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Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 27 March 2023

1

SNP to announce new leader

The SNP will announce Nicola Sturgeon’s successor this afternoon. Ash Regan, Humza Yousaf and Kate Forbes have been standing in the race and the winner will face a vote at Holyrood on Tuesday before also being confirmed as Scotland’s new first minister. Bookies said Yousaf is the clear favourite to win the leadership race, which was “kick-started” last month when Nicola Sturgeon “stunned the political world” by announcing her sudden resignation after more than eight years in the top job in Scottish politics, said the Daily Record.

The SNP: on the verge of collapse?

2

Israel protests escalate

Police and soldiers in Jerusalem used water cannons against demonstrators as tens of thousands took to the streets across Israel after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired his defence minister Yoav Gallant. Demonstrators blocked Tel Aviv’s main road, “transforming the Ayalon highway into a sea of blue-and-white Israeli flags”, said The Guardian. Gallant had spoken out against controversial plans to overhaul the justice system. A Haaretz columnist said Netanyahu is “now pyromaniac-in-chief” of a “government of arsonists”.

The democratic crisis facing Israel and Benjamin Netanyahu

3

Braverman accusations

Suella Braverman is a “sock puppet” under the influence of Tory right-wingers who believe that Rishi Sunak has not gone far enough to clamp down on Channel crossings, senior government sources have told The Times. The home secretary is accused of secretly backing a backbench rebellion against her own Illegal Migration Bill to force Sunak into toughening up measures to tackle the small boats crisis. The source said she wants to “spook us” to offer concessions to get them to drop their amendments because “a big rebellion would be embarrassing”.

Stop the boats: will immigration define the next election?

4

Oil incident in Poole

A major incident has been declared after around 200 barrels of reservoir fluid including oil leaked into the water at Poole Harbour, Dorset. Members of the public were urged not to swim at the site or its surrounding area until further notice. Perenco, a gas company, said a “small” amount of the fluid escaped from its pipeline and that, as of late Sunday evening, some of it had already been recovered. Poole is a Site of Special Scientific Interest which is home to a variety of wading birds, said the BBC.

5

Long Covid ‘risks new inequality’

Two-thirds of workers with long Covid have faced unfair treatment in the UK, according to a new report. The government must act to ensure long Covid sufferers receive the support they need from employers, said the TUC and the charity Long Covid Support, or it will risk creating “new, long-lasting inequalities”. In the analysis based, on responses from more than 3,000 long Covid sufferers, people report harassment, not being believed about symptoms or threatened with disciplinary action. One in seven said they had lost their job.

Long Covid: how to treat it and who is at risk

6

Two boats sink in Tunisia

Officials say at least 29 migrants have died after at least two boats sank off Tunisia’s coast within hours of each other. The incident is the latest in a “string” of migrant boat capsizes off Tunisia’s coast in the last few days, said the BBC, with five others sinking in the past four days. The coast near the southern city of Sfax has become a “major departure point for people fleeing poverty and conflict in Africa and the Middle East in the hope of a better life in Europe”, said Al Jazeera.

7

Concern over NHS shortages

NHS staff shortages in England could exceed 570,000 by 2036, a leaked document has warned. The 107-page internal document says the health service needs a massive injection of homegrown doctors, nurses, GPs and dentists to avert a recruitment crisis. It is already operating with 154,000 fewer full-time staff than it needs, and that number could “balloon” to 571,000 staff by 2036 on current trends. However, Jeremy Hunt is playing a “key role” in moves to “water down” NHS England’s proposals to increase staff, claimed The Guardian.

8

‘Appalling’ sewage figures due

Official data will show raw sewage was dumped into rivers and coastal areas across England more than 300,000 times last year, forecast The Times. Data due from the Environment Agency on Friday is expected to show that the number of times sewage pollution was spilt from storm overflows reduced by almost a fifth in 2022 from the year before but the total of 300,953 has been labelled “appalling” by campaigners. It is equivalent to 824 spills a day. Feargal Sharkey, the singer-turned- activist said there must be a “full flush” and “total restructuring of the industry”.

9

Oxford rower taken to hospital

Cambridge’s men won the Boat Race, holding off a “late charge” from Oxford on “choppy waters” to win by just over a length for their fourth victory in the past five races, said the BBC. Oxford rower Felix Drinkall was taken to hospital in an ambulance after collapsing at the end of the race. Cambridge’s celebrations were “understandably subdued” as a result of the incident, with spectators concerned over Drinkall’s condition, said the Daily Mirror.

10

University Challenge ‘rigged’ for Oxbridge

A professor at University College London has accused the BBC of “rigging” University Challenge in favour of Oxbridge by allowing each college to enter separately. “Each of the 70-plus Oxbridge colleges, even those with only 300 or 400 students, is allowed to compete in University Challenge, but huge civic universities like Manchester and Birmingham with upwards of 40,000 students are allowed only one entry each,” wrote Frank Coffield. A BBC spokesman said: “All education institutions that design and deliver teaching towards university-level qualifications are welcome to apply to University Challenge independently”.

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