Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 24 June 2022

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

1. Double ‘hammer blow’ for PM

The Conservatives have lost two seats after yesterday’s by-elections, both held in Leave-voting areas. In Tiverton and Honiton, the Liberal Democrats overturned a Conservative majority of 24,000 – the largest ever to be reversed at a by-election – to win by more than 6,000 votes. In Wakefield, Labour took back a seat it had lost to the Tories in 2019. The Guardian said the results are a “double hammer blow” to Boris Johnson while The Times said the “humiliating defeats” damage his reputation as a “vote winner”. Conservative chairman Oliver Dowden resigned this morning, saying he took responsibility for the defeats.

Can Johnson recover from confidence vote?

2. Senate agrees historic gun law

The US Senate has passed a rare bipartisan package of gun safety legislation. The bill, regarded as the first significant gun controls to pass in three decades, was passed by 65 votes to 33, as 15 Republican senators joined all 50 Democrats in voting for the bill. The measures include tougher background checks for younger would-be gun owners and measures to keep guns away from more domestic violence offenders. They also make it easier for authorities to take weapons from people judged to be dangerous. The bill will now be sent to the House of Representatives for approval.

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Can Biden break the US gun lobby?

3. BA workers vote for strikes

Hundreds of British Airways workers at Heathrow Airport have voted to take strike action over pay. Unite and GMB union members, who are mostly check-in staff, backed industrial action, setting up the prospect of a summer of disruption at the airport. “All our members are asking for – and these are primarily low-paid women – is for BA to reinstate the 10% taken from them during the pandemic,” a GMB spokesperson said. BA, which is offering a one-off 10% bonus instead of a permanent rise, said it was “extremely disappointed”.

Is Britain on track for a ‘summer of discontent’?

4. Ukraine granted EU candidacy

Ukraine and Moldova have both been granted EU candidate status, the European Council has announced. “Today marks a crucial step on your path towards the EU,” said Charles Miche, the president of the council. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky hailed a “unique and historical moment” in relations between his nation and the EU. “Ukraine’s future is within the EU,” he said. However, the application process can take many years and is not guaranteed to end in success.

Is Kissinger right about Ukraine?

5. PM says Rwanda policy is popular

Boris Johnson has told the president of Rwanda that sending asylum seekers to his country is popular. The PM told President Paul Kagame that “the media and certain newspapers hate it, and so they maintain this idea that the policy is wrong and unpopular”, but “all the evidence suggests that the British people are strongly in favour of what we are doing together”. A YouGov poll for The Times found that 42% of Britons opposed the plan and 38% supported it.

Is Rwanda a dictatorship?

6. Challenges to government fall

Successful high court challenges to government policy and decisions by public bodies have fallen dramatically, according to new analysis. The proportion of civil judicial reviews won by claimaints in England and Wales, excluding immigration cases, fell by 50% on 2020. The Guardian said the news has prompted warnings that the government’s “attacks on lawyers” could be having a “chilling effect” on judges. Jolyon Maugham QC, director of the Good Law Project, said there was a risk the rule of law “could easily become a relic for the history books”.

7. Frogs facing ‘extinction domino’

The popularity of frogs’ legs is causing an “extinction domino effect” on wild populations of the amphibians in parts of Asia and Eastern Europe, according to wildlife campaigners. EU states import around 4,000 tons of frogs’ legs every year, the limbs of as many as 200m frogs. Germany spent the most on imports in 2020, splashing out £73m, while France imported £33m worth. “Large species are dwindling in the wild,” said Dr Sandra Altherr, co-founder of Munich-based Pro Wildlife.

Why mass extinctions matter

8. Case discussed Carrie charity role

The Cabinet Secretary has confirmed he discussed a potential role for Carrie Johnson with Prince William’s charity. In a letter, Simon Case said he held “informal” discussions with the Royal Foundation, which manages the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s charitable work, in 2020. The Telegraph said it understands the approach was rebuffed amid concerns it could undermine the political neutrality of the royals’ work. Johnson eventually took a job as Director of Communications at the Aspinall Foundation, an environmental charity.

Carrie Johnson, the vanishing story and questions about ‘plum jobs’

9. Maxwell ‘should face long sentence’

US prosecutors have called for Ghislaine Maxwell to be imprisoned for between 30 and 55 years for helping Jeffrey Epstein to sexually abuse teenage girls. Ahead of her sentencing next week, the prosecutors urged a judge to impose a lengthier sentence than the 20 years recommended by probation officers. They argued that Maxwell had shown no remorse for her crimes and had lied repeatedly about her circumstances and her treatment in jail. Alison Nathan, the circuit judge who oversaw the four-week trial, is due to sentence Maxwell on Tuesday.

What we now know about Epstein’s crimes

10. PM calls for Dacre peerage

Boris Johnson is to nominate the former editor of the Daily Mail for a peerage after he withdrew from the race to lead the broadcast regulator. Paul Dacre is on a list of nominations that the PM will submit to the body that vets peerages, said The Times. Theresa May is also said to have nominated Dacre for a peerage when she was PM but the House of Lords Appointments Commission is believed to have advised against the appointment on the basis that he was an “active journalist”.

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