Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 4 February 2022

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

1. Four senior aides to PM quit

Four senior aides to Boris Johnson resigned from Downing Street within hours of each other yesterday, piling more pressure on the PM. Policy head Munira Mirza was followed out of the door by director of communications Jack Doyle, chief of staff Dan Rosenfield and senior civil servant Martin Reynolds. The BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg said it was a “turbulent day” for Johnson, while The Times reported that cabinet ministers now believe there is a “50/50” chance that the PM will be forced out of office.

Next Tory leader odds and polls: the frontrunners to replace Boris Johnson

2. Bank chief warns against pay rises

The governor of the Bank of England has said that workers should not ask for big pay rises to stop prices from soaring out of control. In an interview with ITV, Andrew Bailey said the Monetary Policy Committee raised rates to 0.5% from 0.25% to prevent rising prices from becoming “ingrained”. The comments from the governor – who was paid £575,538 in the 2020-2021 financial year – “raised eyebrows”, said the Daily Mail. The Bank of England has warned that families are about to suffer the biggest fall in living standards since comparable records began three decades ago.

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Cost of living crisis: the squeeze continues

3. Biden confirms Isis head’s death

Joe Biden has confirmed the death of the head of the Islamic State following a US special forces raid in northwest Syria on Thursday. The president said that Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, 45, blew himself up with his family, including four women and six children, rather than surrender to troops who had surrounded the house where he had been hiding. The operation was the highest-profile counter-terror move of Biden’s tenure to date. The president watched events unfold live from the White House Situation Room with VP Kamala Harris.

Explained: the relationship between the Taliban and Isis

4. Britain ‘colder than Russia’ today

Parts of Britain will feel colder than Russia today, said The Times. Thanks to windchill, 2-7C highs will feel as cold as -4C in the north, 0C in the Midlands and 1C in the south, with many parts feeling colder than 1c Volgograd in southwest Russia. “It’s been a mild winter so far – but a big change is on the way,” said a Met Office forecaster. There will be light snow in the south and Midlands, with settling snow expected in Wales, the northwest and Scotland, mainly on higher ground.

What is the highest UK temperature on record?

5. Jabs used to fight ‘war’ on cancer

Vaccinations to treat and potentially cure cancer will be the focus of a “national war” on the disease over the next decade, the health secretary will say when he announces his ten-year Cancer Plan for England today. Sajid Javid will outline his ambition to make Britain a “world leader” in cancer care, which involves using new technologies – including mRNA vaccines – to find new ways to boost survival rates. In November, Macmillan Cancer Support said almost 50,000 people with cancer have not been diagnosed because of the pandemic.

Five new cancer research breakthroughs

6. Sunak warns of further energy surges

Rishi Sunak has warned UK householders to brace themselves for further increases in energy costs later this year. The chancellor said that as things stood, the price cap of £1,971 set by the energy regulator Ofgem yesterday would rise further in the autumn. Campaigners insist that Sunak’s £9bn emergency package is insufficient to prevent millions more people from experiencing fuel poverty. The National Energy Action charity described the package as “woefully inadequate”, while Labour said it would be “of little comfort to many”.

‘Black Thursday’ for Brits as energy bills and interest rates soar

7. Conservatives retain Southend West

Conservative candidate Anna Firth has won the Southend West by-election triggered by the fatal stabbing of MP David Amess during a constituency surgery last October. Firth won with 12,792 votes in a contest that saw a low turnout of 24%. Out of respect for Amess, Labour and the Liberal Democrats did not stand candidates in the poll to allow the Conservatives a greater chance at holding the seat. Jason Pilley of the Psychedelic Movement came second, followed by Steve Laws of UKIP.

Ali Harbi Ali: what were the potential motivations behind David Amess’s murder?

8. Inquiry hears of Grenfell ‘rebuttal campaign’

Just 48 hours after the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire, the government mounted a rebuttal campaign to counter reports that building regulations had allowed the use of combustible cladding, said The Guardian. The public inquiry learned that as families searched for missing loved ones, Brian Martin, the official in charge of fire safety building regulations, “circulated a pre-written rebuttal of press claims that the plastic-filled panels that fuelled the inferno were allowed in the UK but not abroad”. In the wake of the tragedy, a national ban was introduced on using combustible cladding on new buildings.

Government accused of cladding fire risk ‘cover-ups’

9. Meta suffers worst trading day ever

Meta Platforms endured the worst trading day in its history on Thursday. The company, formerly known as Facebook, saw its shares fall by more than 26%, shaving off nearly $240bn from its market value. Earlier, it had announced a rare and worse-than-expected profit decline during the final three months of last year and set out a number of challenges to its core advertising business. CNN said the “eye-popping” drop in value is a reminder of “just how massive the tech giant really is”.

Meta: Facebook gambles on a virtual world

10. Prince Harry: bosses should offer ‘me-time’

All employers should give their staff time off so they can “build resilience for the outside world” through “inner work”, the Duke of Sussex has said. Addressing an online conference in his role as chief impact officer of a mental wellness app, Prince Harry said that “from an employer’s perspective, you can’t expect… people to put in the work on themselves if you’re not giving them the time to be able to do that”. He advised fitting in 45-minutes of “white space” time every morning, which could involve meditating, exercising or taking the dog for a walk.

What has Meghan Markle done since moving to California?

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