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First North-East Omicron Covid Case Lands in Region



The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has confirmed at least one case of the Omicron Covid-19 variant in the North East, but not said which local authorities are affected.

UKHSA has added the North-East to its list of regions where Omicron had been detected this lunchtime. In total UKHSA said there had been a total of 246 cases of the new strain of the virus, an increase of more than 50% since yesterday.

The UKHSA confirmed the variant had been detected in at least one of the North East’s 12 local authorities – that’s those between Northumberland and Redcar and Cleveland.

Over the weekend, health experts warned it was “too late” to effectively halt the spread of the Omicron variant, after it arrived in the UK from South Africa as travel restrictions eased. From Tuesday, all travellers arriving in England will be required to take a Covid-19 pre-departure test.

Ministers said the extra test was intended to be a temporary measure and was in response to new data showing an increase in the number of cases of the new strain linked to foreign travel. Omicron was first detected in the UK on November 27th, and in response the Government brought back in rules requiring the wearing of facemasks in shops and on public transport.

Experts including Newcastle’s Director of Public Health Prof Eugene Milne have also urged people to continue to book vaccine appointments when offered, wear masks and follow social distancing rules to help stop the spread of the variant.

Do we need to tighten up restrictions again? Let us know!


Former Health Secretary, Matt Hancock to enter I’m a Celebrity!



Matt Hancock I'm a Celebrity

News had not long broke that ex Health secretary Matt Hancock was to enter the jungle in I’m a celerity that he has had his Tory Whip suspended.


Matt Hancock is expected to be added as a surprise final addition to the line-up of celebrities who will travel to Australia as part of the reality TV show this year.


Asked about Matt Hancock appearance, Rishi Sunak’s official spokesman said: “The PM believes that at a challenging time for the country MPs should be working hard for their constituents, whether that is in the House or in their constituency.” The spokesman said it was “unlikely” Mr Sunak would be watching the programme.


Simon Hart, the chief whip, confirmed that Mr Hancock would have the whip removed – “Following a conversation with Matt Hancock, I have considered the situation and believe this is a matter serious enough to warrant suspension of the whip with immediate effect.”


What do you think of him appearing in the hit TV show?


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Jeremy Hunt announces U Turn Budget – update



Jeremy Hunt and Liz Truss Budget update

Jeremy Hunt announces he is reversing “almost all” of the tax cuts announced in his predecessor’s mini-budget.


The Chancellor was due to deliver the statement on 31 October but has brought forward the announcement without warning due to the negative impact of the previous budget.


A separate statement will still take place on 31 October, which will see the Chancellor deliver the full fiscal plan alongside a forecast from the independent Office for Budget Responsibility.


Below are the two main announcements that were made in advance of Mr Hunt presenting to the houses of parliament later today..

  • The reduced income tax level from 20% to 19% has been delayed “indefinitely” until the UK’s finances improve
  • The government’s energy price guarantee will be universal until April – not for two years as originally planned.


Jeremy Hunt says a Treasury-led review will take place into how households and businesses are helped with energy bills from April next year.


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Liz Truss Becomes New Prime Minister: What are her policies?



Liz Truss has been confirmed as Britain’s next prime minister. A beaming Liz Truss has taken the stage after her victory to a huge standing ovation, saying it’s an honour to be elected as the leader.

The foreign secretary saw off a Tory leadership challenge from former chancellor Rishi Sunak to win the race to replace Boris Johnson as Conservative Party leader and the UK’s next PM. She thanked the party for “organising one of the longest job interviews in history”, as well as her supporters.

Liz Truss has pledged to follow through on her promises to voters, saying the Tory party needs to show it can deliver over the next two years. The new prime minister’s manifesto promises on tax, healthcare, climate, Brexit and Ukraine.

She says she has a “bold plan” to cut taxes and grow the UK economy.Ms Truss pledged to cancel out the rise in National Insurance that was announced by Mr Sunak and came into effect in April, in order to put more money in citizens’ pockets.

While she has since been cagey indeed about tackling the cost of living crisis, Ms Truss has promised help with energy bills within a week of taking office and to hold an emergency budget as soon as possible, with the country facing runaway inflation in double-digits and soaring costs while wages stagnate.

Ms Truss also pledged at the outset to scrap Mr Sunak’s planned rise in corporation tax, due to increase from 19 per cent to 23 per cent in 2023 and promised £30bn worth of tax cuts, which she insisted was the only way to revive the ailing British economy.

About 57% of valid votes cast were for Liz Truss. Turnout was pretty high too, with 82.6% of members casting a vote, with 654 rejected, possibly spoiled or filled out incorrectly.



On the NHS – once more on its knees with autumn flu season approaching and a fresh wave of Covid far from unlikely –  Ms Truss has backed shifting a greater proportion of healthcare spending towards social care and bringing more doctors out of retirement to help out (surely a sticking plaster if ever there was one).

She has also said that making GP’s surgeries more accessible is key to relieving some of the strain on the UK’s hospitals, which are currently battling dangerously long waiting times and treatment backlogs while starved of resources.


Despite having supported Remain and spoken out at the time about the importance of ready access to Europe, Ms Truss now casts herself not just as the reincarnation of Margaret Thatcher but also as the Brexiteer’s Brexiteer, even more so than Mr Sunak, who actually voted to leave the bloc.

Like Mr Johnson, she has threatened to risk the fragile peace at home by tampering with the Northern Ireland Protocol, insisting that trade between Great Britain and the region must be “free-flowing” and left up to UK courts to legislate, while also pledging to scrap or replace any EU regulations that she views as holding back Britain’s economic recovery.



Apparently still not a matter of much concern to many Tories despite a summer of record temperatures, drought and associated transport chaos, Ms Truss, also a former environment secretary, has at least said she intends to honour the UK’s pledge to hit net zero by 2050 and promised protections for wildlife and biodiversity.

That said, she has also called for a review into the ban on harmful fracking in pursuit of shale gas, encouraged more nuclear power stations and labelled solar farms “a blight on the landscape”.



Potentially placing the new PM in further conflict with the environment is her pledge to see 300,000 new homes built in the UK every year.

Elsewhere, she has also said she hopes to help first-time buyers by incorporating rental payments into mortgage assessments.



Ms Truss has said every pupil must be entitled to “the best opportunity to succeed” regardless of their background, an aspiration drawing on her own supposedly gritty origins at a Leeds comprehensive.

Ms Truss has otherwise said she would like to expand academically-successful academies, introduce more free schools and reform university admission procedures so that places in higher education are offered only based on actual, not predicted, grades while making Oxbridge places available automatically to anyone with the right results.



Ms Truss has moved to reassure Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky that Britain’s support for his country in the face of Russian aggression will be unwavering, six months into an increasingly brutal and costly war that Mr Johnson did much to involve himself with, securing the admiration of Mr Zelensky and his people in the process.

Energy crisis:

On the prevailing issue of rising energy bills, she says she will “deliver” when it comes to crisis by not only dealing with bills but also the long term supply issues.

“We will deliver, we will deliver, we will deliver,” concludes Truss, focusing on a theme that she returned to constantly during the leadership contest.

The new Tory leader adds that the party will defeat Labour at the 2024 general election.

Are you happy with the choice?

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