Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 5 January 2022

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

1

PM ‘to ride wave’ without lockdown

Boris Johnson has said England can get through the surge in Omicron infections without a lockdown. Speaking at a Downing Street conference last night, the PM said: “Together with the Plan B measures, we have a chance to ride out this Omicron wave without shutting down our country again. We can keep our schools and our businesses open and find a way to live with this virus.” However, he conceded that parts of the NHS would feel “temporarily overwhelmed”.

2

North Korea fires ‘missile’ into sea

North Korea has launched an unidentified projectile into the sea, according to South Korea’s joint chiefs of staff. The Japanese coast guard, which first reported the launch, has suggested that it could be a ballistic missile. If confirmed, this would be the first such launch carried out by Pyongyang this year. An analyst told CNN that North Korea “is signalling that neither the Omicron variant nor domestic food shortages will stop its aggressive missile development”.

3

Hoon ‘told to burn Iraq memo’

Tony Blair’s former defence secretary said he was ordered by Downing Street to burn a secret memo that said the 2003 invasion of Iraq could be illegal. Blair has previously described the allegation as “nonsense”, but Geoff Hoon insists that his staff was told “in no uncertain terms” that after reading the document they must “burn it”. The claim, made in a memoir published two months ago, has resurfaced after Blair was knighted in the new year honours. 

4

Judge to rule on Andrew ‘soon’

A judge in the US said he is preparing to decide whether a civil sex assault case against Prince Andrew will be dismissed. At a virtual hearing, his lawyer told Judge Lewis A Kaplan that the prince could be covered by a 2009 deal his accuser, Virginia Giuffre, made with Jeffrey Epstein. The judge said he appreciated the “arguments and the passion” over the 2009 agreement and said he would give a decision “pretty soon”. Giuffre claims Andrew sexually assaulted her, an allegation he denies.

5

Jail for breastfeeding voyeurs

People who film or photograph women breastfeeding without their consent face being put on the sex offenders register and jailed for up to two years under plans to make breastfeeding voyeurism a criminal offence. The Labour MP Stella Creasy campaigned for the move after she was photographed breastfeeding on public transport. The news comes three year after a similar legislative move against “upskirting” – taking pictures up a woman’s skirt or dress.

6

Covid testing rules to change

Covid testing procedures will be eased to address the staffing shortages that are “crippling Britain”, The Telegraph reported. More than 1.2m people are isolating after testing positive in the last week, with hundreds of thousands more waiting for tests or results. Millions of people who test positive on lateral flow devices will be told they do not need to take follow-up PCR tests, which currently delay the official start of isolation for hundreds of thousands.

7

Starmer pledges ‘contract’ with nation

Keir Starmer has claimed that that Boris Johnson has lost the moral authority to govern, and vowed to restore trust in government if his party wins power. The Labour leader used a speech in Brimingham yesterday to announce a “contract with the British people” and said he would offer “security, prosperity and respect”. He said: “I believe that the best still lies ahead for this country.” The BBC said the speech was “an attempt to make a virtue out of being serious, even boring”.

8

Macron to ‘hassle’ unvaccinated

Emmanuel Macron has said he intends to make life difficult for people in France who have not been taken the Covid vaccine. “I really want to hassle them, and we will continue to do this – to the end,” the French president told France’s Le Parisien newspaper. Opponents have condemned his sentiments, with Bruno Retailleau, Senate leader of the centre-right Republicans, saying: “No health emergency justifies such words.”

9

Domestic violence time limit extended

Victims of domestic violence will be given two years to report crimes after a minister said he wants to put the “fear of God” into abusers. Dominic Raab, the Justice Secretary, said victims would no longer be denied justice because they failed to report their domestic assault to police within the current six-month time limit. Writing for The Telegraph, he vowed to “leave the door to justice open to thousands of victims”.

10

Bees sting police at Chile protest

Beekeepers brought around 60 beehives, containing an estimated 10,000 bees, to a demonstration in front of Chile’s presidential palace in Santiago. Honey production has been hurt by a prolonged drought in Chile that has damaged the bees’ food sources, such as flowers and crops. The beekeepers want government reform to improve honey prices or to provide subsidies to honey producers. Seven police were stung during the protest.

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