Chancellor Resigns Amid Reshuffle
Sajid Javid has resigned as chancellor, as Boris Johnson launched a cabinet reshuffle yesterday. Javid is believed to have quit the role after Johnson demanded he sack all his advisers in a bid to gain tighter control over the Treasury. A source close to Javid said the prime minister asked him to replace his aides with special advisers from No 10 “to make it one team”. Javid resigned in response, saying “No self-respecting minister would accept those terms.” Javid had repeatedly clashed with Johnson’s top advisor Dominic Cummings over issues of government spending. He has been replaced as chancellor by Rishi Sunak, who previously served as chief secretary to the Treasury and is reportedly a favourite within No 10.
Meanwhile, Johnson’s reshuffle has seen Julian Smith sacked as Northern Ireland secretary. The decision came as a shock to many as it comes just weeks after Smith successfully oversaw the restoration of Northern Ireland’s devolved assembly. The prime minister has also sacked business secretary Andrea Leadsom, replacing her with international development secretary Alok Sharma. Attorney general Geoffrey Cox has been replaced by MP Suella Braverman and environment secretary Theresa Villiers has been replaced by the former farming minister George Eustice. The new cabinet will meet for the first time later today.
VIRUS PATIENT TAKES UBER TO HOSPITAL
The first person to be diagnosed with the novel coronavirus in London reportedly arrived at hospital in an Uber taxi. According to a report in the Guardian, the patient is a female Chinese national who turned up unannounced at Lewisham hospital in south London after falling ill. Two hospital staff are now in isolation after coming into contact with the patient. Lewisham hospital confirmed the woman had breached public safety advice by “self-presenting” at its A&E unit on Sunday afternoon after arriving in an Uber. She is not thought to have exposed any other patients to the infection during her arrival and has since been sent to a specialist London unit for treatment.
Meanwhile, the first of those quarantined after being repatriated from Wuhan, China, were able to leave isolation centres yesterday. Health secretary Matt Hancock thanked the 83 Britons for their “bravery and patience” and said each individual had been given a “clean bill of health” after spending two weeks under quarantine. In the Chinese province of Hubei, where the coronavirus outbreak began, infections have jumped by almost 15,000 cases in recent days. Some 242 deaths were recorded in Hubei on Wednesday, making it the deadliest day of the outbreak so far.
The Duchess of Cornwall discusses domestic abuse at an event for the charity SafeLives on Wednesday. The duchess has championed the issue after attending a SafeLives event in 2016 where she “had the privilege of hearing incredibly brave women... standing up to tell their stories”. Speaking at the charity’s latest event at Clarence House, Camilla said she knew people who had suffered domestic abuse but had been “shocked and horrified” to find out the extent of the problem.
Since taking up the cause, the duchess has hosted a series of events aimed at bringing together organisations to help tackle the issue. The “taboo” around discussing domestic abuse “weakens” every time somebody shares their story, the duchess claimed. Camilla has urged anyone at risk of domestic abuse to reach out to charities like SafeLives, saying: "Whoever you are, wherever you are from, there are organisations that can help you."
In other news
NHS TRUST FACES REVIEW OVER DEATHS
The minister for patient safety has announced an independent review into the maternity services at the East Kent NHS Trust following the avoidable deaths of several babies. Nadine Dorries has promised immediate action will be taken and confirmed investigations would go ahead at two hospitals in Margate and Ashford. A trust board meeting yesterday heard there may have been as many as 15 avoidable deaths on the hospitals’ maternity wards since 2011. A spokesman for East Kent Hospitals said the trust “wholeheartedly apologised to every one of those families we have let down”. Dorries has told MPs the trust had faced problems with "ensuring the right staff with the right skills [were] in the right place" and confirmed an independent support team had already been sent to the hospitals to ensure required improvements are met.
BARCLAYS BOSS PROBED OVER EPSTEIN TIES
Barclays chief executive Jes Staley is being probed over his historical links to disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, the bank has confirmed. Epstein killed himself while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges last year. The Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority have said they are investigating Staley’s ties to Epstein. Staley said he “deeply regretted” his relationship with Epstein, which began while he was working at JPMorgan in 2000 and ended in 2015 after he took up his role as Barclays CEO. Staley reportedly went to Epstein’s private island in 2015 and visited the financier while he served a prison sentence for soliciting prostitution in 2008-09. Barclays said it believed Staley had been adequately transparent about his ties to Epstein.
FOOD WATCHDOG WARNS AGAINST CBD
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has issued new advice warning that pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers and people taking medication should not consume products containing CBD. Issuing its first-ever safety advice on the cannabis-derived ingredient, the FSA also cautioned others not to consume more than 70mg of CBD a day. Extracts of CBD are used in a range of products, such as oils, confectionery and drinks. FSA chief Emily Miles said the products were “widely available” for purchase on British high streets but were not properly authorised. “The CBD industry must provide more information about the safety and contents of these products to the regulator before 31st March 2021, or the products will be taken off the shelves,” she added.
'GREAT NEWS' AS BUSHFIRES CONTAINED
All bushfires burning in New South Wales (NSW) are now contained, fire officials have confirmed. The Australian state’s Rural Fire Service said confirmation of the containment was “great news” after a “very traumatic, exhausting and anxious” period spent battling the fires. While some fire activity remains ongoing south of NSW, the Rural Fire Service said emergency workers could now focus on “helping people reboot”. Their efforts to bring bushfires in the state under control have been helped by heavy rainfall in recent days. While the wet weather assisted in extinguishing some of the fires, it also caused chaos in Sydney – resulting in power outages and flash floods. Flood warnings are also in place for the rest of NSW and for southern Queensland.
BIG BEN COSTS JUMP £18.6M
The cost of repairing the Elizabeth Tower in Westminster has risen by £18.6m. The tower, which houses the iconic Big Ben bell, has been under repair since restoration works began in 2017. A survey of the 177-year-old structure has revealed previously unidentified WWII bomb damage, asbestos in the belfry and decay to hundreds of intricate carvings. Ian Ailles, director-general of the House of Commons, said the restoration “had been more complex than we could have anticipated,” with the “full extent of the damage” unclear until the survey had been completed. The increased budget for repairs will need to be approved by parliament’s accounting officers but is now expected to reach almost £80m. The House of Commons Commission has described the rising costs as “very frustrating”.
Glastonbury organiser Emily Eavis has spoken out about the festival’s line-up, saying the event aims to achieve a gender-balance as soon as possible. Speaking to Radio 1, Eavis said looking back at past Glastonbury line-ups had led her to realise they had always been “male heavy”. “Our future has to be 50/50… Unless you consciously change and really address it, then it will stay the same,” she said. This year’s Glastonbury line-up is yet to be released in full, but Taylor Swift and Paul McCartney have been confirmed as headliners. Eavis said the 2020 festival would not be “clean on 50/50” but organisers were “definitely attempting it”.