Top story: Students in Scotland banned from pubs and bars
Morning everyone. I’m Martin Farrer and these are the top stories this morning.
Britain is facing a bleak winter after Rishi Sunak admitted that his multibillion-pound spending package would not be enough to stop unemployment soaring in the months ahead and as the number of new coronavirus cases hit a daily record yesterday. The chancellor said his winter jobs plan, which combines wage top-ups, cash support for companies and an extended VAT cut for struggling sectors, was needed to ease the pain of this week’s tougher restrictions on people’s movements and business operations to contain the spread of Covid-19. It was welcomed by the CBI and unions, but others were more critical and said it did not go far enough. Here are five things that Sunak could have included but didn’t, and our reporters have been to Bolton and Crawley to find out what people think of the plan.
Sunak’s grim message came as the UK racked up 6,634 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, the highest figure so far in what Public Health England called a “stark warning to us all”. In Scotland, hundreds of thousands of students were told they cannot socialise outside their households and warned to avoid going to pubs and bars completely this weekend as authorities try to contain outbreaks at 20 universities across the UK. The government’s new contact tracing app launched yesterday, but accessing it was still a problem for many. Grieving families and mental health experts have joined forces to call for more help for people bereaved by Covid-19 or risk a mental health crisis.
A study in the US has found that the virus has continued to mutate as it has spread around the world, and that it has probably become more contagious. However, the study of 5,000 genetic sequences of the virus did not find that mutations have made it more lethal or changed its effects, even as it may be becoming easier to catch. In Brazil, Rio’s annual carnival in February has been called off for the first time in 100 years because of the virus. Catch up with all the overnight developments at our live blog.
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Crown crimped – The royal family is taking a £35m hit thanks to the impact of Covid-19 on visitor numbers to palaces and the Crown Estate business. The Queen is expected to lose £5m a year for the next three from a shortfall in visitors, accounts released today show, and cost saving measures already under way at Buckingham Palace include a recruitment freeze, a pay freeze, and pressure to cut non-essential expenditure. The figures also show that the Sussexes’ trip to Africa last year cost £250,000 while Prince Andrew spent £16,000 on a charter flight to the British Open golf at Portrush.
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US election – Republican leaders have promised that there will be an orderly transition of power after November’s presidential election after Donald Trump sparked alarm when he refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power. Senate leader Mitch McConnell said that there “will be an orderly transition”, and Trump ally Lindsay Graham pledged the same while hinting that the supreme court – subject of fierce debate after the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg – could end up making the final call on the election’s legitimacy. Florida’s attorney general has called for an investigation into efforts by billionaire Michael Bloomberg to pay off the fines of convicted felons to enable them to vote in November. Protesters have taken to the streets of cities across the country again to express anger about the Breonna Taylor killing. Find out more about the battle to maintain the integrity of the election at our Fight to vote page.
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Unholy mess – A powerful Roman Catholic cardinal has resigned and given up his right to take part in electing the next pope after becoming embroiled in a scandal over a property deal in London. Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu was linked to a deal in which church funds were used to buy a luxury apartment in London. He denies any wrongdoing. It has already led to the suspension of five Vatican employees, and the departure of the Vatican’s police chief and financial information chief.
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Moving on – The pandemic is one of the factors forcing up house prices in more rural parts of England as buyers seek leafier surrounds and more space. Norfolk, Wiltshire and Cornwall have emerged as hotspots for £1m properties as the amount of time taken to sell has fallen markedly, according to Rightmove. Another Covid-related change is an increase in the number of Londoners seeking work outside the capital. The “reverse commuting” is driven by a 55% fall in vacancies in London compared with a year ago as the pandemic recession bites.
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‘Dream come true’ – The folk-soul singer Michael Kiwanuka has won the Mercury prize for the year’s best British album at the third attempt. The victory for his self-titled Kiwanuka was a “dream come true” he said after the announcement on the BBC’s The One Show, which replaced the usual live ceremony. Our pop critic, Alexis Petridis, says it’s a deserved win for a “sincere, superb album”.
Today in Focus podcast
The Garrick Club was founded in 1831 – a place where “actors and men of refinement and education might meet on equal terms”. Women were not allowed to be members and, almost 200 years on, that is still the case. Emily Bendell on why she is taking legal action against the Garrick and Amy Milne-Smith on the history of London’s clubland.
Lunchtime read: Ascension day for Sufjan Stevens
Cult singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens describes performing at he 2018 Oscars as the “most traumatising” experience of his life. But he’s back on firmer ground with a new electro-pop album, Ascension, which tries to make sense of having “Donald Duck” in the White House, as he calls the current occupant. He tells Al Horner what needs to happen: “This is many generations’ worth of questions and answers that have stacked up. But we need to show up and do the work.”
The government has ramped up the pressure on the Premier League by confirming for the first time that it expects them to help lower league clubs in peril. Takumi Minamino and Curtis Jones scored two goals apiece as Liverpool brushed aside Lincoln 7-2 in the Carabao Cup, while there were also wins for Manchester City and Aston Villa. Goals from Erik Lamela, Son Heung-min and Harry Kane helped Tottenham to a 3-1 Europa League third qualifying round win over Shkendija despite a spectacular strike by Valmir Nafiu. Leeds Rhinos’ 41-16 win against Hull KR at the Halliwell Jones Stadium was marred by a double leg break for the talented youngster Harry Newman. Johanna Konta will again lead Britain’s charge at a grand slam title next week when she opens her Roland Garros campaign against the American prodigy Coco Gauff. Lewis Hamilton has insisted his support for anti-racism and protests against incidences of racial injustice will not be inhibited by any new FIA rulings. And Eddie Byrom posted his first century for Somerset before Sam Cook led a late Essex burst to leave the Bob Willis Trophy final well poised.
Alexander Nix, the former boss of Cambridge Analytica, has been banned from holding a directorship for seven years over his role in allowing companies to offer potentially unethical services, including “bribery or honey-trap stings, voter disengagement campaigns, obtaining information to discredit political opponents and spreading information anonymously in political campaigns”. The FTSE 100 looks like benefiting from a global bounce back in stocks overnight while a pound will fetch you $1.275 and €1.093.
The face of Rishi Sunak is featured on most front pages along with details and reaction to his winter jobs plan. The Guardian says “Sunak warns of rising job losses despite rescue plan”, the Times has “Job fears as chancellor scales back rescue plan” and the FT reads “Sunak targets wage support and warns he ‘cannot save’ every job”. The Telegraph headline quotes the chancellor saying “We need to face up to the hard choices” but the Scotsman picks out “I cannot save every business, I cannot save every job”. The Mail cheerleads with “Rishi: now it’s time to live without fear” and the Express has “Houdini Rishi’s daring £5bn escape plan”. For the Mirror it’s all “Too little too late” and the National in Scotland says “Scots tourism is facing ‘mass redundancies’ as Sunak falls short”.
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