Politics

ICYMI: Omicron, parties, Boris – this week’s five biggest stories

It’s that time of week again we absolutely insist you read all the important stuff before you’re allowed to have any fun (Picture: Getty/Reuters)

It’s the weekend! Time to iron your best mask, dust off that hazmat suit and get out there to totally wreck your Christmas!

Every Saturday morning, your old pal Metro.co.uk likes to get you all caught up on the week’s big stories so you can look vaguely like an adult if you accidentally become involved in a serious pub conversation.

We do this because we care about the pub – the wonderful, sacred pub – and listening to you try to talk news…well, frankly, you’re ruining it for us.

This is an extra special edition of ICYMI because, let’s face it, there’s a decent chance this weekend’s frivolities might be your last of the year.

By next week, you’ll either have Covid-19, think you have Covid-19 or be living in fear of Covid-19.

These are grim times for the pub – the beautiful, blessed pub – but they do not have to be grim times for pub chat. 

Get caught up now – and for the love of god, take a lateral flow test before you relay any of what you’re about to read to your friends. MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Pour yourself a pint of eggnog, warm yourself by the burning remnants of your Christmas plans and enjoy another round-up of all the miserable and terrifying things that happened this week (Picture: Getty)

Who invited Omicron anyway?

There’s only one place to start and that’s your friend and mine, Omicron.

This was the week the new variant made it abundantly clear it is determined to absolutely shaft each and every one of us.

In pub terms, Omicron went from squaring up to the bouncer to throwing glasses and flipping tables. 

Record numbers of people have been coming down with Covid-19 (literally everyone we know) and it’s not going to get any better in a hurry. 

The week began with Boris Johnson – who has gone from appearing a bit tired to looking like a sun-dried Halloween mask – wearily informing the nation we are once again facing an emergency this winter. Everyone can now go and get boosted – just do it, don’t be a prat.

The Christmas rush is under way, which we’re sure it totally fine and great (Picture: REX/Shutterstock)

On Tuesday, the government signed new measures announced last week into law thanks to help from the Labour Party. In the Commons 99 of Mr Johnson’s own MPs ignored his exhausted pleading and refused to back him.

Then on Wednesday, England’s chief medical officer scandalised some Tory MPs by having the sheer audacity to *checks notes* offer some medical advice.

One Conservative having a totally calm and normal one said Professor Chris Whitty’s suggestion we do a bit less coughing in people’s faces was akin to the dawn of a ‘public health socialist state’.

It was around this point in the week Metro.co.uk resorted to drinking through the day. 

What does all of this mean for Christmas? For now, there are no new restrictions but we’re all being advised to take lateral flows (I mean, there aren’t any, but cool).

Scotland and Wales are going further, bringing in social-distancing measures and new restrictions on hospitality. Even if Omicron turns out not to be as serious as Delta as is hoped, it’s going to be a very, very bumpy winter.

TL;DR – Omicron turned up looking for a scrap and this week it got one.

Partying like it’s Christmas 2020

The news that Westminster may or may not have been a bit like New Orleans during Mardi Gras last winter has appalled the nation.

New reports of boozing on government property have emerged this week to keep alive a scandal which has seriously undermined the prime minister.

We now know an event happened at the Department for Transport under the nose of minister Grant Shapps. Officials have apologised for the gathering, which took place on the day London was hit with Tier 3 restrictions.

A spokesperson for Mr Shapps said ‘he was not notified or invited’, a sentence which has the quality of being convenient, hilarious and tragic all at the same time.

The Westminster party scandal is threatening to become the longest running in British political history (Picture: Getty)

Then fresh allegations emerged that Mr Johnson attended a ‘pizza party’ with staff in May 2020 when the country was still under the first lockdown.

It is alleged he told staff they deserved a drink for ‘beating back’ coronavirus (thanks guys). Conservative Party chairman Oliver Dowden referred to the event as a ‘meeting’ and said it doesn’t need to be investigated. So that’s that then.

Don’t worry though, the PM has this all in hand and got his best man on the job. Mr Johnson asked the Cabinet Secretary Simon Case to look into reports of sessions in Downing Street.

