Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 6 May 2022

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

1. Tories lose London flagships

The Conservatives are losing about one in six of the seats they are defending as results from yesterday’s local elections come in. Labour has won control of Wandsworth, Westminster and Barnet from the Conservatives, but has failed to make big inroads outside London. The Lib Dems are performing well, winning control of Hull from Labour. “There’s neither a sense of disaster for the Tories nor jubilation for Labour,” said the BBC. ”So far, this is not a set of results likely to push privately disgruntled Tory MPs to air their grievances in public, or try to move against Mr Johnson.”

The changes coming to elections in the UK

2. ‘Final stand’ in Mariupol

Volodymyr Zelenskyy has described the situation in Mariupol as “hell”, as Ukrainian fighters in the city prepare for what could be their final stand against Russia. The UN said a third operation to extract civilians from bunkers in an industrial plant is due today. UN chief Antonio Guterres said everything should be done to “get people out of these hellscapes”. Vladimir Putin insisted his forces are ready to give civilians safe passage, but said fighters must surrender.

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Can Ukraine beat Russia in the Donbas war?

3. Low death rate in Sweden

Sweden’s death rate during the Covid crisis is among the lowest in Europe, despite the country refusing to impose strict lockdowns, said The Daily Telegraph. The World Health Organisation’s estimates of excess deaths showed that Sweden, which was criticised in the early stages of the pandemic for not imposing a mandatory lockdown, had fewer deaths per capita than much of Europe. In 2020 and 2021, the country had an average excess death rate of 56 per 100,000, compared with 109 in the UK, 111 in Spain, 116 in Germany and 133 in Italy.

4. Trump ‘wanted to bomb Mexico’

Donald Trump proposed “quietly” launching missiles into Mexico to take out drug labs run by cartels, his former defence secretary has claimed in a new book. Mark Esper, who worked for Trump from July 2019 to November 2020, described the former US president as “an unprincipled person who, given his self-interest, should not be in the position of public service”. According to the book, Trump said that he would deny that the US had conducted the strike.

What is Donald Trump up to now?

5. Sunak told to cut taxes

Rishi Sunak is facing growing pressure from cabinet colleagues to implement radical tax cuts after the Bank of England warned that the economy could tip into recession next year. After the Bank forecast that inflation, which rose to 7% in March, would hit a 40-year high of 10.25% this autumn, a cabinet minister said the chancellor needed to cut VAT to stimulate the economy and help people. “A recession feels inevitable, we may already be in one,” they said.

6. Ministers ‘ignoring Covid inequality’

The government has been slow to tackle systematic racism and racial inequality during the pandemic, according to a leaked letter from black, Asian and minority ethnic leaders to the head of the Covid-19 public inquiry. In healthcare, 63% of deaths but only 21% of staff came from black, Asian or other ethnic minority groups. The letter said the draft terms of reference for the inquiry do not contain any direct focus on the “significant inequalities” experienced by ethnic minorities “as a result of systematic racism throughout the pandemic”.

The Covid-19 public inquiry: what you need to know

7. Rwanda modelling casts doubt on policy

Home Office modelling has suggested that only 300 migrants will be removed to Rwanda each year under the government’s new programme. When Boris Johnson announced the Rwanda policy last month he said that “tens of thousands” would be removed under the deal, but the analysis suggested that it would take 34 years before 10,000 migrants were removed. A government spokeswoman said “the entire government is united in our efforts to prevent lethal crossings, save lives and disrupt illegal migration”.

Why the UK chose Rwanda

8. Drugs found in UK rivers

Britain’s rivers are “awash with statins, antidepressants and prescription drugs,” said The Daily Telegraph. The drugs are among the worst polluters of English rivers, scientists have found. “Each of us needs to start considering our lifestyle as a factor contributing to deterioration of environmental health,” said lead researcher Professor Barbara Kasprzyk-Hordern from the University of Bath. Her team found a marked weekend effect for illegal drugs such as cocaine and MDMA, with concentrations of narcotics rising substantially on Saturday and Sundays.

9. Fresh street attack in Israel

Three people have been killed in the central Israeli town of Elad, in the latest in a series of street attacks in the country. Carrying a firearm and an axe, the perpetrators attacked people in a park in the ultra-Orthodox town near Tel Aviv last night. A manhunt is under way, with police setting up roadblocks and searching vehicles. A volunteer medic told the Jerusalem Post the victims were people “who went out just to breathe fresh air in the park, and their lives were ended so harshly”.

Why are IS-linked attackers targeting Israel?

10. Cocaine found in coffee shipment

Police in Switzerland say they have seized 500kg of cocaine from a shipment of coffee that was sent to a Nespresso factory. Workers at the plant in Romont discovered white powder in sacks of coffee beans. The seized cocaine was 80% pure and had an estimated street value of nearly £43m. An initial investigation suggested the shipment had come from Brazil. In a statement, Nespresso said: “We want to reassure consumers that all our products are safe to consume.”

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