Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 27 November 2022

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

1. Truss trade deal ‘a failure’

The first major post-Brexit free trade agreement signed by Britain has been branded a failure after data showed exports had fallen since it came into force. Liz Truss, then the trade secretary, signed a “historic” deal with Japan as trade secretary in October 2020, claiming it would boost trade by billions of pounds and help the UK recover from the pandemic. However, exports to Japan fell from £12.3bn to £11.9bn in the year to June 2022. Exports in goods fell 4.9% to £6.1bn and services fell 2% to £5.8bn.

2. Review finds police failings

Half the English police forces inspected since last year are not meeting required standards on investigating crime, found The Observer. Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, said the findings are a “damning indictment of 12 years of Conservative mismanagement of the Home Office”. Suella Braverman, the Home Secretary, has told police leaders she “expects” them to cut crimes including murder by 20%, as part of her “back to basics approach”.

3. Charity welcomes online harm plan

Plans to make encouraging self-harm online illegal have been welcomed by a charity set up in memory of a teenager who died after viewing content related to suicide, depression and anxiety. Content that encourages someone to physically harm will be targeted in a new offence, a move the government said was influenced by the case of Molly Russell - the 14-year-old who ended her life in November 2017. The Molly Rose Foundation said the proposal appeared to be a “significant move”.

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4. Sunak warned of Johnson return

Rishi Sunak has been warned of more rebellions by Conservative MPs as a new survey found his party was trailing Labour by 18 points. A month on from Sunak taking over from Liz Truss, a Savanta ComRes poll for The Independent put Labour in a comfortable lead on 46% with the Tories languishing on just 28%. Tory MPs on the right of the party warned that if poll numbers did not improve by the spring it there could be clamour for the return of “election winner” Boris Johnson.

5. Fire chief promises ‘zero tolerance’

The London Fire Brigade chief says he expects to sack staff after a report concluded the organisation was “institutionally misogynistic and racist”. Andy Roe said the findings of an independent review of the country’s biggest fire brigade were “horrifying”. He promised to take a “zero tolerance” approach. “Where we find that people have behaved appallingly, we will dismiss them,” he said. The review was commissioned following the death of Jaden Francois-Esprit, a trainee at Wembley fire station who took his own life aged 21 after being bullied.

6. Andrew ‘furious’ over guard axe

Prince Andrew is “furious” after being told that his taxpayer-funded police guard will be axed next month, said The Sun. The paper said the “scandal-hit royal” — who was stripped of his official duties earlier this year — still wants the public to foot the bill of up to £3m a year for his “gun cops”. The prince is expected to formally complain to ministers about the decision even though “Brits are being clobbered by the worst cost of living crisis since World War Two,” said the tabloid.

7. Diphtheria soars among asylum seekers

Diphtheria among asylum seekers who have recently arrived in the UK has risen to more than 50 cases, said the BBC. In 2021, there were just three cases of the same strain, according to government data. The news comes after it was confirmed that one migrant who died after being held at Manston processing centre in Kent had contracted the disease. The Home Office insists it takes the welfare of those in its care seriously.

8. A&E system ‘collapsing’ in UK

Britain’s top accident and emergency doctor has said that about 4,000 patients a day are spending more than 12 hours in A&E. Dr Adrian Boyle, the president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said he was “very worried” about the numbers dying for want of prompt care, as the emergency care system “collapses”. Data gathered by the RCEM suggest the number of patients stuck on trolleys for more than 12 hours has risen by 50% in a year.

9. ‘Beer and sandwiches’ for union talks

Ministers must return to the “beer and sandwiches” charm offensive of the 1970s to avoid Christmas rail strikes, said the new Transport Secretary. Mark Harper suggested the government would take a more “grown up” approach to union bosses, after months of ministers criticising Mick Lynch, the RMT general secretary, for his approach to negotiations. In the early 1970s, union bosses would routinely visit Number 10 for “beer and sandwiches”.

10. Dean backs Christ trans theory

A University of Cambridge dean has claimed that Jesus could have been transgender, reported The Telegraph. Dr Michael Banner, the dean of Trinity College, said it was a “legitimate” point after a row over a sermon by a Cambridge research student that claimed Christ had a “trans body”. Worshippers at Trinity College chapel said they were left “in tears” and felt excluded from the church, with one shouting “heresy” at the Dean upon leaving.

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