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Johnson backs ban on some second jobs for MPs amid Tory sleaze row…

“Boris Johnson announced support for a ban on some MPs’ second jobs on Tuesday, after a fortnight of “Tory sleaze” headlines and plummeting opinion polls. In an unexpected change, the Prime Minister called for two alterations to the MPs’ code of conduct that will make it harder for them to give political advice for money. The first would cap outside activity by MPs to “reasonable limits” to make sure their primary focus is representing constituents in Parliament. The second would bar MPs from being paid to be a “parliamentary strategist, adviser or consultant” to minimise the chance of money shaping political decisions. However, the definitions of both changes remained unclear on Tuesday night, meaning it is unknown whether they would force many MPs to quit current second jobs.” – Daily Telegraph

  • PM pouring fuel on the flames, warn his outraged backbenchers – The Times
  • Tory MPs set to revolt against Boris Johnson over ban on lobbying and second jobs – The Times
  • Gove and Hancock among ten Tories who helped PPE firms win £1.6bn in Covid contracts – The Times

Comment:

… as MPs turn on Chope for blocking reversal of sleaze reforms

“A veteran Conservative MP is facing a backlash from his colleagues after blocking the government’s attempt to scrap its own standards reforms. Boris Johnson tried to draw a line under weeks of sleaze allegations last night by tabling a motion to endorse the investigation into Owen Paterson and to disband the committee set up to review how MPs are regulated. But Sir Christopher Chope, a minister under Margaret Thatcher who was first elected in 1983, shouted “object” in the Commons chamber, meaning that the motion could not be approved. Instead, the government has now scheduled a one-hour debate, followed by a vote, on the report into Paterson to take place later today.” – The Times

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Liverpool explosion: Bomber Emad Al Swealmeen tried to ‘game the system’ by claiming he was Christian

“The Liverpool bomber was a failed asylum seeker who tried to “game the system” by converting to Christianity, Home Office sources claimed yesterday. Priti Patel, the home secretary, said that Emad Al Swealmeen exploited the “merry-go-round” of Britain’s “broken” asylum system by making repeated claims to stay in the country. Al Swealmeen, 32, killed himself and injured a taxi driver on Remembrance Sunday when he detonated an improvised explosive device outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital. The bombing was declared a terrorist incident but detectives have not found evidence of an ideological motive. He was not being monitored by MI5. Al Swealmeen arrived in Britain in 2014 and sought asylum, saying he was from Syria. His claim was rejected by the Home Office the following year on the grounds that he was from Jordan.” – The Times

  • Liverpool suicide bomber took cake decorating course – Daily Telegraph
  • Bomber grew depressed after failed asylum bids – The Times
  • Christian conversion speeds up citizenship, claim smuggler gangs – The Times
  • Church under fire in wake of Liverpool suicide bombing for helping asylum seekers to ‘game’ system – Daily Telegraph

Comment:

  • The horror of Al Swealmeen’s terror attack aimed at Liverpool maternity hospital showed us the best – and worst – of Britain, Sarah Vine – Daily Mail
  • How was Liverpool bomber Emad Al-Swealmeen still in Britain after his asylum claim was rejected? – The Sun
  • The hospital bomb attack is damning proof of the manifold failings of Britain’s broken asylum system… and a deadly assault on all we hold dear, Dr Rakib Ehsan – Daily Mail

Philip Johnston: Twenty years after 9/11, we still don’t know how to stop radicalisation

“The day after Emad al-Swealmeen blew himself up with an improvised bomb in a Liverpool taxi, the Government apologised in court to a Muslim academic it had accused of hate speech. Dr Salman Butt, who runs a website called Islam21c, was branded an extremist in a Home Office press release issued in 2015 to accompany the creation of a new task force aimed at combating the spread of Islamist, anti-Western ideas in universities and colleges. Aidan Eardley, legal counsel for the Home Secretary, told the court: “The Government accepts that it was wholly false to allege that Dr Butt is an extremist hate preacher who legitimises terrorism and therefore someone from whose influence students should be protected. It is sorry for the harm caused to him.” However, what the Government does not accept, and neither can the rest of us, is that there is no such thing as extremist speech.” – Daily Telegraph

UK inflation rises to highest level since 2011

“UK inflation has jumped more than expected and to its highest level in almost a decade, increasing pressure on the Bank of England to raise interest rates. The annual rate of the consumer price index rose to 4.2 per cent last month, up from 3.1 per cent in September and the fastest pace since November 2011, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics. Inflation rose to more than double the 2 per cent BoE target and was higher than the 3.9 per cent forecast by economists polled by Reuters. ONS chief economist Grant Fitzner said that Inflation climbed “steeply” in October, driven by increased household energy bills due to the rise in the price cap that the regulator applied from the start of the month to reflect higher gas prices. Inflation was propelled by a rise in the cost of second-hand cars and fuel as well as higher prices in restaurants and hotels.” – FT

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Azeem Rafiq tells MPs that racist abuse was accepted by Yorkshire cricket chiefs

