Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 26 January 2022

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

1

PM faces police interview

Boris Johnson is facing the most perilous 48 hours of his premiership, said The Guardian, with Conservative MPs due to see the official report which has now triggered a criminal investigation. Reports suggest that Downing Street officials have handed over photos taken at lockdown parties, including images of the PM “and others close together with wine bottles”. The Times said that Johnson could be interviewed by police after Scotland Yard said the events crossed the threshold for a “serious and flagrant” breach of Covid lockdown rules.

2

Covid decline ‘plateauing’

Experts have said that Covid infections appear to be flatlining at worryingly high levels in England. Although rates are falling among adults, the prevalence of the virus in children is growing, according to research by Imperial College London. “We’ve seen in January a decline overall, with an R number below one,” said Professor Paul Elliott, director of Imperial’s React survey which looks at how many people have or have had the virus. “But there is some indication that that decline is now plateauing,” he added. 

3

Dozens missing as boat capsizes

US Coast Guard officials are still searching for 39 people whose ship reportedly capsized 45 miles off the Florida coast on Saturday. Officials were alerted yesterday morning after fishermen spotted a man clinging to the hull of a boat. The survivor said the group had embarked from Bimini in the Bahamas, and suffered dangerous conditions. They added that none of the passengers had been wearing life jackets. US officials believe the boat may have been part of a “human smuggling venture”.

4

US in talks to divert gas supplies

Washington is finalising plans to divert natural gas supplies from around the world to Europe in the event that Russia invades Ukraine. In a bid to blunt Vladimir Putin’s most powerful economic weapon, US officials said that they had been negotiating with a broad range of global suppliers, including sellers of liquefied natural gas. Moscow continues to deny that it is planning military action against Ukraine and has “cited the Western response as evidence that Russia is the target, not the instigator, of aggression”, said Reuters.

5

Drivers ‘not responsible’ for self-driving cars

A report has insisted that human drivers should not be legally accountable for road safety in the era of autonomous cars. The person in the driving seat of a self-driving car should be redefined as a “user-in-charge” with significantly different legal responsibilities, said the law commissions for England and Wales, and Scotland. The report recommends that if anything goes wrong, the company or body behind the driving system would be held responsible, rather than the driver.

6

Wall Street slide continues

US stocks have continued to drop as fears over conflict in Ukraine and interest rate worries disrupt global markets, said The Daily Telegraph. In a dash to hopes of a “turnaround Tuesday”, New York’s three major indices fell at least 1% after volatile trading on Monday. Analysts are expecting more volatile days ahead. In the UK, the FTSE 100 rose 0.4% as it rebounded from a rout that wiped £53bn off the blue-chip index on Monday.

7

Two-thirds of Omicron cases ‘reinfections’

A study has found that two-thirds of people recently infected with the Omicron variant said they had previously contracted Covid-19. The BBC said that although “more work is needed to know how many are true reinfections”, the data suggests that those who appear to be more likely to catch Covid again include healthcare workers and households with children and multiple members under one roof. Past estimates have suggested that one in every ten Omicron cases is a possible reinfection.

8

Many dead after karaoke bar set alight

At least 19 people have died after a karaoke bar in Indonesia was set ablaze following a fight between rival youth gangs in the area. One person was fatally stabbed in the fight before the venue was set on fire with 18 people trapped inside. “Fights among youths in cities are normal, but that it has caused so many deaths, that is a first,” a police spokesperson told Metro TV. The incident is still under investigation, with those involved unclear whether the death toll will rise.

9

UUP leader backed despite tweets

Doug Beattie said he has received the support of his party to remain as the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party. Beattie had come under pressure to stand down after historic tweets of his emerged which included derogatory remarks about women, Muslims, members of the Traveller community and people with mental health issues. Beattie said he was “deeply sorry” for his tweets, but did not accept that he was a misogynist or a racist. The DUP’s Diane Dodds said she felt “troubled” by the type of language he used.

10

Artist, 12, snapped up by Nike

A 12-year-old boy from Shrewsbury has signed a lucrative deal with the sports giant Nike, said The Times. Joe Whale was sent to an after-school art club by his parents when he was ticked off for drawing during lessons. He set up an Instagram account for his artwork and soon attracted nearly 120,000 followers, with fans including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Whale is now a “co-creator” for the multibillion-dollar sports brand, which will involve promoting Nike online and encouraging children to be more artistic.

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