David Cameron, the Prime Minister, said that, on Britain’s place in the European Union, ‘what I would like to see is a deal in February, then a referendum that would follow’. The pound sank to its lowest against the US dollar since 2010, after Britain’s manufacturing sector shrank unexpectedly by 0.4 per cent in November. BP said it was cutting 4,000 jobs round the world, 600 of them from its North Sea operations. A split in the Anglican Communion over homosexuality ‘would not be a disaster, but it would be a failure’, said the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Justin Welby, as 38 primates met at Canterbury. Trains from Lewisham were delayed by ‘strong sunlight’. David Bowie died two days after releasing an album, Blackstar, on his 69th birthday.
Junior doctors (hospital doctors below the grade of consultant) went on strike for 24 hours. The National Health Service said that 40 per cent worked. Sandwell Hospital in West Bromwich declared a ‘level 4 incident’ and said it needed its doctors not to strike; but the British Medical Association urged them not to return to work until it had agreed that a ‘major unpredictable incident’ was taking place. The Claims Management Regulator removed the operating licence from a company called Falcon and Pointer, which made 40 million telephone calls about PPI in three months. Two winners shared a record £66 million National Lottery prize. Cadbury’s Creme Egg has lost £6 million of sales, according to research for The Grocer, though the makers denied that sales had been affected by a change of chocolate recipe.
Labour made an official complaint to the BBC after Stephen Doughty announced on the Daily Politics programme that he had resigned as a shadow foreign office minister. Jonathan Reynolds resigned from his shadow cabinet post on the same day. A couple of days later, Catherine McKinnell resigned as shadow attorney general, noting Labour’s ‘increasingly negative path’. A message appeared on Mr Corbyn’s Twitter account declaring: ‘Davey Cameron is a pie’, but it was said to have been the work of a hacker. Sir Philip Dilley resigned as chairman of the Environment Agency after criticism of his being on holiday in Barbados during severe floods in Britain. Dame Lin Homer is to leave her position as chief executive of HM Revenue and Customs at the end of the tax year. Bronze Age huts, with some pots still containing food, were excavated a mile outside Peterborough.
In Syria, food was taken to the 40,000 people of besieged Madaya in 44 lorries operated by the UN, the Red Cross and the Syrian Red Crescent. Food was also taken to the 20,000 people of two towns, Foah and Kefraya, besieged by rebel forces. In Yemen, four people were killed when a missile hit a hospital supported by Médecins Sans Frontières as the proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran there, which has killed more than 6,000, continued. Iran arrested ten American sailors in the Gulf. An air strike by the American-led coalition was reported to have hit a building in Mosul that the Islamic State used to store money.
A bomb in Istanbul, between Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque, killed at least ten. Wolfgang Albers, the police chief of Cologne, was sacked over the handling of the assaults of women there on New Year’s Eve. An official report found that about 1,000 men of North African and Arabic origin had gathered and assaulted women. There were about 500 complaints. Of 19 suspects arrested, none was of German origin and nine were asylum seekers who had arrived in Germany since September 2015. In Leipzig, police made 211 arrests after buildings were vandalised and cars set on fire around an anti-Islamisation rally. Austria said that since the New Year, Germany had been sending back 200 migrants a day. Thousands of migrants continued to struggle from Greece through the Balkans in freezing weather. Jean-Marie Le Pen claimed €50,000 in damages for ‘harm to his image’ after Brahim Zaibat, who is half-Algerian, posted on Facebook a selfie next to Le Pen asleep on a plane.
Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán, the Mexican drug baron, was arrested in his home state of Sinaloa, six months after escaping from prison down a tunnel. Footage attracted attention online which showed a Russian hospital doctor in Belgorod punching a patient who collapsed and later died; no footage was available of the patient having earlier kicked a nurse. The engagement was announced of Rupert Murdoch, 84, and Jerry Hall, 59, for many years the companion of Sir Mick Jagger. CSH
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