Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 1 January 2022
The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am
Blair knighted in New Year Honours list
Tony Blair has been knighted and will become Sir Tony as he joins the Order of the Garter, England’s oldest and most senior order of chivalry. Prof Chris Whitty and Prof Jonathan Van-Tam, the government’s Covid-19 advisers, have been knighted in the New Year Honours List. Dr Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency, has been made a dame. The actresses Joanna Lumley and Vanessa Redgrave are also made dames. Tom Daley is appointed OBE for services to “diving, LGBTQ+ rights and charity”.
Cabinet split over loosening India rules
The government plans to relax immigration rules to make it easier for thousands of Indians to live and work in the UK as part of forthcoming trade talks. Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the international trade secretary, will travel to Delhi this month to start negotiations on a potential deal. According to The Times, she will use the visit to open the prospect of loosening immigration rules for Indian citizens — a key demand from Delhi. However, Priti Patel, the home secretary, is said to oppose the plan.
New curbs would be ‘last resort’
Boris Johnson will wait until next week to decide whether further restrictions are needed, despite one in 25 people in England being infected in the run-up to Christmas. Writing in the Daily Mail, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said new curbs would be “an absolute last resort”. Although booster jabs have been estimated to offer 88% protection against hospital admission, The Times said ministers were “alarmed” by a second day of more than 2,000 virus patients being admitted to wards in England.
Covid advisers face ‘appalling’ abuse
The Guardian has revealed the “appalling” scale of abuse, intimidation and threatening behaviour directed at the UK government’s scientific and medical advisers working on the pandemic. Dozens of UK advisers described coordinated online attacks and death threats. They also said they had faced vitriolic tweets, emails and phone calls, as well as photos being taken of their homes and shared online. Some advisers have had security reviews of their homes and workplaces.
Andrew asked for sweat proof
Lawyers for the woman who accused Prince Andrew of sexual assault are seeking proof of the British royal’s alleged inability to sweat. Prince Andrew has denied the allegations from Virginia Giuffre, who says that he sexually assaulted her when she was a teenager at the homes of Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell. In a 2019 interview with BBC Newsnight, he said he had a medical condition at the time that meant he could not have been sweating, as she claimed he was.
Tutu to be aquamated after funeral
The funeral mass for Archbishop Desmond Tutu takes place today in Cape Town. The anti-apartheid campaigner, a Nobel Peace Prize winner who helped end the racist regime in South Africa, died last Sunday aged 90. Tutu had insisted there should be “no ostentatiousness or lavish spending” on the ceremony and that he be given “the cheapest available coffin”. His body will be aquamated - a process using water that is described as an environmentally friendly alternative to cremation.
London’s worst year for teenage homicides
London endured its worst ever annual death toll from teenage homicides after two boys were killed within an hour of each other in stabbing incidents, bringing the total to 30 for 2021. A 16-year-old was stabbed and killed in west London and a 15-year-old in south London, bringing the total beyond the 29 deaths recorded in 2008. “It shows that not enough has been done and, if I’m being really critical, then I’d say the approach to tackling it has been scattergun,” said Patrick Green, of anti-knife crime charity the Ben Kinsella Trust.
Lib Dems target Tory seats
The Lib Dems have identified 30 Tory seats where they want to “turn the blue wall yellow” at the next election, including Dominic Raab’s constituency of Esher and Walton. Pointing to the seats, which are mostly in the south of England, Ed Davey, the Lib Dem leader, said the party hoped to have candidates in place in most of the constituencies by the end of the month. His party enjoyed a historic 34% swing to win the North Shropshire by-election.
Oil enjoys biggest gains since 2009
Oil prices have posted their biggest annual gains in 12 years after investors bet that the Omicron variant will not derail the global economic recovery. West Texas Intermediate ended the year at almost $76 a barrel, up 27%, in its biggest rise since 2009 when the world was still reeling from the financial crisis. Meanwhile, Europe’s Brent crude benchmark climbed 52% to $78, its best performance in five years.
Foie gras boss ‘outraged’ by planned ban
Imports of fur and foie gras are set to be legally banned within months, the government has announced. Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park, an environment minister, said a new Animals Abroad Bill, to be debated in Parliament in early 2022, will also seek to ban the import of 7,000 species of animal hunting trophies. The head of France’s foie gras producers’ association said that she was “shocked and outraged”.