Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 7 May 2022

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

1. Sinn Féin set for victory

Sinn Féin is on track to win the most seats in the Northern Ireland Assembly after attracting the most first preference votes by a significant margin. The party received 250,388 first preferences, up from 224,245 in the 2017 election, while the Democratic Unionist Party first preference vote has dropped by 41,000 to 184,002. “A party that does not want Northern Ireland to exist and refuses to even use the term Northern Ireland will become its biggest,” said Jon Tonge, a University of Liverpool politics professor, adding that the result “is an incremental step on the long road to Irish unity”.

2. Tories question PM’s future

Conservative MPs in the party’s southern heartlands are openly questioning Boris Johnson’s leadership after the party lost hundreds of council seats to Labour and the Liberal Democrats. The party was defeated in a string of “totemic” Tory councils in the south of England and its vote share fell across the country, said The Times. Marcus Fysh, the Tory MP for Yeovil, questioned whether Boris Johnson is “the right person” to revive the party’s fortunes. However, the PM is said to be “buoyant”.

3. Judge dismisses Trump suit

A US court has dismissed Donald Trump’s lawsuit against Twitter that challenged his suspension from the social media platform. US district judge James Donato in San Francisco rejected the former president’s argument that Twitter violated his right to freedom of speech guaranteed by the first amendment of the US constitution. Twitter removed Trump’s account after his supporters attacked the US Capitol in a deadly riot on 6 January 2021.

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4. ‘Defiant’ Harry will travel to Jubilee

Prince Harry and Prince Andrew will not appear on the Buckingham Palace balcony as part of the celebrations of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. In a statement, Buckingham Palace said the monarch will be joined on 2 June only by “members of the Royal Family who are currently undertaking official public duties”. However, just 18 minutes after the announcement, the “defiant Sussexes” announced in a tweet via a friend that they will still fly in from California for the celebrations, said the Daily Mail.

5. Zelensky lays out peace terms

A peace deal with Moscow would depend on Russian forces pulling back to their pre-invasion positions, said Volodymyr Zelensky. Ukraine’s president said he said he was the leader of “Ukraine, not a mini-Ukraine”. He added that “to stop the war between Russia and Ukraine the step should be regaining the situation as of 23 February”. The BBC speculated that his reference to the situation as of the eve of the war suggested Ukraine may not insist on retaking Crimea before making peace with Russia.

6. Deaths in Havana hotel blast

At least 22 people have been killed and a further 74 were hospitalised after a massive explosion rocked one of Cuba’s most exclusive five-star hotels. The explosion tore the façade from the hotel, leaving rubble strewn across the street in the historic centre of Havana. Speaking at the scene soon afterwards, the Cuban president, Miguel Díaz-Canel, ruled out a bomb and said the blast at the Hotel Saratoga appeared to have been caused by a gas leak.

7. Bodies destroyed in Ethiopia

The remains of hundreds of people are being deliberately destroyed in bid to dispose of evidence of ethnic cleansing in the west of Ethiopia's Tigray region, according to over a dozen eyewitnesses. People belonging to security forces from the neighbouring Amhara region, which are occupying western Tigray, have been accused of digging up fresh mass graves, exhuming hundreds of bodies, burning them and then transporting what remains out of the region. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have accused Amhara of being behind a campaign of ethnic cleansing against Tigrayans.

8. Police probe Starmer claims

Police are investigating whether Sir Keir Starmer broke lockdown rules on a visit during which he drank beer in an MP’s office. Detectives in Durham initially decided that no offence had occurred on 30 April last year, but said they had since received “significant new information”. Starmer said he was “confident there was no breach of the rules”. He added: “The police, obviously, have got their job to do, we should let them get on with it, but I’m confident that no rules were broken.”

9. Al fresco culture here to stay

Britain is to go “permanently continental,” with al fresco dining to be made law in the Queens Speech, said The Telegraph. The government plans to announce legislation to allow councils to grant “pavement licences” for outdoor dining and drinking on a permanent basis and cement cafe culture across the nation. The licences were originally introduced as a temporary measure during the Covid crisis to enable restaurants, cafes and bars to stay open safely and boost the hospitality industry. Kate Nicholls, the chief executive of UK Hospitality, said: “It is something that customers have really liked.”

10. Chelsea agrees sale terms

Chelsea FC said terms have been agreed for a £4.25bn ($5.2bn) sale to a consortium led by Todd Boehly, co-owner of the LA Dodgers baseball team. The proposal will now go before the UK government and the Premier League for approval. Boehly was in London on Friday night, and is expected to attend Chelsea’s Premier League tie with Wolves at Stamford Bridge later today. The club has been owned by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich since 2003 but in March he put it up for sale.

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