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Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 30 May 2023

1

Hopes rise as food inflation falls

Food inflation fell in May, raising hopes that the rapid increase in grocery prices may have peaked. The British Retail Consortium said annual food inflation eased this month from 15.7% to 15.4%. Fresh-food inflation, which had soared after dramatic increases in the price of sausages, milk, cheese and eggs, fell from 17.8% to 17.2%. Over the weekend, the Sunday Telegraph reported that the government is considering asking supermarkets to voluntarily cap prices on food items to help with the cost of living. But officials have said the government has no plans to cap the price of food, and that any resulting scheme would not be mandatory. 

Price of pasta doubles: what food is getting more expensive in UK?

2

Cabinet Covid face-off

Ministers are set for a “bitter legal battle” over the release of Boris Johnson’s WhatsApp messages as part of the Covid-19 inquiry, said The Times. The Cabinet Office insists that documents and correspondence covering more than two years do not need to be released in full, because parts of discussions are “unambiguously irrelevant” to the inquiry. Baroness Hallett, the inquiry’s chair, has given the government until 4pm today to produce the messages. However, according to The Telegraph, the Cabinet Office “does not intend to supply them”.

Attack of ‘the Blob’: is the civil service working against the Tories?

3

‘Massive attack’ on Kyiv

Russia launched a “massive” wave of attacks on Kyiv in the early hours of the morning. Blasts were heard in the Ukrainian capital and several buildings were set ablaze after Moscow targeted the city for the third night running. “A massive attack!” Mayor Vitali Klitschko said on the Telegram messaging app. “Do not leave shelters.” The latest strikes were Russia’s 17th air assault on the capital this month and follows a global tour to drum up further support for Ukraine by President Zelenskyy. Kyiv’s officials said Moscow wants to inflict psychological distress on people.

How fruitful was Zelenskyy’s European tour?

4

Public told to recycle less

The public will be told they need to put less in their recycling bins, reported the i news site. Ministers want to address the trend of “wishcycling” – when “well-meaning” people try to recycle items that cannot actually be processed, which contaminates the recycling chain, said the outlet. Soft plastic bags, toothpaste tubes, crisp packets, wet cardboard, dirty takeaway boxes and juice cartons are among the items that can contaminate or slow up the recycling process. 

DEC 21: Is recycling a waste of time?

5

UK agent ‘admitted shooting IRA informer’

The man suspected of being one of Britain’s top agents within the IRA admitted in 1990 that he had shot dead a suspected informer, the BBC has revealed. Freddie Scappaticci, who died in April, is believed to be the agent given the codename Stakeknife. By 1990, he had become the IRA’s chief spy catcher within its internal security unit, known as the “nutting squad”. It is believed that while operating as a paid agent of the state he was “allowed to commit serious crimes in order to bolster his authority within the republican movement”, said The Guardian.

6

Stores take shoplifting measures

A Co-op store in London has put empty “display only” coffee jars on shelves in an apparent bid to deter shoplifters, said the i news site. The Walthamstow branch made the move after the price of 200g of Kenco Smooth instant coffee was put up to £10.50, while a similar-size container of Nescafe Gold Blend was removed after being put on sale for £9.35. Meanwhile, reported The Telegraph, Marks & Spencer has resorted to placing just one steak on some of its shelves to try to curb shoplifting amid the cost-of-living crisis.

7

‘Shy capitalists’ may save Tories

The Conservative Party may find “electoral salvation” in the “shy capitalist“ millennial generation according to a new report, said The Independent.  A new study from centre-right think tank Onward found that “millennials are the first demographic cohort not to become more right-wing as they age”, due to a lack of home ownership, less stable employment and starting families later. However, they have “more positive attitudes towards Rishi Sunak”, so “there is hope yet that millennials can be won back over”, said the authors.

Rise of the Nimby party: the Tory house-building dilemma

8

Horizon scandal continues

Former postmasters who were wrongly accused during the Horizon accounting scandal have been made to accept “insulting” settlement offers after being wrongly gagged by Post Office lawyers, said a legal expert. Dan Neidle, a former partner at the law firm Clifford Chance, said there had been a “shameful breach of professional ethics” in a clause sent to 2,600 postmasters, which prevented them from discussing their offers. Thousands of branch owner-managers were wrongly accused of theft and false accounting in a scandal branded the “biggest miscarriage of justice in British history”.

Feb 22: What next in the Post Office scandal?

9

Johnson charms Henley fete

Boris Johnson has “ingratiated himself” at a village fete, a “stone’s throw” from his old Henley seat, fuelling speculation that he could attempt a “chicken run” to his old constituency of Henley, said The Telegraph. The former PM was “a good sport” as he “got stuck in with the activities”, including scoring a jackpot on the human fruit machine on his third attempt, said the paper. However, the Uxbridge MP would face opposition if he tried to move to Henley, where the outgoing MP, John Howell, said it would only happen “over my dead body”.

10

Vallance calls for LSD research

Patrick Vallance wants more studies into the use of psychedelics to combat depression. Appearing at the Hay Festival, the former chief scientific adviser, was asked by an audience member if their 107-year-old grandmother, who was suffering from depression, could be helped by taking psychedelics. “There is a lot of enthusiasm around psychedelics at the moment,” he said, so “why don’t we actually work it out properly?” However, he warned: “I don’t think you can slip your grandmother an ecstasy tablet. We’ve got to test these things.”

How magic mushrooms may be used to treat depression

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