Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 21 June 2022

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

1. PM rail strike plan is ‘unsafe’

Boris Johnson intends to break rail strikes, which start today, by allowing firms to bring in agency workers, according to The Guardian. The PM’s reported plan has been denounced by unions as unworkable, unsafe and potentially in breach of international law. Johnson accused unions of “too high demands on pay” but the Trades Union Congress (TUC) said his agency plan would make disputes long and bitter. Thousands of staff at Network Rail and 13 rail operators walked out from midnight after last-ditch talks to avoid the strikes failed.

Rail strikes: which workers will be next to walk out?

2. Exam leaked on Snapchat

An investigation has been launched into a leaked exam paper, leading to allegations that A-level questions are up for sale on social media. When the two-hour chemistry paper was sat by thousands of students yesterday morning, some said they recognised the questions from Snapchat. Screenshots apparently show an unknown Snapchat account advertising the leaked photos, telling teenagers to “message [me] for the whole paper – must be payment ready”. One student told The Telegraph: “My main concerns are that it’s impossible to ensure no one has an unfair advantage.”

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3. Calls for Carrie investigation

Lord Geidt believes allegations that Boris Johnson tried to appoint his future wife to a leading government job “could be ripe for investigation”, said The Telegraph. It has been claimed that Johnson tried to make Carrie Johnson (then Symonds) the chief of staff in the Foreign Office while he was foreign secretary and having an affair with her. The story was published in The Times’ first edition on Saturday, but removed from later editions of the paper after the reported intervention of No. 10. Downing Street and the PM strongly deny the story.

Lord Geidt quits: the ‘impossible’ job of Boris Johnson’s ethics adviser

4. Israel’s coalition government falls

Israel is set to hold a fifth general election in under four years after its struggling coalition government concluded it could not survive. A statement released by the office of the prime minister, Naftali Bennett, said that “attempts to stabilise the coalition had been exhausted” and his government, made up of eight ideologically disparate parties, will seek to dissolve parliament. Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu vowed that he will lead the next government, adding: “This is an evening of great news for the many Israeli citizens.”

Naftali Bennett: who is Israel’s prime minister?

5. Macron faces uphill battle

Emmanuel Macron will meet political opponents today after his coalition failed to win a majority in parliamentary elections, said the BBC. The French president is under pressure to secure support from rivals to fulfil his government’s reform agenda but neither Marine Le Pen’s far-right alliance nor Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s alliance of left-wing and Green parties are keen to work with him. This means Macron will be “forced to negotiate for every vote, every initiative with those who want nothing more than to see him fail”, said CNN.

Can Emmanuel Macron unite a divided France?

6. Orgies ‘common in the army’

Orgies in the army are fairly common and the recent incident at Merville Barracks points to a wider culture of misogyny in the armed forces which views women as “lesser beings”, a whistleblower told The Independent. The woman, who previously worked in recruitment for the British Army, said the institution often felt like a throwback to the 1950s. Her revelation comes after a group of paratroopers were put under military police investigation as footage emerged of them having an orgy with a civilian woman at a military base in Colchester.

7. Africa ‘hostage’ of Ukraine war

Volodymyr Zelenskyy has described Africa as “a hostage” of the war in Ukraine. Speaking during an address to the African Union on Monday, the Ukrainian president said “Africa is actually a hostage... of those who unleashed war against our state”, adding that “the food prices that are catastrophically rising have already brought [the war] to the homes of millions of African families”. Russia’s invasion and its blockade of Ukraine’s grain exports have sparked grain and fertiliser shortages and put millions of people at risk of hunger.

Will Ukraine invasion trigger a global food security crisis?

8. EasyJet cancellations ‘to hit 1.5m’

EasyJet has announced cancellations that could hit 1.5m summer holidaymakers, estimated The Telegraph. The budget airline has cut thousands of flights as an industry-wide staffing crisis continues to cause chaos. The cancellations – which are likely to include flights to popular destinations in countries such as Greece and Spain – will take place during the crucial summer months of July and August, as well as September. EasyJet chief Johan Lundgren admitted that his company had failed to prepare for the impact of the UK leaving the EU.

Is Brexit to blame for the travel chaos?

9. Iconic floating restaurant sinks

A famous floating restaurant off Hong Kong has sunk, days after it was towed away from the harbour where it had operated for nearly 50 years. The Jumbo Floating Restaurant capsized in the South China Sea while on its way to an undisclosed location. According to the restaurant’s owner, it encountered “adverse conditions” as it was passing the Xisha Islands, also known as the Paracel Islands. Over the past four decades, Jumbo has served Cantonese cuisine to more than a million guests, including the Queen and Tom Cruise.

10. Giggs stands down ahead of trial

Ryan Giggs has announced he is standing down as Wales manager with immediate effect. The announcement from the former Manchester United star comes ahead of his domestic violence trial on 8 August. Giggs is accused of using controlling and coercive behaviour against his former girlfriend Kate Greville between August 2017 and November 2020. The 48-year-old has denied the allegations and said he “looked forward” to clearing his name.

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