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18 March 2015updated 07 Jun 2021 4:03pm

Five things you need to know today: Johnson denounced over £2.1bn for no-deal Brexit

By New Statesman

Johnson accused of “appalling waste of taxpayers’ cash”

The government has announced an extra £2.1bn of funding as part of preparations for a no-deal Brexit, including an extra 500 border officials, stockpiling of medicines and a public information campaign. Sajid Javid, the Chancellor, will immediately provide £1.1bn to departments and devolved administrations and make a further £1bn available if necessary, taking the total allocated this year to £6.3bn. The move is designed to convince the EU that the UK is willing to leave without an agreement on 31 October, but Labour denounced the spending as an “appalling waste of taxpayers’ cash, all for the sake of Boris Johnson’s drive towards a totally avoidable no-deal”. 

Lib Dems bid to defeat Tories in Brecon by-election

Boris Johnson will face his first electoral test as Prime Minister today as voters go to the polls in the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election. The Liberal Democrats are favourites to win the Welsh constituency but as Patrick Maguire reports in the New Statesman, some in the party fear that the Tories’ Chris Davies, who was recalled as an MPs by voters after being convicted of expenses fraud, could yet retain the seat. Should the Conservatives lose, their working parliamentary majority will be reduced to just one seat. 

Biden and Harris clash in second Democratic debate

Democratic presidential frontrunner Joe Biden once more clashed with California senator Kamala Harris in the second of the party’s candidate debates. Following a much-criticised performance in the last hustings, Biden told his opponent at the outset: “go easy on me, kid”. The former vice president was subsequently challenged by Harris over his record on race and his healthcare proposals. “In 2019 in America, for a Democrat to be running for president with a [health] plan that does not cover everyone, I think is without excuse,” said Harris. 

Hamza bin Laden, son of Osama, reported dead 

Osama bin Laden’s son, Hamza, who sought to lead an al-Qaeda resurgence, has died, according to US reports. Bin Laden, who was thought to be aged around 30 and under house arrest in Iran, had called for jihadists to avenge his father’s killing by American special forces in 2011. The New York Times reported that he was killed at some point over the last two years, but Donald Trump and White House officials refused to comment on the story.

Reagan called African UN delegates “monkeys”

Ronald Reagan described African delegates to the United Nations as “monkeys” who were still “uncomfortable wearing shoes”, newly released audio recordings have revealed. The former president made the remarks in a 1971 phone conversation with then-president Richard Nixon following a vote by the UN to recognise China rather than US ally Taiwan. According to the Atlantic magazine, the exchange was originally removed from an earlier version released in 2000 in order to “protect Reagan’s privacy”. 

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