Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 19 September 2021

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

1. Crisis talks over surging gas prices

The government is “scrambling” to reassure Britons that “rising gas prices would not plunge the country into an energy crisis,” amid emergency meetings with energy companies and regulators, said The Observer. An insider compared the meetings with the early crisis talks held at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Gas prices surged by more than 70% in August and seven energy suppliers have been pushed out of business this year. The BBC reported on that four more may go next week.

2. Truss faces ‘baptism of fire’ in US

Liz Truss is heading for a “baptism of fire” on her first trip abroad as foreign secretary, said The Observer. The minister is set for a diplomatic confrontation as anger mounts in France over the cancellation of a £48bn nuclear submarine contract. Truss will convene a meeting of the permanent five members of the UN security council – the UK, US, France, China and Russia – and face her French counterpart who has the new tripartite security pact as a “stab in the back” for his country.

3. Space tourists splash back to Earth

Four amateur astronauts have splashed down successfully in the Atlantic Ocean after three days in space, completing the first all-civilian team orbiting of the Earth. The Inspiration4 crew left on a SpaceX capsule from Florida on Wednesday, and landed off the state’s coast yesterday evening. “That was a heck of a ride for us,” said one of the crew afterwards.

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4. Charles met fixer nine times

Prince Charles met the fixer at the heart of the royal “cash for honours” scandal at least nine times in Britain and abroad. Clarence House has said the Prince of Wales had “no knowledge” of the scandal but The Sunday Times reported that he has repeatedly seen William Bortrick, the fixer who received thousands of pounds to help secure an honour for a Saudi billionaire and who brokered a personal thank-you letter from Charles to a Russian donor.

5. Activists outnumbered at Capitol

Protesters who gathered around the US Capitol yesterday, for a rally in support of the pro-Trump rioters who ransacked the building on 6 January, were outnumbered by the police and journalists present. Although organisers had a permit for 700 to attend, only about 100 to 200 protesters turned up, Reuters reported. One activist carried a poster board reading: “We Want Trump!”

6. Andrew’s ‘silence is damaging monarchy’

Royal courtiers fear the Duke of York is being failed by his “wall of silence” strategy in the face of an allegation of sexual abuse. A source told the Sunday Telegraph “there is growing disquiet over the advice being given to the Duke by his London legal team” in the face of this “potentially highly damaging lawsuit which also has wider reputational implications for the institution of the monarchy”.

7. Two-year-old dies at mock hunt

A two-year-old girl was killed after falling from a horse during a hunt in Yorkshire. The child was riding a pony with members of The Bedale Hunt when she was fatally injured. An air ambulance was called to the scene but paramedics were unable to revive her. Although it is illegal in England to hunt foxes with a pack of dogs, mock hunts for young children are held across Britain and are often called “meets”.

8. Khan escorted from US flight

British boxer Amir Khan has said he was escorted from a flight in the US by police “for no reason”. In a video posted to Twitter, the 34-year-old said he had been trying to fly to a training camp in Colorado from New York, when he and a colleague were removed after someone complained his colleague’s mask “was not high enough”. He also claimed he had been banned by American Airlines. The carrier said it is contacting Khan “to learn more about his experience”.

9. Shop sales down as more eat out

Retail sales in the UK fell for the fourth month in a row in August, said the Office for National Statistics. Sales fell by 0.9% in August following a 2.8% fall in July. Food store sales fell by 1.2%, but the ONS said this was because more people were eating out following the removal of restrictions on hospitality. Sarah Coles, personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, told the BBC that Britons have “rediscovered our passion for a big night out”.

10. Notre Dame to reopen in 2024

The Notre Dame cathedral is on track to reopen to the public in 2024, reported CNN. The public body responsible for the 850-year-old building’s conservation and restoration said the securing of the cathedral had been completed on schedule, two years after it was damaged by a fire. “That means that we’re officially saying that the cathedral is now saved, that it's solid on its pillars, that its walls are solid,” they said.

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