Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 29 November 2021

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

1. Boosters ‘to be given to over 18s’

The Covid booster rollout could be significantly expanded from today as ministers prepare to combat the Omicron variant. The government’s vaccines watchdog, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, is expected to advise the use of boosters for younger people, and could also recommend a cut in the current six-month wait between second and booster doses. A third case of the Omicron variant was found in the UK yesterday.

How concerned should we be about the new variant?

2. Record year for house market

The Times said this year’s “frenzy” of sales will have led to one in 16 homes in the UK changing hands by the end of the year, making 2021 the busiest year for the housing market since 2007. Zoopla, the property website, credited increased buyer demand (19% higher than usual) and a modest supply of homes to buy (42% lower than usual) for a rise in prices by almost 7% in the past year.

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Properties of the week: listed houses under £800,000

3. Taiwan faces off Chinese jets

Taiwan’s air force scrambled to fend off 27 Chinese aircraft that entered its air defence zone yesterday, Taiwan’s Defence Ministry announced. The island said it has faced repeated missions by China’s air force, often in the southwestern part of its air defence identification zone. In the past, Beijing has claimed such moves were drills aimed at protecting the country’s sovereignty. The latest move came amid tensions across the Taiwan Strait and as China’s president met his top generals.

What could happen if China tries to invade Taiwan?

4. Paris criticises UK ‘double talk’

The French interior minister has condemned what he called “double talk” from the UK over migrant crossings. Gerald Darmanin said British ministers, including his opposite number Priti Patel, should stop saying one thing in private while insulting his country in public. Priti Patel was uninvited from a meeting of European officials held over the weekend after 27 people drowned in the English Channel last week.

Why Priti Patel’s ‘push-back tactic’ is not working

5. Euro banks demand City access

The eurozone’s top banking groups have demanded long-term access to London’s multi-trillion dollar derivatives trading market in a “fresh blow for Brussels’ plans to seize business from the City”, said The Telegraph. A joint letter signed by organisations including the European Association of Co-operative Banks and the European Banking Federation argued that the bloc faces a “cliff edge” unless it extends exemptions that allow trades by European Union institutions to take place in the UK and other major markets.

How Brexit handed a ‘financial boon’ to Estonia

6. Labour wants corruption watchdog

Labour will propose an independent watchdog to investigate MPs accused of corruption and a ban on former ministers from lobbying work for five years after leaving office. The party’s deputy leader, Angela Rayner, will use a speech to argue that the existing system is broken because the rules are not respected and there are “no consequences for breaking them”. She will commit the party to accepting the findings of a proposed “integrity and ethics commission”.

The rival plans on sleaze from Labour and the Conservatives

7. Charles denies skin tone claim

A new book will claim that the Prince of Wales set off the royal family’s rift with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex when he speculated about the skin tone of their future children. Brothers and Wives: Inside the Private Lives of William, Kate, Harry and Meghan, alleges that Charles made the remark when Prince Harry became engaged in 2017. A representative for Prince Charles said of the book by Christopher Andersen: “This is fiction.”

The most explosive claims from Harry and Meghan’s Oprah interview

8. Warning over pay-later schemes

Consumer groups have expressed concern after it was revealed that more than 17m UK customers have now used a company offering instant credit to make an online purchase. The payment method, which allows customers to postpone payment or divide it into chunks, is set to have its biggest Christmas yet – but critics say users too easily end up in debt. Kate Hobson from Citizens Advice urged consumers “not to spend more than they can afford”.

9. Teenager charged with murder

An unnamed 14-year-old boy has been charged with the murder of a 12-year-old girl in Liverpool city centre. Ava White had been in the city with friends last Thursday after the switching on of Christmas lights when she suffered a “catastrophic” assault, Merseyside police said. The boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has been charged with murder and possession of a blade. He will appear in court today.

10. Trump ‘could be indicted tomorrow’

Prosecutors could “indict Donald Trump tomorrow if they really wanted and be successful”, the ex-president’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen said. During a discussion of Trump’s business affairs on NBC, Cohen was asked if he was “confident” he helped Donald Trump “commit crimes”. He replied: “I can assure you that Donald Trump is guilty of his own crimes. Was I involved in much of the inflation and deflation of his assets? The answer to that is yes.”

Michael Cohen: four key revelations from his book

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