the us defence secretary said the us military will continue to support diplomatic efforts to resolve tensions over ukraine. earlier mr putin told his french counterpart, russia had no plans for an offensive. the bbc understands the senior civil servant investigating lockdown parties at number 10 downing street will not wait for a police inquiry to conclude. it's thought sue gray's report will be handed to the prime minister in the coming hours or days, fresh doubts have emerged over the timing of the positive covid test novak djokovic used to enter australia to try to compete in the australian open. it was submitted to exempt him from rules barring unvaccinated people. more than 300 scientists and public health experts have called on the british government to help developing countries make their own covid vaccines. they want the uk to support the waiving of intellectual property rights on jabs.
at ten o'clock, clive myrie will be here with a full round up of the days news. first, it's newscast. ts�* newscast. (vt) what is the best sue gray—related joke that you have heard? well, i was planning a trip next week to the pub that she used to run... 0h! in northern ireland. in portaferry, in county down, because that is where i am going with any questions next week, and then the production team on pm, for whom we were going to do the little trip, said it had closed down. aw! . . ., but it made me think, you know, if she kept people waiting as long for a pint as she has for this report, then maybe it is no surprise. you can now get sue gray merch. the charity shelter is auctioning off this one, sue gray and the party detectives and you turn around to the other side and it is like a tour t—shirt with the 2020 dates — the 15th of may, garden party. the 20th of may, bring your own booze mega bash, etc etc. all claims at this stage. this is quite niche this week and very niche within a couple of weeks, dare i suggest it?
except that, except that, believe it or not, this has gone, this has gone global! yes! _ it has made the news abroad, including a little clip of me on the french tv. ooh la la! boris johnson is facing fresh calls to stand down in the continued i fallout over lockdown parties held at his residence. _ borisjohnson, the prime minister of britain, two years back, when his country was put under strict lockdown, the prime minister threw a, quote, unquote, bring your own booze party for his staff. speaks french. we have been talking about the pressure on boris johnson for days now. as the pressure on borisjohnson has continued to grow. and the situation could get worse for the prime minister. _ and they say, adam, maybe the next time you are on holiday in france, you'll be walking down the champs—elysee as a tourist or maybe sashaying down a ski slope and someone will stop you and go, aha! i am actually going on holiday to france on monday, so it is all lining up. wow! step off at gare du nord. one last international sue grayjoke that a friend of mine sent.
go on. you know that massive cathedral in barcelona that is still not finished? they have renamed it the sue—grada famila. all groan. international news, domestic news, humour, seriousness, it is all here on this episode of newscast. top gesticulation! newscast. newscast, from the bbc. it is laura in the studio. it is adam in the studio. it is chris in the studio. oh, this is nice! isn't it? and word reaches me that i am not going to get injected half way through this week. i am very excited. is that why you have put your special new hoodie on? absolutely, i thought i would put the hoodie on, because i could call the seat my own. and also, us being in the same place two weeks in a row means that the next variant is surely only a week or two away! don't say that! is this sue gray report a week or two away? i seriously hope not. i don't know. someone suggested to me today that next wednesday. oh, we cannot take it any more! but we still do not know. so, in case you have been under
a rock and not watching adam on french television, this is the official inquiry report into what really happened in downing street and whitehall during lockdown and how many parties or gatherings or whatever they were. i was told late on tuesday, confidently, it would be wednesday, with a tiny chance that it might slip into thursday. now, it is 6:30 on thursday, we are recording, and there is no sign of it and the kind of general expectation now is probably monday, but frankly, who knows? do you know what? yesterday, i was at home with my little boy and i was thinking, "i am going to miss one of these massive at westminster days" and my phone was pinging away, whatsapp groups going nuts with all of this drivel and speculation and rumour and excitement. capital letters and "imminent" and all the rest of it and it all added up to not a lot, really. what is the hold—up, though? do we actually know or are wejust guessing? well, on the one hand, we are guessing, but we are also — you know, we have got a fair amount of information, so, we know, as we talked about on the podcast this week, there has been a lot of, well, faffing around
between the inquiry team and the metropolitan police who are also investigating this, and as a result of that, ahead of publication, the inquiry team and the met have been going backwards and forwards, just to be kind of super, super, super sure that nothing that the inquiry is going to say might be harmful or might be just kinda of damaging or convenient for a police investigation that it is following alongside. remember, though, this is not like a big, giant criminal trial that we are talking about here and there are no what we will call, 'active proceedings', so of course there are really tight rules about what you could say, like during a criminal investigation, once someone has been arrested, that is not what we are talking about here, but they are still trying to be super careful, but that is not it apparently — the government lawyers also want to check people who are looking at civil service hr, they will want to check, and i think, in a funny way, it is probably something quite human about it, i am told that sue gray is desperate to get this off her desk, but at the same time...
