tv BBC News at Ten BBC News March 24, 2021 10:00pm-10:31pm GMT
tonight at ten, after weeks of tension, the uk and eu pledge to work together on vaccine supplies. in a joint statement, they said they wanted to "create a win—win situation, and expand vaccine supply for all". but problems with the eu's vaccination programme have brought more threats of a vaccine blockade, something the uk says will be very damaging. the long—term damage done by blockades can be very considerable. we'll have more on the vaccine debate, as eu leaders prepare to meet tomorrow to consider their next move. also tonight... the scottish government offers nhs staff a 4% pay rise, backdated to december, in recognition of a very difficult year. those seeking asylum in the uk could face a much
tougher process in future, under controversial plans unveiled by the home secretary. a special report from the us on the growing use of solitary confinement in prison because of the pandemic. and in tonight's erd cup qualifier, wales took the lead against belgium, but would it be enough? and coming up in sport on bbc news, one foot in the semifinals. chelsea beat wolfsburg 2—1. sam kerr with the first in the opening leg of their women's champions league quarterfinal. good evening. after weeks of tension between the uk and the european union over the distribution of vaccines, a joint statement has been issued, pledging to work together to improve communications in relation to the pandemic.
the statement says they want to "create a win—win situation, and expand vaccine supply for all citizens". it was a notably different tone to the one struck by the eu earlier today, when the commission proposed tougher controls on exports of vaccines, based on infection and vaccination rates in the destination countries. those plans will be presented to eu leaders tomorrow. live to brussels for the latest with our europe editor katya adler. those talks between the eu and the uk on how to cooperate better on vaccines are ongoing. as you say, thejoint statement vaccines are ongoing. as you say, the joint statement night was positive in tone but some eu leaders at the summit tomorrow, joined by the european commission, will push for those tougher controls on vaccine exports, which could affect the uk. now, they say they would never want to use those controls but they do want to get more vaccines for the eu. a brutal third wave.
desperate lockdown protests. a deadly failure so far to get vaccines into arms. eu covid woes are deepening by the day. angela merkel, normally the european symbol of calm and control, suddenly u—turned today on a plan to ease the lockdown, amid mounting political pressure. translation: this whole business has created even more uncertainty. - i deeply regret that and ask for forgiveness. across the eu, there is growing frustration at a roll—out far slower than the uk's. some blame their governments, others the european commission. it is now on the defensive, accusing pharmaceutical company astrazeneca of not delivering vaccines promised and demanding extra controls on vaccine exports to richer countries. if astrazeneca had delivered exactly the number of doses
which was planned, like they did in the uk, we would be today exactly at the same point of vaccination as the uk. so we have been heavily penalised, heavily. on the other hand, you have eu governments like france or spain that are sitting on millions of astrazeneca jabs and not using them. i'm not sure it's millions but that's a very good point. we need to try to accelerate the campaign. we need to make sure that member states are able to have the logistics to be able to do this. it is true that in the uk, the british government did pretty well in the first phase of this. the eu says it has already exported over a0 millionjabs in the last two months, a quarter of those to the uk. existing export controls, used once so far, allow brussels to keep hold of vaccines made by companies that owe jabs to the eu. now the commission also wants to be able to block exports according to reciprocity —
if the country in question has production facilities but does not send jabs to brussels — and proportionality if its vaccine roll—out is ahead of the eu. "we are not after an export ban," says the commission. "we just want to secure vaccine supply." but the world outside is accusing the eu of vaccine nationalism, and not even all eu leaders are convinced about these new controls. some worry they will disrupt the global supply chain for vaccines, and others that it will further damage already strained post—brexit relations with the uk. ahead of their summit, eu leaders promised vaccine campaigns will take off soon, one way or another. but rising death and infection rates mean the short—term looks bleak. katya adler, bbc news, brussels. earlier today, borisjohnson warned that he hadn't ruled out retaliation measures if the eu went ahead with plans to block the export of vaccines to the uk.
