News Round-Up

Jan 7: PM hints at pre-election tax cuts; River levels rise; Sunak called to publish Rwanda doubts

Here are the headlines on Sunday, January 7

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Time 6:38 am, January 7, 2024

Sunak hints tax cuts will be paid for through ‘difficult decisions’ on welfare

Rishi Sunak has hinted that pre-election tax cut giveaways will be made on the back of ‘difficult decisions to control welfare’.

The prime minister said it was his ‘priority’ to ‘keep cutting people’s taxes’ after a 2p cut in national insurance was introduced on Saturday, having been announced at the autumn statement. But he told The Sunday Telegraph: ‘There is no way we can do that unless we restrain the growth in the public sector and government spending.’

It raises the prospect that the Conservative Party leader could look to find headroom to offer tax cuts ahead of a general election by reducing public spending or reforming how welfare support is funded.


Warning of flooded properties and transport disruption as river levels rise

More properties will flood over the next five days amid increased river levels and more rain, the Environment Agency (EA) has warned.

More than 1,800 properties have already flooded after prolonged wet weather and intense rainfall, the agency said, with the impact of high water levels likely to continue over the coming days, particularly around the rivers Trent, Severn and Thames.

The agency said buildings ‘will flood and there will be travel disruption’ during that time period, and local groundwater flooding is also possible in the South of England, Yorkshire and the Humber.


Labour push for PM to publish papers reportedly showing his Rwanda scheme doubts

Labour is calling on the prime minister to be ‘honest with the public’ by publishing papers that reportedly indicate that he was unsure about the scheme to send asylum seekers to Rwanda.

Despite the Conservative Party leader having made the Rwanda scheme central to his premiership since entering Downing Street in October 2022, a report has suggested that he was not convinced of the plan’s effectiveness while serving as chancellor.

Labour officials said the prime minister should ‘come clean about his reservations about the Rwanda scheme as chancellor’ and called for the papers seen by the broadcaster to be published.

Robert Jenrick threatens to amend PM’s Rwanda Bill unless it is strengthened

Former immigration minister Robert Jenrick said he is prepared to put forward changes to the PM’s Rwanda legislation to ensure it is ‘sufficiently robust’.

Jenrick said he plans to ‘lay amendments to the Bill next week’ if Rishi Sunak has not strengthened it since it last appeared before MPs. The Safety of Rwanda legislation is due to return to the House of Commons this month as Rishi Sunak looks to overcome legal hurdles to his flagship immigration policy.

The Bill passed at second reading with a healthy majority of 44 votes during its first Commons test last month. But Jenrick and sacked home secretary Suella Braverman were among a tranche of high-profile Conservative MPs to abstain on the vote, with hardline right-wing Tory factions threatening to vote down the Bill next time if it is not tightened.

Calls for pensions minister to be suspended while office expenses reviewed

Calls have been made for the prime minister to suspend the whip from a minister while claims he used his taxpayer-funded constituency office to campaign for the Conservative Party are reviewed.

Paul Maynard, the pensions minister, has been referred to an investigator by the Parliamentary expenses watchdog over reports that he charged taxpayers when producing political materials.

The Sunday Times, which broke the story, also reported that the Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP claimed rent for an office that doubles up as his local Tory association’s headquarters.


Snow hinders rescues and aid deliveries after Japan quakes kill 126 people

Rescue teams worked through snow to deliver supplies to isolated hamlets, six days after a powerful earthquake hit western Japan, killing at least 126 people.

Heavy snowfall forecast in the Ishikawa Prefecture later on Sunday and through the night added to the urgency.

After Monday’s 7.6 magnitude tremor, 222 people remain unaccounted for with 560 people injured. Hundreds of aftershocks have followed, rattling the Noto Peninsula where the quakes are centred.

Independence would raise living standards, Yousaf to say in first economy speech

Scottish independence would raise living standards and productivity, first minister Humza Yousaf is expected to say in the first of a series of economic policy speeches.

Yousaf will speak at Glasgow University on Monday, drawing comparisons between the SNP, Labour and the Tories – including on the EU and migration – ahead of an election expected this year, as well as releasing plans for industrial policy in an independent Scotland.

His speech comes after a similar event held by Sir Keir Starmer this week, while prime minister Rishi Sunak told journalists he favoured the second half of the year for a new poll.

US officials order grounding of Boeing 737-9 Max jetliners after blowout

US aviation officials have ordered the immediate grounding of Boeing 737-9 Max jetliners after an Alaska Airlines plane suffered a blowout that left a gaping hole in the side of its fuselage.

The required inspections will take around four to eight hours per aircraft and will affect about 171 planes worldwide.

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) move comes after the jetliner blew out a window and a portion of its fuselage shortly after take-off three miles above Oregon on Friday night, creating a gaping hole that forced the pilots to make an emergency landing as its 171 passengers and six crew members donned oxygen masks. No-one was seriously hurt as the depressurised plane returned safely to Portland International Airport about 20 minutes after it departed.

Weather

Dense mist and fog will struggle to clear in the west and north, reports BBC Weather. Clearer and brighter elsewhere, with temperatures around five to six degrees.

Tonight will be much the same as today with fog lingering in northern and western parts. Clearer in other areas.

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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