Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 27 November 2021

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

1

New variant ‘less worrying than Delta’

The Delta variant is of greater concern to the UK than the new Covid mutation, said England’s chief medical officer. Prof Chris Whitty said that although ministers were right to take “precautionary” border measures, any attempt to impose “more muscular restrictions” could lose public support and suggested concern was best focused on more immediate threats. Amid growing international fears over the new variant billions were wiped off shares yesterday.

2

Man killed by Storm Arwen

A man was killed by a falling tree in Northern Ireland as Storm Arwen brought high winds, rain and snow to parts of the UK.  Police in Scotland police have told people not to travel in areas covered by a Met Office red warning for wind, with gusts of up to 90mph expected in some areas. ITV has abandoned plans for a live episode of I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! from Gwrych Castle.

3

Macron tells PM to ‘get serious’

The government has told France that more migrants will die in the Channel unless it reopens talks over Boris Johnson’s plan to reduce the number of small boats attempting to make the crossing. In the wake of the statement, Paris disinvited Priti Patel, the home secretary, from talks with her European counterparts this weekend aimed at finding a joint solution. French president said Johnson should “get serious”.

4

Swiss to vote on Covid rules

The Swiss will vote this weekend in a referendum over whether to end Covid restrictions. The polling comes as Covid-19 infections are rising exponentially, with case numbers rising by 40% to 50% each week. Bloomberg said last week that the majority of Swiss are in favour of a law that permits the mandatory use of Covid-19 certificates for access to indoor spaces and events as Europe battles a winter surge in infections.

5

Study finds growing Brexit dissatisfaction

A YouGov poll has found that fewer than one in five people in Great Britain believe Brexit has been a success, while 52% think that things have gone badly since the transition period ended 11 months ago. The percentage of people dissatisfied with the outcome of Brexit was around 40% at the start of the year. It soared following the petrol crisis in September, which was sparked by a shortage of HGV drivers. The Independent said the study would make “grim reading” for ministers.

6

Ukraine puts Putin on the spot

The president of Ukraine has called on Vladimir Putin to publicly deny that he is preparing an invasion, saying Moscow was sending “very dangerous signals”. President Zelensky also claimed that he believed a coup attempt was being planned for December 1 in Ukraine, with the involvement of Russian citizens and the country’s richest man. Nato said yesterday that if Russia used force against Ukraine, “ that would have consequences”.

7

Post Office value ‘at zero after scandal’

Ministers have written down the value of the Post Office to zero after the state-owned chain was hit by the postmasters scandal. The Department for Business said the value of its holding in Post Office Ltd had plummeted from £145m to “nil” in the year to March 31. The news followed a court ruling that found hundreds of postmasters had been wrongly prosecuted for theft and false accounting when a faulty computer system was to blame.

8

UK ‘to outpace China’s economy’

Britain’s economy is set to grow more quickly than China’s for the first time since the death of Mao Zedong. While the UK is expected to sustain its strong rebound from Covid with growth of 5.4% in 2022, the world’s second-largest economy has slumped to its worst performance in more than 30 years, growing by 5.3%. The Telegraph said that Beijing’s “iron-fisted zero Covid policy” is expected to hold the country back.

9

Demonstrations on Black Friday

Protests were held at Amazon buildings in the UK, US, and Europe on Black Friday. Make Amazon Pay, an international coalition of unions, equality and environmental groups staged a day of action on the web retailer’s busiest day of the year, demanding Amazon make changes to its business, including improved pay. In a separate protest, the Extinction Rebellion environmental group blocked the entrances to Amazon distribution centres in the UK.

10

Theatre icon Sondheim dies at 91

Stephen Sondheim, the renowned composer of iconic musical theatre scores died early Friday morning at the age of 91. During his epic career, he wrote the scores of some of Broadway’s best known shows including Company, Follies and A Little Night Music. He also penned the lyrics for West Side Story. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said “that kid was a legend”.

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