Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 11 October 2022

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

1. Chancellor bids to avoid rates rise

Kwasi Kwarteng is to announce his plan for the public finances early in a bid to head off a significant rise in interest rates. As he works to restore Britain’s credibility with financial markets, the chancellor will lay out his “medium term fiscal plan” on Halloween, days before the Bank of England’s next decision on a rate rise. Former Cabinet minister Grant Shapps said “it is vital that the chancellor does everything possible to reassure the markets about our fiscal plans”.

Kwasi Kwarteng: the UK’s ‘radical’ or ‘reckless’ new chancellor

2. West condemns bombings

The US said yesterday’s “brutal” bombardment of cities across Ukraine hit non-military targets, including a university and children’s playground. UN chief Antonio Guterres said he was “deeply shocked” by the attacks. Vladimir Putin said they were retaliation for the explosion on a key bridge linking Russia to Crimea but Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, said that “Ukraine cannot be intimidated”. Meanwhile, there have been strikes on Zaporizhzhia overnight, according to the Kyiv Independent.

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Multiple explosions in Kyiv after Crimea bridge attack

3. Nurse ‘killed babies at work’

A nurse accused of the murder of seven babies was a “poisoner at work”, a court has heard. Prosecutors said Lucy Letby, who had specialist training in care for the sickest babies at the neonatal unit in the Countess of Chester, went on a year-long killing spree. She has been accused of murdering five baby boys and two girls, and attempting to murder 10 other babies at Countess of Chester hospital. Letby, 32, of Hereford, denies 22 charges at Manchester Crown Court.

4. North Korea breaks silence

State media in North Korea said the country’s recent missile tests were part of a series of simulated procedures intended to demonstrate its readiness to fire tactical nuclear warheads at South Korea. Pyongyang has tested ballistic missiles seven times since 25 September, the latest of 25 launches of ballistic and cruise missiles this year. Leif-Eric Easley, associate professor of international studies at Ewha Womans University in Seoul, told CNN that North Korea “is making explicit the nuclear threat behind its recent missile launches”.

North Korea and Japan’s troubled relations

5. Nasal Covid vaccine shelved

Hopes of a Covid vaccine as a nasal spray have suffered a setback after researchers said it performed poorly in its first clinical trial. The “underwhelming results” have led scientists to abandon plans to develop the spray in its current form, said The Guardian. Covid infection levels are continuing to rise in England, with more than 1.1m people thought to have had the virus in the most recent week, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics. At the same time, growing evidence suggests flu could also hit hard this winter, raising concerns of a “twindemic”.

Which Covid vaccine works best as a booster – and who is eligible?

6. RSBP won’t rule out direct action

The head of the RSPB says the charity is not ruling out direct action as it plans a mobilisation of millions of people against what it calls the government’s “attack on nature”. Beccy Speight said the bird charity is leading a coalition against the government over key “growth” policies that will endanger protected habitats and species, and put clean air, water and national wellbeing at risk. “All options are open for what we do next,” said Speight. Asked whether the strategy would include taking direct action, Speight said: “We are ruling nothing out.”

Can Truss and Kwarteng pull off their growth plan?

7. Burns ‘faces trial by media’

Conor Burns said he was the victim of a “trial by media” when he was sacked by Liz Truss after a complaint about “serious misconduct” at the party’s conference last week. A source said complaints had been made that Burns had been inappropriate in his remarks and actions towards a younger man, but the former international trade minister claimed he was still not aware of the allegations against him. “We used to live in a country where the rule of law, natural justice and a process took place and people were presumed innocent until proven otherwise,” he told Channel 4.

8. IFS says Truss plans will cost £60bn

Kwasi Kwarteng will need to make “big and painful” spending cuts to put the nation’s finances on a sustainable path, said the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS). A weaker economy and promised tax cuts would lead to a large shortfall in revenue, the thinktank added. The shortfall is a “direct consequence” of measures announced since Liz Truss took office, said Sky News. The IFS estimates that the government would have to spend £60bn a year less by 2026-27. The government insists its tax cuts and reforms will deliver “sustainable funding for public services”.

Do Tory tax cuts herald return of austerity?

9. Air fryers flying off shelves

Brits are snapping up blankets and air fryers in a bid to keep their energy bills down this winter, said the British Retail Consortium. Air dryers and winter clothing have also been selling well. Meanwhile, pubs “are hoping to convince people to work in their local boozers”, reported The Times. Across the country, 185 Young’s pubs and 380 Fuller’s pubs are offering “working from pub” packages. Some pubs are offering all-day packages that cost £10, said the Daily Star.

How to cut your energy bills this winter

10. Cycle group mocked for Shell deal

British Cycling is facing a backlash from members and environmental campaigners after it claimed a major new partnership with the oil giant Shell would “help our organisation and sport take important steps towards net zero”. Greenpeace said “the idea of Shell helping British Cycling reach net zero is as absurd as beef farmers advising lettuce farmers on how to go vegan”. Friends of the Earth meanwhile said “it’s deeply disappointing that UK Cycling could think it’s appropriate to partner with a fossil fuel giant”. Cyclists have described the tie-up as “absurd”, said Cycling Weekly.

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