Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 10 December 2021
The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am
Tories and PM face poll slump
The Conservative Party has fallen to its worst poll rating in 11 months as the prime minister faces criticism over Christmas parties held at No. 10 during last year’s lockdown and the introduction of new Covid rules. A YouGov poll for The Times found that Labour held a four-point lead, its biggest since January when the country was in the middle of the winter lockdown. More than two-thirds of voters are also now questioning Johnson’s integrity over his response to a Downing Street Christmas party held last year.
Dozens die in Mexico accident
At least 53 people are dead and dozens more injured after a truck carrying people, believed to be migrants destined for the US, crashed in southern Mexico. The truck overturned as it hit a bend in the city of Tuxtla Gutierrez. “The trailer couldn't handle the weight of people,” a witness said. “It took a bend, and because of the weight of us people inside, we all went with it.” The BBC said it was “one of the worst accidents of its kind in Mexico”.
Johnson ‘could be suspended from Commons’
Boris Johnson could be suspended from the House of Commons after he was accused of misleading his own ethics adviser. An official report suggested the PM gave differing accounts to investigators looking into the redecoration of his Downing Street flat. The Telegraph said the adviser, Lord Geidt, was “on the brink of quitting” following accusations that the PM misled him over the refurbishment of his Downing Street flat.
Brexit fish wars reignited
British government sources warned that France will not get all the 104 remaining licences it has demanded in the Brexit fish wars. Britain requires French fishermen to prove that they have fished four days out of 1,460 over 2012 to 2016 to qualify for a licence to fish UK waters but more than 100 boats have been unable to meet this term. Paris is threatening port blockades and litigation unless there is a “significant” gesture in granting the permits.
PM’s press chief ‘attended party’
Boris Johnson’s press chief addressed staff and gave out awards at a Downing Street party last Christmas that is now under investigation. ITV reported that Jack Doyle addressed up to 50 people who were in attendance at the alleged party, which was held during lockdown restrictions. The BBC’s political editor, Laura Kuenssberg, said Doyle, is “in charge of the government's messaging” and “this week the message has misfired, which makes his confirmed attendance a very big problem”.
Sun ‘forced pregnant Miller into decisions’
Sienna Miller said The Sun forced her to make decisions “about my own body that I have to live with every single day” after the tabloid found out she was pregnant. The actress said the then editor, Rebekah Brooks, phoned her agent in 2005 to discuss the pregnancy before the actor had discussed it with close friends and family. Miller said Brooks “knew about my pregnancy in the most vulnerable moment of my life”. She was speaking after accepting a substantial settlement from Rupert Murdoch’s News Group Newspapers.
Backbenchers revolt over Plan B
Boris Johnson is facing a Tory backbench revolt over his so-called Plan B Covid restrictions. Dozens of Tory backbenchers have threatened to rebel or abstain amid fury over the proposed new rules and Johnson’s handling of the Christmas party scandal. The Guardian said the prime minister could be left relying on Labour support to win because at least 30 Conservative MPs are expected to vote against regulations on masks, home working and vaccine passports, while many more are vowing to miss Tuesday’s vote.
Biden promises Ukraine support
Joe Biden has pledged support for Ukraine in the event of a Russian attack. Following a 90-minute call with the US president late on Thursday, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy said that the two “discussed possible formats for resolving the conflict” in eastern Ukraine, where Russian-backed separatists have carved out a self-declared state. Biden also spoke to the leaders of Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.
Kwarteng to back challenger auditors
Kwasi Kwarteng is to force FTSE 350 companies to give work to challenger audit firms to address KPMG, EY, PwC and Deloitte’s dominance of the accountancy industry. Ministers have been under pressure to show they have taken action to prevent corporate scandals before the fourth anniversary of the collapse of Carillion. The former FTSE 100 company collapsed with £7bn of liabilities and only £29m in cash.
Pint price to rise amid cancellations
The cost of a pint is expected to rise by 10p as pubs face a surge of cancellations of Christmas bookings because of the Omicron variant. Clive Watson, executive chairman of the City Pub Group, which has about 50 pubs, said cancellations “accelerated” after Boris Johnson’s call for people to work from home where possible. Emma Sweet, marketing manager at the Brakspear group of pubs, said that its 130 premises had received hundreds of cancellations since the PM announced Plan B.