Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 9 February 2022

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

1

PM warned over waiting list plans

The PM has been warned by Conservative MPs that his plan to clear the NHS backlog is “not ambitious enough”. The health service has been allowed to retain a 2025 deadline for dealing with the 300,000 patients waiting more than a year for treatment, despite the Treasury’s attempt to push the target to 2024. A record six million people are currently on a waiting list – one in nine of the population. But health secretary Sajid Javid has warned the number is likely to rise now Covid pressure is easing, reported the BBC. 

2

BP has ‘too much cash’

BP’s finance boss has told analysts that the oil giant is “getting more cash than we know what to do with” as it revealed profits near £10bn, the Daily Mirror reported. The company is the largest of 19 oil firms to have benefited from tax rebates totalling nearly £2.4bn since 2016, according to the campaign group Uplift. BP previously rejected calls for a windfall tax on oil and gas producers to help ease the cost of living crisis, the paper added. The company has confirmed it will use the excess money to reward shareholders.

3

Larger summer reshuffle planned

Boris Johnson is planning a full reshuffle this summer to try and prevent a bid by backbenchers to remove him from Downing Street, said The Times. The news follows yesterday’s “defensive” mini-reshuffle that saw Jacob Rees-Mogg moved from the role of leader of the Commons to Brexit opportunities minister. Mark Spencer was shifted from chief whip to succeed Rees-Mogg, while die-hard Brexit supporter Chris Heaton-Harris replaced Spencer. In a piece for the Daily Mirror, Labour MP Jim McMahon described the PM as “shuffling the deckchairs” on his “doomed vessel”.

4

Carr joked about Jewish deaths

Jimmy Carr is under fire again after it emerged that he joked about the Holocaust and the deaths of six million Jews in a book. The stand-up comic, who has faced an almighty backlash after joking about the mass murder of Gypsies in his Netflix special, wrote in last year’s Before & Laughter: “I think it’s okay to joke about the Holocaust. They say there’s safety in numbers. Tell that to six million Jews.” The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust said Carr’s jokes “dehumanise people and perpetuate prejudice”.

5

MPs warn of further Brexit delays

MPs are concerned about further disruption to trade with the European Union if post-Brexit border arrangements are not improved. The cross-party Public Accounts Committee has suggested that the main impact of Britain’s exit from the EU had been “increased costs, paperwork and border delays”, warning that things could get worse in the months ahead as new import controls come in. The government said it believed that traders had “adapted well” to the introduction of new customs controls, said the FT, insisting that businesses were getting “the support they need to trade effectively with Europe”.

6

Tories fighting UK’s green agenda

A group of Conservative politicians are attempting to derail the government’s environmental agenda and are linking it to the cost of living crisis, leading climate scientists have told The Guardian. Tory MPs and peers in the Net Zero Scrutiny Group have demanded cuts to green taxes and an increase of fossil fuel production, but claim they do not dispute climate science. Scientists say the group has “cherrypicked data” and appears to be attempting to drag climate policies into a culture war.

7

BBC to examine licence fee gender bias

The BBC is set to explore why women make up 76% of licence fee convictions and establish whether enforcement of the licence fee discriminates against women. The corporation has agreed to carry out and publish a “gender disparity review” after a single mother from Essex – who faced prosecution for failing to pay her TV licence – threatened a judicial review of the system on the basis of sex discrimination, said The Times. Licence fee evasion accounted for 30% of all female convictions in England and Wales during 2019, but just 4% of male convictions.

8

Major set to criticise PM again

Former Conservative PM John Major is expected to accuse Boris Johnson of corroding trust in politics over “partygate”, said The Daily Telegraph. In a speech set to be delivered at the Institute for Government think tank on Thursday, Major is expected to call into question Downing Street’s response to allegations of lockdown-breaking parties, which at first saw a blanket denial issued by Johnson’s press team. Last November, Major accused No. 10 of a “shameful” attempt to protect the then Conservative MP Owen Paterson during a lobbying row.

9

Adele wins genderless Brit award

Adele said she “loves being a female artist” last night as she collected the Brits’ first-ever genderless award for artist of the year. The Brits made headlines last year when it announced it was ditching the traditional male and female categories and switching to gender-neutral genre ones. Adele won three of the four main prizes at the female-dominated ceremony which saw more women nominated than at any time in the past decade. Female solo winners outnumbered male winners by three to one, said the BBC.

10

Farmers told to be friendlier

New government advice for farmers encourages them to use “friendly language” on signs and help lost trespassers to “get back to paths”, said The Times. According to the guidance for land managers published under the Countryside Code, “visitors rarely mean to trespass” and farmers should “help the public enjoy the countryside in a responsible and respectful way”. The paper added that this could see the end of farmers yelling at walkers to “get off my land!”.

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