News

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 26 May 2023

1

UK population ‘to overtake France’

The population of the UK is set to overtake that of France for the first time in recorded history after net migration hit more than 600,000, reported the i news site. The gap in population between the two countries has been “closing for decades”, said the outlet. In 2021, the UK had about 700,000 fewer residents than France but Britain’s net migration was 606,000 last year, while France estimates its net migration at 161,000. The figures suggest that within two years, the UK’s population will be larger than France’s.

Does Labour now have the upper hand on immigration?

2

Downing Street crash arrest

A man has been arrested after a car crashed into the gates of Downing Street. The Met Police said the man was held on suspicion of criminal damage and dangerous driving, but the incident is not being treated as terror related. A witness told the PA news agency: “I heard a bang and looked up and saw loads of police with Taser guns shouting at the man. A lot of police vehicles came very quickly and were very quick to evacuate the area.” He said the suspect was held “face to the floor” as he was detained.

3

GP recruitment bonus

GPs will be offered financial incentives to recruit patients for drug trials, said The Times. The paper said the development comes after a fall in clinical testing as the NHS struggles with Covid backlogs, adding that the country’s £94bn life sciences industry is seen by the government as an “engine for growth in a sluggish economy”. Jeremy Hunt, the chancellor, is promising a £650m package to boost life sciences as he attempts to lure leading pharmaceutical companies to Britain.

4

Sunak drops animals bill

Rishi Sunak has been criticised after dropping the government’s animal welfare legislation. The prime minister promised during the leadership election that he would bring the kept animals bill, part of the 2019 manifesto, into law. It would ban live exports of farm animals as well as clamping down on puppy smuggling. However, he has now dropped the bill. The Guardian said Tories feared the Commons debates on the legislation could have been used to argue for curbs on hunting and farming. Humane Society International said the U-turn was “an astonishing betrayal of both animals and public trust”.

5

Queen faced assassination threat

Queen Elizabeth II faced an assassination threat during a 1983 visit to the US, newly released FBI files have revealed. A cache of documents show that an assassination threat was made to a police officer in San Francisco. An IRA sympathiser threatened to avenge the death of his daughter by attempting to “harm” or “kill” the Queen. He planned to drop an object off the Golden Gate Bridge onto the royal yacht Britannia when it sailed underneath. The man’s daughter had been fatally struck “by a rubber bullet” in Northern Ireland. 

6

Soldiers charged over migrant deaths

Police in France have charged five soldiers over the deaths of 27 people who sank while trying to cross the English Channel on 24 November 2021. A total of nine people were detained for questioning, accused of failing to help the stricken boat as 15 calls from the boat were ignored. According to The Independent, during one call, a person who was already in the freezing Channel water pleaded for help from the French coastguard, only to be told: “Yes – but you are in English waters.” The migrants were mostly Iraqi Kurds, aged seven to 46.

Illegal pushbacks and abandonment at sea: is EU facing a new migrant crisis?

7

Boy critical after police collision

An 11-year-old is in a critical condition after being hit by a police vehicle in Lancaster. The boy had been crossing the road just before 8.30pm on Thursday night when he was hit. Lancaster Area Police said their vehicle had been on its way to an emergency call and the collision was being investigated. The force has referred the matter to the Independent Office for Police Conduct, “as is standard with an incident of this nature”, it said. “Our thoughts are with the child’s loved ones at this time,” added a spokesperson.

8

Winnie-the-Pooh books offer gun tips

Four-year olds in Texas are being given Winnie-the-Pooh books to advise them how to react to potential school shooters, reported The Guardian. The book, given to primary school students in Dallas, advises pupils to “run, hide, fight” if a gunman enters their building. The book, produced by a law enforcement consulting firm, features the popular children’s bear, and states that: “If there is danger, let Winnie-the-Pooh and his Crew show you what to do: Run Hide Fight.” A teacher told the newspaper she found the book “extremely disturbing”, adding that she “was very uncomfortable with the whole contents of the book”.

9

WHO pandemic treaty discussions

Tory MPs fear that lockdown measures could be imposed on the UK by the World Health Organisation during a future pandemic, according to the Daily Telegraph. A new “pandemic treaty” under discussion would mean member states would be obliged to follow the agency’s instructions when responding to pandemics, including by introducing vaccine passports, border closures and quarantine measures, said the Telegraph. It would also oblige signatories to spend five per cent of their health budget on preparing for another virus outbreak.

DEC 21: What will the next global pandemic look like?

10

Campbell calls for ‘arguing’ classes

“Arguing” should be taught in primary schools, said Alastair Campbell. “We teach our kids that PE, running around the playground, is good for them. I think we should teach our kids to be interested in and engaged in politics,” the former Downing Street spin doctor told an audience at the Hay festival. He said political classes should start in primary schools. “Maybe you don’t call it politics,” he said, suggesting that it could be called “arguing”, “policy” or “big issues”.

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