Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 31 January 2022

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

1

‘Red wall’ to face worst of crisis

Swathes of Conservative-held seats in the “red wall” – the name given to constituencies which swung away from Labour in the 2019 election – will be among those hardest hit by the looming cost of living crisis, said The Guardian. Boris Johnson has been warned that the future of his government rests on how it will tackle the issue, with the PM facing growing pressure to set out measures to help the millions of families who will be affected by rises in food and energy bills over the coming months.

2

UK threatens oligarch wealth

Ministers will target the British investments of oligarchs and businesses with links to the Kremlin if Russia invades Ukraine, said The Times. Westminster is expected to announce today that it will impose asset freezes and travel bans on individuals and entities that have a “strategic significance” to Vladimir Putin’s government. Liz Truss, the foreign secretary, told Times Radio on Sunday that new legislation meant there would be no hiding place for “those who are supporting the Russian regime”.

3

Man U player arrested

Manchester United footballer Mason Greenwood has been arrested on suspicion of rape and assault following allegations on social media. Greater Manchester Police said it was made aware of “social media images and videos posted by a woman reporting incidents of physical violence” and confirmed that “a man in his 20s has since been arrested on suspicion of rape and assault”. Manchester United has said that Greenwood will not return to training or play any matches “until further notice”. Greenwood has not responded to the allegations.

4

Cummings: PM is a ‘f***wit’

Dominic Cummings has said that he feels he has a duty to “get rid” of the prime minister, describing his campaign against Boris Johnson as “an unpleasant but necessary job” like “fixing the drains”. Speaking to New York Magazine, the PM’s ex-chief adviser called his former boss a “complete f***wit” whose only preoccupations are “Big Ben’s bongs” and “looking at maps” to “order the building of things” in his honour. The former aide has sent evidence to the Cabinet Office inquiry led by Sue Gray.

5

NHS jab mandate may be scrapped

Ministers will meet later today to decide whether or not to scrap mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations for NHS staff. Although frontline NHS workers in England must be fully vaccinated by 1 April, meaning they need to have their first dose by Thursday, health secretary Sajid Javid has described the jabs requirement as being “kept under review”. The government has been warned that the mandate would lead to a staffing crisis in the health service, said the BBC. 

6

Spotify announces Covid info hub

Spotify has announced that it is working to add advisory warnings to any podcast on its platform that discusses Covid-19. The move follows criticism of its decision to keep hosting US commentator Joe Rogan’s podcast, which has featured vaccine sceptics. Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said that the new warnings will redirect users to a data hub of facts about the virus. Over the past week, artists including Neil Young and Joni Mitchell have removed their music from Spotify because of The Joe Rogan Experience podcast.

7

Middle-class faces £1m tax bill

Thousands of middle-class families pay more than £1m in tax over a lifetime, reported The Daily Telegraph. New analysis by low-tax campaigners has found that the long-term tax bill faced by households with an annual income of over £60,000 now stands at £1.1m. This means they would have to work the equivalent of 18 years just to pay off HMRC. A spokesperson from the TaxPayers’ Alliance said that “with the tax burden at a 70 year high, typical families are now tax millionaires”.

8

Five-year-olds eligible for jab

The NHS has extended its vaccine rollout to around half a million five to 11-year-olds in England who are most at risk of contracting the virus. From today, those who are in a clinical risk group or who live with someone who is immunosuppressed will be able to get a first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. The latest data shows that coronavirus cases are increasing among primary and secondary schoolchildren.

9

Israel dismisses Amnesty report

A report from Amnesty International, which is due to be published this week, accuses Israel of “enforcing a system of apartheid against the Palestinian people” and of treating Palestinians as “an inferior racial group”. Israel’s foreign ministry has described the report as a “collection of lies” which seeks to “deny the right of existence of the state of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people”.  A spokesperson from Amnesty clarified to The Daily Telegraph that the report was a critique of “the Israeli government, not the Israeli or Jewish people”.

10

Government official says No. 10 ‘failed’

A senior official who worked in No. 10 during the pandemic has criticised the government for its failure to be “honest and upfront” over lockdown parties. Writing for The Times, Nikki da Costa, Boris Johnson’s former director of legislative affairs, said Downing Street seems to have “failed as a collective” to uphold the standards it set for the public. Johnson will “attempt to seize back control of the government agenda this week”, said The Guardian, thanks to “a policy blitz, a Brexit bill and flying visit to Ukraine”.

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