Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 23 January 2022

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

1

Gray ‘learns of new party in No10’

Sue Gray has been given access to a detailed log of staff movements in and out of 10 Downing Street from security data including swipecards, in a breakthrough described by a source as “conclusive”. The Observer said Gray, who is investigating allegations of at least nine lockdown-breaking parties at Downing Street, may have details of yet another gathering in Downing Street, possibly in the PM’s flat and involving close friends of his wife.

2

Tory told ‘Muslimness’ a reason for sacking

A Muslim MP says her faith was cited by a government whip as a reason for her sacking in 2020. Nusrat Ghani told The Sunday Times when she asked for an explanation for her sacking she was told her “Muslimness was raised as an issue”. She told the paper: “It was like being punched in the stomach. I felt humiliated and powerless.” Conservative Chief Whip Mark Spencer said Ghani was referring to him and described her claims as completely false and defamatory.

3

UK accuses Putin of Ukraine plot

The UK has accused Vladimir Putin of plotting to install a pro-Moscow figure to lead Ukraine’s government. The Foreign Office named former Ukrainian MP Yevhen Murayev as a potential Kremlin candidate. Moscow has moved 100,000 troops near to its border with Ukraine but denies it is planning an invasion. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said yesterday that the West is in “hysterics” over Ukraine.

4

Williamson accused of school threat

Former education secretary Gavin Williamson has been accused of threatening to withdraw funding for a school if an MP voted for a motion criticising the government over free school meals. Christian Wakeford, the Bury South MP who defected to Labour this week, said Williamson told him: “It’s not very helpful to back an opposition [motion] against the department where you’re wanting an extremely large favour from said department, so do consider what you’re doing.” Williamson said he does not recall such a conversation.

5

Royals splashed millions on private jets

The Royal Family spent more than £13m of public money on private chartered flights and helicopter journeys in the last eight years, reported The Independent. The paper revealed that royals have taken millions of pounds’ worth of taxpayer-funded journeys using chartered flights and helicopters, despite the Queen, Prince Charles and Prince William each issuing stark messages on climate change to world leaders at the Cop26 summit.

6

Drivers say Brexit is causing queues

Long queues of lorries on approach roads to Dover have been blamed on a spike in freight traffic, the Port has claimed, but angry drivers, who described the situation as “absolute carnage,” have blamed the delays on Brexit checks and Covid paperwork.  One driver, Ciaran Donovan, said sarcastically that the increase in delays had “absolutely nothing to do with Brexit apart from the fact Covid has nothing to do with it”.

7

Calls for u-turn on NI rise

A leading economic think tank and one of the prime minister’s former cabinet ministers have joined calls for Boris Johnson to scrap or postpone the planned National Insurance rise. The National Institute of Economic and Social Research said that reversing the increase scheduled for April would be “absolutely possible” and “makes a lot of sense”. Robert Jenrick, who was part of the cabinet that signed off on the rise, said that postponing it would show that “the government’s Conservative instincts remain”.

8

Elderly man dies rowing across Atlantic

A 75-year-old French adventurer has died while attempting to row across the Atlantic single-handedly. According to a statement from his support team, Jean-Jacques Savin had set off from southwest Portugal on January 1 and was headed toward Ponta Delgada in the Azores islands before losing contact with this team early on January 21. “The body of Jean-Jacques was found lifeless inside the cabin of his canoe l’Audacieux,” they said.

9

Tory donor anger on fuel link

A leading Tory party donor has accused ministers of worsening the fuel poverty crisis after the government blocked his planned £1.2bn electricity link between England and France. Alexander Temerko said the refusal created a “very bad precedent” and described Penny Mordaunt, the former defence secretary and a Portsmouth MP, as an “absolutely uncontrollable woman”. However, his project sparked huge opposition in Portsmouth, where the interconnector was going to start.

10

Men use dead body for pension plot

Irish police have launched an investigation after two men carried a dead body into a post office in an apparent attempt to claim his pension. The deceased pensioner was “propped up” by the men as they walked into the building in County Carlow on Friday morning. Earlier, one of the men had asked to collect a pension payment for an older man. After staff told him that the pensioner would have to be present in order for the money to be handed over, he returned later with another man and the dead pensioner.

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