Next year will be even worse for Biden and the West

For a year that was meant to mark a welcome revival in the fortunes of the Western alliance, 2021 has proved to be not so much a sorry disappointment as a disaster of potentially catastrophic proportions. Joe Biden’s arrival in... Read more

Ministers must reject further Covid lockdowns

Piercing the gloom comes good news this Christmas. The first real time, as opposed to modelled, data currently indicates that the omicron variant is producing a milder form of Covid than the delta strain. Hospitalisations are reduced by as much... Read more

The Great British Sewing Bee: Celebrity Christmas Special, review: Sara Pascoe sets out her stall

Although four celebrities gamely donned their thimbles for this year’s The Great British Sewing Bee: Celebrity Christmas Special (BBC One), it was comedian Sara Pascoe who was really on show. Pascoe appeared on celebrity Sewing Bee this time last year.... Read more

Madame Tussauds: The Full Wax, review – much more than just a puff piece for a famous tourist trap

Every time I drive past Madame Tussauds I marvel at the queues outside. Marvel and despair. This is, to my mind, a monstrous diddle meted out upon poor tourists who, I assume, once they’ve seen what’s inside, vow never to... Read more

Wednesday evening UK news briefing: UK Covid infections surpass 100,000 for first time

Talking of real world evidence, the mass vaccination of children as young as five will not yet go ahead, despite safety regulators giving the jab the green light.  The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has said it wants... Read more

Laurence Fox urged to settle libel case after ‘paedophiles’ Twitter row

Laurence Fox has been urged to settle a libel suit over a “pointless” exchange in which he called three people “paedophiles” on Twitter. The actor is being sued by Simon Blake, a former Stonewall trustee, Coronation Street actress Nicola Thorp... Read more

No need for new Covid restrictions as omicron hospital risk two thirds lower, No 10 told

Tim Loughton, a former minister, said: “If it continues to be the case that we don’t have a surge of hospital admissions, there is absolutely no basis for a further tightening of lockdown measures and absolutely not over the holiday... Read more

DUP to pressure Liz Truss to trigger ‘nuclear option’ in Brexit negotiations

Sir Jeffrey held video talks with Ms Truss on Tuesday afternoon. Sources close to the Foreign Secretary denied she had been told to trigger Article 16 in the call. Ms Truss has repeatedly insisted that her appointment will bring no... Read more

Former Trump adviser Michael Flynn sues January 6 committee in bid to block release of phone records

Mr Flynn’s lawsuit is the latest in a flood of litigation by targets of the committee seeking to prevent it from enforcing its subpoenas for testimony or communications. Alex Jones, the conspiracy theorist and founder of the right-wing website Infowars,... Read more

Labour accused of flip-flopping over Covid restrictions

The Labour Party has been accused of flip-flopping over Covid measures after Sir Keir Starmer said he does not want a circuit-breaker lockdown despite previously calling for one. The Labour leader said he did not support new restrictions over the... Read more

Jacob Rees-Mogg cleared by parliamentary watchdog over £6 million loans

The Commons Standards Commissioner has rejected a Labour Party claim that Jacob Rees-Mogg broke parliamentary rules by failing to declare loans worth £6 million. Kathryn Stone, who investigates MPs on behalf of Parliament, ruled that no regulations had been broken... Read more

Liz Truss has ‘gone too early’ in Tory leadership pitch, say insiders

Although it is understood that Ms Truss does not consider her position on Covid regulations to be a bid for the Tory leadership, sources close to the Foreign Secretary have said she is sceptical about existing Plan B rules and... Read more

Lady Nicholas Gordon Lennox, model who became the perfect diplomatic wife – obituary

In 1997 Mary Gordon Lennox became chairman of the Friends of Pallant House Gallery in Chichester, which had been founded in 1982 in a Grade I-listed Queen Anne town house, to house Dean Walter Hussey’s art collection. As well as... Read more

To avoid the next financial crisis, we must shed EU-style regulation

How did this situation arise? After the 2007-8 financial crisis an extraordinary intellectual leap occurred, where the EU’s controlling instincts and engrained suspicion of Anglo-Saxon financial markets, particularly investment banking, became orthodox within the UK system.  Michel Barnier, the then... Read more

Boris Johnson urgently needs a new adviser, and I know just the man: George Osborne

Boris Johnson’s premiership is in difficulty. With Cabinet resistance to the prime minister’s intended omicron measures, Lord Frost’s resignation, and ongoing ‘partygate’ revelations, he faces an urgent need to restore order to both the government and his party. The dramatic... Read more

Investigate crime not hurt feelings, officers told as Priti Patel overrules police guidance

Ms Patel said: “The police will always have my backing to fully investigate hate crimes, but they must do so whilst protecting the fundamental right of freedom of expression. Some current practices are having a dangerous impact on free speech... Read more

Nicola Sturgeon cancels New Year celebrations as omicron cases rise

All measures will be reviewed on Jan 11, almost two weeks after her Dec 31 target for 80 per cent of the adult population to get their booster vaccination. It is hoped the population’s protection against omicron will be “maximised”... Read more

Liz Truss sticks to Lord Frost’s guns with echo of Margaret Thatcher’s ‘not for turning’

The Foreign Secretary has modelled herself on Mrs Thatcher, her political hero, most recently being pictured riding in a tank 35 years after the former prime minister posed for a similar photograph. Allies of Ms Truss said she was keen... Read more

Questor: stocks to buy for your children this Christmas

The pandemic has done the shares no favours and they stand 36pc below where we tipped them in August 2018 and no higher than in December 2012. But there’s a lot to be said for buying at the point of... Read more

The rise and rise of the pandemic millionaire homeowner

Those 15 newly-minted wards that surged past the £1m threshold were largely in London’s commuter belt, where bidding wars broke out amid a race for space, a shortage of properties for sale, and an understanding that the office would once again... Read more

The neighbourhoods where surging house prices made new millionaires in 2021

He added: “The scale of growth in Surrey and Hertfordshire was the biggest surprise. But that is the first stop that London money makes on its way out of the capital.” Nationally, the number of wards where the average sale... Read more

Taxes are up and inflation is rising – here’s how to protect your money

At the same time, the £12,570 personal allowance for income tax will stay frozen until at least 2026. It means more could be dragged into higher tax brackets as their wages rise but the tax break fails to keep pace,... Read more

‘The grants don’t match reality’ – pubs rebuke Rishi Sunak’s £1bn offer

Pubs and restaurants have rebuked Rishi Sunak’s £1bn leisure and hospitality grant scheme after customers stayed at home en masse this week. Firms across Britain have seen business drop by as much as 60pc in the vital run up to... Read more

What is the Plug-in Car Grant, how much is it – and what are the best cars that still qualify for a discount?

Price: £28,595 after PiCG The Renault Zoe is well established as one of the best small EVs, not least thanks to its long range of up to 239 miles – assume a real-world range of more like 150 to 210... Read more

Dear Prue: ‘Should we go booze-free this Christmas?’

Dear Prue,  My father-in-law has recently given up alcohol, much to the whole family’s delight. He drank far too much for years and it had become a health issue. This will be his first booze-free Christmas and he is very... Read more