinks

Charities have said that more than 30 migrants may have drowned after their boat sank in the Atlantic Ocean off the Canary Islands. Authorities in Spain said rescue workers found the bodies of a child and a man, and rescued 24 other people. However, the Walking Borders and Alarm Phone groups said the boat was originally carrying around 60 people. It’s the latest in a “deadly series of shipwrecks” involving asylum seekers along the Atlantic route to Spain, said Democracy Now. At least 45 shipwrecks and more than 500 deaths were reported last year.

4

Church sells oil and gas stakes

The Church of England is selling its investments in BP, Shell and other oil and gas giants because they do not “protect God’s creation”. The General Synod, the Church’s lawmaking body, had voted in 2018 to disinvest from fossil fuel companies that were failing to take significant action on tackling climate change by 2023. Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, who is a former oil industry worker, said the climate crisis “threatens the planet we live on” and “people around the world who Jesus Christ calls us to love as our neighbours”.

The power the Church of England has in the UK

5

‘Concerning’ voter ID findings

About 14,000 people were prevented from voting because they could not show photo ID during last month’s local elections and “significantly more” were put off voting by the requirement, said the Electoral Commission. The watchdog found that ethnic minorities and unemployed voters were more likely to be turned away as the policy was rolled out for the first time in Britain in May’s elections. Craig Westwood, director of communications at the commission, said “some of the emerging evidence is concerning”.

Party like it’s 1997: can Tories stop a Labour landslide?

6

Amazon breakdown ‘sooner than thought’

Ecological collapse is likely to start sooner than previously expected, according to new modelling published by the Nature Sustainability scientific journal. More than a fifth of ecosystems worldwide, including the Amazon rainforest, are at risk of a catastrophic breakdown within a human lifetime, said the researchers. “We could realistically be the last generation to see the Amazon,” said Prof Simon Willcock of Rothamsted Research, who co-led the study. The findings are “likely to generate a heated debate”, said The Guardian.

7

Biden ‘thwarted’ Wallace Nato bid

Government sources said that Joe Biden has done Britain a “bad turn” by blocking Ben Wallace’s bid to become Nato chief. Although the defence secretary had been the favourite with many member states to succeed Jens Stoltenberg, Nato’s current secretary-general, Wallace admitted that this is now “not going to happen”. Allies told The Telegraph that Wallace’s ambitions were “thwarted” after the US president refused to back him. The Economist said Wallace “looks sidelined”.

8

Ocado shares surge on Amazon takeover rumours

Shares in Ocado have surged after The Times reported that the online supermarket might be the subject of takeover talks from Amazon. Both companies declined to comment on the report, which sent shares in the struggling firm up 40% before they settled at more than 30% higher. Ocado was a “market darling” during the pandemic, said the BBC, but the company’s standing has “soured sharply” as it “grapples” with the return of in-store shopping and rising prices. “True believers in Ocado should not be tempted by Amazon,” said Nils Pratley, The Guardian’s financial editor.

9

Whitty makes lockdown admission

Chris Whitty has claimed that scientists would not have proposed lockdowns without ministers suggesting them. Speaking at the Covid inquiry, England’s chief medical officer said planning for such an “extraordinarily major social intervention” would not have occurred to scientists unless a minister had requested it. The inquiry will resume next week when it will hear from senior figures including former health secretary Matt Hancock and Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s former first minister.

Covid inquiry: can it bring about meaningful change?

10

City Hall claims EU flag ‘ban’

The London mayor’s office said it has been banned from flying the European Union flag on the anniversary of the Brexit referendum. Ministers have been accused of criminalising the flying of the yellow and blue flag on government buildings after London’s City Hall was told it could be prosecuted for displaying it without formal consent from the local authority. A City Hall source said that “with over a million people calling London their home from other European countries” it’s “extraordinary” that the government has “effectively banned the European flag being flown”.

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