i know, imagine! she has got t—shirts to bid for on ebay! yeah, exactly! she could do those things, you know like where people pay 20 quid for former football player to sign it _ exactly, isn't nigel farage doing them now? john bercow. exactly! there is a whole world out there awaiting sue gray if she wants tojump into it after this. but also, there isjust such an expectation and it could have such importance, the contents of the report, that actually, she willjust really, really want to make sure it is completely watertight and there is nothing wrong in it. you don'tjust get the report being published, you then get the prime minister coming into parliament to make a statement and answer all the questions that he has committed to do and if you are the government, you probably want those two things to happen quite close together. you do. so that there is not too much time for other people to interpret the report on your behalf, you want to get your defence in quite soon and it looks like you are being super transparent. but technically, it does not have to happen at the same time. true, but also we have kind of run out of parliamentary time this week for borisjohnson to front up and do two hours in the chamber, because on a friday no—one is really there.
it is intriguing that it is as far back as wednesday now that some people are saying. i think that everyone was just kind of guessing and someone else said, "it is not going to be tomorrow!" did you read our colleague, mark darcy's excellent blog speculating about what could happen in parliament as a result of all of this? he has been speaking to some of the behind—the—scenes bods in parliament and there are some just amazing theories doing the rounds. so there is an opposition day next week, so that is when labour get control of the chamber for a couple of hours, they could do something dramatic then, and then it goes to the other extreme end of the parliamentary procedures, do the opposition table a humble address, which is a message to the queen, asking the queen to ask borisjohnson to resign if he is found to have done something really bad and you just think, the idea of that happening is just so... but for the opposition parties, why would you interrupt your enemy when they are making mistakes and i think one of the interesting things actually latterly this week is borisjohnson's small band of brothers feel a bit bouncier now than they did a few days ago, but there is still this big expectation, isn't there, that they are going to have to do something for him
to get through this. even if the report, as far as they are concerned is quite benign, he is still going to have to make changes, as his old adviser was telling us today. one of the episodes that you missed on wednesday. i was sitting on this very chair. here is a little bit of what he said. in the hoodie chair. the challenge for boris — and this will be one - | of the questions for his party now —j there is no doubt he is one of those really creative players, - say a nifty little winger for those of you who like rugby, who thinks that even i when the team is doing badlyj and they are going backwards and it is horrible conditions, that if only he gets the ball, he can run through - everything and score a try. now, that is great if you are a winger and it is great - for your glory but boris has always underestimated how critical - it is to have a fantastic team l around him and i do not think, even if he can pull this back, he will be allowed to do it, l unless he promises to his partyi that he is going to overhaul that | machinery, so the kind of nonsensej that has happened and the bad stuff that has happened over. the last weeks and months will never happen again. was that a gizza job! ?
