Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 1 December 2021
The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am
No 10’s big bet on boosters
More than 23m people will be able to book booster jabs by the end of next month after Boris Johnson promised to “throw everything” at the vaccination campaign in the face of the Omicron variant. At a press conference last night, the PM also urged people not to cancel their Christmas parties or nativity plays, despite a suggestion from the head of the UK Health Security Agency to avoid “socialising when we don’t particularly need to”. The government has recommended using lateral flow tests before social events.
MI6 chief: Beijing is ‘top priority’
The growing threat from China is the “single greatest priority” for MI6, Britain’s foreign spy chief has said. In his first public speech, Richard Moore, known as C, warned that the “tectonic plates are shifting” as Beijing conducts large-scale espionage activities against the UK. The MI6 head said that a “miscalculation” by the regime in China over an issue like Taiwan could pose a “serious challenge” to global peace.
‘Cut-price Trump’ joins French race
A “radical right polemicist” has formally entered the French presidential race, The Times reported, vowing to save the nation from destruction at the hands of Muslims, immigrants and criminals abetted by “the elites”. Eric Zemmour, 63, said: “I have decided to run in the election so that our children and grandchildren do not suffer barbarity, so that our girls won’t be veiled”. A French government spokesman called him a “cut-price Donald Trump”.
World hunger grows in pandemic
Tens of millions of people are going hungry in Latin America and the Caribbean as the Covid crisis exacerbates a regional malnutrition crisis. Between 2019 and 2020, the number of people living with hunger in the region rose by 30%, or 13.8m people, to the worst levels seen in decades, a UN study found. Women are going hungrier than men across the region as food insecurity disproportionately hits the most vulnerable people.
Epstein pilot ‘flew Andrew and Trump’
Jeffrey Epstein’s long-time pilot has testified at the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell that he flew VIPs, including Prince Andrew and Donald Trump, to luxury locations worldwide. Larry Visoski, the first witness in Maxwell’s sex-trafficking trial, also recalled flying Bill Clinton and Kevin Spacey on the plane, known as the “Lolita Express”. Maxwell denies the charges and says she is being used as a scapegoat for the convicted sex offender, who died in prison in 2019.
‘Up to 740,000’ cancer cases missed
The Telegraph said the “biggest cancer catastrophe ever” means 740,000 potential cases that should have been urgently referred by GPs have been “missed” since the first lockdown. Cancer charities said that the National Audit Office’s findings reflected a “devastating” situation for many patients and doctors warned of “the biggest cancer catastrophe ever to hit the NHS”. Latest NHS figures show 5.9m people waiting for treatment – around a tenth of the population.
Three die in US school shooting
A 15-year-old student opened fire at his high school in Michigan yesterday, killing three students and wounding eight other people. The authorities have identified the victims as a 16-year-old boy and two girls aged 14 and 17. One of the people wounded was a teacher. “I think this is every parent's worst nightmare,” said governor Gretchen Whitmer. She said shootings at schools are “a uniquely American problem that we need to address”.
Spending ‘to rise by £1,700’
A typical UK family will spend £1,700 more per year on household costs in 2022, according to analysis by the Centre for Economics and Business Research. The group said that the inflation rate would rise to 4.6% by Christmas, mainly due to higher fuel and energy prices. A family of four is predicted to spend £33.60 more per week on the same goods and services.
Cox will not face investigation
Sir Geoffrey Cox will not be investigated for using his parliamentary office for legal work. The former Conservative minister was referred to the anti-sleaze watchdog after The Times revealed that he used his House of Commons office to defend the British Virgin Islands in a corruption case brought by the UK government. Labour accused him of an “egregious, brazen breach of the rules” but the regulator decided there was insufficient evidence to justify an inquiry.
England thrash Latvia 20-0
Ellen White became the Lionesses’ record goalscorer as England’s women thrashed Latvia in a record 20-0 victory. There were ten England goalscorers as the team surpassed its previous record competitive win, a 13-0 triumph against Hungary in 2005. Afterwards, the England boss Sarina Wiegman said the Latvia side “wasn’t very good” and not to the Lionesses’ “level”.