Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 16 January 2022

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

1

PM’s wife broke Covid rules

The prime minister’s wife was photographed breaking Covid-19 social distancing rules days after the public was warned that it was “critical” to follow the guidance. The Telegraph reported that, despite Boris Johnson’s warning that “you should keep your distance from anyone you don’t live with”, Carrie Johnson, 33, was pictured embracing a close friend while the pair celebrated the friend's engagement at a private members’ club in London’s West End.

2

Trump hints at White House run

Donald Trump has hinted that he plans to run for the White House again in 2024, promising he will be staging a “comeback... the likes of which nobody has ever seen”. Speaking to supporters in Arizona on Saturday he repeated his claims of voter fraud, saying: “We won those elections. We won them big. We can’t let them get away with it.” The former US president also described Capitol rioters as “political prisoners”.

3

Tsunami waves flood Tonga

Tsunami waves sparked by an undersea volcano have flooded the Pacific Island country of Tonga. Entire towns have been inundated with water and the main island could be blanketed in volcanic ash. A monitoring group said the threat of further tsunamis around the Pacific after Saturday’s huge underwater volcano eruption has passed but there is mounting concern over how badly Tonga has been hit.

4

Covid cases continue to fall

The UK has reported the lowest daily level of Covid cases since 15 December as another 81,713 coronavirus cases were reported yesterday. The BBC said the “apparent ebbing” of the Omicron wave has led some experts to claim the end of the pandemic is in sight for the UK. However, the number of deaths within 28 days of a test remains high, with 1,843 over the past seven days - a 45% rise from the previous week.

5

Dorries ‘to freeze licence fee’

Ministers will announce a two-year freeze for the BBC licence fee this week, according to reports. Nadine Dorries, the culture secretary, intends to keep the fee at £159 until April 2024, a real-terms cut to the corporation’s funding. The Sunday Times said the move is part of “Operation Red Meat”, a “platter of eye-catching plans” that will appeal to the Tory backbenchers and take away attention from the crisis “gripping” Boris Johnson’s premiership.

6

Djokovic in last-ditch plea

Novak Djokovic challenged the Australian government’s decision to cancel his visa on public health grounds today. The emergency hearing was held on the eve of the Australian Open. The tennis star faces deportation and a three-year ban on obtaining a new visa if he loses the appeal. However, if he is successful, he will be free to defend his Australian Open title on Monday.

7

Andrew claims accuser has ‘false memory’

Prince Andrew has claimed that Virginia Roberts Giuffre is suffering from “false memories” in her claims that he sexually abused her and wants his legal team to question her psychologist. His lawyers have asked to interview Dr Judith Lightfoot about Giuffre’s claims to have suffered “severe emotional distress and psychological harm”. The civil case Giuffre is bringing against Andrew will be heard later this year, unless Giuffre accepts any multi-million pound pay-off he might offer.

8

Texas synagogue hostages free

Four people who were held hostage at a synagogue in Texas have been freed unharmed after a 10-hour stand-off with police. The four, who included the synagogue’s rabbi, were taken hostage during a morning service in Colleyville, a suburb of Dallas, on Saturday. Police deployed special weapons teams, while FBI negotiators spent hours talking to the assailant. The hostage-taker was heard demanding the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani who was convicted of trying to kill US military officers in Afghanistan.

9

Fears grow over anti-vax movement

Police and counter-terrorism officials are increasingly concerned over the UK’s anti-vaxxer movement as it moves towards violent extremism and the formation of US-style militias. The Observer said one UK anti-vaxxer platform has asked for “men of integrity” to “fight for our children’s future”. Anti-vaxxers have targeted scores of schools and stormed a Covid testing site. Piers Corbyn has urged people to burn down the offices of MPs.

10

Harry sees police protection in UK

Prince Harry is seeking a judicial review against the Home Office’s refusal to allow him to personally pay for police protection when in the UK. The Duke of Sussex, currently based in the US, said his private security team does not have adequate jurisdiction abroad. Prince Harry, who lost his tax-payer funded police security after stepping back from royal duties in 2020, said he wants to visit his home country with his family, but needs to “ensure” their safety.

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