Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Sunday 30 Aug 2020

1. Tory slams Johnson's u-turns as party loses poll lead

A senior Conservative politician says Boris Johnson's string of u-turns have created a “climate of uncertainty” and made it “increasingly difficult” for Tory MPs to defend government policy. Charles Walker, deputy chair of the 1922 Committee, spoke out as a new poll indicated that Labour has drawn level with the Tories, who have lost a 26-point lead.

2. Universities could become ‘care homes of the second wave’

There are fears that the mass return of university students could spark the next wave of Covid-19. UCU, the academics’ union, said more than a million students moving around the country was “a recipe for disaster”. Leader Jo Grady said universities were not prepared, and risked becoming the “care homes of the second wave” but university bosses say they are planning for a safe return.

3. Treasury plans £30bn tax raid to deal with Covid debt

The Treasury is planning a £30bn tax raid on the wealthy, businesses, pensions and foreign aid to tackle government debt that has risen above £2 trillion. Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, is planning to raise both capital gains tax and corporation tax. The latter move would put the government on a collision course with businesses already struggling because of the pandemic.

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4. Belarus cracks down on journalists as protests continue

Authorities in Belarus are cracking down on journalists covering post-election protests for foreign media outlets. Two journalists with the BBC's Russian service are among those who have had their accreditation withdrawn. The country has been gripped by mass protests for weeks, sparked by an election widely believed to have been rigged in favour of the longstanding leader Alexander Lukashenko.

5. Michael Moore warns that Trump is set for election victory

The film-maker Michael Moore has warned that Donald Trump appears to have such momentum in some battleground states that he will repeat his 2016 victory. Moore pointed to opinion polling in key states such as Minnesota and Michigan to argue that the current president is level or ahead of his rival. “Sorry to have to provide the reality check again,” he said.

6. Riots in Malmo after far-right activists burn the Qur’an

Riots have broken out in Malmo after a video circulated of followers of the far-right Danish politician Rasmus Paludan burning a copy of the Qur’an near one of the city’s mosques. More than 300 rioters threw stones at police and burned tyres in the southern Swedish city in protest at the stunt by followers of Rasmus Paludan, the leader of Denmark’s extremist Hard Line party.

7. Italian coastguard rescues migrants from Banksy's boat

Hundreds of people on board a rescue boat funded by street artist Banksy have been saved after the vessel became stranded in the Mediterranean Sea. The boat became unable to move due to an overcrowded deck after picking up hundreds of migrants off the Libyan coast. The Italian Coastguard said it had stepped in to transfer the “most vulnerable” on board to safety on Saturday afternoon.

8. Dozens of deaths after restaurant collapses in China

At least 29 people have died a two-storey restaurant collapsed during a birthday party in China. The Ministry of Emergency Management said a further 28 were injured, seven of them seriously, and 57 people were brought out alive. It is not yet known why the building in Linfen city suddenly fell apart. Family and friends were attending a birthday party banquet for an 80-year-old person.

9. Two arrested after far-right target Midlands hotels

West Midlands police say two men have been arrested on suspicion of assault at a Midlands hotel as far-right groups protest against asylum seekers being sheltered during the pandemic. Officers were called to reports of a disorder at the Coventry Hill Hotel at 12.50pm on Saturday. Over the past week, Britain First has entered multiple hotels across the country which are being temporarily used by Home Office to accommodate asylum seekers.

10. Brexit sparks call for California independence referendum

Brexit has inspired calls for an independent California, according to the head of a pro-Californian independence group. Marcus Evans of Yes California says the campaign to remove the western US state from the federal government is gathering support. State lawmakers will launch a formal petition which could pave the way for a state-wide referendum on Californian independence.

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