News Round-Up

Dec 8: PM in for grilling over leaked video; Over-40s can now get booster; Asda workers to vote on strike; Polestar 2 gets more power

  • Here are the headlines on Wednesday, December 8

Time 1 month ago

PM in for grilling as leaked video heaps fresh pressure over No 10 party claims

Boris Johnson is expected to face questions over whether he has told the truth about an alleged lockdown-busting Christmas party in No 10 after leaked footage showed his aides joking about a festive gathering.

The Conservative Party leader will be under the spotlight at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, with his opposite number likely to grill Johnson for a second week running about what happened in Downing Street on December 18 last year.

Sir Keir Starmer, leader of the Labour Party, said the leaked video of senior aides laughing about a ‘cheese and wine’ evening indicates that the prime minister has ‘not been straight’ about claims of a festive get-together, with some reports claiming it featured alcohol and ‘secret Santa’ present-giving.

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Coronavirus vaccine booking system extended as Omicron cases increase

The coronavirus vaccine booking system has been extended as the Omicron variant sweeps across the UK.

People aged 40 and over are now able to book their booster jab three months after receiving their second dose, instead of the original six months.

The system will also allow people to book their booster a month in advance and means an additional seven million people aged 40 and over will be able to book in for their booster and will also be invited two months on from their second dose.

PM and allies commit to talking Russia down from ‘threatening’ Ukraine stance

The UK and its allies have agreed to work together to encourage Russia to row back from its ‘threatening behaviour’ towards Ukraine.

Boris Johnson and other European leaders took part in talks with US president Joe Biden on Tuesday evening as Western allies consider how to respond to the threat of a Russian incursion into Ukraine.

The call came after Biden held an online meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin to warn that, in the event of an invasion, the US stands ready to impose sanctions that would exact ‘a very real cost’ on the Russian economy, according to White House officials.

Foreign Office top official ‘regrets’ holidaying during Afghan evacuation

MPs have lambasted the ‘lack of leadership’ during the Afghanistan evacuation as the Foreign Office’s top civil servant admitted he regretted continuing with his holiday while Kabul fell.

Sir Philip Barton, permanent-under secretary at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), told a Commons committee he wished that he had ‘come back from my leave earlier’.

Having left for his holiday on August 9, the senior mandarin remained away for 11 days after Kabul was taken by the Taliban on August 15 following a lightning advance. ‘I have reflected a lot…, and if I had my time again I would have come back from my leave earlier than I did,’ he told MPs.

Asda distribution workers to vote on strike

Workers at Asda could go out on strike, joining their colleagues at Tesco as the retailers gear up for the Christmas period.

Union GMB said that it would call a strike ballot which closes on December 20 over what it said is the supermarket’s refusal to give distribution workers a “meaningful pay offer”.

‘Asda workers turned up throughout the Covid pandemic risking their lives to keep the nation fed – as well as helping the company turn a profit of almost £50m,’ said GMB national officer Nadine Houghton. An Asda spokesperson said: ‘As our annual pay negotiations have just begun and discussions are ongoing, any talk of industrial action is premature.’

Esso fined £500,000 for 2015 gas leak

Oil company Esso has been fined half a million pounds for a leak of a dangerous gas that was only discovered by a worker who was cycling home.

A member of staff on their bike at the company’s Fawley, Hampshire refinery noticed what would turn out to be a release of 15 tonnes of liquified petroleum gas (LPG). It had been going on for four hours at that point, and experts took another hour to find and stop the leak, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said.

Esso, which is owned by ExxonMobil, pleaded guilty at Southampton Magistrates Court to the 2015 leak, and was fined £500,000.

Tuesday Car Dealer headlines you might have missed

Polestar 2 gets power boost update

A new over-the-air update gives Polestar 2 owners the opportunity to unlock additional performance from their car.

Available for Long range, Dual Motor models in the UK, the upgrade represents the first time that Polestar has brought some of its heritage of tuning to its electric cars. There’s an extra 50kW of powe to a total of 350kW, while torque rises by 20Nm to 680Nm. As a result, accelerating from 50 to 74mph takes just 2.2 seconds – half a second quicker than the standard car. The 0-60mph sprint takes just 4.2 seconds, too.

The update will be available in the Polestar Extras web shop as a software download which is then remotely delivered to the owner’s vehicle via an over-the-air update. Polestar says that it is priced ‘on average’ around €1,000, with ‘local variances in certain markets’.

Euro 2020 dominates Google’s Year in Search trends

Euro 2020, the Premier League and Danish footballer Christian Eriksen – who collapsed on the pitch during the Euros – have been revealed as the top trending Google searches of the year in the UK.

The tournament influenced a number of Google’s lists in its annual Year in Search results, with football anthems Sweet Caroline and Three Lions featuring in the trending song lyrics list.

The top trending searches of the year are those which had a high spike in traffic over a sustained period during the year, compared to 2020, Google said.

UK to switch off 2G and 3G by 2033 to boost UK telecoms networks

2G and 3G mobile networks are to be phased out of use in the UK by 2033 as part of government measures to increase the security of telecoms supply chains, the culture secretary has said.

Nadine Dorries said the UK would, in agreement with the country’s major networks, switch off all public 2G and 3G networks to free up spectrum for 5G and other future network technology.

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The culture secretary said the move would support a smoother transition to faster mobile networks and would make it easier for new suppliers to enter the market, supporting government plans to diversify its suppliers in the wake of its banning of Chinese firm Huawei.

Weather outlook

Another wet and windy day as Storm Barra hits the UK, reports BBC Weather. Dozens of flood warnings have been issued across the country. The best chance of dry weather will be in the southeast.

Tonight, showers will ease in most places but could remain heavy elsewhere. Patchy cloud.



James Batchelor's avatar

James – or Batch as he’s known – started at Car Dealer in 2010, first as the work experience boy, eventually becoming editor in 2013. He worked for Auto Express as editor-at-large and was the face of Carbuyer’s YouTube reviews. In 2020, he went freelance and now writes for a number of national titles and contributes regularly to Car Dealer. In October 2021 he became Car Dealer's associate editor.

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