Tuesday evening UK news briefing: Nicola Sturgeon cancels New Year celebrations

Evening briefing: Today’s essential headlines

Multi-million pound divorce | Princess Haya was "blackmailed" out of £7million by four members of her security team whom she paid to keep quiet about an affair she had with her British bodyguard, it can be revealed. The revelation emerged as details of Britain’s most expensive divorce between the Jordanian princess and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai, were made public. The 72-year-old sheikh, worth nearly £10billion, has been ordered to pay a record £554.5million to his ex-wife, 47, for the security, maintenance and education fees for their children. With £5m a year on holidays and £14m for jewellery, Steve Bird unpacks Britain’s biggest divorce settlement.

  • Sir David Amess | Ali Harbi Ali pleads not guilty to killing MP
  • Analysis | Why 2022 could see the end of Macron’s European dream
  • Paramedic took own life | Facebook post shamed her for littering
  • Health | Antidepressants might be largely ineffective, study suggests
  • Sex and the City | Stars praise women accusing Mr Big actor

The big story: Sturgeon cancels big Hogmanay parties

If you have New Year’s Eve plans, you might want to start rethinking them. 

Nicola Sturgeon has announced that large-scale Hogmanay celebrations in Scotland will be cancelled this year as the country battles the surge in omicron cases. 

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson today did not rule out following suit in England next week, as he confirmed festive plans can go ahead but added "we can’t rule out any further measures after Christmas". 

In Scotland, Ms Sturgeon revealed that live sports will be "effectively spectator-free" and additional restrictions in hospitality venues will be introduced for at least three weeks from Boxing Day. 

Table service-only will be reintroduced for venues serving alcohol for consumption on the premises and social distancing will return. However, she said current Christmas plans could remain in place. 

Our liveblog has the latest and you can track the booster rollout here.

It comes as pubs, restaurants and leisure businesses hit by omicron losses will be eligible for one-off grants of up to £6,000 in a £1bn Christmas aid package announced by Rishi Sunak. 

The Chancellor said some 200,000 hospitality and leisure businesses would benefit from the grants to compensate for an average 40pc fall in revenue from the Government’s Plan B restrictions in the run-up to Christmas. 

However, the package is unlikely to satisfy hospitality and leisure chiefs. One business leader said it was "far too little and borders on the insulting". 

Ally Wolf, who manages the Clapham Grand in south London, says the chaos inspired by the Government is destroying local venues like hers.

Biden ‘not locking down US’

In the US, the White House has said Joe Biden does not plan on "locking the country down" in response to a surge in coronavirus cases. 

Mr Biden, in a speech he is to deliver today, will stress the benefits of vaccination against Covid-19, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said. 

His speech comes as the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the omicron variant now accounts for 73pc of US infections based on sequencing data. 

Yet faced with the omicron surge, a senior White House official said: "We have the tools to get through this wave." 

Indeed, Andrew Lilico argues that London’s omicron epidemic shows there are reasons to be optimistic about avoiding further restrictions in England.

Football an ‘exceptional risk’

However, the Boxing Day football calendar has been identified by scientists as an "exceptional risk" as authorities face pressure to follow Wales – and now effectively Scotland – in moving matches behind-closed-doors. 

Public health experts warn the games immediately after Christmas will be "sporting superspreaders" akin to major events in March 2020 due to the more transmissible omicron. 

If the Premier League matches sell out, 400,00 fans will cram into stadiums. 

As scientists keep raising the possibility of restrictions, Iain Duncan Smith asks where is the modelling for the societal consequences of lockdown?

PS – Thanks again for sharing your unique family Christmas traditions to try to help your fellow Front Page readers enjoy this year’s festivities. Please do email yours to us here, with the subject line "Christmas traditions" and leaving your name, age and where you are from. Here is some inspiration from Crispin Williams from Croydon, south London:

"Our family Christmas tradition is to have a ‘forkful’ of brandy on our Christmas pudding. Once a portion is served, you pour brandy through a fork on to it. It’s great because it means you can have as much as you want without appearing greedy!"