i did a brilliantjob. yeah, from someone who used to work for him and with him and, particularly when you hear, as you often do around is kind of moments, "well, there will have to be a clear out amongst his top team," that kind of stuff. or they say "there really must be a parliamentarian in there to sort it out!" a 4—star general would be the recommendation for this week. but one of the reasons why some people would not necessarily want to go and take that job, which we were talking about yesterday, is when you talk to tory mps about it, one of the concerns is "we will get through this but the problem is, there will always be another scrape, there is always going to be another thing that goes wrong" and some people think, "ah, well, that isjust borisjohnson, it is fine," but their patience is kind of running out about that and there has been this other story that has been around today which cuts across one of the real issues for him which is whether or not people really believe he his being
straight about events. cats and dogs. yes. this is the animal charity in afghanistan, run by a guy called pen farthing, who got a lot of publicity during the evacuation from kabul and he wanted government help and in the end, they got a private plane to get their animals out, which was basically one of the last planes to leave kabul and all the government did for that is give it clearance to land and take off and then some of pen farthing's colleagues got evacuated. and then, a few months ago, there was a suggestion that maybe the prime minister or the prime minister's wife had intervened in the civil service machine to get pen farthing and his animals further up the queue — that has always been denied. then we got a leaked e—mail yesterday from the foreign office, via the foreign affairs select committee, which included a phrase along the lines of "the prime minister has authorised the evacuation of the people and the animals." and it said it was the prime minister's decision, so it very, in black and white, you know, said that the prime minister was involved. and when we were discussing this on the last episode of newscast, we said it would be interesting to see what the prime minister says when he is asked about it
and he was asked about it today on a trip to wales. did you authorise evacuating animals out of kabul? no! this whole thin- is total rhubarb. the military always prioritised human beings and that was quite right. the thing is that is not quite the issue, is it? no! the prioritisation is separate from was he in some way involved in that decision—making chain? it is quite a bizarre story, this, and the reason it is problematic is notjust because no—one quite knows who is telling the truth — and one of the animal welfare campaigners was speaking again on the bbc this morning and he said the prime minister absolutely was involved and he's been saying that for months, hasn't he? ..and he even said, i wish he would just say it, because i am really proud of what we did! he should be proud about helping to achieve this thing of getting these animals and the staff from the charity out of kabul. but it is the timing of it, it is awkward for number 10, even if you think it isjust a bit of a weird story or,
asjacob rees—mogg said in the chamber today, where he suggested it was a bit of fuss about some animals, well, not everybody sees it that way. mmm, quite. remember how desperate things were in kabul and how many people who were trying to get out could not get out, but itjust comes at a time when lots of conservatives and members of the public are thinking about the prime minister's integrity, and then you get into this he said, she said, is he telling the truth? it isjust uncomfortable timing. which is the overlapping issue around all of this, isn't it? yes. that kind of thing about the character of the prime minister and the conduct. have you heard anything else that mps might be making as a demand of the prime minister to get their loyalty if there is a vote of no confidence in him in the next week or so? well, it is funny when a politician's vulnerable, people go and ask for what they want. the one thing they should do is this! that is the thing they have been saying. one person you need in your government is... exactly, and the one thing that you need to do, according to some tory mp5, is cancel the planned increase in national insurance, because it is going to be a big tax rise at a time when people are going to experience more
and more over the next few months, with inflation where it is, real pressure on family budgets. and this national insurance increase is technically a temporary one from one year from april and the national insurance for employers and employees will go up by 1.25 percentage points. and then in april, 2023, that will then be replaced by this permanent health and social care levy and that national insurance increase will technically go back to where it was, and the idea is that this raises about £12 or £13 billion a year. a lot of money. and a lot of it is going on the nhs, to clear the covid backlogs, and then over time it is meant to sort of go down on the nhs and then up in social care and it will be that transition. just at the point, where you think, in a parallel universe we had not been talking about parties and ukraine and all the other stuff in the news in the first few weeks of this year, cost of living would probably have been right up there. there was an opposition day debate the snp led in parliament the other day. it is massive, just for the day to say for people, it is huge! and yet it has been squeezed out.
that gives us a great opportunity to talk about all things to do with the economy and the cost of living and how people's wallets and bank accounts are feeling. my wallet kinda feels same every day really — kind of squished when i sit down. laughter. let us talk about it with stephanie flanders from bloomberg economics, former bbc economics editor. hi, stephanie! hi! and also claer barrett, who is consumer editor at the financial times. hi, claer! hi, thanks for having me! thanks for coming on. so, first of all, stephanie, with your kind of like macro economic hat on, do you think the government is making the right judgement in terms of the economy and the public finances and people's incomes by going ahead with this national insurance increase? i have to say, i mean, - just looking at the squeeze that is coming down the track for the typical household, - i mean, there are various ways of measuring it, - but depending on what you conclude i or do not include, it is at least i l £600 extra just on energy bills l and taxes for the typical household on an income of around £27,000. i but it — it is a lot more of that|
if you take into account the fact that inflation will be biting into wages as well. - so, if you're looking and that, and particularly that massive i jump in energy prices. — it does seem extraordinary that any government would still be - going ahead with a tax rise that hits working people particularly. economists will say they should probably carry on with that - because it is not necessarily- the right people who would benefit from now stepping back- from the national insurance rise and maybe you should try and find something more targeted - for the lower income households . to try and address the energy price rise and the fact that inflation is going up.j but just as a matter of optics, - it does seem an odd time to whack extra taxes on workers when you have got probably the worst squeeze - for at least a decade on households coming down the track _ for the next few months.
