Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 7 March 2021

The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am

1. Queen won’t watch ‘circus’

The Queen will not watch the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s interview with Oprah Winfrey, according to The Sunday Times. Royal aides – who have branded the interview a “circus” and “sideshow” - have warned that they are prepared to retaliate with fresh allegations about the couple’s behaviour if they attack the monarchy. The sources dismiss the importance of tonight’s interview and claim that “on Monday most people in Britain will be thinking about schools going back”.

2. Brexit checks may be eased

Post-Brexit border checks on food and other imports from the European Union will be relaxed by the government over fears that they will further damage trade and could lead to drastic shortages in UK supermarkets. The Observer reports that Lord Frost is considering allowing “lighter touch” controls on imports and winding in plans for full customs checks, including physical inspections, which are due from July.

3. Nazanin husband unsure of release

The husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe says he is unsure whether she will be released when her prison sentence ends today. The British-Iranian dual national, sentenced to five years in 2016, is under house arrest at her parents’ home in Tehran. Richard Ratcliffe told Sky News that he believes that if his wife is not released on Sunday, it will be a “watershed moment” that calls into question the UK government’s handling of the case.

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4. Scots poll finds union support

Most Scottish voters would opt to remain in the UK if an independence referendum were held tomorrow, according to a new poll for Scotland on Sunday. The survey suggests that 46% would vote against Scottish independence, compared with 43% in favour. When unsure voters are excluded, 52% are against independence, compared to 48% in favour of it.

5. Tics surge among teen girls

There has been an “explosion” of tics among teenage girls during the pandemic, according to specialists at Great Ormond Street and Evelina children’s hospitals in London. Before Covid, the two specialist clinics saw no more than six teenage girls with tics in the course of a normal year. Now they see three or four a week. Experts blame the stress of the pandemic and the rise of TikTok, where people post tics.

6. Farage steps back from politics

Nigel Farage has quit politics again. The former leader of the UK Independence Party and the Brexit Party told a podcast that he is resigning as leader of the Reform Party and turning his back on politics altogether. He says: “There is no going back - Brexit is done. That won’t be reversed. I know I’ve come back once or twice when people thought I’d gone, but this is it. It’s done. It’s over.”

7. Man who beheaded daughter arrested

Police in India have arrested a man who confessed to beheading his teenage daughter. Sarvesh Kumar was arrested in northern Uttar Pradesh state as he was walking toward a police station carrying the severed head of his 17-year-old daughter. “He told police he had seen his daughter with a young man that he believes she was seeing, which made him angry as he was against it,” said a police spokesperson.

8. HMRC payrise sparks anger

Anger over the 1% pay rise for nurses has intensified after it was revealed that staff at HMRC have been given a 13% pay rise. Documents from unions representing HMRC staff show that workers will be paid 3% this month as a backdated payment for last year; 5% in June 2021 and another 5% in June 2022 to make up an increase of 13%.

9. Dissident calls for ceasefires

A leading Irish dissident republican has urged armed paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland to call ceasefires and end their violence. Des Dalton, the former president of the hardline group Republican Sinn Féin, says current armed campaigns cannot be justified strategically or morally and insists that the suspension of “armed struggle” will create better conditions for dialogue about reunification.

10. Ferguson feared losing voice

Sir Alex Ferguson has said he feared he would never be able to speak again after his brain haemorrhage in 2018. “I lost my voice, just could not get a word out, and that was terrifying – absolutely terrifying,” said the former Manchester United manager during a festival Q&A. “And everything was going through my mind: is my memory going to come back? Am I ever going to speak again?”

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