Around the world: Drama as Haiti hostages escape

Twelve North American hostages held for months in Haiti orchestrated their own escape last week, hiking for miles under cover of darkness carrying young children, their church organisation said Monday. Christian Aid Ministries, which had provided little information on the 16 Americans and one Canadian who were kidnapped in mid-October, on Monday detailed the hostages’ ordeal and the mid-December escape of the final 12 hostages, a group that included a 10-month-old, a three-year-old and two teenagers, along with eight adults. Read on for details.

Comment and analysis

  • Matthew Lynn | Doom-mongers got it so wrong on Brexit trade deal
  • Charles Moore | The real reason Frost’s exit should worry Boris
  • Robin Aitken | Kuenssberg was no saint – but the Left showed hate
  • Tom Harris | WhatsApp has made politics classless
  • Michael Deacon | Sorry, Prime Minister. The party’s over

Tuesday interview

‘I live at home by myself and I think I will die by myself’

Frank Bruno

Credit: Tom Pilston

Former world heavyweight champion Frank Bruno talks to Gareth A Davies about battling his mental health demons, why Tyson Fury deserves his success and missing his old pal ‘Arry

Read the full interview

Sport briefing: David Lloyd leaves Sky Sports

David Lloyd, the former England head coach, has left his commentary role with Sky Sports after 22 years with the broadcaster. He said "the time is now right" to move on. Lloyd’s announcement comes four weeks after he was accused by Azeem Rafiq of being a "closet racist". Sky said last month that they was investigating messages but there is no suggestion from Lloyd that his departure is directly related to the furore. Simon Heffer says Lloyd was a joyous antidote to today’s bland commentators – Sky and the BBC need more pundits like him, not fewer. Meanwhile, Ricky Ponting has criticised Joe Root’s captaincy saying he should have been firmer with James Anderson and Stuart Broad if he thought they were bowling too short in Adelaide in the second Ashes Test.

Editor’s choice

  • Beyond the Maxwell circus | My notebook from behind the scenes at trial of the century
  • ‘Boys do cry’ | Will Carling on how his mother’s death changing his relationship with grief
  • Voice in my head | ‘My undiagnosed dyslexia left me battling with imposter syndrome’
  • Business briefing: China deal for British lithium miner

    The Chinese takeover of a British lithium miner is nearing success after a major investor backed the deal. Jiangxi-headquarted Ganfeng Lithium needs 75pc support for its £285m takeover of Bacanora to succeed, at which point it would delist the firm from the stock market. The Telegraph understands a major shareholder who had been holding out will now back the deal. Read why it is raising concerns. Elsewhere, Twitter founder Jack Dorsey has predicted that Bitcoin will replace the US dollar in the boldest statement yet from one of its biggest backers.

    Tonight starts now

    The Lost Daughter, review | If you still fancy a trip to the cinema, you want to make sure you watch something well worth the trip. Step forward The Lost Daughter. One of the richest and most versatile strands of cinema in Hollywood’s golden age was the women’s picture: female-centred films, often poised on the threshold of melodrama and noir, whose heroines defied the socially sanctioned limits of their sex. The genre faded in the late 1960s – but Maggie Gyllenhaal’s directorial debut is an unmissable modern-day incarnation. Olivia Colman is superbly spiky as a visitor to a Greek island whose falling-out with an unpleasant family threatens to turn nasty. Read Robbie Collin’s five-star review.

    Three things for you

    • Watch | Philip: Prince, Husband, Father, ITV, 9pm
    • Food | How to cook the perfect Christmas turkey
    • Play | Telegraph Puzzles featuring today’s Crossword and Sudoku

    And finally… for this evening’s downtime

    Toast of serious investors | Will any of the bottles of champagne you open over Christmas be pink? It is not long since rosé champagne was widely viewed as a Valentine’s Day frivolity to be drunk, perhaps, under a cluster of heart-shaped red balloons. Yet now vintage rosé champagne has lost its frilly image. Read how it is now sought-after by international collectors and investors.

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