i suppose the thing is, there is always a good excuse to cancel a tax rise, isn't there? and the government will make the argument that it is finally grasping the nettle as far as dealing with the short—term pressures on the nhs caused by the pandemic, and then that big long—term generational challenge of social care, which plenty say governments for years have carried on ducking. yeah, and you could have a debate | about whether anything they havel suggested is going to fix the social care problem, because it was- addressing a particular piece of the problem. i but that aside, a lot of people in the treasury will be saying, don't reverse this. you look stupid a few months after announcing a tax rise, . which is only a tax rise anyway and you're going back on it. i but do find a way to use some of the extra money you have i got in your coffers. it now looks like we have got maybe an extra 14 billion knocking - around from the lower. borrowing than expected. so he does have a bit of money to play with that he didn't - know he was going to l
have a few months ago. what he also didn't know - he would have a few months ago is this big rising energy prices, so if i was at the treasury i - would say don't reverse _ national insurance, but find a way to spend quite a lot of money easing the pain for households _ of this energy price rise. it is interesting that you say it is extraordinary in a way that they've chosen this particular tax rise at a time like this, but it would also be extraordinary for the treasury to go back on something like this that has already gone through the law, it would be a big political signal for the treasury to undo something like that and leave a hole in the finances. but stephanie said people are facing about £600 a year without even the effects of inflation for your average family in additional costs. can you break it down for us? who's going to be worst affected, or most profoundly affected by this? because ni is something that everybody working pays. yes, it is.
and it is a tax that is not very well understood, in the same way that when you say income tax, we immediately know 20%, 40%. national insurance is harder for us to conceptualise, which the cynics would say is why the government has chosen to put the rises here. that's sneaky. i started doing personal finance tweets on instagram a year ago, and if you'd told me then that one i did about national insurance would be the most shared, most commented on post of all time, i wouldn't have believed you, but that is what's happened this week. i did a little reckoner showing that if you earn this much, this is how much extra ni you're going to be paying a year from april. and what really staggered people was that the 1.25% percentage point increase in the tax, that has been miscomputed and they thought it would only go up by 1.25%, whereas actually, in pounds and pence, the increase in the tax that you're paying from the last tax year
to this tax year is more than 10%. can you give us some examples? show us your working! so for the average worker on a salary of £30,000 a year, they are going to be paying an extra £255 in national insurance, which is 10% more than they would have been paying under the old rate. then as you move up the scale, those percentages get bigger, somebody on £80,000 is going to be paying £880 extra. that's a 16% increase. if you earn £100,000, you will be paying 19% more than you did, just over £1,000. but the thing that really struck me is that people just haven't computed what this is going to mean, and when they add it up, even though £255 a year might not sound much to somebody on the average salary, like stephanie says, when you add on the energy bills, the council tax rise,
broadband costs are going up by 10%, the cost of food, and that is disproportionately affecting lower earners, as the ons recognised this week, listening to jack monroe, which was a good thing for them to do, it is disproportionately hitting lower earners. and the thing about energy bills as well is that actually, it's like the light from a star. your energy bill now is the cost of energy a few months ago being passed on to you. so energy bills are going to go up and up over the rest of the year, irrespective of the price cap changing in april, which will get announced in a week's time. can i mention one group of workers who are going to be slaughtered by this? which is contractors, temporary agency workers who are working through what is called umbrella companies, so they are not directly employed by the construction companies. you know, these contracts are rife — hospitality, all of these kind of gig economyjobs.
