Wednesday morning UK news briefing: France and Germany in vaccine talks with Russia

France and Germany are in negotiations with Vladimir Putin to supply the Russian Covid vaccine to the EU.

President Emmanuel Macron and chancellor Angela Merkel held a video call with the Russian leader to discuss “co-operation”, which would lead to the Sputnik jab being used in the bloc once it is approved by regulators.

The move came after German authorities suspended use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab for the under-60s over blood clot fears.

No 10 was forced to reiterate that the vaccine was “safe, effective and has already saved thousands of lives”.

Global Health Security Editor Paul Nuki writes that Britain could be in for a rough ride with the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab, but there is no need to panic. Read his analysis and what scientists say about safety concerns.

Blower cartoon


There has been continued bafflement
in Whitehall at the approach of European countries to the vaccine rollout

Meanwhile, Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned Britons not to “blow it” ahead of what could be the UK’s hottest ever March day.

With today’s temperatures set to surpass the month’s record of 25.6C set in 1968, police warned that crowds gathering in parks will be broken up.

After Monday’s easing of coronavirus rules, groups of up to six – or two households – can socialise outdoors.

View a gallery of pictures of sunseekers flocking to their nearest green space.

Britain is leading the way on race relations, says report

The UK is a model for race relations and inequality between different ethnic groups may be caused by other factors, a landmark report says today. The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, which was created by Boris Johnson after the Black Lives Matter protests, today publishes its 264-page findings. The report concludes that while Britain is not a “post-racial society”, the success of ethnic minorities in education and the economy should be a “beacon” for other countries. It found that factors such as social class and family structures often explain differences in outcomes for ethnic groups rather than discrimination.

The five key secrets to perfect British barbecuing

We are a nation of barbecuing catastrophes – at least according to MasterChef judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace. But do not let them put you off. Barbecue expert Genevieve Taylor explains the five rules for creating a perfect meal outside. And, if you fail? Well, William Sitwell writes that the British barbecue was always meant to be a disaster.

At a glance: Coronavirus morning briefing

Also in the news: Today’s other headlines

Banker ‘had No 10 business card’ | Fresh calls for an inquiry into David Cameron’s links to financier Lex Greensill have been voiced after it appeared the banker had his own No 10 email address and direct phone line. A Downing Street business card from 2012 purportedly described him as a senior adviser to the “Prime Minister’s Office”. Matt sees the funny side of Mr Cameron’s situation in today’s cartoon.  

Around the world: ‘Sorry to George for not saving him’

The teenager who captured the viral footage of Derek Chauvin pinning George Floyd to the ground said she spent sleepless nights apologising to the 46-year-old for not “saving his life”, as she testified during the former police officer’s murder trial. Read the latest from Rozina Sabur in Minneapolis and view our gallery of more striking world pictures.

Comment and analysis

Editor’s choice: Features and arts

  1. Subtle changes | Decoding the Duchess of Cornwall’s stylish ‘make-under’
  2. Looking good How to dress well at every age – from 40s to 80s
  3. Moira Buffini on writing The Dig | ‘Netflix needs to invest in British theatre’

Business and money briefing

Carnage becomes clear | The implosion of Bill Hwang’s trading empire could trigger £7.3bn of losses across the financial system, analysts warned, as watchdogs launched an investigation into how banks handled the fund. Experts at JP Morgan doubled their estimate for losses by major banks from the liquidation of Mr Hwang’s firm, Archegos.  

Sport briefing

Cricket | England fear their leading players will quit international cricket if they are not given permission to play in the Indian Premier League, the national team’s managing director said. Ex-spin bowler Ashley Giles voiced concerns after criticism over England’s rotation.  

Tonight’s dinner

Peanut, ginger and soy noodle salad | A versatile salad full of crunchy vegetables by Xanthe Clay. View the recipe. Try our Cookbook newsletter.

And finally… for this morning’s downtime

Fitness future-proofing | When she could no longer teach barre in her garden, Jennie Brown invested in home recording equipment – and attracted a legion of fans. She tells Anna Tyzack how lockdown and £2,000 turned her into a six-figure midlife fitness influencer.

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