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Immigration Changes To ‘Put People Before Passports’

The prime minister has said the UK’s new immigration policy will put “people before passports” in a speech to African presidents and prime ministers. Addressing more than a dozen African leaders at the UK-Africa investment summit in London yesterday, Boris Johnson said Britain was “the partner of today, of tomorrow and decades to come”. While details of the UK’s post-Brexit immigration policy are yet to be revealed, the prime minister said African countries would benefit from the changes. “By putting people before passports we will be able to attract the best talent from around the world,” Johnson added.

Attending the summit alongside foreign secretary Dominic Raab and international development secretary Alok Sharma, the prime minister heralded the immigration changes as introducing a “fairer and more equal” system which would treat people the same “wherever they come from”. Freedom of movement between the UK and EU is expected to end on 31st December 2020, when the Brexit transition period concludes. The government has previously pledged to introduce a points-based immigration system, similar to that used in Australia, by January 2021. Under this system, those wanting to enter the UK for work would be assigned points dependent on their professional and personal qualifications.

HS2 COSTS COULD HIT £106BN

A government-commissioned review examining the cost of High-Speed Rail 2 (HS2) has warned the project’s expenses could rise to £106bn. The new rail line is set to link London with Birmingham and Leeds with Manchester. In 2015, the project was estimated to cost £56bn. However, the latest review leaked to the Financial Times suggests it is now on course to cost as much as £106bn, with a “considerable risk” this estimate could rise by a further 20%. The review has recommended that the second phase of the line linking Manchester and Leeds be paused, to allow time for experts to consider alternative connections on conventional rail lines.

The mayor of Greater Manchester has condemned the review’s recommendation to pause the project’s second phase. "To me that would be the same old story. London to Birmingham, money is no object, and then all the penny pinching is done in the North of England," Andy Burnham said. It follows a statement from transport secretary Grant Shapps on Friday, confirming that a decision on whether the project will go ahead will be made “very soon”. Despite scepticism over the project’s future, funding has continued uninterrupted – with around £250 pumped into HS2 each month.

#QOTD
QuoteOfTheDay
What concerns me is the source of the infection. We have no idea.

Xi Chen, an assistant professor at the Yale School of Public Health, discusses a new strain of coronavirus infecting patients in China. The virus was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan last month, but new cases have since been confirmed in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong province. Concerns over its spread have grown as China approaches its lunar new year celebrations, when over 400m people are expected to travel domestically and internationally for festivities.

Four people have died in the outbreak so far, suffering respiratory symptoms which have seen the virus compared to severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars), an illness which killed nearly 650 people in China in 2002-03. China's National Health Commission confirmed the virus has been spread by human-to-human transmission and said it had deployed working groups to all Chinese provinces to oversee outbreak prevention.

In other news

TWO ARRESTED AFTER TRIPLE STABBING

Two men have been arrested following a triple murder in Ilford. Police responded to reports of a disturbance on Elmstead Road, Seven Kings on Sunday night. Three men were found suffering knife injuries and were pronounced dead at the scene. According to the Metropolitan police, the victims were aged in their 20s or 30s. "We now believe all those involved were known to each other and from the Sikh and Hindu community... At this early stage, I do not believe this was gang or race-related. But I believe there may have been an ongoing dispute between those involved," Detective Chief Inspector Paul Considine said. Two men aged 29 and 39 have been arrested on suspicion of murder in connection with the stabbings.

TONY HALL TO STEP DOWN AS BBC BOSS

Tony Hall has announced plans to step down as the director general of the BBC. News of Lord Hall’s departure was relayed to staff via email yesterday, with the director general writing: “It’s been such a hard decision for me. I love the BBC… If I followed my heart I would genuinely never want to leave.” Hall said he would be stepping down this summer after seven years at the corporation’s helm, allowing a new director general to take over ahead of the mid-term review of the BBC’s charter in 2022. In a statement, BBC chairman Sir David Clementi said Hall had been an “inspirational creative leader” whose reforms had “shaped the BBC for the future”. His successor will be appointed by the BBC board, which is expected to issue a job description and advertisement for the role within the next few weeks.

LEAKS CONDEMN AFRICA’S RICHEST WOMAN

A cache of leaked secret documents has revealed a series of shady deals agreed between Isabel dos Santos and the Angolan government. Dos Santos is Africa’s richest woman and the daughter of José Eduardo dos Santos, the former Angolan president. According to a probe led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, dos Santos’s offshore businesses were awarded lucrative state deals involving Angolan oil, land and diamonds. Prosecutors in Luanda are now working with authorities across countries including the UK, Portugal and the US to trace the family’s assets and prevent money transfers. Dos Santos, who now lives in exile in the UK, denied the allegations and said they were part of a “witch-hunt” waged against her family by her father’s successor, President Lourenço.

CHINA CRACKS DOWN ON PLASTICS

China has revealed a major new plan aimed at reducing single-use plastics. One of the world’s biggest users of plastic, China plans to ban non-degradable plastic bags across its major cities by the end of this year – with a nationwide ban in place by 2022. Restaurants will also be banned from using single-use straws by the end of 2020. While China’s national recycling figures are not publicly available, statistics from online publication Our World in Data said the country produced 60m tonnes of plastic waste in 2010. China’s plans follow the news that Malaysia has sent back 42 shipments of plastic waste smuggled from the UK. "If people want to see us as the rubbish dump of the world, you dream on,” Malaysian environment minister Yeo Bee Yin said.

NEW SCHEME TO TACKLE PERIOD POVERTY

State schools and colleges have been urged to order free sanitary products under a government scheme designed to tackle period poverty. Primary and secondary schools can opt into the scheme to receive free supplies of tampons, pads and menstrual cups. Each school to opt-in will be allocated a set amount of annual spending by the government, calculated on the basis that 35% of pupils who menstruate will use the products. The programme is aimed at preventing children from missing school if they don’t have access to the products at home. The Red Box Project, which has provided free period products to schools since 2017, welcomed news of the government scheme – describing it as a "step towards genuine equality".

Have you heard?

Bong Joon Ho’s film Parasite has become the first-ever foreign-language film to win the top prize at the Screen Actors Guild Awards (SAG Awards). The Korean-made movie took home the award for Best Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture at the ceremony on Sunday night, beating competition from The Irishman, Jojo Rabbit, and Once Upon a Time In Hollywood. Parasite’s victory at the SAG Awards may put the comedy-thriller on track for further success at the Oscars next month, with the movie nominated across six Academy categories overall.

Picture Of The Day
A dust storm sweeps across New South Wales, Australia (Source: The Guardian)
Thunderstorms have whipped up huge dust clouds across New South Wales (NSW) in Australia – with some dust storms so thick they block out daylight. A series of severe thunderstorm warnings were issued on Sunday night, with the resulting winds generating the dust clouds. The thundery weather continued across NSW yesterday, with the storms expected to move quickly, causing “extremely strong wind gusts” and large hailstones.