Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Thursday 4 Jun 2020

1. Former US defence secretary condemns Trump over unrest

Donald Trump’s former US defence secretary James Mattis has accused the president of stoking division and abusing his authority. Mattis said he was “angry” and “appalled” by Trump’s response to the ongoing race protests, saying the US leader had sought to “divide” the American people and had failed to provide “mature leadership”. Meanwhile, Barack Obama has told young people of colour “your lives matter”, in a livestreamed speech.

2. German man is key suspect in Madeleine McCann case

A 43-year-old German man has been identified as a key suspect in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. The unnamed suspect is described as white and about 6ft tall, with blond hair and a slim build, and is known to have been in the area of Portugal’s Praia da Luz resort when the young girl vanished from there in May 2007. The authorities say he is currently serving a prison sentence for a sex crime and has two previous convictions for “sexual contact with girls”.

3. Boris Johnson ‘wanted herd immunity’, says new documentary

Boris Johnson wanted to pursue herd immunity to tackle the Covid-19 coronavirus and “horrified” scientists when he advocated shaking hands, a documentary has revealed. According to Channel 4’s Dispatches, Johnson told Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte in March that the UK was aiming for herd immunity - even though Downing Street has repeatedly denied having ever pursued such a strategy. The UK’s official Covid-19 death toll has now passed 50,000.

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4. New charges against Derek Chauvin and other Floyd officers

New charges have been announced against Derek Chauvin and three other police officers present at the death of African-American George Floyd during an arrest in Minneapolis last week. Court documents show that the charge against Chauvin has been elevated to second-degree murder, while the other officers, previously uncharged, will now face counts of aiding and abetting murder. Minnesota’s Attorney General Keith Ellison said that the new charges were in the interests of justice.

5. Alok Sharma tested for Covid-19 after struggling in Commons

Business Secretary Alok Sharma is self-isolating at home after becoming visibly unwell in the House of Commons chamber yesterday. The minister has been tested for coronavirus after struggling during a speech at the despatch box during the second reading of the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill. The suspected case of Covid-19 came a day after MPs approved the government’s plan to end virtual voting in the Commons.

6. China tells UK to ‘step back from the brink’ on Hong Kong

China has told Boris Johnson to “step back from the brink”, after the PM offered a path to citizenship for up to three million Hong Kong residents threatened by Beijing’s draconian new security laws. A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said that Britain has “no sovereignty, no jurisdiction and no supervision over Hong Kong” and that Johnson must “immediately stop interfering in Hong Kong’s affairs… or this will definitely backfire”.

7. Top scientists criticise government’s quarantine plans

Leading scientists have claimed that Boris Johnson’s quarantine plans make “no sense”, with Downing Street’s own chief scientific adviser distancing himself from the policy. Some members of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) argue that introducing the restrictions on Monday was “not following the science”. However, the PM has defended the plan, insisting that it is necessary now that Britain is “getting the virus under control”.

8. Thousands of primary schools defy reopening order

Thousands of primary schools across England have ignored the government’s call to restart classes. In some areas, up to 90% of eligible schools have remained closed to more pupils amid fears over safety, The Guardian reports. Figures obtained by the newspaper show that in large parts of the northeast, not a single primary school opened to more pupils on Monday, which was the government’s target date to begin reopening.

9. Homeless people may be back on streets within weeks, charity warns

Thousands of homeless people who have been housed during the Covid-19 pandemic may be forced back on the streets within weeks, a charity has warned. During the lockdown, more than 14,500 people have been given emergency accommodation, but Crisis says the arrangement is due to end as government funding expires. The effort to house homeless people has “demonstrated that when the political will is there it is possible to end homelessness”, the charity adds.

10. Prince Charles says he ‘got away lightly’ with Covid-19

Prince Charles says he got “lucky” after contracted coronavirus in March and “got away with it quite lightly”, suffering only mild symptoms. The 71-year-old told Sky News: “I was lucky in my case... but I’ve had it, and I can so understand what other people have gone through.” He added: “I feel particularly for those who have lost their loved ones and have been unable to be with them at the time.”

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