the prime minister, answering questions from a parliamentary committee this afternoon, was asked about the easing of restrictions, and he suggested that pub landlords could demand proof that customers had been vaccinated. our political editor laura kuenssberg has more details. not exactly your normal commute. reporter: are we being greedy i with our vaccines, prime minister? the prime minister leaving the house notjust for questions from the opposition, but the occasional pummelling from parliament's senior mps. there is a promise on both sides of the channel now to work together on the vaccine, but if that goes wrong and exports are blocked, what would he do? if british lives were at risk, - do you rule out taking measured and proportionate retaliation to discourage the eu - from impeding legally—binding contracts for our vaccines? - i think that the long—term damage done by blockades can be very considerable.
you're not taking anything offi the table, in terms of a british response to decisions this week? our priority is to continue the vaccine roll—out, to vaccinate the british people. we'll do everything necessary that we can to ensure that that happens. with virus cases rising on the continent, mps wanted to know, why aren't border controls being tightened further and faster now? you have tougher measures going in the other direction. and that has to... you have testing arrangements in place for hauliers going to france... and that has to be balanced... technology made the exchanges more testy than normal, but the prime minister hinted tougher rules might come. why have you not introduced, then, additional measures, or put france on the red list? in terms of putting france on the red list, which is what you're talking about, and with the consequences that would have for uk supplies and for cross—channel movements,
but it is something that we will have to look at. we will have to look at tougher measures. then what may rile his backbenchers — the prime minister seemed to approve of the idea that vaccines could, in some circumstances, become a compulsory part of life. it doesn't seem to me to be irresponsible at all for the, er... farfrom it, wholly responsible, for care home companies to think of requiring vaccination. what about a certificate for going to the pub? it may be up to individual publicans. it may be up to the landlord. but grappling with the pandemic is still a hugejob for the government — even a year on, still big decisions to take. laura kuenssberg, bbc news, westminster. the latest government figures show there were 5,605 new coronavirus infections recorded in the latest 24—hour period, which means
on average, 5,476 new cases were reported per day in the last week. the latest figures show 5,407 people were in hospital across the uk. 98 deaths were reported in the latest 24—hour period — that's people who died within 28 days of a positive covid—i9 test. on average in the past week, 79 deaths were announced every day. the total number who have died is now 126,382. as for vaccinations, more than 325,000 people have had their first dose of a covid vaccine in the latest 24—hour period, bringing the total to more than 28.5 million people. over 2.5 million people have had both doses of the vaccine. the scottish government has offered a pay rise of 4% to nhs staff, backdated to december, to reflect what ministers said was in
recognition of an exceptional year of significant pressure for staff. the offer was made after discussions with nhs trade unions and nhs employers. if accepted by staff, the deal would be the most generous nhs pay rise anywhere in the uk. 0ur scotland editor sarah smith is in edinburgh. talk us through the reasoning and rationale presented behind this offer. ~ . , rationale presented behind this offer. ~ ., , _, , offer. well, it has come 'ust in the last few minutes h offer. well, it has come 'ust in the last few minutes and _ offer. well, it has come just in the last few minutes and the - offer. well, it has come just in the last few minutes and the scottish l last few minutes and the scottish government say that is because the negotiations were going on all day but it was also vital for them to get this concluded today because at midnight tonight, we enter the official election period in scotland and during that time, the government isn't allowed to make announcements like this. you can probably guess how keen the government were to get this payoff are made public before the election campaign begins. let's look at some of the details, the offer is a 4% rise for all nhs staff
apart from doctors. it would apply to over 150,000 workers in scotland. it would mean the pay of an average front line nurse would rise by about £1200 per year. as you say, normally, these pay deals start on the 1st of april but this one has been backdated to the 1st of december. that will put even money on the staff pay packets. it is on top of a £500 thank you bonus that has already been paid to all self —— health and social care staff in scotland. 4% is by some measure of the most generous pay deal for the nhs staff that is on offer anywhere in the uk and of course, it is bound to be compared to the 1% that is on offer in england.— offer in england. sarah smith with the latest at _ offer in england. sarah smith with the latest at holyrood, _ offer in england. sarah smith with the latest at holyrood, thank- offer in england. sarah smith with the latest at holyrood, thank you. j the home secretary has set out what she describes as the "most comprehensive, fair but firm" proposals to reform the way people apply for asylum in the uk. priti patel said that for the first time, people seeking protection as refugees would have their claim assessed based on how
they arrived in the uk. she said that those who arrived here illegally, such as paying people smugglers to cross the english channel, would find it much harder to claim asylum and stay in the uk. but those who arrived here using what she called legal settlement routes, such as being transferred formally from a refugee camp, would find it easier to get permission to stay. those allowed to stay would have limited access to welfare benefits. but the proposals have been called "inhumane" by campaigners, who say it's wrong to focus on how someone arrived in the uk, rather than trying to understand why they had left their home country. our home affairs correspondent june kelly has been looking at the plans. dover, today. the latest arrivals heading to shore, after being picked up in their flimsy inflatable. like so many, they've paid thousands to the people smugglers. over the past year, patrol boats have found families with day—old babies and a pensioner of 97.
