Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 21 October 2022

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

1. Will Johnson stage a comeback?

A “fast-tracked contest” to find the next Tory leader and prime minister is underway after Liz Truss quit as PM after just 44 days in the job, said the BBC. Rishi Sunak and Penny Mordaunt are likely to stand but attention has focused so far on Boris Johnson, who will neither confirm nor deny he will stand again. An ally told The Guardian that Johnson felt it was in the “national interest” for him to stage a return but some Tory MPs have threatened to trigger by-elections if Johnson takes over again.

Next Tory leader odds: who will replace Liz Truss?

2. Starmer demands general election

Keir Starmer has called for an immediate general election following the resignation of the prime minister. The Labour leader said the country “cannot have another experiment at the top of the Tory party”. Although the next general election is not due to take place until at least 2024, Starmer said: “This is not just a soap opera at the top of the Tory party – it’s doing huge damage to the reputation of our country. We need a general election so the public can have their say on this utter chaos.”

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‘Chaotic scenes’: how did Liz Truss’s premiership come to an end?

3. Child abuse is ‘endemic’ says report

A landmark report has called for the creation of a national scheme to compensate victims of child abuse for the “incalculable” harm they suffer. The final report of the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse in England and Wales said children have faced “limitless” cruelty with the complicity of institutions and that the problem remains “endemic”, with online abuse soaring. It called for a new criminal offence for people working in positions of trust who fail to report allegations of child sexual abuse.

UK child abuse: the shocking statistics revealed

4. Iran ‘supporting Russian pilots’

Iran is providing technical support for Russian pilots flying Iranian-made drones to bomb civilian targets, claimed the White House. Washington believes that advisers from Tehran were in Crimea to provide training and maintenance after Moscow experienced difficulties in operating the unmanned flying bombs. Kyiv was struck by so-called “kamikaze” drones on Monday. The UK has announced sanctions on Iranian businesses and individuals responsible for supplying the drones.

What Iranian Kamikaze drones mean for Ukraine

5. Omicron sub-variants ‘of concern’

Sub-variants of Omicron are showing signs of “increased transmissibility and properties of immune escape”, warned the World Health Organization. A spokeswoman said that more than 300 versions of Omicron are now circulating globally. Although they are not causing more severe disease, they are developing some qualities “of concern”, she added. XBB, which has been spotted in 26 countries, may be the best at evading immunity, said The Telegraph.

Why are there so many new Omicron sub-variants?

6. China ‘could invade Taiwan this year’

The US military must be ready to respond to a potential Chinese invasion of Taiwan within months, the head of the US Navy has said. “So when we talk about the 2027 window in my mind, that has to be a 2022 window or potentially a 2023 window,” said Admiral Michael Gilday, chief of US naval operations. “I don't mean at all to be alarmist by saying that. It’s just that we can’t wish that away.” Xi Jinping, China’s President, delivered a landmark Communist Party Congress speech in which he restated his vow to “reunify” Taiwan one day.

Will China invade Taiwan?

7. NHS gridlocked, warns CQC

Regulators said the health and care system in England is gridlocked with patients at risk because they cannot access the support they need. “People are stuck - stuck in hospital because there isn’t the social care support in place for them to leave,” said Care Quality Commission chief executive Ian Trenholm, “stuck in emergency departments waiting for a hospital bed to get the treatment they need and stuck waiting for ambulances that don’t arrive because those same ambulances are stuck outside hospitals waiting to transfer patients”.

Why the entire NHS system is ‘on its knees’ – and what should be done to fix it

8. Israel introduces new rules

Israel has ushered in strict rules limiting the ability of foreigners to enter and stay in the occupied West Bank despite global criticism. The new measures, which include the compulsory declaration of romantic relationships, are expected to “stifle the Palestinian economy and academia and the work of aid agencies”, and “create complications for hundreds of thousands of Palestinian families with dual nationality” said The Guardian. The rules are “preposterous”, said the news website Mondoweiss.

Will West Bank mass evictions trigger Israeli-Palestinian clashes?

9. Spacey cleared at assault trial

Kevin Spacey did not sexually assault a 14-year-old boy, a jury in New York has ruled. Anthony Rapp, now 50, claimed that as a child star on Broadway he ended up in Spacey’s flat in New York, where the actor lifted him on to a bed and climbed on top of him until he was able to wriggle free. However, a jury concluded that Rapp had not proven his claim. During the trial, Spacey said that he struggled to come out publicly as gay because his father was a “white supremacist and neo-Nazi”.

Could Kevin Spacey be extradited to the UK?

10. World Cup fans warned on alcohol

The England and Wales football team managers are warning fans attending the World Cup to respect Qatar’s drug and alcohol laws. Alcohol consumption is normally restricted to designated hotels in the socially conservative country but will be extended to some “fan zones” where games can be watched on big screens. However, drunken behaviour is not generally tolerated. The tournament will see “more than a million visitors squeeze into a country smaller than Yorkshire,” noted The Times.

Qatar’s tainted World Cup

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