Welcome to Monday’s Early Edition from i.
It should have been a week where the government’s heavy-handed asylum-seeker policy was scrutinised. Instead it was 47 words tweeted out by football pundit Gary Lineker that has had politicians, columnists, and the media divided (the public perhaps a bit less so). In case you’ve been living under a rock or willfully ignoring the debacle, he said this: “There is no huge influx. We take far fewer refugees than other major European countries. This is just an immeasurably cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people in language that is not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s, and I’m out of order?” Whether you agree with him or not, the farcical shambles which followed have raised serious questions about the decision-making going on at the BBC. And perhaps, it’s shed a different light on the government’s small boats plan. We’ll look at what might come next, after the headlines.
Today’s news, and why it matters
China presents an “epoch-defining challenge” to the UK and its allies, Rishi Sunak has warned as the Government unveils a more aggressive stance towards the superpower as part of an overhaul of foreign policy. The PM will today publish an update of the integrated review, which will include a new public role for the spy agency MI5 for the first time, with businesses able to consult intelligence experts on how to keep themselves safe from hostile powers.
A new post-Brexit regime of alcohol duty will take effect in August after being delayed by six months. The Chancellor has ruled out further extending the introduction of the scheme, which will see drinks taxed on the basis of how much alcohol they contain, i understands.
Rishi Sunak’s controversial new asylum laws will do “next to nothing” to stop Channel small boat crossings, a respected non-partisan think-tank has warned. The Institute for Government, in an unusually frank report, said the laws are likely to prove “extremely difficult” and “costly” to implement, lead to legal challenges and cause “real human harm”.
Jeremy Hunt is planning a “back to work” Budget aimed at increasing the numbers of people in employment, saying there would be a package of measures to break down “barriers” to entering the workforce. Experts said that his proposals were “carrot and stick” policies aimed at the disabled and people with long-term health conditions, the over-50s, low-earners and parents on universal credit.
British businesses will not suffer fallout from the collapse of a leading tech-focussed bank, Rishi Sunak has promised as the Treasury scrambles to avoid a City crisis. Silicon Valley Bank, which is heavily involved in financing start-up firms, was shut down in the US on Friday and its British arm is being wound up over the weekend.
Three questions raised by Gary Lineker’s suspension:
Will he be back? After being taken off air for refusing to apologise for his tweets last week, it appears Gary Lineker is set to return to Match of the Day this weekend. i understands he is expected to be reinstated to his presenting duties following crisis talks with the BBC, in which he and BBC director general Tim Davie are believed to have reached an agreement to allow his return. The pundit was reportedly moved to tears by the solidarity shown last week by his fellow BBC presenters, including Ian Wright and Alan Shearer.
Repercussions at the BBC: Doubts have been raised over the future of the corporation’s chairman Richard Sharp, who is currently being investigated after he facilitated an £800,000 loan for Boris Johnson at the same time as he was applying to head the BBC. Mr Sharp, who denies any wrongdoing, was later appointed by the-then PM as chairman in February 2021. The alleged conflict of interest and the issue around Mr Lineker’s suspension has led to renewed calls for Mr Sharp to resign. As i‘s Simon Kelner writes: “How do they plot a way out of this cack-handed crisis that doesn’t require the letting of blood? In the binary nature of these things, either Davie, and/or the BBC chairman, Richard Sharp, goes, or Lineker does. And I think we know which way the great British public would vote. Lineker will not, and should not, climb down. For him – and for most of his supporters – it’s a freedom of speech issue.” On another note, the BBC is also expected to announce it is reviewing its social media guidelines in the wake of the controversy. But will they be controversial? Stay tuned.
Could the row add pressure to the Government’s bill? A YouGov snap poll (of3,682 adults) suggested 53% of the public believe the BBC was wrong to suspend Mr Lineker, suggesting, possibly, there is sympathy for the former footballer’s views. The row has raised questions over how it may have changed or enhanced the public’s view of the controversial laws Rishi Sunak and Suella Braverman want to bring in. The Illegal Immigration Bill will be debated later today in the House of Commons, where it may now face challenge from Tory backbenchers. Conservative MP Caroline Nokes told Times Radio yesterday: “I fail to see what this legislation is going to do to act as a deterrent.”
Around the world
Joe Biden will receive a formal invitation to visit Northern Ireland next month to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. Planning for a possible trip by the US President has been under way for months, but his participation was in doubt while the UK and EU remained locked in talks about post-Brexit trade arrangements for Northern Ireland.
A Saudi oil firm has posted a record $161bn (£134bn) profit for 2022, the largest ever recorded by an oil and gas company. Amnesty International said Saudi Aramco’s profits were “shocking”, especially during the cost-of-living crisis, and should be used to fund a “human-rights-based” transition to renewable energy.
At least eight people have died after two boats capsized off the California coast, in what has been described as one of the state’s worst maritime smuggling tragedies. The boats got into trouble off Black’s Beach in San Diego.
Russian volunteers are risking their safety to return kidnapped children to Ukraine, Gabriella Jozwiak reports. A Russian priest is among those determined to reunite Ukrainian mothers and children after thousands have been taken to Russian-occupied territories.
Everything Everywhere All at Once has made a slice of history at the Oscars, with its lead Michelle Yeoh becoming the first Asian to win best actress, and Hollywood veteran Jamie Lee Curtis winning her first ever Academy Award. The sci-fi epic, directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert – who together took home best director, won the Oscar for best picture. Ke Huy Quan, who also starred in the thriller, won best actor in a supporting role. Accepting her prize, Michelle Yeoh said: “For all the little boys and girls who look like me, this is a beacon of hope and possibilities. Dream big, dreams do come true.”
Watch out for…
nuclear submarine deals. Rishi Sunak is in San Diego alongside Joe Biden and Australian PM Anthony Albanese for talks over the procurement of nuclear-powered submarines under the Aukus pact.
Thoughts for the day
There is a dark irony to this BBC furore, which Gary Lineker may not relish. The presenter’s tweet has exposed the depth of our culture wars, writes Ian Birrell.
When it comes to sex education, ignorance is anything but bliss. Decent sex education is one of the most useful tools we can give young people, argues Rebecca Reid.
I spent two hours a day doing makeup for school – removing mirrors won’t stop the pressure on teenage girls, says Kia-Elise Green.
The Oscars was almost comforting in its blandness. The 95th Academy Awards were a return to form, with no incidents and only a smattering of classic show-biz behaviour, writes Christina Newland.
The Big Read
‘Miscarriage, especially recurrent miscarriage, is still not talked about openly enough’. Reena Kainth who was nominated for an inspirational award talks to Aasma Day.
West Ham under David Moyes offer nothing good or bad, they just keep on being mediocre, writes Daniel Storey.
Something to brighten your day
35 ways to be kinder to yourself, from ta-dah lists to nightly wind downs. Rest more, embrace parenting imperfection and lower your expectations – experts share their tips with Anna Bonet on how to be a little nicer to yourself.