The main focus of Tuesday’s newspapers revolves around the evidence given to the Covid inquiry by Sir Patrick Vallance, the former chief scientific adviser of the UK government during the pandemic. The Daily Mirror leads with allegations that then-chancellor Rishi Sunak suggested the government should let deaths from the virus “soar” instead of imposing new restrictions in autumn 2020. This claim is based on Sir Patrick’s diary entry from October 2020, which quotes Dominic Cummings, special adviser to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, saying “Rishi thinks just let people die and that’s OK”. Mr. Sunak is expected to testify at the inquiry soon.
In his testimony, Sir Patrick also claimed that Mr. Sunak’s ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme drove the second wave of Covid infections in the autumn of 2020. The i newspaper reports that this is the first time a senior government official has confirmed that the scheme, which subsidized meals at participating restaurants in August 2020, was a contributing factor to the spread of the virus.
Away from the inquiry, several newspapers look ahead to Wednesday’s Autumn Statement and the expected tax cuts that might be announced. Mr. Sunak has promised that the government “can and will” cut taxes, but the Daily Express reports he is warning that “we can’t do everything at once”, feeding speculation about how generous any potential measures will be. Metro notes that any tax changes will come with the general election in sight, and the Daily Mail says it would mark the “return of tax-cutting Tories,” adding that there could be more to come in the spring.
The Daily Telegraph describes the envisioned plan as a “Thatcherite tax-cutting drive,” referencing former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s preference for reduced income tax rates during her tenure in the 1980s. The paper suggests that the current PM has been considering plans to cut National Insurance, raise the 40% income tax threshold, and reduce inheritance tax.
The Guardian reports a stark warning from the United Nations that the world is on track to reach a “hellish” 3C of global heating by the end of the century, ahead of the COP28 climate summit next week in the United Arab Emirates. In addition, the Financial Times reports that employees at artificial intelligence company OpenAI are pressuring the board to bring back the ousted boss, Sam Altman, and the Daily Star claims victory after being taken to task over its use of the word “boffin” to describe experts in its articles, discovering that it is permissible if it is liked by the person
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