Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 8 May 2022

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

1. Sinn Féin ready to take office

Sinn Féin's Michelle O’Neill said the party will be at Stormont on Monday, ready to form an executive after it secured the most seats in the assembly election. “Other parties need to do the same,” she said. “No excuses. No nonsense.” Sinn Féin can now nominate a first minister but they cannot take up the office unless the Democratic Unionist Party agrees to nominate a deputy first minister, and the party has not yet decided if it will do that. The Irish Times said the result was a “significantly and symbolically damaging election for unionism”.

2. PM’s ‘Brexit bounce’ is fading

Boris Johnson’s “Brexit bounce” is waning among working-class voters, said the Sunday Telegraph. Analysis of voting patterns in the local elections found a swing of more than six points to Labour in the wards with the highest concentrations of pro-Brexit voters, as well as those with the greatest proportion of working class people, compared to last year’s local election results. The analysis was undertaken by Sir John Curtice, a professor of politics at the University of Strathclyde.

3. Fighters hold out at Mariupol plant

All civilians have been evacuated from the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol, Ukraine and Russia have announced. However, Ukrainian forces are holding out at the heavily bombed plant, the last part of the city not under Russian control. Meanwhile, on Saturday, six Russian cruise missiles fired from aircraft hit Odesa. The local council said four of the missiles hit a furniture company, with the shock waves and debris badly damaging high-rise apartment buildings. The other two missiles hit the Odesa airport.

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4. Leak contradicts Starmer story

Sir Keir Starmer is “facing a crisis on two fronts” after a witness prepared to tell police the Labour leader’s lockdown curry had broken pandemic rules and a leaked document seemingly showed the gathering had been planned, said The Sunday Times. An operational note drawn up for Starmer’s visit to Durham, obtained by The Mail on Sunday, showed a slot set aside for “dinner in Miners Hall with Mary Foy” and a request for a “takeaway from Spice Lounge”, a local curry house. Starmer had claimed the takeaway was ordered spontaneously between meetings.

5. Gambling giants lobbied Treasury

Three of Britain’s leading betting companies “quietly lobbied” Treasury officials against a proposed industry crackdown, reported The Observer. Bosses from Bet365, Paddy Power and Ladbrokes met officials from the Treasury and Revenue and Customs, warning the move would cost millions of pounds in lost tax receipts. Matt Zarb-Cousin, director of campaign group Clean Up Gambling, said: “This is massive propaganda from an industry that has engaged in tax avoidance for years. I hope the Treasury isn’t buying it.”

6. Taliban tells women to cover up

The Taliban have ruled that women should cover their faces in public and wear a burqa. The declaration is the latest restriction on women since the Taliban seized power nine months ago, when they claimed they had changed from their oppressive approach of the 1990s. The Taliban has also banned women from government jobs, stopped girls from going to secondary school and prevented women from travelling alone outside their cities.

7. Beijing man takes over in Hong Kong

John Lee has been appointed Hong Kong’s new leader, after a closed voting process in which he was the sole candidate. Mr Lee, who is known as a staunch Beijing supporter, oversaw the sometimes violent crackdowns on pro-democracy protestors in 2019. The BBC said his appointment is being widely seen as a move by the Chinese government to tighten its grip on the city. He replaces outgoing chief executive Carrie Lam, who had been in office since 2017.

8. Monkeypox case found in England

A person in England has been diagnosed with the monkeypox virus, health authorities have revealed. The patient, who is now being treated at an expert infectious disease unit in London, had recently travelled to Nigeria, where they are believed to have caught the virus before coming to the UK. The NHS said monkeypox is a rare viral infection from which most people recover in a few weeks. However, the Mail on Sunday said it kills up to one in 10 of those infected.

9. BBC ‘doesn’t want nutter reading news’

Huw Edwards said a colleague told him the BBC “doesn’t want people to think there’s a nutter reading the 10 o’clock news” after he told them he has depression. The TV presenter described how his employer reacted when he told them, stating that there was initially a “deep-freeze silence”. Speaking on a podcast about his experiences, he said the reactions were “actually quite a good insight into the way people, some people, still perceive these issues”.

10. Dogs love their owners

A new book has presented fresh evidence that dogs form emotional attachments with their owners that run deeper than just a search for food. Wonderdog: How the Science of Dogs Changed the Science of Life, by Jules Howard, notes a study in which Japanese researchers asked 30 dog-owners to spend half an hour gazing into the eyes of their pet. Urine tests performed before and after the gazing revealed that the dogs enjoyed a 130% increase in oxytocin, known as the love hormone.

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