Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 3 February 2022

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

1

Energy price cap revealed today

Millions of people facing a spike in energy costs will discover this morning how much more they will have to pay. Energy regulator Ofgem’s new price cap, which is expected to add hundreds of pounds onto the annual bill for 22 million homes, will be announced at 11am and will take effect from 1 April. The Guardian said the Treasury is “scrambling” to complete “11th-hour plans” to ease the cost of living crisis, including a £200 rebate on energy bills and more help for the poorest households.

2

More MPs urge PM to go

Three more Conservative MPs have announced that they have submitted letters of no confidence in Boris Johnson. Tobias Ellwood, Anthony Mangnall and Gary Streeter are the latest to break cover and declare they have taken the step, piling more pressure onto the prime minister to resign. “I did not come into politics to lie to people,” Mangall told The Daily Telegraph’s Chopper’s Politics podcast. “I did not come in to be lied to by colleagues. I did not come into politics to lower the standard of debate.”

3

Lockdowns saved ‘0.2% of deaths’

A new report has claimed that lockdowns prevented just 0.2% of deaths in comparison with simply trusting people to do the right thing. Researchers from the US, Sweden and Denmark said the costs of the policy far outweighed the benefits and called for future lockdowns to be “rejected out of hand”, said The Daily Telegraph. However, the paper added, many scientists believe lockdowns “were essential before vaccines and antiviral drugs were available”, with Imperial College estimating that they saved about 3.1 million lives in Europe.

4

‘Black market’ Botox on sale

Beauticians are offering to inject women with “black market” Botox, putting them at risk of being disfigured for life, undercover journalists at The Times have found. The newspaper’s report found that practitioners with no professional medical qualifications have been using social media to target women and girls, often using products that have not gone through safety checks in Britain. The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency said it would “take appropriate regulatory action where any non-compliance is identified”.

5

Russia criticises US troop surge

Moscow has condemned the Pentagon’s decision to send 3,000 extra troops from North Carolina to Poland and Germany to support its Nato allies threatened by Russia's military moves near Ukraine. A further 1,000 troops already in Germany are going to be deployed to Romania. The Kremlin described the move as a “destructive” step that heightened tension and reduced the scope for a political solution, reported the BBC.

6

Disciplined Met officer was promoted

A Metropolitan Police officer who was disciplined after an inquiry into misogynistic and racist messages has since been promoted, The Guardian revealed. The unnamed officer was promoted from the rank of constable to sergeant despite being sanctioned for failing to report wrongdoing following a watchdog inquiry into the offensive messages. The messages were shared by up to 19 officers based mainly at Charing Cross police station, and their subjects included hitting and raping women, the deaths of black babies and the Holocaust.

7

Cocaine kills 20 in Argentina

At least 20 people have died and dozens have been hospitalised in a Buenos Aires suburb  after consuming cocaine suspected of containing a poisonous substance. Officials are working quickly to determine what the narcotic had been mixed with. One theory, according to The Guardian, is that the cocaine was intentionally cut with a toxic substance in order to settle a score between traffickers. A minister called on any people who bought cocaine in the past 24 hours to “remove it from circulation”.

8

RAF jets respond to Russian bombers

The RAF has confirmed that typhoon fighter jets were scrambled to respond to a group of Russian “Bear” bombers in a “UK area of interest”. The jets, which launched from RAF Lossiemouth in Moray, Scotland, on Wednesday morning at around 11am, intercepted the two Tu-95 Bear H bomber aircraft and two Tu-142 Bear F reconnaissance aircraft. The Russian jets did not enter UK sovereign airspace, but a senior Conservative MP said the interception was a “classic game of cat and mouse”.

9

Pulsed energy may cause Havana Syndrome

Pulsed electromagnetic energy “plausibly explains” some of the cases of Havana Syndrome, according to a new report by a US Intelligence Community panel of experts. The experts said the symptoms, which have mysteriously struck US embassy staff around the world and include a painful sound in the ears, fatigue and dizziness, are “genuine and compelling” and may have been caused by an external source. Last month, a CIA study said many cases could be explained by natural causes or stress.

10

CBI to urge MPs to ‘slash red tape’

Britain risks becoming trapped in a vicious cycle of low growth and high taxation, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) will warn in a speech today. The leading business lobbying group believes that ministers must take radical steps to boost investment, raise skills, slash red tape and exploit the opportunities of the green economy, said The Guardian. Tony Danker, the CBI’s director general, will lay out a five-point plan to restore the UK’s underlying growth rate which includes “a permanent 100% tax deduction for capital spending” and “replacing the apprenticeship levy with a skills challenge fund”.

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