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18 March 2015updated 07 Jun 2021 2:00pm

Five things you need to know today: Hunt derides Johnson, and UK likened to “Dad’s Army”

By New Statesman

A hunted man

Jeremy Hunt has accused Boris Johnson of putting his personal interests before those of the country after the Conservative leadership frontrunner refused to say whether he would resign as prime minister if he failed to deliver Brexit by 31 October. In last night’s live televised debate, Hunt said: “I think it’s ‘do or die’ for the country, but not for a prime minister who won’t put his own neck on the line — that’s not leadership.” Johnson also refused to rule out proroguing parliament in order to force through a no-deal Brexit, something Hunt warned could lead to civil unrest. In his post-debate analysis, NS political correspondent Patrick Maguire concluded that “despite his far from watertight platform, Johnson remains in pole position”.

Ambassador in limbo 

During the TV debate, Johnson also refused four times to say whether Britain’s US ambassador Kim Darroch would remain in office if he becomes prime minister. In contrast to Hunt, Johnson did not condemn Donald Trump for his criticism of Darroch as a “very stupid guy” and of Theresa May as “foolish”. Downing Street said the ambassador would not be attending a meeting between Ivanka Trump, the US President’s daughter, and Liam Fox, the International Trade Secretary, in Washington. May is likely to be challenged on the diplomatic furore at today’s Prime Minister’s Questions. 

Do panic

The UK government has been likened to “Dad’s Army” over its faltering response to the climate crisis. In an assessment published today, the Committee on Climate Change warned that “there are no areas where government is planning properly”. The UK recently pledged to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 but the CCC found that the government was failing to implement measures needed to meet a previous target of an 80 per cent reduction. 

Papua New Guinea massacre: 24 dead

At least 24 people are confirmed to have died in Papua New Guinea following an outbreak of brutal tribal violence. Children and pregnant women were among those killed when attackers armed with guns and long knives descended on the village of Karida in Hela province. Prime Minister James Marape described the day as one of the “saddest” of his life and vowed to use the “strongest measures in law” against the perpetrators. 

Alexa will see you now

Patients will be able to receive health advice from Amazon’s AI-powered voice assistant Alexa under a partnership with the NHS, the government has announced. From this week, the device’s algorithm will automatically use information from the NHS website to answer medical queries. The innovation is aimed at reducing pressure on GPs and helping vulnerable patients such as the elderly and the visually impaired. 

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