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Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 4 February 2023

1

PM ‘wants to ban asylum appeals’

Rishi Sunak is “gearing up to battle with the courts” over plans to prevent migrants who have crossed the Channel in small boats from appealing their deportation, said The Times. The Home Office has shortlisted two options to achieve the PM’s goal of automatically barring people who arrive in Britain illegally from claiming asylum. One would withdraw the right of illegal arrivals to appeal against their automatic exclusion from the asylum system, the second would allow them to lodge an appeal after they had been deported.

2

US angry over ‘spy balloon’

The US Secretary of State has said China’s decision to fly an apparent spy balloon over the US is “unacceptable and irresponsible”. Antony Blinken has also cancelled a trip to Beijing, which would have been the first high level US-China meeting there in years. China earlier expressed regret, saying it was a weather airship that had been blown astray into American airspace. However, said the Pentagon, another Chinese spy balloon was spotted over Latin America.

3

Missing mum ‘fell into river’

Police searching for missing Nicola Bulley have vowed to “bring her home” as they called on members of the public to keep a look out for sightings of her clothes. Officers believe the 45-year-old mother-of-two “sadly” fell into the River Wyre while she was walking her dog last Friday morning. A major search for Bulley continues, but no trace of her has been found. Her partner Paul Ansell, 44, said that the family had been living in “perpetual hell”.

4

FTSE shuts on record high

The FTSE 100 closed at a record high yesterday after unexpectedly positive employment data from America boosted Britain’s biggest listed companies. The benchmark UK index reached its highest ever intra-day level of 7,906.58 — beating the 7,903.5 points set on May 22, 2018 — around an hour after the jobs figures were released. London’s blue chips have “enjoyed a good run so far this year”, said The Times, having gained more than 5% already.

5

Labour to leverage Starmer background

Labour will position itself as tough on crime, leveraging Sir Keir Starmer’s history of prosecuting the country’s worst criminals. Later this month, the party will launch a “prevent, punish, protect” message. It will spotlight policies that it has already launched but thinks have not yet cut through to voters. Party chiefs have not ruled out announcing new policies at the same time. Starmer’s background as director of public prosecutions from 2008 to 2013 “landed well in focus groups” said a source but “people are still learning that about him”.

6

Johnson tells Sunak to cut taxes

Rishi Sunak should cut taxes and “get the economy growing again”, said Boris Johnson. In an interview with the Tory MP Nadine Dorries, the former PM said he had “no doubt” his successor would reduce the burden of taxes on families. Johnson also insisted that when he left office in September last year the government finances had been “pretty robust” with “scope to do all sorts of things”. He said the Tories could win the next election and described Sir Keir Starmer as “Old Sir Crasharooney Snoozefest”.

7

Europe warned of fentanyl influx

A “flood” of fentanyl, the synthetic opioid that has killed more than 100,000 people in the US, is on its way to Europe, said The Times. Belgium is the “front line” of narcotics arriving from Latin America, and its customs chief says that fentanyl is a bigger threat than heroin or cocaine. The highly addictive opioid has caused 110,236 overdose deaths in the US in the last year.

8

Jury clears Musk over tweet

A US jury has ruled that Elon Musk is not liable for losses experienced by Tesla shareholders following his “funding secured” tweet from 2018. Musk faced a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of Tesla shareholders who argued he misled them with his posts in August 2018. The unanimous verdict by a California jury ends a three-week long trial. Writing on Twitter, Musk posted: “Thank goodness, the wisdom of the people has prevailed!”

9

German football coach is ‘Russian spy’

A German football coach has been unmasked as a Russian double agent, said Der Spiegel. Carsten Linke, a 52-year-old father of two, is the alleged double agent in BND, Germany’s foreign intelligence service, arrested for treason last December. He is suspected of passing on top-secret intelligence to Moscow, some of which is believed to be related to Ukraine, but in his home town of Weilheim in Bavaria, he coached several youth teams and told anyone who asked that he was a soldier.

10

Women ‘snub Clarkson quiz’

A celebrity special episode of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? has been scrapped after female stars refused to work with host Jeremy Clarkson. At least three female stars made it “very loud and very clear” that they did not want to be on TV with the host after his recent comments about Meghan Markle, said The Mirror. Writing in The Sun, the broadcaster had said that he wanted Meghan to be “paraded naked through the streets” and “dreams of people throwing excrement at her”.

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