Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 8 January 2022

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

1

Inflation could surge to 7%

Inflation could reach as high as 7% if ministers fail to cap an increase in energy bills due in April, according to internal government estimates. The energy regulator is reviewing the existing price cap, which is expected to rise by more than 50% on present estimates. Government projections are understood to suggest that such a rise could help push inflation a further 2% in April from its level of 5.1% in November.

2

Defence boss warns Russia on cables

The head of the armed forces has warned Moscow that any attempt to sever crucial underwater communication cables could be considered an act of war. Speaking of the increase in Russia’s underwater activity, Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, the new chief of the defence staff, said the programme was aiming to “put at risk and potentially exploit the world’s real information system, which is undersea cables that go all around the world”. Asked if destroying the cables would be considered an act of war, he said: “Potentially, yes.”

3

Challenging Colston verdict ‘foolish’

A former director of public prosecutions has accused the attorney general of politically driven meddling after she announced that she could refer the acquittal of the Colston Four to the court of appeal. Suella Braverman said she was “carefully considering” seeking the opinion of the court of appeal on a point of law, under section 36 of the Criminal Justice Act 1972. Ken Macdonald QC, who was director of public prosecutions from 2003 to 2008, said ministers would be “very foolish” to try to challenge the verdict, “particularly for what appear to be political motives”.

4

Fourth jab ‘not needed yet’

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation said a fourth Covid jab is not yet needed because booster doses continue to provide high protection against severe disease from the Omicron variant among older adults. UK Health Security Agency data show that three months after boosting, protection against hospitalisation remains at about 90% for people aged 65 and over. Some countries, including Israel and Germany, have started to give fourth Covid shots.

5

Three jailed for Arbery murder

A US judge sentenced Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan to life in prison for the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, a black man who was running through their mostly white neighbourhood in February 2020. The judge said the McMichaels had not shown remorse or empathy for Arbery and would not be allowed parole. The Arbery family had called for the harshest possible punishments as a means of bringing “closure to a difficult chapter” in their lives.

6

Queen ‘would pay off Andrew’s accuser’

The Telegraph claimed that the Queen would be asked to help fund any potential settlement the Duke of York agrees with his accuser. Prince Andrew’s legal team has not ruled out the option to pay off Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who has accused the Duke of sexually abusing her when she was 17. The monarch has been funding the Duke’s spiralling legal fees with cash sourced from the annual income from her private Duchy of Lancaster estate, which recently increased by £1.5m to more than £23m.

7

Customers flock to book holidays

Travel firms say families are rushing to book holidays after ministers relaxed Covid test rules for fully jabbed travellers. The chief executive of industry giant Jet2 said demand had already returned to around pre-pandemic levels, as his company enjoyed a “huge spike” in bookings after this week’s announcement that pre-departure tests for fully vaccinated people would be ditched. EasyJet said it demand to some destinations was up over 400% week on week.

8

Cummings says gathering broke rules

Dominic Cummings claimed that a social event that took place in No 10 on 20 May 2020 may have broken Covid rules. The former Downing Street adviser said a “senior No 10 official” invited people to “socially distanced drinks” in the garden. Cummings claimed that he and another adviser had warned that this could be against the rules but were told the event had gone ahead. The BBC reported that the alleged event will be investigated by a senior civil servant.

9

Tributes to ‘trailblazing’ Poitier

Sidney Poitier, the first black man to win a best actor Oscar, has died at 94. The BBC said Poitier was a “trailblazing actor” and a “respected humanitarian and diplomat”. Paying tribute, former US President Barack Obama said Poitier “epitomised dignity and grace” and had “singular talent”. Oprah Winfrey said the actor “had an enormous soul”. The actor Denzel Washington, said: “He was a gentle man and opened doors for all of us that had been closed for years.”

10

Marble Arch Mound to close

The much-mocked Marble Arch Mound will close on Sunday. The Guardian said the “scaffolding-and-turf urban peak came with a £6m price tag and claimed the scalp of Westminster council’s deputy leader”. Although it promised lush vegetation, mature trees and thick greenery from an elevated platform on the corner of Hyde Park and Oxford Street in London, visitors were less than impressed. Deputy council leader Melvyn Caplan, the Tory councillor who took charge of the project, resigned in August.

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