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Wednesday evening UK news briefing: EU’s beefed up export rules target UK

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Brussels has targeted Britain with beefed up rules to impose vaccine export bans on countries with higher vaccination rates than the EU. Britain has far outstripped the EU in vaccination, giving a first dose to more than half its adult population. The bloc, in the grip of a third Covid wave, has so far managed only 12pc. It comes as Belgium and France have tightened restrictions in an effort to curb a surge of Covid-19 cases. Yet Angela Merkel, pictured above, performed a stunning U-turn on her plans for an Easter lockdown in Germany, as eurozone economies face the prospect of their economic rebounds being snuffed out. As Italian authorities raided a vaccine factory amid unfounded fears that 29m AstraZeneca jabs meant for developing countries were hidden supplies meant for the UK, Andrew Lilico says the EU’s posturing on jabs cannot disguise the fact the Continent faces a catastrophic third wave.

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson warned tougher border controls between the UK and France might be needed “very soon” as cases surge across the Channel. In a terse back-and-forth with senior Labour MP Yvette Cooper during an appearance on the Liaison Committee, the Prime Minister said there was “a balance to be struck” between the risk posed by Europe’s third wave and “the very serious disruption” that will be caused by tougher border measures. See how many cases there are where you live.

Global trade disrupted as ship runs aground in Suez

The Suez Canal could be blocked for days after a giant container ship ran aground, snarling up one of the world’s busiest maritime trade routes. The MV Ever Given, one of the biggest container ships in operation, blew off course in a sudden gust of wind, authorities said, becoming wedged lengthways across the canal. The price of oil has surged due to the disruption caused to supplies, which could cost global trade $10bn a day and force some of the world’s biggest carmakers to extend their factory shutdowns. Take a look at this gallery of the scene.

Zara Tindall gives birth to baby boy on bathroom floor

Zara Tindall has given birth to a son, who has been named Lucas Philip Tindall. Husband Mike Tindall said the royal baby – the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh’s 10th great-grandchild – was born on the bathroom floor after the couple were unable to make it to hospital. Meanwhile, police have arrested a man after a bomb disposal team attended a report of a suspicious item in the grounds of the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Queen’s official residence in Edinburgh. In a big day for royal news, it has also emerged the Duke of Sussex has another new role, this time sitting alongside Rupert Murdoch’s daughter-in-law for a think tank’s six-month study on “information disorder”. Read more on Prince Harry’s new role.

At a glance: Coronavirus evening briefing

Also in the news: Today’s other headlines

John Lewis | Eight more John Lewis department stores will never reopen, the retailer has confirmed, putting 1,465 jobs at risk, in another blow for the high street. The closure of the branches comes on top of the eight stores it shut last year, which included two small travel hub shops at Heathrow and St Pancras. View a map of all the store closure sites.

Around the world: Australia floods claim two lives

The bodies of two men were found in Australia today in cars trapped in floodwaters, the first deaths linked to wild weather in recent days that has submerged houses, swept away livestock and cut off entire towns. More than 40,000 people have been forced to flee their homes as torrential rain sparked dangerous flash floods, and authorities issued new evacuation orders for residents of Sydney’s western regions.

Wednesday interview

‘Murray Walker knew he was dying when we last spoke’



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