Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 13 January 2022

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

1

PM’s future on knife-edge

Boris Johnson’s premiership is hanging by a thread as Tory MPs began openly calling for his resignation after he apologised for attending a No. 10 garden party during lockdown. William Wragg, a senior backbencher, and Douglas Ross, the leader of the Scottish Tories, said Johnson should resign after a bruising Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday. Another Tory MP told The Guardian: “I’ve not seen such a half-arsed apology since my child apologised for spilling all the milk.” Former minister Caroline Nokes said Johnson now found himself in an “impossible position”.

2

Labour lead biggest since 2013

Labour has opened up a 10-point lead over the Tories, according to latest YouGov polling, its largest since December 2013. The study of 1,666 voters, ​conducted for The Times, put the Tories on 28%, with Labour ahead on 38%. The pollster also found that 78% of the public did not believe that Boris Johnson had been honest in his answers to questions about alleged lockdown parties. Just 6% of respondents said they thought the prime minister had been honest on the matter. The poll was conducted before Johnson’s PMQ’s appearance yesterday.

3

Andrew faces abuse trial

Prince Andrew is facing the prospect of giving evidence in a sex abuse trial after a New York judge refused to throw out the civil case brought by Jeffrey Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre. Legal experts told The Guardian that the Duke of York has “no good options left” after failing to have the case dismissed. Manhattan Federal Court Judge Lewis Kaplan rejected his motion “in all respects”. The Times said it means the royal “could be cross-examined on camera”.

4

Man attacks BBC statue

A man last night used a hammer and chisel to attack a statue on the BBC’s Broadcasting House in London. The Prospero and Ariel statue, which has been on display at the BBC since 1933, has proven controversial because the sculptor, Eric Gill, recorded sexually abusing his daughters and dog in his diaries. BBC staff reported hearing the man shout “paedophile” as he struck the statue. He was arrested on suspicion of criminal damage and taken into custody.

5

Djokovic could be jailed

Lawyers have said Novak Djokovic could face prison in Serbia after admitting that he broke self-isolation rules while he had Covid-19 last month. After the Serbian prime minister warned that the tennis star’s behaviour appeared to be “a clear breach” of the rules, lawyers in Serbia told the BBC that breaking the country’s quarantine restrictions was an offence under Article 248 of the criminal code. Breaching the rules is subject to a fine or prison sentence of up to three years. However, a fine or community service are considered more likely outcomes for the world tennis number one.

6

China builds fake moon

China has built a facility that simulates the Moon’s low-gravity, according to the South China Morning Post. The research facility, located in Xuzhou and thought to be the first of its kind, reportedly uses magnets to create a Moon-like environment. A vacuum chamber inside the facility houses a small “moon” with a fake landscape made up of rocks similar to those found on the lunar surface. Beijing hopes the facility will boost its space ambitions.

7

Natural population growth ‘to end’

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has forecast that fewer births and lower-than-expected life expectancy will end “natural” population growth. By 2025 there will be more deaths than births in the UK, the statistics agency said. The ONS estimated in 2014 that the population would reach almost 75m by 2040. But statisticians now say it will reach just 71m by 2045. This means immigration will be the only driver of population growth from 2030 onwards.

8

‘Gingerism’ is ‘acute’ in the UK

Bullying red-haired people is one of the last socially accepted forms of discrimination, the head of a human rights charity has claimed. Chrissy Meleady, chief executive of Equalities and Human Rights UK, said that while discrimination against redheads occurred worldwide, it was “particularly acute” in the UK. She insisted it was not “harmless banter”, adding that it can lead to abuse and suicide.

9

Clinton considering 2024 run

Allies of Hillary Clinton have signalled that she is considering whether to launch another presidential run in 2024. The Wall Street Journal quoted a former Clinton aide and a Democrat politician from New York saying that a “perfect storm” for the party made plausible the “once-unfathomable” prospect of a Clinton comeback. The news comes as Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’ approval rates continue to slide. If Clinton did win the Democratic nomination, it could set up a rematch of her 2016 election battle with Donald Trump.

10

Tributes as Spector dies

Ronnie Spector, the frontwoman of The Ronettes, has died aged 78. The pop star made her name with hits such as Be My Baby, Baby I Love You and Walking in the Rain. A statement from her family said she passed away “after a brief battle with cancer”. Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, who called Be My Baby the greatest pop recording ever produced, said of the news: “This just breaks my heart. Ronnie’s music and spirit will live forever.”

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