Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Saturday 22 Apr 2017

1. Hammond hints that Tories may break tax pledge

Philip Hammond has signalled that the Conservatives may abandon their election pledge not to raise income tax, National Insurance or VAT. Speaking at to the International Monetary Fund in Washington, the Chancellor said the 2015 pledge "constrained" the Government's ability to manage the economy effectively and that he needed more "flexibility". Meanwhile, Theresa May has ruled out cuts to the UK’s foreign aid budget.

2. Donald Trump puts EU ahead of Britain in trade queue

Donald Trump has put the European Union ahead of Britain in the queue for a free-trade deal with the US, says The Times. Sources say that German chancellor Angela Merkel has convinced the US President that such a deal would be less complicated than he feared. The White House has concluded that a trade deal with the bloc is more important than a post-Brexit deal with Britain.

3. Britain goes a full day without coal

Britain has gone a full day without using coal to generate electricity for the first time since the Industrial Revolution. The National Grid said yesterday’s development was a "watershed" moment for the country. Gridwatch.co.uk has estimated that around half of British energy on Friday came from natural gas, with about a quarter coming from nuclear plants.

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4. United Nations report warns of nuclear disaster

The United Nations says that rising global tension and the march of cyber warfare could combine to spark a nuclear disaster. A report from the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research says that "the lack of nuclear weapons use since Hiroshima and Nagasaki" cannot be interpreted as "evidence that the likelihood of a detonation event is minimal".

5. Nigel Farage under investigation over referendum spending

The campaign group headed by Nigel Farage and Arron Banks is being investigated by the Electoral Commission over potential offences related to its spending during last year’s referendum campaign. Leave.Eu reportedly worked with Cambridge Analytica, which uses social media to influence voters, but the firm’s involvement was not declared to the election watchdog.

6. Paris killing overshadows French presidential poll

French voters are going to the polls on Sunday with terrorist violence "casting a long shadow over its fraught presidential election", says The Guardian. There were bitter clashes between candidates after a policeman was shot head on the Champs Élysées earlier this week. Frontrunner Emmanuel Macron said his rivals were exploiting the killing for political gain.

7. The Sun apologises for Kelvin MacKenzie column

The Sun has printed an apology to Ross Barkley after controversial columnist Kelvin MacKenzie compared the mixed-race Everton footballer to a gorilla. "At the time of publication the paper was unaware of Ross Barkley’s heritage and there was never any slur intended," it said. MacKenzie said at the time that to describe the column as racist is "beyond parody".

8. Taxpayer to miss out despite Lloyds injection recoup

The Times says the taxpayer will still be "out of pocket" after the government recovered all of the £20.3bn that was injected into Lloyds Banking Group to rescue the stricken lender in 2008. Philip Hammond hailed the moment as "a significant milestone in our plan to build an economy that works for everyone" but the National Audit Office says that the interest bill has added about £3.6bn.

9. Former European judge slams 'ignorance' of Brexit ministers

Pro-Brexit ministers have been accused of "invincible ignorance" by a former judge from the European Court of Justice. Professor Sir David Edward told The Independent he was "astonished" by the ministers’ promise of autonomy from the court. "You can escape the jurisdiction of the ECJ, but you have got to comply with EU standards if you are going to export into the EU," he added.

10. Labour pledge new act to address pollution 'scandal'

The Labour Party says air pollution levels are a "national scandal" as it reveals that nearly 40m people in the UK are living in areas where illegal levels of air pollution from diesel vehicles risk damaging their health. Sue Hayman, shadow secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs, said a Labour government would bring in a new clean air act to tackle the "public health emergency".

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