Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 14 December 2022

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

1. Sunak asylum plans are ‘cruel’

Migrants who get to the UK by “cheating” will be prevented from claiming asylum, Rishi Sunak has said. Writing in The Telegraph, the prime minister said new laws will make it “unambiguously clear” that anyone who enters the UK illegally will have no right to remain here. The asylum system is “not fair, not right and it needs to be fixed”, Sunak told the Daily Mail. However, Refugee Action, said “most of these changes are cruel, ineffective and unlawful and will do nothing to fix the real problems”.

How can UK fix ‘broken’ asylum system?

2. Musk loses top wealth slot

Elon Musk is no longer the world’s richest man following a dramatic drop in the value of his shares in electric car company Tesla. The controversial billionaire has been replaced at the top spot by Bernard Arnault, the chief executive of luxury goods group LVMH, according to Bloomberg. Musk is now worth about $178bn (£152bn), while Bernard Arnault has a reported value of $188bn. The news comes after Musk was “savagely booed” at an event in San Francisco, said Forbes.

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Elon Musk, ‘naked’ Hunter Biden and the Twitter files

3. New Zealand passes historic smoking bill

New Zealand has passed a bill banning the sale of tobacco to anyone born on or after January 1, 2009. The legislation is aimed at preventing future generations from taking up smoking at all, as part of a wider government endeavour to make the country “smoke free” by 2025. “Thousands of people will live longer, healthier lives and the health system will be $5bn better off from not needing to treat the illnesses caused by smoking, such as numerous types of cancer, heart attacks, strokes, amputations,” said the health minister.

The pros and cons of a total smoking ban

4. UK to ban single-use plastic items

Single-use plastic items including cutlery, plates and polystyrene cups “will be banned in England following a government consultation”, according to the Financial Times. Environment Secretary Therese Coffey is expected to unveil plans to phase out the items and replace them with biodegradable alternatives. A Defra spokesperson said the department is “determined to go further and faster to reduce, reuse, and recycle more of our resources in order to transform our waste industry and deliver on our commitments in the ambitious 25-Year Environment Plan”.

5. Foxes ‘chewing Christmas mail’

Rats and foxes are “chewing Christmas parcels and letters” left outside a depot amid the Royal Mail strikes, reported The Telegraph. As the latest 48-hour walkout by members of the Communication Workers Union starts, union sources said that piles of undelivered post are being left outside depots, leaving them at the mercy of the elements and allowing “foxes and vermin free to eat through packaging”. Meanwhile, the greetings card industry has found that at least 32% of people are “changing their habits” and hand-delivering cards rather than relying on Royal Mail.

Why postal workers are going on strike

6. Flintoff injured on Top Gear set

Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff has been hurt in an accident while filming Top Gear, the BBC has announced. The former cricketer received medical care at the show’s test track at Dunsfold Park Aerodrome in Surrey before being taken to hospital for further treatment. His injuries are not thought to be life-threatening and a BBC spokesperson said details would be confirmed “in due course”. Flintoff, a father of four, has had accidents previously, including when he crashed into a market stall in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire in February 2019.

7. Premium Bonds ‘highest-paying option’

Premium Bonds will become the “highest-paying savings account in the UK”, said The Times, after National Savings & Investments increased the return on the monthly draw to its highest level since 2008. From next month, the more than 22m Premium Bonds holders can expect to earn 3% a year, up from 2.2%, beating the best easy-access savings account on the market, 2.9% from Buckinghamshire Building Society. There will be more prizes but the odds of any individual £1 bond winning a prize will remain at 24,000-1.

Savings accounts: how to choose what’s best for you

8. UK cities need innovation boost

A new report is calling for a £14.5 billion growth package centred on innovation in the city centres of Birmingham, Glasgow and Manchester in to kickstart the UK’s new economy. The findings from the Centre for Cities thinktank follows last month’s Autumn Statement, where Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced plans to make Britain the “world’s next Silicon Valley” with ambitions to “build clusters for new growth industries”. But the new report says these industries are currently too concentrated in London and the South East, meaning government funding must be targeted at cities in the rest of the UK in order for them to not miss out on vital economic opportunities and thousands of high-skilled jobs.

Five main points from the chancellor’s Autumn Statement

9. Windsor MP won’t stand down

A Conservative MP declared bankrupt over a £1.7m debt has refused to stand down immediately. The Insolvency and Companies Court was told that Adam Afriyie, the MP for Windsor, owed about £1m to HM Revenue & Customs and about £700,000 to Barclays. After the hearing, Afriyie said: “I’m far from the only person in a difficult position, and I will continue to do my best to support my constituents until the next general election, when I’ll be standing down.”

10. Messi dazzles as Argentina march on

Qatar 2022 is “on the brink of becoming Lionel Messi’s World Cup,” said the BBC, after a “dazzling performance” from the football star led Argentina to their sixth final following victory over Croatia at the Lusail Stadium. “As Argentina’s gaze zeroed in on a third World Cup triumph, it was impossible to ignore their leader,” said The Guardian, while The Times said the performance saw him “channel Maradona”. France play Morocco this evening in the second semi-final.

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