Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 22 December 2022

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

1. NHS expects post-strike influx

The NHS is “bracing itself for an influx of patients” in the coming days after thousands of people deferred seeking treatment during the ambulance workers’ strike, said The Guardian. Senior doctors fear that the decision by many people not to request help while paramedics were staging yesterday’s 24-hour stoppage will leave the NHS struggling to cope at a time when hospitals would “traditionally be scaling back their services for the festive break”, said the paper. Meanwhile, ambulance workers told The Times that they have to visit food banks to survive.

Who is going on strike this Christmas – and when

2. Firms report Brexit pain

Some 77% of companies said the government’s post-Brexit trade deal with the EU has not helped them to expand their business in the last two years. A study by British Chambers of Commerce also found that 56% of its members surveyed who trade with the EU said they had experienced problems complying with new rules for exporting goods, while 45% reported issues trading in services. The business lobby group is presenting ministers with five urgent recommendations for improving the agreement.

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Is Brexit to blame for the current financial crisis?

3. Netanyahu forms government

Benjamin Netanyahu has officially announced that he has successfully formed an Israeli government. In a last minute announcement, the veteran tweeted 10 minutes before the midnight deadline, “I have managed.” His government will “likely be the most right-wing in Israeli history”, said CNN, including ministers who were “once considered to be on the extreme nationalist fringes of Israeli politics”. Palestinians fear the new government will “strengthen Israel’s hold on the occupied West Bank”, said the BBC.

What Netanyahu’s ‘spectacular’ return means for Israel

4. ‘Overcharging’ at petrol pump

Motorists are facing their “costliest Christmas getaway ever” said the Daily Mail. Diesel has reached 176p a litre at the pump – 27p more than a year ago - while petrol is around 153p, 7p more than in 2021. Motoring experts accused retailers of “heartless overcharging” by failing to pass on big falls in wholesale prices. “Filling up has become much more expensive”, said the paper, despite wholesale prices falling back to the same levels as last year and fuel duty being cut by 5p a litre in March.

How high will petrol prices go?

5. Country moves ‘have peaked’

The trend of moving to countryside and coastal areas is fading, according to Zoopla. Although demand for larger, more remote homes surged as remote working rose during the pandemic, the property website suggested that the trend had peaked. “After a frenetic period for the country market, city living has come back strongly as workers have returned to the office, and the lifting of pandemic restrictions has boosted the appeal of urban living,” Chris Druce, senior research analyst at estate agent Knight Frank told the BBC.

6. Taliban bans girls from school

The Taliban has banned girls from attending primary school leading to an effective ban on female education in Afghanistan. After the extremist government announced that universities would shut their doors to female students, the Wall Street Journal reported that they also told teachers they would no longer be able to educate girls of any age. Afghan girls and women have been “squeezed out of public and professional life” since the Taliban takeover last year, said the paper.

How Afghanistan has changed after a year of Taliban rule

7. Lycett responds to ‘hypocrite’ charge

Joe Lycett has defended himself against allegations of hypocrisy by saying he was only “paid a few hundred quid” for performing in Qatar seven years ago. The comedian was vocally critical of David Beckham over his multi-million pound deal with Qatar, where it is illegal to be gay. After The Sun reported that Lycett had been paid for gigs in the country himself earlier in his career, he argued he never tried to hide the shows and sarcastically referenced the “spotless morality” of the tabloid.

8. Watson ‘sorry’ for abuse claims

Tom Watson has apologised for pushing false sex abuse claims against Lord Brittan and said he “owes it” to the Tory’s widow to promote police reform. Watson, who played an influential role in highlighting allegations made by the fantasist Carl Beech against Brittan, used his maiden speech in the House of Lords to apologise “unreservedly” to Lady Brittan. “Her experiences led to several recommendations about how the police conduct themselves,” he added. “I’m sorry and I owe it to her to work to achieve those aims in this House in the months and years ahead.”

OCT 19: Tom Watson urged to quit over bogus sex abuse claims

9. Harry and Meghan top chart

The Netflix documentary about the Duke and Duchess of Sussex has become the UK’s most-watched subscription series of the year so far. Episode one of Harry & Meghan was seen by an average of 4.5m people in the seven days after its release, far ahead of episode one of the new series of The Crown (2.8m). Meanwhile, The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power was the highest-rated show on Amazon Prime Video, with 3.2m for its first episode.

Harry & Meghan: a serious attempt to set the record straight?

10. Mead lands SPOTY gong

England footballer Beth Mead has been voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2022, becoming the first women’s footballer to win the award. The Arsenal forward starred at this summer’s Euro 2022, where she helped the Lionesses to glory at Wembley, England’s first ever major women’s football trophy. “This is for women’s sport,” she said, after seeing off competition from Ben Stokes and Ronnie O’Sullivan to win the prize. “Let’s keep pushing girls.”

England’s Lionesses roar to victory in Euro 2022: how women’s football beat the sceptics

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