during the last 12 months, 8,500 people crossed the channel in this way. the majority of them claimed asylum, and this is what the home secretary wants to stop. jehad and jene arrived in britain from syria under an official resettlement scheme. the home office put us in touch with them. they've made their home in preston, with their two young sons. they'll always be grateful for the support they received right from the start. they provide lots of help, they show us the local area. they were doing lots of support and help. during the pandemic, jehad used his skills as a tailor to make hospital garments. he was a hard worker. he made me proud. i'm so proud of him. i have to return the favour for this country, for the british people. the home office stopped them from answering questions about their fellow syrians who travelled to this country
on lorries and boats — the sort of migrants the home secretary was focusing on in the commons today. our system is collapsing under the pressure of parallel illegal routes to asylum, facilitated by criminal smugglers. the existence of parallel routes is deeply unfair, advancing those with the means to pay smugglers over those in desperate need. the reality is, the measures outlined today will do next to nothing to stop people making dangerous crossings, and they risk withdrawing support from desperate people. so how does the uk compare when it comes to numbers claiming asylum? well, in 2020, the figure here was just over 36,000. for the rest of europe — in germany, it was nearly 122,000. in france, more than 90,000. italy, lower than the uk at 26,000, with spain at more than 88,000. tsegazghi michael is now a british citizen, after claiming asylum when he arrived here on a lorry.
he works and volunteers with the charity citizens uk. in his native eritrea, he was a judge. he fled after being imprisoned for refusing to compromise on his judicial independence. he doesn't believe he broke the law in the way he came to britain. refugees don't have a choice, an option. sometimes, to save a life, you have to do something extraordinary. to stop criminals making money should not compromise the right of refugees to get a sanctuary. so while many migrants say this is their only option, the message from ministers is that they will not be welcome if they arrive in this way. june kelly, bbc news. the former first minister of scotland, alex salmond, is to take new legal action. this time, its related to the conduct of the scottish government's top civil servant. mr salmond claimed permanent secretary leslie evans had failed to take responsibility
for the government's mishandling of harassment complaints made against him. the first minister nicola sturgeon, who's been cleared of breaking the ministerial code over the matter, said she still had confidence in leslie evans. when the number of coronavirus infections peaked in england injanuary, there was an unprecedented number of patients being treated in intensive care. the pressure on beds was intense, and to make sure that people were receiving the best treatment, thousands of patients were moved between hospitals. doctors have now spoken for the first time about the scale of that operation, and they've been talking to our health correspondent sophie hutchinson. the all too familiar images from this winter as the second wave took hold, but these pictures captured a little—known operation that saw hundreds of desperately sick covid—19 patients move between hospitals because of intensive care bed shortages.
