Wednesday morning news briefing: Covid vaccine approved for UK use

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Covid vaccinations to start across Britain next week

At last, help is on the way. A Covid-19 vaccine from Pfizer/BioNTech has been approved for use in the UK this morning - paving the way for vaccinations to start next week. The jab has been shown in studies to be 95pc effective and works in all age groups. Britain is the first country in the world to authorise the use of a coronavirus vaccine, in a move hailed as historic. This is how the jab was developed. Deputy Political Editor Lucy Fisher has exclusive details of how the Armed Forces plan to transform about 10 sites into huge vaccine hubs within a fortnight.

Last night, Boris Johnson suffered the biggest Tory rebellion of his administration - despite personally pleading with MPs to back his new Covid tier system as they cast their votes. Despite the Prime Minister begging backbenchers not to rebel, 55 voted against the Government with another 16 abstaining. Search for how your MP voted and read the inside story of how the rebels united. The tier system was approved, meaning strict new measures will come into force today - and are expected to stay in place until April. Mr Johnson might have won, but Associate Editor Camilla Tominey says the Tory rebellion has left him wounded. Parliamentary Sketchwriter Michael Deacon heard a phrase that should never be heard in the Commons again, which reminds us of the latest Covid jargon that is already driving us to distraction. Matt sees the funny side of the "substantial meal" rule with today's cartoon.

Wild Wednesday: How to shop smart on the high street

British retail has suffered a bloodbath. After the Philip Green-owned Arcadia called in administrators, Debenhams - once a shining beacon of designer style for the masses - was placed into liquidation, leaving a 14million sq ft hole in the high street. Shops reopen for "Wild Wednesday" in England today after weeks of closures. So, where to head for the best buys? Our fashion experts have selected the best places to shop now. Is all lost for the Arcadia brands? Melissa Twigg explains what needs to be done to bring each of them back from the brink.

BBC gender row over Sports Personality of the Year

The BBC's Sports Personality of the Year award was at the centre of a gender equality row after only one woman was shortlisted. Hollie Doyle, the jockey, was the sole female nominee announced by the corporation on a six-strong list of contenders - the first time in almost a decade there had been so few women in the running. View the shortlistJames Corrigan argues that this is the year to call off the contest.

At a glance: More coronavirus headlines

Also in the news: Today's other headlines

Immigration | Priti Patel attacked "Lefty" lawyers for protecting "murderers and rapists" after 30 criminals were removed from a deportation flight to Jamaica. The plane had been due to leave this morning carrying 50 convicted criminals. But the Home Office was hit by last-minute legal challenges for alleged breaches of human rights.  

Around the world: Didn't the other guy get the boot?

Joe Biden appeared in public wearing a medical boot for the first time. He broke a bone in his foot while playing with his dog, leaving him in a race to be fit for his inauguration on Jan 20. At 78, Mr Biden is well above the average age for an incoming president. So how does he carry himself like a younger man? Guy Kelly examines his anti-ageing secrets.

Joe Biden near his home in Delaware yesterday. CREDIT: ANDREW HARNIK/AP - ANDREW HARNIK/AP
Joe Biden near his home in Delaware yesterday. CREDIT: ANDREW HARNIK/AP - ANDREW HARNIK/AP

Comment and analysis

You Are Not Alone: Getting you through lockdown

  1. By George? | Combing through the truth about Clooney's 'self-cut' hair

  2. Life with long Covid | 'How I'm beating brain fog with an oxygen chamber'

  3. Renaissance Watercolours, V&A | Review: Covid denies us the show of the year

Business and money briefing

Digging deep | Crossrail has secured a £825m loan from Westminster to complete London's over-budget and delayed east-to-west train line. The capital's businesses, already reeling from the pandemic, will foot the bill for the additional costs with the extension of business rate levies.  

Sport briefing

Keep Kids Active campaign | The drastic health, social and economic impact of a sharp drop in physical activity has been laid bare ahead of the return of grassroots sport. Figures show the number of adults meeting recommended activity levels fell during the pandemic from 63pc to 24pc. Jeremy Wilson outlines the economic and social cost.  

Tonight's dinner  

Sweet potato and ginger soup with mint and lime crème fraîche | This sweet, spicy soup by Diana Henry can be made in 30 minutes. View the recipe. For more ideas, try our Cookbook newsletter.

And finally... for this morning's downtime

Peugeot e-208 | Peugeot believes it won't be long before electric car driving is normal, so it is offering its new batteries in familiar models. Is this the entry-level electric car to sway the masses?

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