BIDEN HEALTH FEARS AFTER LATEST GAFFE
The EXPRESS reports that US President Joe Biden was ridiculed by American audiences after he referred to Kamala Harris as President Harris during a press conference. Joe Biden added another gaffe to his long list of bloopers after he said he and President Harris – his vice-president – took a virtual tour of a vaccination centre. Many who listened to the conference began ridiculing the head of state with tweets pointing out his mistake. But while he was delivering a monologue, Biden appeared to mix-up and stumble on his words when referring to Kamala Harris.
CALLS FOR STURGEON TO GO FOLLOWING CRISIS VOTE
The Guardian reports: Nicola Sturgeon misled the Scottish parliament over the Alex Salmond crisis, a Holyrood inquiry has concluded after a narrow majority vote, it is understood. A special Holyrood committee ruled, by five votes to four, that Scotland’s first minister gave an inaccurate account of her meetings with Salmond in 2018 during evidence on oath to MSPs earlier this month. That remarkable conclusion amounts to an accusation Sturgeon misled parliament – but the committee has stopped short of ruling she did so knowingly. Knowingly misleading parliament would be a clear breach of the ministerial code and a resignation matter. While MSPs did not accuse Sturgeon of deliberately misleading the committee, its finding will significantly increase pressure on her and the Scottish National party, only seven weeks before May’s Holyrood elections.
BORIS SAYS NOTHING TO FEAR AND WILL GET JAB TODAY
The Express reports that Boris Johnson has confirmed he will get the AstraZeneca jab tomorrow as he sought to calm fears about the vaccine following concerns of its safety from within the EU. Mr Johnson said he has now booked in for his own first injection and would be receiving the AstraZeneca antidote tomorrow. The Prime Minister said: “It’s so important that we all get our jabs as soon as our turn comes – and as it happens, I’m getting mine tomorrow. The Oxford jab is safe, the Pfizer jab is safe. The thing that isn’t safe is catching Covid.” The NHS does not usually reveal which vaccine a person is going to receive, but No10 said the information had been disclosed due to the “overwhelming public interest”.
THE ASTRA ZENECA JAB IS SAFE SAYS THE EU MEDICINES AGENCY
The EXPRESS reports that the AstraZeneca vaccine is safe and should be used to combat the coronavirus pandemic, the European Medicines Agency declared.The EU’s drugs watchdog came to a clear scientific conclusion that the Oxford jab is safe and effective at preventing cases of Covid. Emer Cooke, the EMA’s director, said: “The committee has come to a clear scientific conclusion. This is a safe and effective vaccine, protecting people from COVID-19 with the associated risks of death and hospitalisations outweighed the possible risks.”
BIDEN BOOST FOR BORIS
The Daily Mail reports: US President Joe Bidenhas said he will not take sides in Britain’s row with the EU over the Northern Irish border in a boost for Boris Johnson. Ireland and the EU had hoped to persuade the US president to criticise the move after the 78-year-old held St Patrick’s Day talks with Irish Taoiseach Micheal Martin yesterday. But the White House took a neutral stance, with a spokesman saying: We view that as a trade issue to be resolved between the UK and the EU. We hope that both sides are able to return to the table and discuss the implementation of the agreement.
BIDEN IS DEMENTED AND HYSTERICAL SAY RUSSIAN OFFICIALS
The Guardian reports that Vladimir Putin has told Joe Biden that it takes one to know one as Kremlin officials promised reprisals if the US president does not apologise for describing his Russian counterpart as a killer. In an escalating diplomatic spat, Russian officials described Biden as demented and hysterical after he agreed during a TV interview that Putin had orchestrated murders and said Putin would soon pay a price for alleged election meddling. On Wednesday Moscow recalled its ambassador to Washington in protest at the interview, and on Thursday officials went on the offensive.
NOT IN OUR BACKYARD THANKS
The Guardian reports that the governments of Gibraltar and the Isle of Man have said they would not house asylum seekers on behalf of the UK, pouring cold water on proposals expected to be unveiled by Home Secretary Priti Patel next week. Both locations are both under consideration for the Home Secretary’s plans to send people to processing centres abroad, as part of a broader overhaul of the asylum system labelled sovereign borders.The chief minister of Gibraltar, Fabian Picardo, said he had had no discussions with anyone from the UK government and had written to Patel to confirm the reports were groundless, while a source on the Isle of Man said there were “no foundations” to the reports.
COVID QUARANTINE CHECKS ON INTERNATIONAL TRAVELERS TO DOUBLE
The London Evening Standard reports that numbers of checks on people who have to quarantine at home after travelling into England following International travel could be set to double and the government is looking for contractors to carry out further visits on people who have to quarantine for 10 days either at home or at a managed hotel. Police officers have already been carrying out checks on those self-isolating at home, making up to 1,000 home visits per day.
SAFETY OF JOURNALISTS IN NORTHERN IRELAND QUESTIONED
The London Evening Standard reports that Northern Ireland’s Chief Constable is set to be questioned about the safety of journalists. Simon Byrne will meet MLAs from the newly formed Stormont All-Party Group on Press Freedom and Media Sustainability on Friday. The group has referred to hearing evidence of an unacceptable increase in threats against journalists in the region. Sunday World journalist Patricia Devlin was recently the target of sinister graffiti in east Belfast. SDLP MLA Matthew O’Toole said the all party group was founded to do something about the level of threat faced by journalists. He said he welcomed words of condemnation from the chief constable on threats to journalists, but said those words must be turned into action and no democratic society can function if journalists are not free to do their jobs, he said.
PEOPLE ARE GOING BACK TO WORK
The Times reports that more than half of the country’s employees travelled to work last week for the first time since June, when official figures began. A report by the Office for National Statistics found that 53 per cent of workers travelled into their place of employment at least once during the week to March 14, up from 48 per cent in the week before.The findings suggest that people started returning to the office after schools reopened in England on March 8th. With the country still in lockdown, the government’s official advice is that people should continue to work from home if possible. Although workers are trickling back into the office, greater home working is likely to be a permanent feature of the economy after the pandemic is over.
THE BBC TO SUPPORT SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC RECOVERY ACROSS UK
The Telegraph reports that BBC Radio 3 is to move out of London and the BBC will produce a Northern soap opera as part of a £700 million plan to better reflect the nation. The news operation will shift its focus away from the capital and around 100 editions of Radio 4’s Today programme will be presented from towns and cities outside London, along with editions of the PM programme and Newsnight on BBC Two. Daytime shows on Radio 2 will also move North over the coming years, and the BBC Concert Orchestra will relocate beyond the M25. The corporation will relocate 400 jobs, including 200 in the news department, to locations including Cardiff, Birmingham, Glasgow and Leeds. A further 600 new roles will be created. The six-year plans are part of a project entitled Across the UK, and are partly a response to criticism that the BBC is too London-centric and fails to represent the social and political viewpoints of all licence fee payers. Tim Davie, the BBC director-general, said: Our mission must be to deliver for the whole of the UK and ensure every household gets value from the BBC.
From the Morning Star: The Battersea Dogs and Cats home CEO has spoken out about the number of pets being returned after finding homes, with one pet owner bringing back a puppy because it didn’t ‘match’ their decor and furniture. The number of people wanting to be pet owners has surged during the pandemic, with many now working from home. Claire Horton, the former CEO of Battersea Dogs and Cats home, said the surge in inquiries for adopting pets has said fewer animals are given up for rehoming.This is down to people having more time for animals and finding they help during the lockdown. But, it also meant people were willing to buy dogs off the internet, leading to an “industry in misery”.