Sunak cracks down on protest
Rishi Sunak is under fire from civil liberties campaigners over his plan to hand police new powers to shut down protests before any disruption begins. The government said it would be laying an amendment to the public order bill to toughen its crackdown on “guerilla” tactics used mainly by environmental activists. Shami Chakrabarti, the Labour peer, said the prime minister’s plan was “very troubling”. Sunak said: “A balance must be struck between the rights of individuals and the rights of the hard-working majority to go about their day-to-day business.”
Energy bills ‘will stay high’
An energy boss has said he does not expect gas and electricity bills to return to the levels they were before the Covid pandemic. Anders Opedal, the boss of Norwegian energy giant Equinor, told the BBC that there is “a kind of re-wiring of the whole energy system in Europe particularly after the gas from Russia was taken away” and “this will require a lot of investment and these investments need to be paid for, so I would assume that the energy bills may slightly be higher than in the past but not as volatile and high as we have today”.
Survey finds NHS dissatisfaction
More than two thirds of people said they thought the NHS services were “bad” and 80% said the health service had got worse in the past five years, a YouGov survey found. Only 15% said the health service was currently operating “well” against 78% who said it was operating “badly”. The study, in The Times, also found that 85% of voters thought the government was handling the NHS “badly” and only 10% of people thought ministers were handling it well.
Inequality soars after Covid
A charity is demanding action to tackle a widening in global inequality after revealing that almost two-thirds of the new wealth amassed since the start of the Covid pandemic has gone to the richest 1%. On the eve of the annual gathering of the global elite at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Oxfam said the wealthiest had hovered up $26tn (£21tn) in new wealth up to the end of 2021. That represented 63% of the total new wealth, with the rest going to the remaining 99% of people. The charity said this is “an affront to basic human values”.
Arrest after London shooting
A man has been arrested after a drive-by shooting outside a London church left a girl, seven, seriously injured. The Metropolitan Police said a 22-year-old man was arrested after a car was stopped in Barnet, London, yesterday afternoon. He has been taken into custody. Four women and two girls, aged seven and 12, were injured in the shooting outside St Aloysius Church on Phoenix Road on Saturday afternoon. Mayor of London Sadiq Khan described the shooting as “deeply distressing”.
Businesses ‘would dread Boris comeback’
A leading banker has signalled that businesses would dread Boris Johnson returning as prime minister. Asked how markets might react to the former Tory leader running again for Number 10, Sir Howard Davies, the chairman of the National Westminster Bank, said: “Oh dear.” Sir Howard added that the move “wouldn’t be well-received at this point because people would not have a clue what his economic policy was”. His comments came after a record £1m donation to Johnson “sparked yet more speculation he is planning a comeback”, said The Telegraph.
PM ‘to ban conversion therapy’
Rishi Sunak will announce a ban on conversion therapy, as he “reverses Boris Johnson’s decision to scale back the intervention”, said The Telegraph. Johnson vowed to ban conversion therapy when prime minister, but he decided not to do the same for transgender conversion therapy. Ministers are set to make clear within days that they plan to implement a total ban on both forms of conversion and will make legal changes to solidify the new position. A government spokesman described it as an “abhorrent practice”.
Arrest over uranium import
A man has been arrested on suspicion of terrorism over an alleged bid to import radioactive uranium into the UK. The businessman was held by counter-terrorism officers after the discovery of traces of uranium at Heathrow Airport last week, in a consignment of scrap metal intended for an Iranian registered business based in the UK. “I want to be clear that despite making this arrest, and based on what we currently know, this incident still does not appear to be linked to any direct threat to the public,” said the head of the Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Command.
‘Porn MP’ plans comeback
The former Conservative MP who quit after admitting watching pornography in the House of Commons is considering standing at the next general election. Neil Parish resigned from his Tiverton and Honiton seat after the scandal but now says he feels he had “unfinished business” in politics. “I shall offer my services to the party – whether the party will have me or not is another matter,” he told Times Radio, “but then I have the option of also standing as an independent”.
Young Brits turn to Satan
Young people in Britain are turning against traditional religions in favour of Satanism, according to a report. Chaplain Leopold, who is the co-runner of Global Order of Satan UK, told The Telegraph that there had been a 200% increase in membership in the last five years. “I’d love to be able to claim that we could pat ourselves on the back and say, yes, we’ve done our infernal work here… but I think it’s a far more complex issue than that,” he said. He felt that a backlash against “prescriptive dogmatic religion” was a significant factor.