Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Friday 24 Feb 2017

1. Tories unseat Labour in Copeland by-election

New Conservative MP Trudy Harrison hailed her victory over Labour in Copeland last night as a "truly historic event". Her win marked the first by-election victory by a governing party since 1982 and the first Tory win in the area since 1935. Gareth Snell held on to Stoke-on-Trent Central for Labour.

Jeremy Corbyn is a 'disaster', says Stephen Hawking

2. Government to unveil fast-track degrees

Students in England will be offered fast-track two-year degrees, dropping the traditional long summer holiday, in government plans to be unveiled today. However, the price will remain the same as a three-year degree, with ministers expected to table a bill to lift the current £9,000-a-year cap on tuition costs for these courses.

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3. RBS reports ninth consecutive loss

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has failed to make a profit for the ninth year in a row. The largely taxpayer-owned bank reported a £7bn loss for 2016, a large part of which was down to setting aside £5.9bn for fines and legal costs related to the selling of mortgage-backed securities before 2008.

RBS smashes expectations with £940m profit

4. Price of stamps to rise by a penny

Stamp prices will increase by a penny next month, Royal Mail has announced. The price of a first class stamp will rise to 65p and a second class stamp will cost 56p. A stamp for large first class letter will rise by 2p to 98p. A large second class letter will also go up by 1p to 76p. The changes come into force on 27 March.

5. Kim Jong-nam 'killed by VX nerve agent'

North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un's half-brother was killed with the highly toxic chemical weapon VX, police in Malaysia say. Kim Jong-nam died last week after being accosted briefly by two women in Kuala Lumpur airport. A drop of "the most potent of the known chemical warfare agents" would have killed him, says the BBC.

Kim Jong Nam death: murder trial begins in Malaysia

6. Woman killed by debris during Storm Doris

The woman killed in Wolverhampton city centre during Storm Doris has been named as 29-year-old Tahnie Martin, a university worker from Stafford. She was hit by what was described as wooden debris "about the size of a coffee table" as she walked past a branch of Starbucks.

7. Leicester City sack manager Claudio Ranieri

Premier League champions have faced condemnation after manager Claudio Ranieri was sacked, nine months after leading the 5,000-1 underdogs to glory. The Foxes have endured a nightmare season, and are one point above the relegation zone, but Gary Lineker called the decision "inexplicable, unforgivable and gut-wrenchingly sad".

Were Leicester right or wrong to sack Claudio Ranieri?

8. Trump wants to expand US nuclear arsenal

Donald Trump wants to expand the US's nuclear arsenal. Speaking to Reuters news agency, the President said he he was opposed to the NewStart arms limitation treaty, which requires the US and Russia to limit their arsenals to equal levels for ten years, calling it a "one-sided… bad deal".

9. 'Army' of 5,000 sought to save red squirrels

The Wildlife Trust has launched its biggest-ever recruitment drive for volunteers, searching for 5,000 people to help save Britain's native red squirrels by "monitoring populations, educating children - and bludgeoning grey squirrels to death", says The Guardian. There are thought to be 140,000 red squirrels left in the UK.

10. Briefing: The truth behind free range eggs

There is growing confusion surrounding free range labelling, with several newspapers predicting that free range products could soon disappear from supermarket shelves. The situation was triggered by an outbreak of avian flu in Europe last year, which forced poultry farmers to house their hens indoors.

Fact Check: The truth behind free range labelling

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