Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 28 October 2022

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

1. Musk ‘closes Twitter deal’

Elon Musk has completed his $44bn takeover of Twitter, according to reports. Musk fired CEO Parag Agrawal and two other executives, said sources close to the parties. The reported deal “ends months of bad blood between the two parties regarding the takeover”, said Sky News. The Financial Times said the deal puts Musk, a “self-described ‘free-speech absolutist’”, at “the helm of a platform that is popular among global politicians and relied on by millions of users around the world for news”.

The pluses and minuses of Elon Musk’s Twitter buyout

2. Voters ‘prefer Sunak to Starmer’

Voters believe Rishi Sunak would be a better prime minister than Sir Keir Starmer, according to a new poll. The same study, by BMG, found that voters trust Sunak to handle the economy more than Starmer. However, Labour remains on course for a heavy landslide victory, the survey shows, with 49% of voters saying they would support Starmer’s party while just 26% would back the Conservatives, a 23-point margin of victory.

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Sunak vs. Starmer: what does new PM mean for Labour?

3. Putin mocks Liz Truss

Vladimir Putin has mocked Liz Truss in a televised speech. The Russian president accused the former UK prime minister of “nuclear blackmail” for her remark during the Tory leadership campaign that she would be prepared to use nuclear weapons. “The girl was a little bit out of it,” he said. “What were we supposed to think? We saw that as a coordinated position, an attempt to blackmail us.” He also warned of a “dangerous” decade ahead.

What will Liz Truss do next?

4. House prices ‘could fall by 8%’

The UK’s biggest mortgage lender has predicted that house prices in the UK will fall by 8% next year. Lloyds Banking Group, which runs the Halifax brand, gave a “gloomy outlook for the UK economy”, said the BBC as it said it expects the UK economy to shrink at least 1% next year, and by as much as 4.5% in a worst-case scenario. However, said The Telegraph, Lloyds “has been overly pessimistic before”, predicting a 30.2% drop in house prices between 2020 and 2022, when they instead soared to record levels.

Is the UK heading for a housing crash?

5. Sunak blasted for missing COP27

Rishi Sunak has been accused of “a failure of leadership” by Labour, after Downing Street said he would not attend the COP27 climate summit in Egypt next month. Rebecca Newsom, head of politics at Greenpeace UK, also told the BBC the move suggests Sunak does not take climate change “seriously enough”. A spokesperson said the prime minister had “other pressing domestic commitments including preparations for the autumn Budget”. The announcement came after a leading scientist said the crisis has reached a “really bleak moment”.

Cop27 and Africa’s climate financing problems

6. Stormont set for Christmas election

Northern Ireland is set for an assembly election after politicians missed the deadline for restoring devolved government. The Democratic Unionist party blocked an attempt to revive the assembly and executive on Thursday, “perpetuating paralysis” and “running down the clock” to a midnight deadline, said The Guardian. Secretary of State Chris Heaton-Harris now must call an election to be held within 12 weeks. A poll at Christmas is “now inevitable” said the Belfast Telegraph.

Can devolution in Northern Ireland still work?

7. New questions over Braverman

Suella Braverman is facing more questions about alleged “security breaches”, as a former head of parliament’s intelligence and security committee said the controversy over her violations of the ministerial code might undermine officials’ confidence in sharing sensitive information with her. However, No 10 dismissed the claims and has said Braverman has “strong relationships” with the security services while cabinet minister Nadhim Zahawi said Sunak wants to give Braverman a “second chance”.

Suella Braverman: ‘queen of the right’ and home secretary again

8. Rayner relaxed about rich

Labour’s deputy leader said she is relaxed about people becoming “filthy rich... as long as they pay their taxes”. On a BBC podcast, Angela Rayner was asked if Labour believed in aspiration, and said: “Absolutely, 100%.” The BBC said her comments “represent a shift away from the language used by Labour MPs and shadow ministers under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn”.

Cabinet reshuffle: how do the Tory and Labour frontbenches match up?

9. Sunak may broaden windfall tax

Rishi Sunak plans to expand the windfall tax on energy giants, according to The Telegraph. The prime minister is thought to be considering increasing the levy, extending the deadline and broadening its scope to include renewable energy generators such as wind farms. The PM and his chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, believe there is a “massive fiscal black hole to fill”, added the paper. Asked about a possible expansion of the windfall tax, a spokesman for the PM said: “No options are off the table given the economic circumstances.”

The arguments for and against a windfall tax on oil and gas profits

10. Don’t dress up pets for Halloween

The RSPCA has advised owners not to dress up pets for Halloween, saying it can be “worrying and even scary” for animals. Although some pets may not mind being dressed up, some may find the experience “stressful”, the charity told the BBC. The British Veterinary Association said costumes can also affect some animals’ health, in particular that of certain breeds of dogs. “It can cause them to get stressed, get too hot and struggle to breathe properly”, said a spokesperson.

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