Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 9 January 2023

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

1. ‘Neo-fascists’ Brazil protest

Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has pledged to punish “neo-fascists” after supporters of former president Jair Bolsonaro stormed Congress and the Supreme Court. Bolsonaro lost the presidential election to left-wing veteran Lula in October but his supporters are calling for military intervention over what they claim was a rigged vote. The Civil Police of the Federal District has arrested 170 people, according to The Rio Times.

Why Brazil’s Lula is still so popular

2. Tories lose faith in Brexit

Conservative voters are losing enthusiasm for Brexit, according to a new poll. Opinium, which surveyed 2,000 representative voters, found some 33% of those planning to vote Conservative at the next election believed Brexit had created more problems than it solved. The top worry for Tory voters currently sceptical about Brexit is problems around the Northern Ireland border, cited by 39% of respondents. The second most common concern was regarding red tape affecting trade with other countries, mentioned by 36%.

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No Bregrets: is Brexit remorse on the rise?

3. UK crisis ‘halfway through’

The average household in Britain is only halfway through a two-year cost of living crisis that will leave families £2,100 worse off, according to the Resolution Foundation. The analysis found that disposable income will drop by 3% during this financial year and by 4% in the next one, leaving an average family £2,100 worse off. In April, the government is planning to cut its support for energy bills, causing a typical bill to rise from £2,000 to £2,850.

When will the cost-of-living crisis end?

4. Harry: ‘royals not racist’

Prince Harry has admitted Meghan Markle did not get on with William and Kate “from the get-go”. In an interview with ITV, the Duke of Sussex also denied that accusations of racism were made towards the royals when he and Meghan were interviewed by US TV host Oprah Winfrey. However, said The Sun, the latter remark was “bizarre” and a U-turn from “previous incendiary claims”. Separately, speaking to US show 60 Minutes, Harry said he once viewed his stepmother Camilla, the Queen Consort, as “the villain”.

MAR 21: The most explosive claims from Harry and Meghan’s Oprah interview

5. China begins to open borders

Tens of thousands of people travelled in and out of China yesterday as the authorities relaxed quarantine regulations, after three years of pandemic isolation. However, according to CNN, China “isn’t rolling out the red carpet for international leisure tourists looking to experience the country’s many attractions just yet” and “borders remain largely closed to foreigners, apart from business or family visits”. Cases of Covid-19 skyrocketed in recent weeks as various restrictions were relaxed.

Will new Covid testing rules for China prevent the spread of new variants?

6. Government confirms plastic ban

Ministers have confirmed that single-use items such as plastic cutlery, plates and trays will be banned in England. According to government data, 1.1 billion single-use plates and more than four billion pieces of plastic cutlery are used in England every year, and each person in England uses an average of 18 single-use plastic plates and 37 items of plastic cutlery every year. “A plastic fork can take 200 years to decompose, that is two centuries in landfill or polluting our oceans,” said the environment secretary, Thérèse Coffey.

The climate crisis in 2023

7. Sunak under fire on healthcare

The Royal College of Nursing told Rishi Sunak to “come clean” today after he refused three times to say whether he has private healthcare. During an interview with the BBC, the prime minister insisted the matter was “not really relevant” and insisted that his healthcare arrangements were “a personal choice”. The Mirror said Sunak is “out of touch” and The Telegraph said Sunak has “faced criticism from political opponents on the issue as he is thought to be the wealthiest prime minister in history”.

The boom in private healthcare: a two-tier system?

8. Boris return would be ‘kamikaze’

Allies of Boris Johnson have given up hope of him returning to Downing Street. One supportive MP, who served in Johnson’s cabinet, told The Times that the only way Johnson would become leader before the next election was through another “kamikaze attack on the leader” that would “lose us the election”. However, Nadine Dorries, the former culture secretary, claimed in the Mail on Sunday that the Conservatives would “die” if Johnson did not lead the party into the next election.

What is Boris Johnson doing now?

9. Labour mull cigarette ban

The shadow health secretary has said a Labour government could ban the sale of cigarettes in order to stamp out smoking by 2030. Wes Streeting said the party would consult on banning the sale and purchase of cigarettes as part of a “radical” drive to eradicate smoking. Last month, New Zealand passed laws aimed at preventing children from becoming smokers, including a lifetime prohibition on cigarette sales to everyone born after 2008. Smoking rates in the UK have fallen from about half of the population in the 1970s to around 15% now, according to the Daily Mail.

New Zealand’s new smoking ban

10. Clarkson waves white flag

Jeremy Clarkson has abandoned plans to open a restaurant at his Diddly Squat farm. The controversial broadcaster’s battle with the local council over the issue has “at times, gone with a bang”, said The Times, recalling how he described his adversaries as “swivel-eyed communists, drippy hippies and Liberal Democrats”. He also once bragged that he could defeat planning objections to his farm restaurant through a “delightful little loophole”. However, he has now written to Oxfordshire council saying he “no longer wished” to proceed.

Jeremy Clarkson ordered to shut his farm’s dining areas

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