Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 26 December 2021

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

1

Tory MPs warn cabinet on new rules

Cabinet ministers hoping to one day succeed Boris Johnson have been warned by Tory backbenchers that they will damage their chances unless they strongly oppose further Covid measures in England. “In any future leadership contest, we will all remember how they acted this week,” said one member of the Covid Recovery Group of Tory MPs. “We need real, gutsy, freedom-loving Conservatives to rescue us from this madness.”

2

Armed man arrested at Windsor Castle

A man armed with an “offensive weapon” was arrested in the grounds of Windsor Castle on Christmas Day. Thames Valley Police said the man, aged 19 and from Southampton, was found within “moments” of entering the grounds at 08:30am. Sources told the Daily Mail that the man was armed with a crossbow and used a rope ladder to scale a metal fence. He has been arrested on suspicion of breach or trespass of a protected site and possession of an offensive weapon.

3

Leavers ‘turning against Brexit’

More than six out of 10 voters believe Brexit has either gone badly or worse than they expected, according to a poll on the anniversary of Britain leaving the EU. The survey for The Observer found that 42% of people who voted Leave in 2016 had a negative view of how Brexit had turned out so far. “We’re seeing a significant minority of Leavers saying that things are going badly or at least worse than they expected,” said Adam Drummond, of Opinium.

4

Raducanu and Whitty up for gongs

Emma Raducanu, Daniel Craig and Prof Chris Whitty are in line for New Year’s honours, according to reports. Raducanu is to be made an MBE, Craig is expected to pick up a CMG and the chief medical officer will get receive a knighthood in the Queen’s forthcoming list. Whitty already holds a lesser honour — Companion of the Order of the Bath — for his services to tropical medicine in the UK and Africa during the ebola crisis.

5

Labour in eight-point lead

Labour has opened up an eight-point lead over the Tories, according to a poll commissioned by The Sunday Times. The findings of a constituency-by-constituency poll conducted between December 1 and 21 suggest Sir Keir Starmer would win a general election with a 26-seat majority. Johnson would lose his seat, the first sitting prime minister to be ejected from parliament. However, many Tories believe the poll could have been much worse and are surprised Starmer has not fared better in “disastrous December”.

6

Record migrant arrivals on Xmas Day

A record number of migrants landed at Dover on Christmas Day after crossing the English Channel. A total of 67 people, believed to be from Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan, were picked up in the early hours of Christmas morning by the Border Force and Maritime and Coastguard Agency. The arrivals came a day after at least 16 people died when a migrant boat capsized in the Aegean Sea.

7

Flights scrapped across the globe

More than 1,500 of today’s flights across the globe have been scrapped, bringing more misery for travellers planning to fly over the festive period. Chinese and US airlines appear to be the worst hit and commentators believe further disruption is expected tomorrow. Companies have blamed staff shortages on the spread of the Omicron variant. As many as 5,900 flights have now been cancelled on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing, according to FlightAware data tracking website.

8

PM ‘determined to keep schools open’

Boris Johnson said he will keep schools open in January despite soaring numbers of Covid cases. The prime minister has told Nadhim Zahawi, the Education Secretary, that he is “absolutely determined” to send children back to school after the holidays. It is believed the two men insist that school closures are “not something being considered”. The news has raised fears about the impact the decision may have on the NHS.

9

Xmas Day bomb in Congo

At least six people have died in a suicide bomb attack on a crowded restaurant in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Although police prevented the bomber from entering the building in the eastern city of Beni, he blew himself up at the entrance, killing himself and five other people. Officials have blamed Saturday’s attack on the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a militant group said to be linked to Islamic State.

10

Goldsmith condemns fox video

Zac Goldsmith, minister for the Pacific and the environment, has called for action on “grotesque” animal cruelty after a video showed a fox being attacked with a garden fork. The footage, secretly filmed by hunt saboteurs, showed a man stabbing the fox with the pitchfork, before carrying it away from a site in Essex. Essex Police told ITV News it arrested a 48-year-old man on suspicion of offences under the Hunting Act 2004, the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and the Wild Mammal Protection Act 1996.

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