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Tuesday briefing: Raab rewrites your rights | – The Guardian

Justice secretary to unveil overhaul of human rights law … gas prices set for record highs … China’s troll king
Last modified on Tue 14 Dec 2021 01.38 EST
Hello, Warren Murray here once again in service to the light of knowledge.

Dominic Raab, the justice secretary, is to outline today a highly controversial overhaul of human rights law that it is claimed will deter spurious claims, counter “wokery and political correctness” and expedite the deportation of foreign criminals.
Lawyers have described the proposed changes to the Human Rights Act as dangerous and fuelled by political rhetoric rather than necessity. Critics believe the paper is the culmination of a steady 12-year campaign by Raab, who once said: “I don’t support the Human Rights Act and I don’t believe in economic and social rights.”
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said the intended reforms would allow judges to override rulings from the European court of human rights. But Stephanie Boyce, president of the Law Society, said any changes to the Human Rights Act should be led by evidence and not driven by political rhetoric. It was already the case that “British judges deliver British justice based on British laws”, she said.
‘Difficult weeks ahead’ – Boris Johnson today faces the biggest rebellion yet against his prime ministership, with about 80 Tory MPs confirmed to be preparing to vote against “plan B” Covid measures. The PM will have to rely on Labour support – Keir Starmer said it was Labour’s “patriotic duty” to vote for plan B. The NHS has been put on a crisis footing, with hospitals in England told to discharge as many patients as possible as estimated daily Omicron cases hit 200,000 and the variant claimed its first life in the UK. Hospitals and GPs have been told to scale back normal services and limit care to those needing urgent attention so that NHS staff can be freed up to deliver boosters. Doctors are calling for further restrictions to be imposed and Downing Street has not ruled out fresh measures. Sajid Javid, the health secretary, said around 20% of confirmed cases in England had been identified as Omicron and warned of “difficult weeks ahead”. Head teachers have warned of “chaos” in schools, with high levels of staff and pupil absences, and reports of some parents planning to keep children home to avoid the virus before Christmas.
‘Options for 6 JAN’ – The committee investigating the US Capitol attack has recommended the former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows face criminal prosecution. The committee says Donald Trump’s most senior aide handed over records but refused to appear to answer questions arising from them about the 6 January insurrection. Among the material Meadows turned over to the select committee was a PowerPoint presentation titled “Election Fraud, Foreign Interference and Options for 6 JAN”, which recommended Trump declare a national security emergency to unilaterally return himself to office. Meadows is the third former Trump aide to be recommended for prosecution for contempt of Congress or defying subpoenas over the Capitol attack investigation.
Call to snuff incinerators – MPs are calling for a moratorium on the expansion of waste incineration plants just days before councils in London vote on awarding a contract for a huge new plant in Edmonton. A report from the MPs concludes that ultrafine particles from the incerators are a significant health hazard. A recent report from the National Infrastructure committee warned rising greenhouse gas emissions from waste incineration would prevent the UK meeting its net zero targets by 2050. Clyde Loakes, chair of the North London Waste Authority, said: “We’re absolutely clear that our facility will be the safest and cleanest in the country, using state-of-the-art technology to protect residents’ health and eliminate pollution to effectively zero.”
‘Land of the lawless’ – Britain’s online safety bill needs an overhaul to add extra protections, according to a committee of MPs and peers. Their report proposes making cyberflashing a crime and punishing tech platforms for hosting fraudulent adverts. Online has become a “land of the lawless”, according to the committee’s Conservative chair, Damian Collins MP. The report calls for tech companies to appoint a boardroom-level executive as “safety controller” liable to a new criminal offence: failing to deal with “repeated and systemic failings that result in a significant risk of serious harm to users”. The government is expected to respond to the report early next year, followed by publication of a revised bill, a second reading in parliament by April, and the bill becoming law in late 2022 or early 2023.
Blocked pipe causes gas bubble – Gas prices across the UK and Europe are on course to return to record highs after Germany said the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia could not be approved amid deepening tensions on the Ukrainian border. Europe has experienced record high gas prices in recent months owing to a global squeeze on gas supplies. This has been compounded by a slowdown of Russian gas exports to the continent as negotiations over Nord Stream 2 have stalled. Germany has faced pressure from the US to block Nord Stream 2, which runs from Russia to Germany beneath the Baltic Sea, bypassing Ukraine. This might allow Russia to increase its military aggression towards Ukraine without fear of disrupting its own gas exports.
The opposition party is performing well in the polls, but still doesn’t have an easy pathway to power, says Observer leader writer Sonia Sodha.
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Hu Xijin is China’s most famous propagandist. At the Global Times, he helped establish a chest-thumping new tone for China on the world stage – but can he keep up with the forces he has unleashed?
The carefully crafted sense of stability around English football began to crumble on Monday night after a record number of positive Covid-19 tests, with Manchester United’s Tuesday game at Brentford called off and the possibility of more postponements to come. Steven Gerrard has admitted Aston Villa will take a player’s vaccine status into consideration when drawing up their list of January transfer targets. Premiership rugby clubs are facing tighter Covid-19 restrictions in light of the spread of the Omicron variant, with new measures expected to be finalised this week.
Emma Raducanu has tested positive for Covid-19, on the same day she was confirmed as overwhelming favourite to win the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year award. Max Verstappen pipped Lewis Hamilton again at the Formula One season awards while Lando Norris stepped up. Hamilton accused the FIA of manipulating the final race of the season shortly before losing his F1 world title to Verstappen, it has emerged. England’s cricket team are still licking their wounds after their opening nine-wicket Ashes thrashing in Brisbane, but Adelaide Oval could be a glorious setting for a new beginning.
The pound is already under pressure today after slipping 0.15% to $1.319 thanks to expectations that the Omicron outbreak will prevent a rate hike this week. It is also down against the euro at €1.170. Also on the markets, Turkey is facing a full-blown financial crisis after the lira plunged to fresh lows against the US dollar. UK food and farming leaders have called on the government to fix the supply chain problems in order to ensure UK food security. A summit today will urge ministers to introduce policies to keep Britain’s food self-sufficiency at 60% or risk the kind of “meltdown” in pig production where up to 120,000 animals face being culled.
Our Guardian print edition leads today with “NHS put on crisis footing as Omicron variant surges”. The i has “Britain’s race to get boosted” across its front. The Telegraph’s splash is “We can’t hit booster jabs target, warn NHS bosses”. The paper appears to relish Dominic Raab’s plans: “Criminals to be deported under new bill of rights”. The Times says the NHS is “overwhelmed” as “millions answer call for jabs”.
“Vaccine rush – Britain fights back” – that’s the Mirror, while the Metro repeats the PM’s call for volunteer jabbers to “Sign up to Omi army”. Similar in the Daily Mail: “Boris: now join my volunteer booster army”. The Financial Times has a grumble: “Business accuses Johnson of bringing in ‘lockdown by stealth’” though what bears that out is unclear. With the plan B vote due in the Commons today, the Express is in anguish over the PM’s potential humiliation at the hands of his own MPs. Its headline: “Boris pleads with rebels: back my ‘balanced’ measures”.
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