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Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 9 May 2023

1

8am GP scramble to end

The government plans to end the “8am scramble” for GP appointments by allowing up to seven million patients a year suffering from conditions such as a sore throat, earache and shingles to get prescriptions directly from pharmacies without a GP appointment. NHS England says its plan will free up 15m GP appointments over the next two years – around 2% of the total. However, according to the BBC, there are concerns over how pharmacies will cope with the extra demand. Data shows there are now fewer local chemists than at any time since 2015. 

2

Met ‘regret’ over arrests

The Metropolitan police has defended the arrest of anti-monarchy protesters during the coronation despite expressing “regret” over the detentions. The force said that it believed items found alongside a large number of placards could be used as “lock-on devices” but they had been unable to prove intent and so no charges will be brought against the activists. Republic chief executive Graham Smith, who was among the group, said he has now received a personal apology from police officers. He said he did not accept the apology and would take legal action after no charges were brought against him. Scotland Yard “faces scrutiny” over its handling of the Coronation, said The Guardian.

Public Order Act: are harsher sentences for protesters necessary?

3

Migration set to rise again

Migration levels could reach twice the numbers seen before Brexit, experts have said. Net migration – the number entering the UK minus those leaving – could reach a record high of 675,000, double the pre-Brexit peak of 331,000 eight years ago, reported the Daily Telegraph. The figure will “pile pressure on the government”, added the newspaper, over its 2019 election manifesto pledge to bring down net migration, a promise repeated by Rishi Sunak and Suella Braverman. A Home Office spokesperson said “we remain committed to reducing net migration over time”.

Does the UK need higher levels of immigration to thrive?

4

Adams makes Thatcher claim

“Very few tears” would have been shed in parts of the UK if the Brighton bombing had killed Margaret Thatcher, former Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has claimed in what The Independent described as an “incendiary” remark. On an episode of The Rest Is Politics podcast, presented by Alistair Campbell and Rory Stewart, Adams said: “There would be very few tears shed for Margaret Thatcher in Republican Ireland, or in many villages in Wales and working-class Scotland and England itself,” he said. Thatcher was unhurt in the 1984 IRA bombing of the Grand Hotel in Brighton during the Tory party conference, which killed five, including her deputy chief whip Anthony Berry.

OCT 21: Spencer Perceval to David Amess: a history of MPs murdered in office

5

Johnson ‘squared up’ to King Charles

Boris Johnson “squared up” to the-then Prince Charles after he described the government’s Rwanda scheme as “appalling”, according to the Daily Mail. The paper said the “extraordinary clash” saw the-then PM warn Charles, then Prince of Wales, against interfering in politics. No 10’s former director of communications Guto Harri told the paper Johnson had said he “went in quite hard” against the future King over his decision to comment on the issue. “The revelations threaten to reopen controversy about the extent to which the new King will interfere with politics,” said the paper.

Prince Charles and Boris Johnson: the ‘souring’ relationship between future king and the PM

6

Canada expels Beijing diplomat

Canada has expelled a Chinese diplomat following claims that Beijing tried to intimidate a Canadian politician and interfere in the country’s elections. In a statement, Canada’s Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly declared Toronto-based diplomat Zhao Wei “persona non grata”. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service found an accredited Chinese diplomat in the country had targeted opposition lawmaker Michael Chong, and his relatives in China, after he supported a motion to condemn China’s treatment of its Uyghur Muslim minority group.

7

Millions missed bills last month

Two million households in the UK missed or defaulted on at least one mortgage, rent, loan, credit card payment or bill last month, according to Which. The consumer group found that 700,000 of this number had missed their housing payments. The Mirror said that a “significant number” of those surveyed – 3.1% – also missed mortgage payments in the last month as Bank of England interest rates continued to climb. The “shock figures” come among a “backdrop of rising costs putting a strain on UK households in recent months”, said the paper.

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

8

Labour would restrict foreign buyers

A Labour government would see foreign buyers face increased levels of stamp duty, reported the Financial Times (FT). Keir Starmer also wants to prevent overseas buyers purchasing more than 50% of properties in a new development. Starmer is looking to introduce new rules to help young people get on the housing ladder, added the FT, and is considering only allowing first-time buyers to buy homes on new developments for a period of six months. Although the Tories have considered similar plans, the Treasury is believed to be concerned about the impact on the property market.

9

Coronation events cost councils millions

Local councils across the UK have reportedly spent more than £3.8m of their own money on coronation events, according to OpenDemocracy. The group found that the biggest spender on events to mark the coronation of King Charles III was Ealing Council, which spent over £180,000 on events including a live screening, performances and fireworks. In December, the council said it would have to make at least £2m of savings from its budget for public health, adult social care, and leisure centres, noted The Independent.

10

DeSantis in Trump dilemma

Ron DeSantis, the Florida governor, has struggled with how he can take on Donald Trump without “p**[ing] off” the former president’s voting base, a leaked video revealed. In a video from 2018, the 44-year-old, now regarded as Trump’s strongest challenger for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, says “obviously” there are issues on which he disagrees with Trump “because, I mean, I voted contrary to him in the Congress”. He added: “I have to frame it in a way that’s not going to p**s off all his voters.”

Ron DeSantis: a faltering White House bid

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