“Azeem Rafiq has told MPs that the word P*** was used constantly in Yorkshire’s dressing room when he joined the cricket club and senior players and staff did not stamp out the practice. He said he also felt let down by the England and Wales Cricket Board and Professional Cricketers’ Association (PCA) after going public with his allegations last year and feeling suicidal. Giving evidence to the digital, culture, media and sport select committee, he said: “I lost my career to racism. My kids have not had a dad for the last 15 months as all I’ve been worried about is Yorkshire trying to discredit me. It has been challenging, but hopefully this provides some closure.” He also said that his team-mate Gary Ballance used the term “P***” to him on numerous occasions.” – The Times

Comment:

Stanley Johnson accused of groping two women

“Sir Keir Starmer has called for a criminal investigation into Stanley Johnson after two women accused the prime minister’s father of groping them at Conservative Party conferences. Caroline Nokes, a senior Tory backbencher, accused the former MEP of smacking her on the backside in Blackpool in 2003. The disclosure prompted the New Statesman journalist Ailbhe Rea to allege that she had also been groped by the prime minister’s father at the 2019 Tory conference. Starmer commended the bravery of Rea and Nokes in speaking out. “The allegations are serious and need to be fully investigated,” he said. “It takes guts and bravery to come forward to make allegations like this. They now need to be fully investigated either by the Conservative Party or by the criminal authorities.”” – The Times

  • Starmer urges police probe into Johnson’s father – Daily Mail

Alarm grows as mortuaries fill with thousands of extra non-Covid deaths

“Nearly 10,000 more people than usual have died in the past four months from non-Covid reasons, as experts called for an urgent government inquiry into whether the deaths were preventable. Fears are growing that NHS delays at the height of the pandemic left large numbers of people with previously treatable conditions suffering illnesses that have now become fatal. Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that England and Wales registered 20,823 more deaths than the five-year average in the past 18 weeks. Only 11,531 deaths involved Covid. It means that 9,292 deaths – 45 per cent – were not linked to the pandemic.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Patients making desperate 999 calls as they wait for ambulance – The Times
  • Weekly Covid deaths reach highest level in eight months – The Times

Covid vaccine research targeted by hackers

“British spies have contended with a record number of cyberattacks in the UK over the past year, with many targeting coronavirus research and vaccines. The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), a division of GCHQ, said it had helped to mitigate 777 incidents between September last year and the end of August, about 20 per cent of which were aimed at organisations linked to the health sector and vaccines. The NCSC said the growth in reported incidents was partly down to its work to identify cyberthreats but that it had also had to respond to a rise in cyberattacks, particularly ransomware. Ransomware is a form of cyberattack that locks files and data on a user’s device and demands payment in exchange for their release, and has been used as part of a number of attacks in recent years, including the 2017 WannaCry attack on the NHS.” – The Times

Unvaccinated Germans ‘face lockdown within days’

“Germany could introduce lockdown curbs on unvaccinated people within days amid rapidly rising coronavirus infections. Those who refuse the jab could be limited to meeting just one person from outside their household and barred from non-essential travel as soon as Friday in the region of Saxony. Under existing rules, the measures will come into force automatically if more than 1,300 hospital beds in the region are occupied by Covid patients for three consecutive days. Bed occupancy crossed the threshold on Monday, and the rules will come into force at the end of the week if numbers do not drop by Wednesday. Saxony and Bavaria are among a number of German regions that already require proof of vaccination for people to enter restaurants, bars, nightclubs, cinemas and leisure centres.” – Daily Telegraph

Biggest rise yet in obesity among young children

“Obesity among primary school children rose last year as the Covid-19 pandemic left more of them stuck at home. There was a 4.5 percentage point increase in the proportion of children in reception classes, aged four and five, who were obese, from 9.9 per cent in the 2019-20 school year to 14.4 per cent in 2020-21. There was a similar rise in year six pupils, aged 10 and 11, from 21 per cent to 25.5 per cent, according to the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP). The increases are the biggest annual rise since the programme began in 2005. In both age groups, boys were more likely to be obese than girls, and children living in the most deprived areas were much more likely to be obese than those in the least deprived areas.” – The Times

Patel announces digital fund to fight online exploitation

“Priti Patel has announced a £555,000 fund for tech companies to find new ways to combat child exploitation and abuse online. The home secretary, who is in Washington for talks with her US counterpart, said that social media companies had “a moral duty to end the exploitation”. The safety tech fund will aim to stamp out child abuse without affecting a user’s rights to privacy and data protection in their communications. Five projects from companies in Edinburgh, Poole and London will receive an initial £85,000 to help bring their technical proposals for digital tools and applications to the market.” – The Times

Sussex University inquiry after trans row

“The student watchdog is investigating Sussex University after the resignation of an academic at the centre of a transgender row. The Office for Students will look into whether the institution met its “obligations on academic freedom and freedom of speech”, parliament was told. Kathleen Stock, a professor of philosophy, resigned after being targeted by activists over her views on gender identity. She faced death threats and accusations of transphobia, which she denied, and announced that she would be leaving the university last month. Posters calling for her to be sacked had been put up around the campus. Stock has now accepted a role at a university being set up in America to champion free speech.” – The Times

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