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Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 27 May 2023

1

Sunak warned of recession

Rishi Sunak has been warned the UK economy could be in recession next year, ahead of the general election. Economists predicted the Bank of England could be “forced to drive Britain’s economy into a recession to tame inflation”, said The Guardian. Financial markets have driven up UK government borrowing costs to the highest level since Liz Truss’s reign, putting into doubt the prime minister’s ability to deliver on his promise to halve inflation this year, one of five central pledges of his premiership.

2

Post Office sorry for racist terms

The Post Office has apologised after it was revealed that it used racist terms to describe postmasters wrongly investigated as part of the Horizon IT scandal. An internal document shows investigators were asked to group suspects based on racial features, including “Chinese/Japanese types”, “Dark Skinned European Types” and “Negroid Types”. Hundreds of sub-postmasters were prosecuted for false accounting based on information from a flawed system in an episode that has been described as “the most widespread miscarriage of justice in UK history”.

3

Schofield admits ‘unwise’ affair

Phillip Schofield has quit ITV after revealing he had an affair with a younger male ITV employee and lied to cover it up. In a statement to the Daily Mail, the 61-year-old said the relationship with his junior colleague was “unwise but not illegal”. The former This Morning host said he “met the man when he was a teenager and was asked to help him to get into television”. Writing on Twitter, former colleague Eamonn Holmes said: “Schofield has finally been caught out”.

4

Ukraine ready for counter-offensive

Ukraine is ready to launch its much-anticipated counter-offensive against Russian forces, said one of the country’s most senior security officials. Speaking to the BBC, Oleksiy Danilov declined to name a date but said an assault to retake territory from President Vladimir Putin’s forces could begin “tomorrow, the day after tomorrow or in a week”. Meanwhile, Russia’s deputy security council chair, Dmitry Medvedev, has said the conflict in Ukraine could last for decade.

5

Foreign teachers ‘a sticking plaster’

Foreign teachers are being offered £10,000 to work in English schools, reported The Times. In a major recruitment effort by ministers to fill classroom vacancies, hundreds of maths, science and language teachers will be brought in from countries such as India and Nigeria this year. Applications for teacher-training courses from outside Europe have surged this year, “highlighting tensions in the government’s approach to immigration”, said the paper. Unions have criticised a “desperate” attempt to use overseas staff as a “sticking plaster”.

6

Covid probe to quiz Osborne

George Osborne has been called to give evidence to the Covid public inquiry, reported the inews site. As part of its review of the UK’s resilience, preparedness and planning for pandemics, Lady Hallett’s inquiry will explore whether Osborne’s austerity cuts left the country less able to cope. The former chancellor will join David Cameron and Jeremy Hunt as a formal witness when the inquiry begins next month. Critics said tighter spending on the NHS, low investment in social care, and budget cuts to public health, had a negative effect during the pandemic.

7

DeSantis ‘takes off the gloves’

Ron DeSantis has accused Donald Trump of “destroying millions of people’s lives” by “turning the country over to [Anthony] Fauci”, his medical adviser, who advocated lockdowns and social distancing. The Times says the claim that Trump’s approach harmed jobs and schools means the Florida governor “finally took the gloves off to try to fight his way back into the Republican race for the White House”. DeSantis is “facing a huge polling gap and chastened by a botched campaign launch on Twitter”, it added.

8

Johnson ‘painfully on the rack’

Boris Johnson is sitting on a “ticking timebomb” over new Partygate claims being examined by police, said Tory grandee Michael Heseltine. Writing for The Independent, Heseltine said: “Never in my lifetime have I seen an ex-prime minister so nakedly and painfully on the rack to the extent that Boris Johnson is.” Cabinet Office officials have referred the former PM to police over further possible lockdown violations at Chequers and Number 10. Cleo Watson, Johnson’s former deputy chief of staff, said the latest claims could end Johnson’s career.

9

Papua fighters threaten hostage

Fighters in Indonesia’s Papua region have threatened to shoot a New Zealand hostage if independence talks are not held. Phillip Mehrtens, a pilot, was taken hostage in February. In a new video released by the fighters on Friday, he is seen “looking emaciated” and “holding the banned Morning Star flag – a symbol of Papuan independence”, said Sky News. Papua became part of Indonesia in a contentious 1969 vote and there has been an insurgency ever since, added the outlet.

10

Farmer attacked by his crocodiles

A crocodile farmer was torn to pieces by 40 of his own reptiles after he fell into their enclosure. Luan Nam, 72, was trying to move one animal out of its cage when it grabbed the stick he was using as a goad with its jaws and pulled him in. He was the set upon by the crocodiles in Siem Reap, Cambodia. “Other crocodiles pounced, attacking him until he was dead,” police chief Mey Savry told the AFP news agency. Crocodiles are bred for their eggs, skin and meat in the south-east Asian nation.

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