Daily Briefing: UK chief medical office blasts PM, Unilever to centralise HQ in London, European consumers not spending

11 June: Your round-up of the issues leading today's agenda

11 June: Your round-up of the issues leading today's agenda

  • The UK’s top scientists said the government made a string of failures in its handling of the coronavirus crisis, putting Boris Johnson under pressure on live television, according to Bloomberg. Standing next to the prime minister, the country’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty appeared to call him out on a “long list” of potentially flawed decisions that will need to be reviewed. At the much-watched daily news conference on Wednesday, the epidemiologist admitted that his greatest regret was the U.K.’s slow response.

  • Unilever is to abandon its dual Anglo-Dutch corporate structure in favour of a single company in London, reversing attempts two years ago to combine its two arms in the Netherlands, says the Financial Times. The maker of Marmite, Dove soap and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream said on Thursday it would merge its Dutch entity into its UK arm, Unilever plc, later this year if the move is approved by shareholders. The structure is a legacy of Unilever’s formation from the merger of a Dutch margarine company and British soap maker Lever Brothers more than 90 years ago. 

  • Europe’s economy risks losing out on a massive dose of stimulus from its consumers, Bloomberg reports. Households have stashed away hundreds of billions of euros in their bank accounts under lockdown. And even though shops in many countries have reopened, surveys show little sign that people are ready to splurge just yet amid spiraling unemployment and the threat of a second wave of infections.

  • Amazon is implementing a one-year moratorium on police use of its artificial intelligence software Rekognition amid a growing backlash over the tech company’s ties to law enforcement, says The Guardian. The company has recently stated its support for the Black Lives Matter movement, which advocates for police reform – using Twitter to call for an end to “the inequitable and brutal treatment of black people” in the US and has putting a “Black lives matter” banner at the top of its home page. But the company has been criticized as hypocritical because it sells its facial recognition software to police forces.




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