Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 21 December 2022

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

1. ‘Deep worry’ over ambulance strike

Hospital bosses said they “cannot guarantee patient safety” during today’s ambulance strike and there is “deep worry”, said the NHS Confederation. However, NHS England insisted that emergency care will continue to be provided. Health minister Will Quince has encouraged people to avoid “risky activity” such as contact sport or running if it is icy. The boss of Unison union, Christina McAnea, said ministers are “putting people’s lives at risk by refusing to negotiate” a “proper pay rise”.

What can Sunak learn from Thatcher about taking on the unions?

2. Tax blow for Trump

A powerful congressional committee said it would release former President Donald Trump’s tax returns within days and declared that the tax authorities failed to properly audit the former president’s taxes while he was in office. During the 2016 presidential election campaign, Trump broke decades of precedent by refusing to release his tax forms to the public. However, The New York Times has previously revealed that Trump had suffered serious losses and engaged in extensive tax avoidance.

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3. Scots gender law change approved

People aged 16 and 17 will be allowed to change their legal gender after the Scottish government rejected moves to keep the minimum age at 18. Although some MSPs argued that 16 is too young to make such a “profound change”, the government said lowering the age was in keeping with other rights and responsibilities people gain at 16. However, said a columnist in The National, the gender reform debate has “shattered the image of a progressive Scotland”.

How difficult is it to change your gender in the UK?

4. Musk promises to stand down

Elon Musk has said he will resign as Twitter’s boss when he finds someone “foolish enough to take the job”. The colourful billionaire vowed earlier to abide by the result of a Twitter poll that saw 57.5% of users vote for him to quit the role. He tweeted that, following his resignation as CEO, he would “run the software & servers teams” at Twitter, which signals that he “may continue to exercise significant influence on the company’s decision-making”, said CNN.

Twitter users vote for Elon Musk to quit platform

5. Concern as bill defaults rise

Almost two million households have defaulted on at least one significant bill in the run-up to Christmas, according to Which?’s consumer insight tracker. The most common type of bill missed was energy, with 2.3% of households failing to pay an energy bill in the last few weeks. The data “will make for concerning reading in finance and energy company boardrooms”, said The Guardian, “as it suggests there could be a significant wave of payment defaults in the coming months”.

Will energy bills go down in 2023?

6. Discord over fishing deal

Ministers have said that Britain’s fishermen will be able to land 30,000 more tonnes next year than would have been possible before Britain left the European Union. Announcing a new quota deal with the EU that will take the total potential catches for UK trawlers in 2023 up to £750m, Mark Spencer, the fisheries minister, said the “great deal” showed Britain had taken back control of its waters after Brexit. However, Jane Sandell of UK Fisheries said the deal was another “body blow for fishers in the north east of England”.

NOV 21: The post-Brexit fishing dispute explained

7. Becker describes jail danger

Former tennis star Boris Becker has said a murderer threatened to kill him in prison. The three-time Wimbledon champion said he feared for his life as the killer explained in detail how he was going to die. Speaking to German broadcaster SAT1 following his release from jail, the 55-year-old said Wandsworth prison is “really big, really dirty, extremely dangerous”. He added: “There are murderers, paedophiles, drug dealers – you meet everyone. It’s about surviving. You go out of your cell and you need to save your skin – the guards won’t do it for you.”

Boris Becker: the fall of tennis’s golden boy

8. Sunak ‘embarrassed by mockery’

The prime minister said the King’s coronation will showcase “the best of Britain” to the world after a year in which the global standing of the UK has taken a hit. Rishi Sunak has been “personally embarrassed” by “international mockery” of Britain during a year of “protracted Tory infighting, an acrimonious leadership election and the brief and economically disastrous Liz Truss premiership”, said The Times. He is “determined to restore Britain’s reputation”, added the paper. The government has granted an extra bank holiday on May 8, to mark the coronation.

How the world reported on Liz Truss’s resignation

9. Lynch ‘holds secret talks’

Mick Lynch has held secret talks with Network Rail bosses, according to The Telegraph. The RMT trade union general secretary and his deputy Eddie Dempsey met Network Rail’s representatives in a “hastily-arranged” meeting on Tuesday morning “amid signs the public are turning against union”, said the paper. Meanwhile, the train drivers union Aslef has announced a strike on January 5 across 15 train companies. RMT members will also walk out on January 3, 4, 6 and 7.

Who is going on strike this Christmas – and when

10. Mone spotted at luxury resort

Baroness Mone is on holiday at a “luxury alpine resort” in France as the UK government sues a personal protective equipment (PPE) company linked to the Tory peer for £122m plus costs, reported The Mirror. The paper said she “looked relaxed” in the exclusive French ski resort Meribel, where suites cost up to £6,000 a night. The controversial peer is taking a leave of absence from the House of Lords and says will clear her name, following allegations she benefitted from the contracts.

Michelle Mone: The Tory peer facing ‘shocking’ allegations of pandemic profiteering

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