Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 22 September 2021

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

1. Biden plays down trade deal

Joe Biden downplayed the chances of brokering a post-Brexit free trade deal with the UK, ahead of talks with Boris Johnson at the White House. Biden said the pair would discuss trade only “a little bit”, adding: “We’re going to have to work that through.” After the meeting, Downing Street said the two leaders “had agreed to continue working towards a future full free trade agreement”.

Backstage in the White House: what is at stake for Johnson?

2. One in ten drugs ‘unnecessary’

A government review has found that one in ten drugs dispensed by GPs and pharmacists are pointless and potentially harmful. Around 15% of Britons take five or more medicines a day, some dealing with the side-effects of the others. The government is appointing a prescribing tsar to stop waste. Family doctors will be told to make more use of “social prescribing”, such as gardening, walking or volunteering.

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3. Labour reform risks ‘civil war’

Sir Keir Starmer has been accused of risking “civil war” in the Labour party as he bids to change the rules that led to Jeremy Corbyn’s election as leader. Starmer wants to switch to an electoral college system to decide future party leaders. The party’s left said the move would hand more power to MPs at the expense of ordinary members but Starmer will argue the move will give greater influence to millions of trade union members.

Everything you need to know about the Labour conference

4. Brits ‘more upset by racism’

A study by the media regulator has found that British TV viewers are increasingly troubled by the use of racist and transphobic language but much more tolerant of swearing. Ofcom found that attitudes to racist language have hardened and most of the public felt “deliberate misgendering” of a trans person was highly offensive. However, “gammon” and “snowflake” were seen as less offensive because they focus on people’s attitudes rather than their identity.

5. Kids’ jabs leaflet to be reworded

Health officials will correct consent forms being given to children after wrongly telling them getting the Covid jab would give them extra freedoms. The forms, distributed to children aged 12 to 15, said: “You don’t have to keep following the government’s rules if you have been vaccinated, but they will help you to stay safe.” After an outcry by campaigners, officials said the form would be corrected to say: “You should keep following the government's rules if you have been vaccinated.”

6. Charity probe for Operation Ark

The Charity Commission is to investigate former Marine Pen Farthing’s mission to bring rescue animals back to the UK from Afghanistan. The watchdog has told the BBC it is looking into the funding arrangements of Operation Ark, which raised more than £200,000 from supporters in days. Edwina Turner, a lawyer who works with several charities, said the group will have to demonstrate that it spent the money effectively and in support of its stated aims. The organisers of Operation Ark denied any wrongdoing.

The curious case of Pen Farthing, Carrie Johnson and the Afghan animal airlift

7. France may share UN seat

France’s seat on the UN Security Council could be placed “at the disposal of the European Union” if EU leaders back Emmanuel Macron’s plans for an EU army, according to a source close to the French president. As Paris leads a diplomatic push for closer EU military integration after the Aukus security pact was announced between the US, UK and Australia, Macron is determined to “lay its foundations”, said The Telegraph.

Aukus: the new security pact explained

8. Earthquake strikes in Melbourne

A 5.8 magnitude earthquake has shaken the Australian city of Mansfield, about 100 miles from Melbourne, where buildings were also damaged. The quake happened at about 9.15am local time on Wednesday. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said “we have had no reports of serious injuries and that is very good news”. The BBC said large earthquakes are uncommon in Australia because the continent lies centrally on a tectonic plate.

9. Netflix eyes deal with Dahl estate

Netflix is closing on its biggest acquisition yet: the back catalogue of Roald Dahl. Bloomberg News said the streaming giant, which already has a deal with the late author’s estate to make an animated series based on his stories for children, is now in talks to buy the whole business that owns and manages Dahl’s works. The Times said it would be the largest takeover yet by Netflix.

10. Pope says Church rivals wanted him dead

Pope Francis has said that some of his rivals wanted him to die when he underwent colon surgery during the summer. In what The Telegraph described as a “veiled barb against his enemies within the Catholic Church”, the Pope said he was recovering well from the operation in July, “even though some people wanted me to die”. He claimed that “there were even meetings” between factions to prepare for a new pontiff.

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