ashley harvey, a chauffeur, was one of them. the week injanuary when he was admitted to the royal stoke hospital with breathing difficulties was the peak of the pandemic for the nhs. days later, despite being in an induced coma and on a ventilator, he was transferred to hospital in salford, one hour away, to make room for a surge of patients coming up from the south. i'm aware that they had nine patients come from london. they were having displacement patients coming into the hospitals up and down the country. and so you needed to be moved on because of that? yeah, somebody would have made a difficult decision. the fact that they were saying that he was well enough to do that journey and make space for someone that's worse, and it's insane to think that someone could be worse because he was very poorly, sort of gave us a bit of hope and it was sort of a positive thing. the latest figures show, during the second surge, more than 2,300 critically ill patients were moved around the uk because icus were so full. one in eight patients had to be moved from hotspots
in london and the midlands. more than a quarter of patients went on longerjourneys. the bbc has learned among the furthest were west midlands to devon, 160 miles. birmingham to newcastle, 200 miles. and surrey to tyne and wear, 300 miles. moving critically ill patients and on this unprecedented scale required exceptional expertise because it's so high—risk. back last summer, medical staff, who saw bed shortages coming, raced to train specialist transfer teams, source ambulances and medical equipment. this doctor was instrumental in setting up the operation in london. no one wants their patients to be taken away from them, to complete theirjourney of care at another centre. but they also were very acutely aware that was the only option to preserve access to life support. when we were taking patients across from hospitals that
were close to their critical levels of oxygen supply or the last ventilated bed, to hospitals that were under somewhat less pressure, was absolutely life—saving. they're still a little bit over 100% capacity... in birmingham, doctors told me at its worst, a staggering 40% of intensive care patients in some hospitals had to be moved and that, without the transfers, more would have died. we would have seen scenes like northern italy, where at one point hospitals were overwhelmed and they were talking about triaging by age. scenes like new york, that some hospitals had mortality rates that were five times higher than others because they were working on a 7:1 staffing ratio. i think the transfer service, it was one of the winners during this pandemic.
this has been the most gruelling winter staff and patients have known and the scale of patient transfers is a measure ofjust how close the nhs came to being overwhelmed. sophie hutchinson, bbc news. prison populations across the world have been severely affected by the pandemic. the cramped and crowded conditions make it hard to stop the spread of coronavirus, and in the us, authorities have turned to solitary confinement as a way of limiting transmission. there are an estimated 60,000 inmates in solitary confinement in america. although that number is now believed to be much higher, many of them have been held in solitary for years. yet the united nations considers more than 15 days in solitary confinement as a form of torture because of the psychological damage it can cause. and, for some inmates, the impact is devastating. this special report by our correspondent hilary andersson does contain some distressing details.
we have all now experienced lockdown in our homes. but try to imagine being confined to a room the size of your bathroom for 22 hours a day. that is solitary confinement. in new york, i met candie hayley. candie was held on remand at rikers island jail here for a crime she didn't commit, then accused of breaking prison rules. she was put in isolation. if hell had a description or a definition, it would be solitary confinement. the cell was like an elevator that you are stuck in for 2h hours. with no indication of how long she would be there, candie could only see one way out. i wanted to kill myself. i swallowed pills. i cut my arms. a pencil, a pen, whatever i could find to cut my arms up.
how long can a human endure isolation? for candie, it was three years. for albert woodfox, it was a5. he spent most of his life in a cell alone, trying not to lose his mind. the very first time i experienced a claustrophobic attack, i was sleeping, and i woke up and the bunk above me was right there, you know, about a couple of inches from my face. that was your perception? yeah, and i couldn't move. it felt like the atmosphere itself was closing in on me. you get this feeling where you are being smothered almost, you know. woodfox, accused of killing a prison guard, has long maintained his innocence. he was released in 2016. the length of his incarceration
shocked many around the world. he has become a leading figure in the fight against solitary. for years, this man, burl cain, was his jailer. cain didn't want to comment on specific inmates. he has had years of experience with maximum security prisoners and believes solitary is essential to present safety. the united nations has defined more than 15 days in solitary as torture. do you, what do you say about that? i'm not torturing them because i'm going to feed them good and we're going to try every day to get them to come out there and live peacefully with the others. but until he says that, until he wants that right, i have no choice but to protect the others, leave him over here. some american states are trying to reduce the use of solitary confinement. but in others, like here in louisiana, solitary is still widely used, sometimes even for children.
