Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 23 September 2022

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

1. Kwarteng to announce tax cuts

Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng is expected to announce tax cuts and more support for energy bills during a mini-budget later today. His measures could include cutting stamp duty for property purchases, scrapping a planned rise in corporation tax and the end of a cap on bankers’ bonuses. “We will be bold and unashamed in pursuing growth – even when that means taking difficult decisions,” Kwarteng will reportedly say. Indeed, said the FT, the mini-budget is “expected to draw criticism from several quarters”.

What can we expect from today’s mini-budget?

2. Labour may abolish Lords

A leaked report has revealed that Labour is considering abolishing the House of Lords and replacing it with an upper house that would represent the UK’s nations and regions. The constitutional review, conducted by Gordon Brown, also recommends ceding more economic powers, including the power to control taxes, to Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and a new devolved government for England. The former PM also recommends forming a jury of ordinary citizens who would be empowered to rule on complaints against MPs and ministers through a new integrity and ethics commission. The “radical and far-reaching” proposals have provoked “intense internal debate”, said The Guardian.

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The pros and cons of the House of Lords

3. Rates rise causes ‘financial pain’

Increasing interest rates will cause “real financial pain for millions of households”, said Sky News. The Bank of England raised rates yesterday from 1.75% to 2.25%, the highest level for 14 years and the seventh rate rise in a row as it tries to tame soaring prices. The bank also said the UK may already in be recession, as it expects that the economy has shrunk between July and September.

4. Referendums held in Ukraine

Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine are voting today on whether to join Russia, in what Emmanuel Macron has described as a “parody” of democracy. Ukraine’s Western allies have dismissed the referendums, which will take place in four regions in which Russia gained ground during its invasion, as a land grab. Although the ballots had been discussed for months, Ukraine’s recent advances have prompted a scramble by officials to schedule them while they still hold the territory.

How will the Ukraine war end?

5. Cold sore virus could kill cancer

Scientists say a new type of cancer therapy that uses a common virus to infect and destroy harmful cells is showing promise in early human trials. One patient’s cancer vanished, while others saw their tumours shrink, said the Institute of Cancer Research. The drug is a weakened form of a cold sore virus that has been modified to kill tumours. Although larger and longer studies will be needed to confirm the results, the development could “offer a lifeline for those living with advanced-stage cancer,” said Sky News.

6. Truss hints at Israel embassy move

Liz Truss has said she is considering relocating the British embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. In a meeting at the UN, the new PM told Israel’s caretaker leader, Yair Lapid, about a “review of the current location” of the building, Downing Street said in a statement. The UK has housed its Israel embassy in Tel Aviv for decades despite Israel regarding Jerusalem as its capital. A move to Jerusalem would “follow former US President Donald Trump’s provocative move”, said Al Jazeera.

7. Ten-year-olds ‘involved in hooliganism’

Mark Roberts, the chief constable of Cheshire Police and the national lead for football policing, has said his officers have “identified kids as young as ten knocking around with groups” involved in hooliganism. New data showed that in the 2021-22 season, disturbances were reported at more than 400 games, many involving supporters aged 25 and under. The uptick in disorder is being caused by alcohol, cocaine use and the lifting of Covid restrictions after a period without matches, said The Independent.

8. Covid hospitalisations on the up

Coronavirus hospitalisations are rising again for the first time since early July. On Monday, 781 Covid patients were admitted to hospital in England, up from 519 the week before, with the seven-day total rising by 17% in the week ending 19 September. “As it gets colder and we head towards winter, we will start to see respiratory infections pick up – please try to stay at home if you are unwell and avoid contact with vulnerable people,” said Dr Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser at the UK Health Security Agency. Covid deaths remain at their lowest level in more than a year.

Which Covid vaccine works best as a booster?

9. Northern Ireland census a blow to unionists

Catholics outnumber Protestants in Northern Ireland for the first time. Results from the 2021 census released yesterday showed that 45.7% of the population are Catholic or from a Catholic background compared with 43.5% from Protestant or other Christian backgrounds. The Irish Times said the results will “fire up those pushing for a united Ireland poll and dishearten an already insecure unionist population”. The Guardian said unionists have for decades relied on a “supposedly impregnable Protestant majority to safeguard Northern Ireland’s position in the UK”.

May 2022: Will Sinn Féin victory lead to a united Ireland?

10. Tutu’s daughter blocked from funeral role

The daughter of the late Desmond Tutu has been barred by the Church of England from leading a funeral because she is married to a woman. Mpho Tutu van Furth, who is an Anglican priest in the Diocese of Washington, had been asked to officiate at the funeral of her late-godfather, Martin Kenyon, in Shropshire yesterday. Speaking to the BBC, Tutu van Furth said the ban “seemed really churlish and hurtful”. The Diocese of Hereford said that “advice was given in line with the House of Bishops current guidance on same-sex marriage”.

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