Wednesday morning UK news briefing: Today’s top headlines from The Telegraph

Welcome to your early morning news briefing from The Telegraph – a round-up of the top stories we are covering on Wednesday. To receive twice-daily briefings by email, sign up to our Front Page newsletter for free.

1. Boris Johnson losing Tory support as storm grows over Downing Street garden party

Boris Johnson must resign if he broke lockdown rules, Tory politicians warned on Tuesday as support for the Prime Minister ebbed away over new Downing Street party allegations.

A poll found that 66 per cent of voters want Mr Johnson to quit after it emerged that a Number 10 garden party had been organised in May 2020 – at the height of the first lockdown. Read the full story.

2. Scientists believed Covid leaked from Wuhan lab – but feared debate could hurt ‘international harmony’

Leading British and US scientists thought it was likely that Covid accidentally leaked from a laboratory but were concerned that further debate would harm science in China, emails show.

An email from Sir Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, on February 2 2020 said that “a likely explanation” was that Covid had rapidly evolved from a Sars-like virus inside human tissue in a low-security lab. Read the full story.

3. Smart motorway rollout to be halted as safety review launched

The rollout of smart motorways is to be halted as the Government launches a review into their safety.

Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, will pause the construction of any new all-lane-running routes, preventing some of England’s busiest motorways from being stripped of the hard shoulder. Read the full story.

4. England rugby star ‘arrested on suspicion of rape’

An England rugby union player has been arrested on suspicion of raping a teenager who had allegedly been drugged.

Officers swooped to arrest the player on Sunday following reports of an attack at a nightclub the previous day. The athlete, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was quizzed along with a woman, 41. The woman had been held on suspicion of administering a substance with intent to cause a sexual offence. Read the full story.

5. Investment star Terry Smith attacks Unilever for ‘ludicrous’ focus on social and environmental issues

One of Britain’s best known investors has attacked Unilever for its "ludicrous" focus on sustainability, in a sign of growing City frustration at blue chip companies championing fashionable causes.

Terry Smith, manager of the £29bn Fundsmith Equity fund, said that the consumer goods behemoth has become "obsessed" with its public image and mocked its efforts to imbue brands such as Hellman’s mayonnaise with a higher purpose. Read the full story.

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