Mr Case’s hands are as clean as they come, so there were no question marks about his…Only kidding, he’s up to his neck too.

Nine days after his appointment, he was dropped from the case following accusations he knew about parties being held in his own department.

According to a story first unearthed by the Guido Fawkes blog, there were two lockdown parties in his office last winter. Metro.co.uk has contacted the Cabinet Office for comment.

A No 10 spokesperson said the cabinet secretary had ‘rescued himself for the remainder of the process’ to ‘ensure the ongoing investigation retains public confidence’ – which we are sure it definitely will.

TL;DR – Whitehall’s Christmas party comedown continues.

Boris’s bye bye-election?

The people of North Shropshire, a rural Tory stronghold, did what millions have felt like doing over the past couple of weeks and gave the government a kick up the you-know-where.

A by-election was held in the constituency on Thursday to replace its previous MP, Owen Paterson. You may recall he’s the chap that broke lobbying rules and somehow convinced the prime minister to set his own political career on fire in order to try and spare him a suspension. 

It’s been another normal and relaxing week for the prime minister (Picture: Getty)

There was a sense of karma about this. The unravelling of Mr Johnson’s political fortunes really started with the sleaze scandal and this week he was forced to face the music where it all began.

The PM, who has long been hailed as a political Svengali who wins elections with ease, managed to blow a 23,000 seat majority. In pub terms, it’s the equivalent of bursting into your local, grossly offending your landlord and then being sick on your shoes.

The Lib Dems romped to victory and delivered yet another blow to Mr Johnson’s plummeting reputation in his own party.

What does this all mean in the Commons? Well, in practical terms, sod all really. But with leadership challenge chatter rumbling on behind the scenes in the Tory party, the repercussions of this by-election may be far from over.

TL;DR – Boris beaten in North Shropshire, now he might be for the chopshire (we’re tired).

Star 

For the second time this month, we are suspending our usual approach to ICYMI to address a story which is hard to read but everyone should know about.

The brutal death of Star Hobson has forced this country to once again confront the reality of the desperately inadequate safeguards we have in place for the most vulnerable children in our society. 

Earlier this month, we were all stopped in our tracks as we learned the sheer scale of the horror which led to the unimaginable death of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes. This week, we were back there again. 

Two women have been jailed over the death of 16-month-old star (Picture: SWNS)

‘Pure evil’ Savannah Brockhill, 28, was jailed for 25 years for Star’s murder after a jury found she inflicted ‘utterly catastrophic’ injuries.

Her mother and Brockhill’s former partner, Frankie Smith, 20, was sentenced to eight years for her role in the tragic end of her daughter’s life.

Where were social services? Why were reports of physical and psychological abuse not acted on? How was this allowed to happen again?

The fact that in one of the richest and most advanced countries on the planet we are having to ask these questions should shame and frighten us all.

TL;DR – A vulnerable child was killed slowly and no one noticed. It shouldn’t have happened again. It did. 

And finally…Grim Christmas dinners

The silver lining to another Christmas being upturned by Covid-19 is that at least you can cancel the plans you really didn’t fancy showing up for anyway.

Pupils forced to endure the Great British tradition of crap school Christmas dinners are still deprived of that luxury.

This offering from Steyning Grammar School in Sussex really got people talking. The shrivelled sausage, the desiccated turkey, the un-buttered bun – it is hard to conceive of a drier meal. Parents were outraged, describing it variously as ‘grim’, ‘disgraceful’ and a ‘rip off’.

Like, just imagine trying to eat that without a drink – we don’t think it could be done (Picture: Twitter/@LukeB_MTB)

It is our solemn duty as Very Serious Journalists to inform you that one parent felt compelled to liken the unlovable pig-in-a-blanket to a foreskin. We don’t make the news, readers, we can only report it.

On that note, we’d love to see your rubbish Christmas dinners or festive treats gone wrong.

And if you’re isolating on the 25th and are planning a feast of Ryvita for one, you can tell our Crap Christmas Dinner Correspondent at sean.seddon@metro.co.uk.

TL;DR: What would Jamie Oliver say?

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

For more stories like this, check our news page.




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