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Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 26 February 2023

1

Brexit talks ‘inching’ towards end

The prime minister said he is “giving it everything” to secure a new Brexit deal for Northern Ireland, and he wants “to get the job done”. Irish taisoeach, Leo Varadkar, told reporters yesterday that talks over an agreement were “inching towards a conclusion”. However, Rishi Sunak faced criticism after reports that a meeting between King Charles and the president of the European Commission was cancelled days before the announcement of an expected deal on the Northern Ireland protocol.

2

Peers ‘collaborating with far right’

Leaked documents suggest that a “secretive” organisation accused of collaborating with far-right activists has been operating out of the House of Lords for more than a decade, said The Observer. The New Issues Group, which includes the former Ukip leader Malcolm Pearson and the Tory former deputy speaker of the House of Lords Baroness Cox, reportedly approached Anne Marie Waters, who would become one of the UK’s most notorious anti-Muslim activists, to draft questions to be asked in the House of Lords by group members.

3

Camilla may drop Consort title

Buckingham Palace may soon switch to officially describing Camilla as Queen rather than Queen Consort, said The Telegraph. According to the report, Palace aides are considering introducing the change after King Charles’s Coronation in May. The officials have reportedly looked at precedent, including the titles used for the wife of King George VI, Charles’s grandfather. She was technically Queen Consort but was known in public simply as Queen Elizabeth. Last week, Camilla launched the Queen’s Reading Room, without the ‘Consort‘, when she updated the name of her charity.

4

Biden rules out jets for Zelensky

Joe Biden has ruled out sending fighter jets to Ukraine “for now”. Although Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly called for fighter jets from his Western allies, the US president insisted there was “no rationale” for the move and said Washington was providing everything Ukraine currently needed. Experts have warned that sending fighter jets could bring the West directly into the conflict. The White House announced nearly $500m in aid to Ukraine earlier this week, noted ABC.

5

‘Shocking’ figures show police crimes

Roughly one in 100 police officers in England and Wales faced criminal charges, including for sexual offences, last year. The Observer said the “shocking figures” showed that the Police Federation received 1,387 claims for legal support from members facing criminal charges in 2022. The data also suggested that the number of officers facing criminal charges has “skyrocketed” by 590% since 2012. A spokesperson for police reform campaign group StopWatch said: “We would not be surprised if the figures are an underestimate.”

6

Delays in Nigeria polling

Counting is under way in Nigeria’s tightest presidential election since military rule ended in 1999. Although the political scene has been dominated by two parties – the ruling APC and the PDP – there is also a strong challenge from a Labour candidate in the race to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari. “Widespread delays” have “overshadowed” the polling, said CNN, and the final result is not expected until at least Tuesday.

7

Maxwell expected to appeal

Ghislaine Maxwell is expected to launch an appeal against her conviction having agreed a million-dollar divorce deal. Now papers have been filed with a US judge to finalise her split from husband Scott Borgerson, a source told The Sun that “Ghislaine has long been waiting for her appeal and she believes she has a technically strong case.” However, they added: “Even if her appeal is successful she wouldn’t have enough cash to fund a retrial.” Maxwell’s 30-page, 22,000- word appeal must be filed by Tuesday.

8

Brits cut back on Sunday roasts

A new survey has found that more than a third of people in the UK have cut back on cooking Sunday roasts because of rising energy bills. The study, which was carried out by Opinium for Tesco, found 36% of the 2,000 adults said the cost of living crisis had made them reconsider a homemade roast dinner at the end of the week. More than a quarter (28%) of respondents said they would cook a Sunday roast more often if they had access to an air-fryer.

9

Berger re-joins Labour

Luciana Berger has re-joined Labour after resigning in protest at the handling of antisemitism allegations four years ago. Berger has accepted an apology from Sir Keir Starmer, who said there had been a “litany of failures” on the issue. Berger formed The Independent Group with several Labour and Conservative MPs after leaving Labour but the party was unsuccessful. She later joined the Liberal Democrats and was chosen to contest the seat of Finchley and Golders Green, but failed to win the vote.

10

Racist references removed from Bond

James Bond novels have been rewritten to remove a number of racist references, reported The Telegraph. All of author Ian Fleming’s thrillers featuring 007 are set to be reissued in April to mark 70 years since Casino Royale, the first book in the series, was published. The changes mean some depictions of black people have been reworked or removed. However, references to the “sweet tang of rape” and homosexuality being a “stubborn disability” remain.

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