Monday briefing: Ghani says there’s more pressure on Johnson |

Headline-grabbing: Westminster on edge over Gray report

Hello everybody. Martin Farrer brings you the best stories of the day.

Boris Johnson is facing calls to launch an independent inquiry into Islamophobia within the Tory Party after former minister Nusrat Ghani claims he was told his ‘Muslimness’ was ‘making his colleagues unhappy easy”. The Prime Minister has been embroiled in controversy as he awaits the findings of a landmark inquiry into alleged Downing Street lockdown parties. No 10 conceded on Sunday that Ghani personally raised his concerns with Johnson at a meeting in 2020, and said he responded by encouraging him to file a formal complaint with the Conservative Party. Ghani says when she was sacked as junior transport minister in a 2020 reshuffle, Tory whips told her her “status as a female Muslim minister made her colleagues uncomfortable”. In a sign of tensions with the party, Chief Whip Mark Spencer called the claims “completely untrue”.
Ghani, the first female Conservative Muslim MP, described the comment as a “punches in the stomach” and reignited fears of racism within the party.

The case has added to the feverish atmosphere in Westminster where the findings of Sue Gray’s inquiry into alleged Downing Street parties are due this week. Making the rounds on television yesterday, Dominic Raab, Deputy Prime Minister, declined to say whether the report would be published in full.

Ukrainian order – The US government has ordered the families of all US Embassy staff in Ukraine to leave the country amid heightened fears of a Russian invasion. The United States also issued a statement last night noting the buildup of Russian troops on the border and that “security conditions are unpredictable and may deteriorate without notice.” Anthony Blinken, US Secretary of State, said NATO would be united and react “quickly” if Russia crossed the border. It came as Ukraine’s government said it was reacting “seriously” to UK allegations that Moscow was planning to invade the country and install a puppet government, adding that Kyiv was resisting Russian efforts to to destabilize its government and its economy.

Long impact Covid – NHS trusts in England lost almost 2million days of staff absences due to the long duration of Covid in the first 18 months of the pandemic, according to a cross-party group of MPs. The group’s chair, Lib Dem MP Layla Moran, said the government had paid “almost no attention to the long Covid and the severe impact it was having on vital public services”. In another study looking at the impact of Covid, almost half of those who got sick during the first wave of infections may have long-term and even permanent changes in their sense of smell.

Peng ‘surrender’ – Tennis legend Martina Navratilova called “pathetic” the Australian Open’s decision to stop fans wearing “Where’s Peng Shuai?” T-shirts, accusing Tennis Australia of “capitulating” to China. At the end of last week, spectators in Melbourne Park were asked to remove their t-shirts and security confiscated a banner displaying the same words, on the grounds that TA prohibits “clothing, banners or signs commercial or policies”.

Exclusive – A committee of MPs has produced a report which says the gambling watchdog is “too tough” on the industry and criticizes the regulator’s attempts to reduce addiction. MPs accuse the Gambling Commission of a ‘bullying attitude which has caused mental damage’ within the industry and call for it to be subject to special measures. The findings of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on betting and gaming have been called “ridiculous” by a regulatory reform campaigner and met with a chilling reception from the regulator. Several members of the committee have been criticized for taking thousands of pounds in gifts from betting companies.

Truss accused – Paul Keating, Australia’s outspoken former prime minister, accused Liz Truss of making ‘insane’ comments about Chinese military aggression and urged the foreign secretary to hurry ‘back to his government which is collapsing and which is disreputable”. Keating also said Britain “suffered from delusions of grandeur and deprivation of relevance” after Truss visited Australia for meetings with his counterparts last week.

Thierry Mugler with actor Sharon Stone in 1992. Photography: Bei/Rex/Shutterstock

Death of Thierry Mugler – French designer Manfred Thierry Mugler, who was at the forefront of the power-dressing look of the 1980s, has died aged 73 of “natural causes”. A former ballet dancer, Mugler went on to dress the world’s most famous women such as Beyoncé, Lady Gaga and Kim Kardashian. “He was timeless and ahead of his time,” model Jerry Hall said of the designer.

Today Podcast in the spotlight

Nipsey Hussle was one of LA’s most beloved rappers and a pillar of his community. But records released after his death revealed he was also the target of a major police operation in Los Angeles. Johana Bhuiyan, technical reporter for the Guardian, explains.

Today in brief

Predictive policing

Lunchtime Reading: Jason Bateman Talks Family, Partying, and the Ozark

jason batman
Photograph: Mario Anzuoni/Reuters

As the drama series Ozark returns to streaming screens for its fourth and final season, Jason Bateman – AKA Marty Byrde – discusses the highs and lows of his acting career and how the taste for fun meant he “stayed too long at the party”.


Antonio Conte lamented the “incredible” decision to disallow Harry Kane’s first-half goal as his unbeaten league start as Tottenham manager came to an end against Chelsea, before admitting his former club were at ” another level” compared to his current team. A livid Patrick Vieira did not spare his criticism of referee Kevin Friend and VAR after his Crystal Palace side were beaten 3-1 by Liverpool. A stoppage-time strike from Tobin Heath saved a point against Manchester City at the Academy Stadium, but there was controversy over the opening goal which led Arsenal manager Jonas Eidevall to call for a bigger support for WSL referees.

England won the second T20 international at Kensington Oval after Jason Roy provided the platform to survive a late push from West Indies, who finished with the ninth-highest wicket of all time. Tennis Australia maintains Peng Shuai’s safety is his “primary concern” despite asking fans at Melbourne Park to remove t-shirts and a banner bearing the words “Where is Peng Shuai?” The Los Angeles Rams and Kansas City Chiefs advanced to the championship games after two thrilling NFL matchups on Sunday. On a weekend when complaining golfers were hardly hard to find, Thomas Pieters delivered a timely tale of redemption with a one-shot victory at the Abu Dhabi Championship. And Youssef Msakni scored with a long-range shot to give Covid-hit Tunisia an unlikely 1-0 win over 10-man Nigeria in Garoua to advance to the African Cup of Nations quarter-finals. Nations.


According to a study by the Center for Cities, major cities have lost nearly a year of sales during the pandemic due to closures, leading to a “leveling down” of historically more successful high street destinations. London lost 47 weeks of sales between March 2020 and November 2021, while Birmingham, Edinburgh and Cardiff also lost nearly a year of sales as people stayed away from the big cities. The FTSE100 appears to be falling around 0.2% at the opening bell, while the pound is at $1.355 and €1.196.

The papers

Guardian front page 24 January
Photography: The Guardian

the Guardian leads with ‘Prime Minister implicated over Conservative Party Islamophobia’ as Boris Johnson also faces partygate findings this week. It’s the lead in the Telegraph – “Police No10 questioned by Gray on ‘parties'” – while the Express a “Boris accepts ‘need for change’ at No10”. the To post reports that “the entire cabinet would support a postponement of the tax hike”. the Mirror focuses on what he calls the “cold Britain scandal” with a title “Freeze” while the Daily recording in Scotland has “struggle for power”. the Time looks further with “Fears that Russia is militarizing gas supplies”, and the FT says “Unilever faces pressure on new front as US activist increases stake”. the Scottish leads with “Airline Stepping Up Flights Ahead of Summer Vacation Rush”.


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