that's him. i met ronnie peterson. this, solan, his adopted 13—year—old son. had lots of friends, he made friends really easy and just wanted to have a good time with everyone. two years ago, solan, who had adhd, set fire to a bin at school. he was taken to juvenile detention. like many young offenders, he was put in solitary for misbehaviour. i could talk to him through a little bitty four—inch window. i could tell it was kind of breaking him down. we were told that he was going to get out that night or at the latest, the next morning. but he didn't. this is footage of solan�*s cell block on his fifth night in solitary. a guard sees that solan has hanged himself. i got a phone call at two o'clock in the morning saying that he was dead. solan�*s parents gave permission for use of this footage to highlight
the horrific consequences of putting their 13—year—old in solitary. you don't really feel a whole lot in the moment. um... you kind of go numb and you are in shock. i mean, he was a normal teenage boy and he was happy most of the time. solan�*s family think solitary confinement should be banned, but many americans would see that as going soft on prisoners. so, more than 60,000 inmates remain in solitary today, alone with their minds. hilary andersson, bbc news. and you can watch an extended version of hilary's report on the bbc iplayer. let's take a look at some of today's other news. the retailerjohn lewis has said it will not reopen another eight stores after the lockdown.
the group recently reported big losses, and says certain locations can't sustain a large store. the move puts nearly 1,500 jobs at risk. prince charles and the duchess of cornwall have arrived in athens to help mark greece's bicentenary independence day celebrations. the prince spoke of the strong and vital ties between the uk and greece, and he paid tribute to the country where his father prince philip was born nearly a century ago. all government buildings in england, wales and scotland will fly the union flag every day, following new guidance from the culture department. currently, flags are only required to be flown on certain days such as the queen's birthday. government buildings in northern ireland are covered by separate rules. a serious breakdown in governance and multiple apparent failures at liverpool city council have led to the appointment of commissioners to run parts of the authority for at least the next three years.
the decision was announced by the local government secretary robertjenrick, who said the intervention was essential after inspectors reported a worrying picture of mismanagement at the authority. 0ur correspondentjudith moritz sent this report. the famous liver birds have long watched over liverpool. now the city will also be overseen by the government, which will monitor parts of the council. the local government secretary, robertjenrick, said a damning inspector's report had found multiple failures. it paints a deeply concerning picture of mismanagement, the breakdown of scrutiny and accountability, a dysfunctional culture, putting the spending of public funds at risk and undermining the city's economic development. the report lists dubious contracts, documents discarded in skips or even destroyed, and an environment of intimidation, with some whistle—blowers said to be too frightened to be publicly identified.
independent commissioners will work with the council to make improvements. how can you give the people of liverpool the confidence that this is going to be sorted out? we fully accept the recommendations, we're not hiding from that at all, and we are absolutely determined to put these issues right and re—earn the respect of the people of liverpool, and all of the partners and stakeholders that we work with. merseyside police are also investigating building and development contracts. five men were arrested last year, including the former mayor, joe anderson, who denies any wrongdoing and has not been charged with any offences. tonight he said that under his leadership, the city has been transformed. the current acting mayor says local politicians will still have a say, despite the intervention. it's not a takeover of the city, it's commissioners coming in to oversee and observe the role of that department at this point in time. i think the secretary of state was really clear, though, you know,
if we were not cooperative with that, then further tougher measures would have been taken. the liberal democrats say the post of city mayor should be abolished altogether. so, what do liverpudlians think about the government getting involved? i wouldn't like the government - in london to take over and say, "oh, you can't do this or you can't do - that," because they don't live here. i think they should at least come in and just sort it all out, and then move back on, you know what i mean? because it's. .. ..it�*s gone on for years, this, in liverpool. there'll be checks on the council's progress every six months. the government expects its intervention to last for a minimum of three years. judith moritz, bbc news, liverpool. one of the world's most important shipping routes, the suez canal in egypt, has been blocked by a grounded giant container ship. more than 10% of global trade passes through the canal, which connects the mediterranean sea to the red sea. the hold—up has sent oil prices to higher levels on international markets. our global trade correspondent
dharshini david has the story. there are bottlenecks on the daily commute and then there's this — a ship the size of the empire state building, blocking one of the busiest shipping channels, blown adrift by a gust of wind. behind the stricken ever given, a mounting queue of marine traffic, carrying cargo from oil to clothes and food. whereever they hailfrom — china, the middle east or south asia — they are going nowhere. seen from above, the problem is clear. ships have grown to match our appetite to consume more, but they are ill—suited to a waterway that's just 205 metres wide. this canal, connecting the red sea and the mediterranean, was originally built 150 years ago. it's still crucial for modern trade. the ever given ran aground at 5:40 on tuesday morning. it's one of 52 ships a day that travel through this passage of water.