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NATIONAL NEWS ROUNDUP: Tories call for the PM to go amid partygate row AND Professor Van-Tam steps down


Here are your national headlines including: Tories call for the PM to go amid partygate row, Professor Van-Tam steps down and energy bill increase could have devastating impact on older people.

PM PARTIES: Boris Johnson’s future is hanging in the balance as Cabinet ministers pleaded with Tory MPs to wait for the findings of an official investigation into Downing Street parties before calling for him to quit.

The Prime Minister apologised for attending a “bring your own booze” party in the Downing Street garden in May 2020, during the first coronavirus lockdown, but insisted he believed it was a work event and could “technically” have been within the rules.

Mr Johnson’s confirmation that he was at the event led to four Tory MPs publicly calling for him to quit, with more privately voicing concerns about his leadership.

The Prime Minister pulled out of a planned visit to a vaccination centre in Lancashire on Thursday, where he would have faced questions from the media about his actions, because a family member tested positive for coronavirus.

VAN-TAM: England’s deputy chief medical officer Professor Sir Jonathan Van-Tam is to leave his role at the end of March.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson thanked Sir Jonathan “for his extraordinary contribution to our country and his invaluable advice throughout the pandemic”, while Health Secretary Sajid Javid said it had been an “honour” to work with the “national treasure”.

Sir Jonathan has been on secondment to the Department of Health from the University of Nottingham since 2017.

He is to take up a new role as pro-vice chancellor for the faculty of medicine and health sciences at the university.

Mr Javid tweeted: “It has been an honour to work with JVT and I am hugely grateful for his advice & the vital role he has played in our vaccination programme. I wish him all the best for the future at @UniofNottingham@UoNFacultyMHS.”

ENERGY BILLS: The predicted 50% rise in energy bills from April could trigger a national emergency for millions of older people, a charity has warned.

Age UK has urged ministers to take immediate and decisive action on energy bills to “mitigate the potentially devastating impact of the escalating crisis”.

In a letter this week to Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng and Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey, the charity wrote: “We know that many older people on low incomes already feel under so much financial pressure that they are rationing their energy use, and this is causing us real concern.

“For example, we have heard from older people who are too worried to use their oven and are living off soup and sandwiches instead, showering only every two days rather than daily, and constantly watching their smart meter and turning their heating off once their daily spending exceeds the meagre limit they have set.

“Now that winter is well and truly upon us, it is all the more important that older people on low incomes have the confidence to keep their heating switched on so they can stay adequately warm over the next few months and protect their health.

“This means that the Government must reassure them that, if they do so, they will not face an energy bill in the spring that will be beyond their means to pay.”

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