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Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 23 March 2023

1

Johnson’s future ‘in the balance’

Boris Johnson’s political future “hangs in the balance” after he was grilled by MPs yesterday, said the BBC’s political editor Chris Mason. MPs investigating the former PM over the Downing Street parties scandal criticised his “flimsy” evidence and suggested that he had broken his own pandemic rules during a “fractious” three-and-a-half hour hearing, said The Times. Johnson insisted that Covid guidelines – as he understood them – were followed at all times.

Boris bye by-election: will privileges committee take ‘nuclear option’?

2

Rates rise expected at noon

The Bank of England is expected to raise interest rates for an 11th consecutive time. Although another hike had been in doubt, the surprise jump in inflation announced yesterday has led analysts to predict an increase in the Bank rate from 4% to 4.25% at today’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting. The US Federal Reserve raised its main rate by a quarter of a percentage point yesterday but indicated it would stop further increases.

3

Sunak releases tax details

Rishi Sunak earned almost £4.8m in three years but paid an effective tax rate of just 22%, according to an analysis by The Telegraph. The paper said that the “bulk” of the PM’s multi-million pound income came from capital gains, dividends and interest on a “single US-based investment fund”, held in a blind trust. Sunak first said he would publish a tax return during his unsuccessful campaign to be Tory leader last year but he only released them yesterday, as “Westminster focused on Boris Johnson”, said The Times.

‘Rishi Rich’: How the Sunaks made their fortune

4

Trump: arrest could be ‘fun’

Donald Trump has told friends that being arrested could be a “fun experience” for him. The former US president told them he is relishing the idea of a “perp walk” and plans to turn his potential arrest into a “spectacle” to fire up his base. “He wants to be defiant – to show the world that if they can try to do this to him, they can do it to anyone,” a source told the New York Times. Trump’s expected indictment was delayed this week.

What does Trump’s possible arrest mean for 2024 race?

5

RMT calls off strikes

The RMT union has called off all its upcoming train strikes, in the further sign that the months-long industrial dispute could soon be resolved. On Monday, the union’s members at Network Rail – a group that includes signal workers and maintenance staff – voted to accept a pay offer representing a 9% pay rise. Although “wrangling has dragged on” for thousands of workers across 14 train operating companies, the union has called off strike action scheduled for 30 March and 1 April, said the i news site.

6

Macron admits pensions regret

President Macron has admitted that he failed to convince the French public of the need to reform their pensions system. “If there is something that I regret, it’s that we didn’t manage to convey the constraints, or more exactly, the necessity of this reform,” Macron said during a lunchtime television interview. However, he repeated that, despite mass protests and strikes, the hugely unpopular measure to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 will come into force this year.

Macron’s pensions reform battle

7

New ‘dieselgate’ warning

Millions of diesel cars producing “extreme” levels of toxic air pollution are still on the roads in Europe and the UK, said the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT). Seven years after the “Dieselgate” scandal broke, the non-profit research group said that about 13m highly polluting diesel vehicles sold from 2009 to 2019 remain on the roads, with a further 6m diesels having “suspicious” levels of emissions.

8

Castration suspects in court

A 45-year-old man accused of carrying out castrations and broadcasting the footage on his subscription-based “eunuch maker” website has appeared in court. Marius Gustavson is alleged to have performed extreme body modifications, including the removal of penises and testicles. He is said to be the ringleader of a nine-strong group of men who appeared in courts in central London and Wales yesterday over the alleged six-year plot, which is said to have brought in some £200,000 in income. None have entered pleas to any of the charges.

9

Anderson reveals GB News payday

Tory MP Lee Anderson has revealed he will be paid £100,000 a year for hosting a show on GB News. The annual figure was declared in an update to the MPs’ register of interests and constitutes a significant increase on the £200 weekly payment he received for appearing as a regular on Dan Wootton’s show. The party’s deputy chairman became the fifth Tory MP to host a show on GB News, which he described as “the people’s channel”.

Lee Anderson: new deputy Tory party chair who backs the death penalty

10

Sniffing annoys one in five

One in five British people find chewing, sniffing and noisy breathing annoying, a study has found. The researchers from King’s College London and University of Oxford have concluded that 18.4% of the UK population suffer from misophonia, a psychological condition in which common sounds made in normal life trigger a fight or flight response. “The experience of misophonia is more than just being annoyed by a sound,” said Dr Jane Gregory, a clinical psychologist at the University of Oxford.

What is misophonia?

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