Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 26 March 2021

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

1. China bans British MPs

China has imposed sanctions on organisations and individuals in the UK over what it called “lies and disinformation” about Xinjiang. Former Conservative party leader Iain Duncan Smith and the party’s Human Rights Commission are among those targeted, along with four other MPs and two member of the House of Lords. On Monday, Britain joined the EU, US and Canada in imposing sanctions on China for its human rights abuses against the Uighur Muslim minority group.

H&M and Nike face boycott in China over Xinjiang sanctions

2. EU backs down from jab ban

European leaders have “stepped back” from a threat to ban vaccine shipments to Britain, The Times reports. Although Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president, urged leaders to support regulations to hit Britain with blockades, the Netherlands and Belgium have emphasised “the importance of global value chains” and urged jab firms to “ensure predictability of their vaccine production and respect contractual delivery deadlines”.

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Will the UK-EU vaccine war delay lockdown lifting?

3. Concern over school cops

More than 650 police officers are working in British schools, it has emerged, with some carrying out stop-and-search operations and surveillance of children suspected of being gang members. Two police forces are reconsidering the deployment “following legal challenges over concerns they disproportionately affect black and minority ethnic pupils”, The Guardian reports. Campaigners say the police presence risks criminalising young people and exacerbating inequalities.

4. Rashford to meet Deliveroo

Marcus Rashford is to hold talks with Deliveroo after it was revealed that riders on thousands of shifts are averaging less than the minimum wage. The Daily Mirror reported yesterday that some riders working for the firm are earning less than £2 per hour while boss Will Shu prepares for a stock market flotation that could net him £500m. The food delivery company is a major backer of Rashford’s End Child Food Poverty Task Force.

Marcus Rashford and free school meals

5. Amazon in toilet storm

Amazon has denied reports that its delivery workers have been forced to urinate in bottles, despite leaked internal memos showing that the web giant has been aware of the problem for some time. An email sent in May 2020 and published yesterday by The Intercept admonished workers for urinating in bottles and defecating in bags during their rounds. Amazon has long faced criticism for the working conditions faced by its warehouse staff and drivers.

6. Williamson slams teacher ‘threats’

The Education Secretary has condemned the “threats and intimidation” that a teacher has faced after he was suspended for showing a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed in class. Gavin Williamson said that the protests outside Batley Grammar School in West Yorkshire were “completely unacceptable”. A 29-year-old Religious Studies teacher is said to have shown the image to pupils during a class on Monday.

7. Pub rule could ‘nudge’ young on jabs

Ministers hope that making Covid certificates compulsory for pub-goers could help tackle vaccine hesitancy among young people, according to The Guardian. It says the government believes the measure would “nudge” younger people to take the jab amid fears of a “stark” future fall in uptake among younger age groups.

Pros and cons of compulsory vaccination

8. Cinema recovery ‘to take years’

A leading cinema chain expects ticket sales to take two years to recover to pre-pandemic levels after cinemas finally reopen in May. Cineworld warned that sales would be little over half 2019 levels and not reach 95% of the total until 2023. However, bosses say they also hope the pace of the vaccine and a “strong pent-up demand” would help drive its recovery.

9. Snowboarder dies in avalanche

A former world champion snowboarder, Julie Pomagalski, has died in an avalanche at the age of 40. She was descending the Gemsstock mountain along with three other people at the time of the accident in Uri canton, Switzerland. She was a teenager when she became the world champion in snowboard cross in 1999.

10. Bower to tackle Meghan

The biographer Tom Bower has signed a six-figure deal to write a biography of the Duchess of Sussex. The Daily Telegraph says the news will be uncomfortable for Meghan because Bower “has a reputation for taking no prisoners”. One critic has called him “the undisputed Witchfinder General of contemporary biographers”.

Prince Charles: four claims in his unauthorised biography

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