Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 3 Jan 2021

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

1

Hospitals preparing for ‘surge’

Hospitals across the UK are being warned they face the same pressures as the NHS in London and south-east England after a further 57,725 people tested positive for Covid - a new daily high. Meanwhile, The Observer reveals that NHS bosses are set to cancel urgent surgery across the capital in a move that could mean cancer patients waiting months for potentially lifesaving operations.

2

School closures ‘put lives on hold’

Closing schools to tackle Covid puts children’s lives on hold, says the head of England’s schools watchdog. Children cannot be “furloughed” for months while the UK waits for Covid cases to subside, argues Ofsted chief Amanda Spielman. Most primary schools in England are expected to open on Monday but secondary schools will reopen on a staggered basis.

3

Starmer courting Biden team

Sir Keir Starmer will “beat Boris Johnson to the White House” when he sends one of his frontbench team to the inauguration of Joe Biden on January 20. The news comes days after Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic speaker of the House of Representatives, was kept waiting for more than 30 minutes on a call to Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, before he “stood her up”.

4

Poll says Boris would lose seat

The government would lose its majority and Boris Johnson would lose his seat if a general election were held tomorrow, according to a new poll. Amid unhappiness over the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, the survey found that neither the Conservatives nor Labour would win an outright majority. Many of the seats that Labour would gain are in “red wall” constituencies.

5

Study finds vaccination problems

A “postcode lottery” means almost one in four people in England live in an area with no vaccination centre, says The Sunday Times. Eight million people face a round trip of more than 10 miles to get to a site, while for 1.7 million people, the journey is 20 miles. There is concern that elderly and vulnerable people could struggle to make appointments.

6

Bodies found after Norway landslide

Police in Norway say four bodies have now been found by rescuers following a massive landslide that destroyed homes. Rescue teams in the village of Ask, near Oslo, have yet to find any signs of human life after the disaster tore down buildings in the area on Wednesday. A Dalmatian dog was rescued alive.

7

Study spotlights UK inequality

Almost a quarter of all household wealth in the UK is held by the richest 1% of the population, reports The Observer. The study by the Resolution Foundation found that the top 1% had almost £800bn more wealth than suggested by official statistics. The thinktank said wealth taxation “will need to play a bigger role in the economy over the course of the 2020s”.

8

Thunberg untroubled by flying celebs

Greta Thunberg say she “doesn't care” about the jet-setting exploits of celebrities who campaign about the environment. “I'm not telling anyone else what to do, but there is a risk when you are vocal about these things and don't practise as you preach, then you will become criticised for that and what you are saying won't be taken seriously,” she said.

9

Navy ships spends 87 days at sea

HMS Prince of Wales has spent just 87 days at sea - a third of the time of her sister ship HMS Queen Elizabeth, says the Ministry of Defence. In a letter to a Labour MP, the defence minister James Heappey confirmed the Prince of Wales, which cost £3.2billion to build, was at sea for 57 days in 2019 and just 30 days last year. The ship has had trouble with leaks.

10

Larry King battling Covid-19

Larry King has tested positive for coronavirus and is being treated at a hospital in Los Angeles. The broadcaster has faced several health problems in recent years, including heart attacks. “He is fighting this one hard too,” said a source. Meanwhile, the British broadcaster Jeremy Clarkson said he feared he would “die alone in a plastic tent” as he battled Covid-19 over Christmas.

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