Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 30 January 2022

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

1

National insurance rise confirmed

A planned £12bn rise in National Insurance from April has been confirmed by the prime minister and chancellor. In an article in the Sunday Times, Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak said the move is “the right plan” and “must go ahead”. Despite opposition, including from some Tory MPs, they said it is “progressive” because higher earners pay more. Employees, employers and the self-employed will all pay 1.25p more in the pound for National Insurance from April 2022 for a year.

2

Russia ‘moves blood to border’

The US said it has seen evidence that Moscow has positioned supplies of blood near Ukraine’s borders, as part of its accumulation of medical supplies, troops and military equipment in the area that US officials have said could signal plans for an invasion. Meanwhile, the UK is considering offering to double its number of troops deployed in Eastern Europe. Boris Johnson is expected to speak to the Russian leader Vladimir Putin this week, and travel to the region.

3

PM ‘left top secret files lying around’

A “frat house” atmosphere in Boris Johnson’s flat and slackness around security led to restrictions on where top-secret papers could be viewed, reported The Sunday Times. Highly classified material was left lying around in 11 Downing Street where it could be read by any visitor and some of Carrie Johnson’s friends had access to a Pin code giving access to the flat. Dominic Cummings is said to have found top secret material lying around the flat in early 2020.

4

North Korea tests long-range missile

North Korea has fired what is believed to be its longest-range ballistic missile since 2017. South Korea reported that the launch took place at 07:52 local time on Sunday off North Korea’s east coast. Japan, South Korea and the US have all condemned the launch, with Washington calling on North Korea to “refrain from further destabilising acts”, in a statement issued by the US military’s Indo-Pacific Command.

5

Two die as Malik batters UK

Two people have been killed by falling trees as Storm Malik hit northern parts of the UK on Saturday. A nine-year-old boy died in hospital after a tree fell on him in Winnothdale, near Stoke, and Police Scotland said a 60-year-old woman was fatally injured by a falling tree in Aberdeen, as gusts of up to 85mph were recorded on the nearby Aberdeenshire coast. The storm cut off power from thousands and caused widespread disruption.

6

Warning over grocery loans

Struggling families are being targeted by credit firms offering “buy now, pay later” deals on weekly groceries, pet food and hot drinks. Shoppers are urged to spread their payments, with one promotion promising: “Regardless of your credit rating, we will offer you a tonne of credit to do your shopping with.” Welfare groups have warned the new form of credit is “like a runaway train” and that “there’s not enough protection for people who end up slipping into debt”.

7

Gove backtracks on funding announcement

The government has been accused of manipulating announcements on extra funding for poorer parts of the UK in a bid to save Boris Johnson’s premiership. After Michael Gove’s Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities released a press statement saying 20 towns and cities would benefit from a “new £1.5bn brownfield fund,” The Observer contacted senior sources at the Treasury to ask if its ministers had signed off on the promised £1.5bn. Gove’s department then backtracked and admitted that the “new” fund was not new money.

8

Bloody Sunday remembered 50 years on

Events are being held to mark the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, noted the BBC. Thirteen people were shot dead and at least 15 others injured when members of the Army’s Parachute Regiment opened fire on a civil rights march in Londonderry on 30 January 1972. Victims’ families will gather to walk the route of the civil rights march that ended in tragedy. The theme for the commemorations is One World, One Struggle. In 2010, David Cameron apologised for the “unjustified and unjustifiable” deaths.

9

PM aide under fire over cricket trip

Boris Johnson’s most senior aide has been criticised after The Telegraph revealed that he spent the day at a cricket match three days before the fall of Kabul. Dan Rosenfield accepted hospitality tickets to a weekday match at Lord’s on Aug 12, a day before a senior Number 10 figure – said to have been Rosenfield – ordered the Foreign Secretary to return from a holiday in Cyprus. The news will increase pressure on Johnson to overhaul his operation.

10

Robinson linked to fundraising site

The ex-wife of bankrupt far-right activist Tommy Robinson has set up a firm in an apparent bid to help raise funds for her former husband. The Independent reported that Robinson’s account on Telegram has posted links to a “Square FT” donations website, appealing to followers for “security costs” via the website for an “investigation” into “grooming gangs”. A Companies House filing shows that Robinson’s ex-wife, Jenna Lennon, is the sole director of Square FT Ltd. There is no evidence of any wrongdoing by Ms Lennon or Square FT.

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