if you are an umbrella company worker, because of a quirk in the tax laws and the way these arrangements are structured, you have to pay the employee's national insurance and the employer's national insurance out of your headline rate. so somebody on £50,000, if they're a normal worker, they will be facing a national insurance rise of about £500 from april per year. but for an umbrella company worker, it's going to be double that, more than £1,000. and these are insecure types of employment and these people have no idea that these huge rises are coming down the tracks. it's interesting. clearly, this is going to be a real hit for a lot of people, but when you ask the government about it, when they say they have to find the money somehow for the nhs and social care, and secondly, government ministers say actually, average wages have been going up. the minimum wage is going up. they have also changed the taper rate on universal credit so there is a bit more generosity into the top—up payments on low paid
work, as well as those people who aren't working. steph, what do you make of that defence from government ministers? in the round, you guys have set out some pretty scary—sounding things that are coming down the track for people. but in the round, how do you think the government's defence stacks up? we've talked in the past - about the big mountain of savings that a lot of households came out of covid with, which was going. into hundreds of billions of pounds of savings that people had got, - in large part because they were not spending on restaurants and otherl things during lockdowns. that means that in the round, . they're in a much better position than they might normally be in, the typical uk household, - to have this squeeze i coming down the track. that's another reason why you might say national insurance is not - the thing to reverse. it would've been better to have had an income tax rise, -
but given where they are, - it probably makes more sense for the treasury to carry on. as clare said, although there - are some people in insecure work who are going to be hit by this, i the people who would gain most from cancelling it are the betterj off workers who pay a lot of this national insurance, because they earn a lot of the money. - but again, we keepl going back to things a question for you both about solutions. what levers are there for the government to pull if they choose, particularly if they accept, as you say, that they are going to stick with this? what can they do to mitigate the challenges that families are facing? i think there's going to have to be some quid pro quo. if the national insurance rise is going to go ahead, they must think about how they can help families with energy bills. i'm surprised there hasn't been an announcement already, seeing as we're going to get the news of how much prices are going to go up so imminently.
but on the other side of things, look at wealth taxes. we've had 100 millionaires turn up at the virtual davos summit writing a letter saying that they think wealth taxes should be looked at more by government. that's great, but with all of the research we've done at the financial times into wealth taxes, when you say to people, what level do you think the wealth tax should come in, they generally always say something that is slightly more than the amount of money being offered. jeff bezos is like, 1 trillion plus! the kind of thing that would go down so well in the current political atmosphere in the conservative party. this is one of the reasons they ended up with ni, because they said they wouldn't put other taxes up and they are desperate to be able to go into the next general election offering an income tax cut. but we'll see. just as you guys have spelled out lots of reasons why people are going to get hammered, claer and stephanie, can you leave us with the niftiest saving tip that you can think of?
stephanie. oh, my god. she does macro! that is why it's fun to ask her! that is a good point. let's ask claer while you think. two words that you need to know if you're a higher rate taxpayer especially are salary sacrifice. most company pension schemes work where you sacrifice a portion of your salary for the future into your pension, and you don't pay income tax or national insurance on that money that you pay in, plus sometimes, because the employer also doesn't pay national insurance on the money that you put in, they might give you a bit extra alongside your company pension contribution. i've got tips. you can slice limes and put them in the freezer for your gin and tonic. i was thinking about using tea bags twice or something.
claer and stephanie, you probably want to go now, but thank you very much! thank you and goodbye. thanks for having me! it's been the end of another bumpy week for the prime minister, and that's all for this episode of newscast. i suspect it will not include the sue grey report, though. don't tempt fate. we could be better or worse, but we are right back where we started. thank you for watching and listening. bye. newscast. newscast from the bbc.
quite a stormy weekend on the way for some of us, especially if you live in scotland. and, overall, the weather this weekend will be quite mixed but some sunshine on offer with scattered showers. now, let's have a look at the weather map for this evening and overnight. just to the west of scotland, we will have storm malik, named by the danish weather service. we see a lot of white lines, these isobars, very strong winds are blowing into western parts of scotland. also blowing in very mild air right across the uk so early morning temperatures will be 10 degrees in some western parts of the country. let's focus on the warnings from the met office first. in eastern scotland, actually, an amber warning now in force across aberdeenshire, into perth, the lowlands of scotland, for aberdeen. i think the top winds will hit 80 mph in the north of scotland. with that, also a lot of sunshine with some scattered showers.
tonight at ten, the inquiry into lockdown parties in downing street is expected to be published shortly, after speculation it might be delayed. the exact timing of the release of sue gray's report isn't known, but labour says the controversy over what borisjohnson knew must be quickly resolved. he has paralysed government, so the sooner we get both the full report and the investigation completed, the better. the prime minister's position, the government's position, is that what is given to him by sue gray is what will be published, and i think that's absolutely right and sensible. scotland yard says it's received all requested material from the cabinet office, for its own inquiry. also tonight: ukrainian troops prepare for a possible russian invasion, with help from the british military.