Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 24 November 2021
The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am
House sales lowest since 2008
Property sales in England suffered their worst October since the global financial crisis of 2008 “as the last of the stamp duty holiday savings disappeared“, The Telegraph reported. The number of transactions in England fell by 33.4%, year-on-year, to 66,830 sales last month. However, activity in the central London market accelerated as people returned to the office.
AstraZeneca ‘preventing new wave’
Scientists have said that AstraZeneca may offer longer-lasting immunity than other vaccines, prompting speculation that the jab has helped Britain avoid the latest Covid wave in Europe. The chief executive of the pharma giant said the decision to give the Oxford vaccine to older people in Britain could be one of the reasons the UK was not seeing not “so many hospitalisations relative to Europe” despite a high number of cases. Several European countries restricted the AstraZeneca vaccine to under-65s in the early stages of their rollouts.
Climate change ‘top public worry’
Britons think that climate change is the most important issue they face, according to a poll conducted by Ipsos MORI. About 40% of more than a thousand people who were surveyed said climate change, pollution and the environment were among their top three concerns. The Covid pandemic came second at 27% and Brexit was third, at 22%. The study showed the highest level of concern about the climate crisis since the agency began polling in 1988.
MPs approve NHS restructuring
A major reorganisation of the NHS in England passed its final hurdle in the House of Commons yesterday. The Health and Care Bill “unpicks ex-health secretary Andrew Lansley’s disastrous 2012 reforms”, said The Mirror, and attempts to create a more integrated health service. The Unite union branded it an “NHS privatisation bill”, but researchers at the independent Nuffield Trust said they “do not see this as a likely effect”.
Johnson is ‘not unwell’
Downing Street has insisted that Boris Johnson is in good health, after his bungled speech to the CBI raised questions about whether he was suffering the effects of stress or illness. An unnamed Conservative MP told The Independent that the PM’s demeanour during the speech was “very worrying” and “he seemed to have lost the plot”. Johnson’s official spokesman said: “The prime minister is well and he is focused on delivering for the public.”
WHO warns Europe again
The World Health Organization has warned that a further 700,000 people will die of Covid by March in Europe and parts of Asia. The pandemic death toll already exceeds 1.5m in the 53 countries the WHO includes in Europe, and it expects “high or extreme stress” in intensive care units in 49 of the nations by March. The continent is facing a surge in cases, prompting fresh measures in several nations, including a full lockdown in Austria.
UK army to leave Canada base
British armed services are to leave Canada after 50 years and move their biggest training base to the Middle East. The British Army Training Unit Suffield in Alberta, western Canada, has been in operation since 1972. The thousand-square-mile base, seven times the size of Salisbury Plain, has trained thousands of soldiers. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace is expected to announce that the military will open a training area in Oman to take its place.
Conservative pays damages to Corbyn
A Conservative councillor has agreed to pay “substantial” damages to Jeremy Corbyn after tweeting a hoax image purporting to show the former Labour leader grieving the man who committed the Liverpool Women’s Hospital attack. Paul Nickerson resigned from East Riding council’s Conservative group after he admitted sending the photoshopped tweet, which showed the former Labour leader holding a wreath next to the burning wreck of the bomber’s taxi. Corbyn said he would donate the money to charity.
Creasy calls for baby clarity
Labour MP Stella Creasy has asked for clarification from Commons authorities after she was disciplined for having her infant son in a sling as she spoke in the chamber. Although Commons rules state that MPs should not have infants with them in the chamber, Creasy said she had taken her children into the Commons before, without any complaints being made. Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg defended the ban but told Creasy he wanted to “congratulate her on the impeccable behaviour of her infant”.
Will and Kate ‘snub BBC’
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have banned the BBC from screening their Christmas carol concert amid “fury” over a royal documentary, reported The Sun. The charity fund-raiser, hosted by the Duchess at Westminster Abbey, will now be shown on ITV. The couple reportedly made the decision to “shun Auntie” after the corporation broadcast a two-part documentary claiming William had briefed against Prince Harry and his wife Meghan.