Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 2 January 2023

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

1. A&E delays ‘killing 500 a week’

Some A&E departments are in a “complete state of crisis”, said the head of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine. Dr Adrian Boyle said between 300 and 500 people a week could be dying due to emergency care delays. He predicted that A&E waits could be the worst on record this winter. According to a poll in the ipaper, Conservative voters blame the government for the crisis within the NHS, with 73% of Tory voters said the party’s running of the health service was a failure.

2. IMF warns of widespread recession

The head of the International Monetary Fund has warned that one-third of the global economy will be in recession this year. Kristalina Georgieva said 2023 will be “tougher” than last year as economies slow. “Even countries that are not in recession, it would feel like recession for hundreds of millions of people,” she added. In October, the IMF cut its outlook for global economic growth in 2023, in response to the war in Ukraine, inflation pressures and high interest rates.

3. Support for new referendum grows

Two years after the UK left the European Union nearly two-thirds of Britons now support a referendum on re-joining the bloc, a survey has found. The Savanta study for The Independent also discovered that the number of people who oppose another referendum has fallen, with less than a quarter of voters now opposed. Chris Hopkins, from Savanta, said that many might have overestimated the potential benefits of Brexit.

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4. XR to shelve public disruption

Extinction Rebellion said it will temporarily stop using public disruption as a protest tool, because “very little has changed”. In a statement, the environmental group said: “As we ring in the new year, we make a controversial resolution to temporarily shift away from public disruption as a primary tactic.” It said it will instead “disrupt the abuse of power and imbalance, to bring about a transition to a fair society”. However, noted The Times, neither Just Stop Oil nor Insulate Britain has pledged to change tactics.

5. Benedict to lie in state

Tens of thousands of people are expected to pay their respects to former Pope Benedict XVI as his lying in state begins at the Vatican. Benedict will lie in state at St Peter’s Basilica from Monday until Thursday. The Vatican said his funeral in St Peter’s Square will be a simple, solemn and sober ceremony in keeping with his wishes. Pope Benedict was a “controversial figure”, said the BBC, and some have criticised him for failing to tackle allegations of clerical sexual abuse.

6. Record number of crossings in 2022

An unprecedented 45,756 migrants crossed the Channel to Britain last year, according to data from the government. The number has increased dramatically since 299 people were detected in 2018 and overall recorded crossings for 2022 were 60% higher than for 2021. Two boats carrying 90 people made the journey on Christmas Day — the last recorded crossing of the year — before bad weather prevented further landings. Tory MPs said the data underlined the need for “urgent action”.

7. Sunak scraps another Truss plan

Rishi Sunak has postponed plans for an overhaul of the childcare system aimed at saving parents money and helping them back into work. During her short-lived reign, Liz Truss had planned to increase free childcare support by 20 hours a week and cancelling mandated staff-child ratios in a “big bang” shake-up of the system. However, said The Telegraph, the policy drive has been shelved indefinitely, with smaller reforms to be launched further down the road. The cost of childcare is often cited by MPs as a major concern for voters.

8. Shop closures soared in 2022

There was a dramatic rise in the number of shops closing on high streets, shopping parades, and out-of-town shopping parks in 2022, said the Centre for Retail Research. More than 17,000 sites closed their doors for good - the highest number for five years and nearly 50% more than in 2021, the researchers said. Meanwhile, said the British Retail Consortium, shops across the country are facing a particularly difficult six months ahead as customers tighten their spending habits.

9. Child terror orders considered

The government is considering plans for UK child-specific terrorism orders, reported The Guardian. The official adviser on terrorism law has told ministers that new legal terrorism orders specifically for children should be brought in to tackle the growing numbers being arrested. The number of children arrested has increased, mainly for “lower-level terrorism offences”, such as sharing propaganda or downloading material. Police said that children from middle-class backgrounds are being lured into extreme rightwing terrorism by online content.

10. Hangover-free booze developed

The government’s former drugs tsar has developed a new chemical that mimics the effects of alcohol without giving the user a hangover. Alcarelle can activate the same areas of the brain as booze but it keeps drinkers in the “two pint” zone all night, said The Telegraph. Professor David Nutt, who is currently raising cash to bankroll its launch, hopes the public will be knocking it back for years to come.

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