Millions take to roads for Christmas
Millions of people are setting off on a Christmas getaway but travel disruption is expected on the roads and rail, with strong winds set to batter parts of the country.
The AA has warned of ‘lengthy jams’ for traffic, while the Met Office has said Christmas Eve travel plans could be affected with gusts of up to 70mph.
Rail disruption is likely as two of London’s railway stations, King’s Cross and Paddington, will be shut due to engineering works. The closure of London Paddington will continue until Wednesday, meaning no mainline trains will serve Heathrow Airport.
Warning of flying debris and power cuts from high winds
Strong winds may cause flying debris and power cuts, forecasters have warned.
Gusts as high as 70mph are due to hit much of Scotland and northern and central areas of England today.
Two separate yellow wind warnings have been issued by the Met Office, saying people should expect travel disruption, damage to buildings and power cuts, while the rest of the country may see showers during the day.
Pre-Christmas weekend could be busiest of year for retail
The country’s retailers are hoping to shake off several months of tough trading, with this weekend expected to be the busiest of 2023 so far.
As shoppers hit the stores on Saturday, a spokesperson for the British Retail Consortium said: ‘It’s been a rough few months for retailers, with shopper footfall and retail sales becalmed as the elevated cost of living and higher mortgages have taken a toll on consumer spending. This weekend will be particularly important for food-related shopping.’
Christmas offers the ‘promise of a better world’ – Sunak
Rishi Sunak has urged people to focus on the promise of a brighter future in a Christmas message ahead of an election year.
The Prime Minister said Christmas was ‘a time of hope’ but it was important to remember ‘those facing a difficult time’.
Sunak, who is a Hindu, highlighted the ‘Christian values at the heart of this celebration of Christ’s birth’.
Home Secretary apologises for ‘ironic joke’ about spiking wife’s drink
Home Secretary James Cleverly joked about spiking his wife’s drink with a date rape drug in comments made at a Downing Street reception.
Cleverly’s unguarded remarks came just hours after his Home Office announced plans to crack down on spiking.
He told female guests at the reception that “‘ little bit of Rohypnol in her drink every night’ was ‘not really illegal if it’s only a little bit’, the Sunday Mirror reported.
Guide Dogs mother gives birth to nine puppies just in time for Christmas
A Guide Dogs mother has given birth to a litter of nine puppies just in time for Christmas.
The four-year-old golden retriever named Puds, a breeding dog for the charity, gave birth to five girls and four boys on December 7.
Thanks to their father, a German shepherd named Shadow, the puppies have distinctive black fur in contrast to their mother’s sandy brown coat, with one young puppy sporting a white tail tip. When the puppies reach 14 months old, they will go into training to become qualified guide dogs in 2025 to help people with sight loss.
Train passengers face ‘another unwelcome price hike’
A rail fares rise of nearly 5% has been described by passenger groups as ‘another unwelcome price hike’.
The Department for Transport announced that regulated fares in England will increase by up to 4.9% on March 3 next year.
These include season tickets on most commuter journeys, some off-peak return tickets on long-distance routes and flexible tickets for travel around major cities. The increase could add £190 to an annual season ticket from Woking to London, taking the cost from £3,880 to £4,070.
Lottery ticket holder wins £15m jackpot just before Christmas
Britons have been advised to check their lottery tickets after one lucky player scooped a £15m jackpot just before Christmas.
The winner matched the six main numbers – 17, 29, 31, 40, 47, 56 and the bonus number 44 – in Saturday’s National Lottery draw.
Andy Carter, of The National Lottery, said: ‘Brilliant news, one lucky ticket-holder has won tonight’s festive £15m ‘Must Be Won’ Lotto jackpot. That’s certainly something to cheer about this Christmas. Players are urged to check their tickets and to give us a call to claim tonight’s exciting jackpot prize.’
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Revolut swings to yearly loss
Banking app Revolut revealed it swung to a loss last year as it stood by long standing hopes of securing a UK banking licence.
The fintech company had cheered its first profitable year in 2021 after cashing in on a rise in crypto trading and growing its customers.
But it reported a pre-tax loss of £25.4m over 2022, slumping from a £39.8m profit generated in 2021, according to its delayed annual report.
Police investigate after Banksy street artwork removed
The Metropolitan Police are investigating the alleged theft of a Banksy installation in south-east London.
The piece of street art – a traffic stop sign covered with three aircraft resembling military drones – was revealed at the intersection of Southampton Way and Commercial Way in Peckham at midday on Friday.
Less than an hour after Banksy confirmed it was genuine by posting a photo of it on social media, witnesses saw the artwork being removed by a man with bolt cutters. The force said it has received a report of theft and the ‘incident is currently being investigated by officers’, but no arrests have been made at this stage.
Two men seriously hurt as McLaren car crashes into home then catches fire
Two men were seriously injured when a McLaren car crashed into a house and caught fire in Lancashire.
The car crashed into a lamppost and then a home in Heyhouses Lane, St Annes, at about 2.35am on Saturday. Both the car and the house caught fire, which was extinguished by firefighters, Lancashire Constabulary said.
Two men, who were inside the car, suffered a number of serious injuries and were taken to hospital. One is in a critical but stable condition and the second is in a serious but stable condition. Nobody in the house was injured.
The BBC Weather service says Christmas Eve is expected to be cloudy and damp in the south with outbreaks of light rain, mainly in the south-west and Wales. Variable cloud and frequent, blustery showers in the north. A windy day.
It will be breezy tonight with cloud lingering in south England and Northern Ireland, but clear spells elsewhere with showers in the far north. Turning cloudy for many in the early hours with outbreaks of rain.
Christmas Day will be cloudy and breezy for many areas of the UK with outbreaks of rain moving in from the west, heavy at times in the afternoon. Snow or sleet to lower levels in northern Scotland.