Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 20 Dec 2020

The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am

1

Johnson ‘cancels Xmas’ with tier 4

Boris Johnson has put 18 million people into tier four restrictions, meaning they will not be able to mix with other households over Christmas. In the rest of England, Scotland and Wales, relaxed indoor mixing rules are cut from five days to Christmas Day. Fears over a new strain of coronavirus prompted the move. The Sunday Telegraph says Christmas has been “cancelled” for millions.

2

‘Substantial shift’ needed for deal

A government source says there will be no post-Brexit trade deal between the UK and EU unless there is a “substantial shift” from Brussels in the coming days. As the two sides continue to haggle, France says that the European parliament’s Sunday deadline may pass without an agreement on a post-Brexit trade and security deal.

3

Martial law talk at Oval Office

A lively meeting at the White House on Friday included suggestions that martial law should be imposed in an attempt to overturn the presidential election result. CNN says one person described the meeting as “ugly”. Meanwhile, it has been revealed that Rudy Giuliani called the Department of Homeland Security to ask whether they could seize voting machines.

4

Child homelessness up since 2010

The number of children living in temporary accommodation has risen by more than 75% since the Tories came to power in 2010. Figures from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government show the number of children without a permanent home rose from 72,590 in the second quarter of 2010 to 128,200 in the first quarter of 2020. A charity said it was an “unacceptable rise”.

5

MPs demand furlough transparency

MPs are calling on the government to publish a list of the companies that signed up to the furlough scheme amid suspicions that “opportunistic fraud”, where furloughed staff continue to work, could be running at between 7% and 34%. The chancellor Rishi Sunak has extended the furlough scheme for one month until the end of April and self-employed support is due to continue until the end of January.

6

‘Shocking cruelty’ at turkey farm

Workers at a farm supplying turkeys to Sainsbury’s and Asda kicked turkeys more than 200 times in “shocking scenes of suffering and cruelty,” reports The Independent.  A worker is to be suspended and an official investigation has been launched after footage showed what campaigners called “a total disregard for animal welfare” at the Red Tractor-endorsed farm.

7

Biden appoints environmental team

Joe Biden has announced a team of environmental advisers to help his administration confront what he called “the existential threat of our time, climate change”. The president-elect said “We literally have no time to waste. We need to meet the moment with the urgency it demands, as we would during any national emergency.”

8

Panorama to probe Panorama

Panorama is to investigate itself over Martin Bashir’s interview with Princess Diana. The BBC’s current affairs programme has commissioned a documentary into how Bashir landed his interview with the Princess and subsequent allegations of a cover-up by the corporation. The Sunday Telegraph says the programme will mean escalate “navel gazing at the BBC”.

9

Drinking and sobriety up under Covid

Almost one in 20 people are drinking more than 50 units of alcohol per week - about 50% more than before the Covid pandemic, when the figure was about one in 30. Data published by Public Health England reveals that record numbers of people have been drinking more than five bottles of wine a week since the first national lockdown but the proportion of people who did not drink rose from 34.7% to 41.3% between March and September.

10

Bailey is Strictly champion

Bill Bailey has been crowned the winner of this year's Strictly Come Dancing. The comedian, who beat beat EastEnders’ Maisie Smith and singer HRVY, became the oldest celebrity to lift the glitterball trophy. “It feels surreal, it feels extraordinary, it feels wonderful,” said the 55-year-old. Actor Joe McFadden had been Strictly's previous oldest winner, having won at the age of 42.

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