Rishi Sunak dined at a lavish, exclusive private club last week after telling around 2 million workers they would see a real-terms pay cut as inflation rises.
Far from the branches of ordinary food outlets where the chancellor has posed for publicity photos, Sunak enjoyed a private dinner with his millionaire wife.
The Chancellor has kept quiet about a £430 million shareholding in Infosys, an IT firm founded by his wife’s father.
Infosys has signed a framework agreement with Whitehall. It means it can be awarded contracts without competition.
It isn’t in his entry in the official parliamentary register, nor are holdings in at least six other companies.
Government ministers are required to declare any financial interests that might be relevant to their role, which includes those of their close family members.
The £1,800 a year exclusive 5 Hertford Street club where Sunak dined has its own cigar shop and a downstairs nightclub called Loulou’s.
Last year there were protests outside the club as staff threatened to go on strike, demanding they be paid the living wage.
5 Hertford Street is owned by Robin Birley who has an estimated £120 million wealth. The list of top Tories who have frequented the club reportedly includes Michael Gove, Zac Goldsmith—Birley’s half-brother—Carrie Symonds and David Cameron.
The best friend of Boris Johnson’s partner Carrie Symonds was given an official paid role without it being advertised.
The Home Office announced in October that Nimco Ali had been made an adviser on tackling violence against women and girls. She is paid £350 a day for around two days’ work a month.
The job was not advertised through any competitive application process.
Ali is godmother to Symonds’ son with the prime minister. She stood unsuccessfully to be Tory mayoral candidate in London.
A response to a freedom of information request revealed the role was granted via “a direct appointment process”.
The Environment Agency has dramatically reduced the frequency that it attends water pollution incidents. Between the start of April and the end of August the Environment Agency attended just 292 water pollution incidents, down from 1,726 during the same period in 2019. That’s an 83 percent reduction but the number of reports of pollution is down only 3 percent.
The rich are not able to have their luxury holidays this Christmas, so they are staying in Britain, gobbling up super-costly turkeys. Paul Kelly, managing director of KellyBronze, which produces hand-plucked, dry hung, free range turkeys, said his sales were double the level they would normally be at this point. The firm’s website, with the headline “bred to be wild”, offers an 11 kilo bird for £146.44.
Tories are fixing the track and trace figures
The Tories’ disastrous test and trace system has at last reported an improvement in its contact tracing rate—by changing the way the figures are collated.
The privatised scheme said it had contacted 72.5 percent of people identified as having been near Covid sufferers in England.
This was up from 60.5 percent the previous week and after plateauing around 60 percent for weeks. The figures, for the week to 25 November, follow “protocol” changes to the way families with a positive Covid-19 case are phoned.
Children are no longer contacted individually by contact tracers.
Once the parent provides basic information for their children, they are marked as “complete”.
But there’s no guarantee that the child will stay home from school or realise this is a necessity.
Test and Trace now has a £22 billion budget.
That is equivalent to nearly a fifth of the entire NHS budget each year. It is still failing to meet key targets set by government scientists.
Although the 72.5 percent figure is an improvement, it is still well short of the 80 percent target that the Sage scientists’ advisory group recommends.
Meanwhile government figures from the mass testing programme in Liverpool showed the tests missed half of all positive cases detected by standard coronavirus tests.
They missed 30 percent of those with a high viral load—likely to be the most infectious.
Trump steps up killing spree on his way out
Donald Trump’s administration is using its last few weeks in the White House to push through executions.
After years without any executions agreed at the federal level rather than by states, the Justice Department reversed course this summer.
It carried out three death sentences in four days.
Overall, the US government has already executed eight prisoners since the Trump administration resumed federal executions on 14 July for the first time in 17 years.
This is more than had been carried out over the previous three decades.
Now the department, knowing Joe Biden has said he opposes the death penalty, has scheduled two for next week and three more during the week before Biden takes office.
The five condemned federal prisoners include four black men and one white woman.
Prosecution over wall collapse work deaths
Two recycling companies, and two people linked to them, are to be charged over the deaths of five African men who died when a concrete wall fell on them.
Almamo Jammeh, Ousmane Diaby, Bangally Dukureh, Saibo Sillah and Mahamadou Jagana died at Shredmet’s premises in Birmingham on 7 July 2016.
The Health and Safety Executive is to now going to prosecute the company ENSCO 10101—formerly known as Shredmet—and its predecessor Hawkeswood Metal Recycling.
The four men from The Gambia and one from Senegal were clearing a bay at the recycling plant in Nechells when a 3.6 metres (11ft 10in) adjacent wall collapsed, causing hundreds of tonnes of metal ingots to fall on top of them.
The men could only be identified by their fingerprints.
The things they say...
‘We’re a much better country than every single one of them’
Tory education secretary Gavin Williamson on why Britain is getting a coronavirus vaccine first
‘They really rushed through that approval’
Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is less certain
‘Time is in very short supply’
The latest thing the government says it has run out of
‘To see ill-informed Labour politicians and do-gooding celebrities attempting to conflate the victims of Windrush with these vile criminals set for deportation is not only misjudged and upsetting but deeply offensive’
Home Secretary Priti Patel with her usual approach
‘She hasn’t taken the time to meet with us or speak with us. How can she know what’s deeply offensive for us?’
Windrush victim Glenda Caesar