Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 13 September 2021

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

1. Johnson ‘dead set’ against more lockdowns

Boris Johnson is “dead set” against another national lockdown and will “rip up” the old system of Covid restrictions this week, The Telegraph reported. Some Covid legislation will be ditched and plans for vaccine passports will be abandoned. Travel traffic lights system will be scrapped, PCR tests will not be required for fully vaccinated travellers and the red list is set to be significantly reduced. A senior government source said: “We need to learn to live with Covid.”

2. Parents say childcare is failing

A survey of more than 20,000 working parents found that 96% believed the government was not doing enough to support parents with the cost and availability of childcare while 97% said childcare in the UK was too expensive. One-third of parents said they paid more for childcare than their rent or mortgage – a proportion that rose to 47% of respondents from a black ethnic background. The House of Commons will hold a debate on childcare today.

3. North Korea tests new missiles

North Korea has tested a new long-range cruise missile capable of hitting much of Japan. According to state media, tests staged over the weekend saw missiles travelling as far as 1,500km (930 miles). It added that the weapons demonstrate “another effective deterrence means for more reliably guaranteeing the security of our state”. The US and South Korea are looking into the launch claims, officials in both countries told CNN.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

4. NHS to trial new cancer test

The NHS said it will trial a new blood test that can spot 50 cancers before symptoms appear. Health bosses said the new simple test could revolutionise treatment and save thousands of lives. NHS England chief executive Amanda Pritchard said: “By finding cancer before signs and symptoms appear, we have the best chance of treating it and we can give people the best chance of survival.”

5. More environmental activists murdered

A campaign group has found that a record number of activists working to protect the environment and land rights were murdered last year. Global Witness said 227 people were killed in 2020, the highest number recorded for a second consecutive year. Almost a third of the murders were reportedly linked to logging, mining, large-scale agribusiness, hydroelectric dams and other infrastructure. The report called the victims “environmental defenders”.

6. British firm paid bribe to Mugabe

A British tobacco giant paid a bribe to the former Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe. According to the BBC’s Panorama, British American Tobacco was involved in negotiations to pay between $300,000 and $500,000 to Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party in 2013. The documentary, to be broadcast tonight, will also show that BAT was paying bribes in South Africa and using illegal surveillance to damage rivals.

7. Huawei ‘infiltrated’ Cambridge University

Huawei is accused of “infiltrating” a Cambridge University research centre after most of its academics were found to have ties with the Chinese giant, The Times reported. Three out of four of the directors at the Cambridge Centre for Chinese Management are connected with the company, and its chief representative is a former senior Huawei vice-president who has been paid by the Chinese government. The telecoms company has alleged links to the Chinese state.

8. Javid calls for no more tax rises

Sajid Javid said there should be no new tax rises before the next election with cuts to public spending considered if more money had to be found in the coming years. The health secretary also appeared to call for the government to consider new tax cuts. The Telegraph said the statements “will be seen as a shot across the bows of Number 10” after Boris Johnson’s manifesto-breaking national insurance rise last week.

9. UK ‘unprepared for future shocks’

Britain should be better prepared for future economic shocks, the head of the head of the TUC is expected to declare. “Covid is not going to be a one-off,” the union federation’s general secretary Frances O’Grady will tell its annual congress. “Climate chaos is here already and the longer we put off getting to net zero, the more disruptive it will be,” she will add. O’Grady will also argue that “years of austerity” meant we “fought this pandemic with one hand tied behind our backs”.

10. Britney announces engagement

Britney Spears has announced that she is engaged to her partner, Sam Asghari. The 39-year-old pop star has been with the 27-year-old Iranian actor and fitness instructor for more than four years. The couple met on the set of a music video and Spears recently praised Asghari for his support during her “hardest years”. The news emerged just days after Spears’s father Jamie asked a court in Los Angeles to consider terminating the singer’s conservatorship.

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.