Friday morning news briefing: Joe Biden warns of nuclear 'Armageddon'

Energy crisis; winter blackouts; Liz Truss; Ukraine-Russia war; Downing Street
Energy crisis; winter blackouts; Liz Truss; Ukraine-Russia war; Downing Street

President Joe Biden has said he does not think Vladimir Putin is bluffing about using tactical nuclear weapons – and warned that the risk of "Armageddon" is at the highest level since the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Speaking in unusually stark terms, Mr Biden said he believed the Russian president was "not joking when he talks about the use of tactical nuclear weapons or biological or chemical weapons."

At a fundraiser in New York overnight, the US president said: "We have not faced the prospect of Armageddon since Kennedy and the (1962) Cuban Missile Crisis."

They are the frankest warnings by the US government on the prospect Russia could use weapons of mass destruction in Ukraine as Moscow suffers major setbacks on the battlefield and soldiers are left for dead.

Associate editor Dominic Nicholls reports on Ukraine's newest weapon – the Himars rockets that can devastate huge areas in one blast.

Liz Truss refuses to rule out winter power cuts

The Prime Minister has refused to rule out the prospect of widespread blackouts after the country's electricity system operator said households and businesses were at risk from being cut off.

The National Grid warned that a worst-case scenario included "load shedding", in which power is restricted to different areas to prevent uncontrolled outages.

Speaking in Prague at a meeting with European leaders last night, Ms Truss said Britain had a "good supply" and was in a "better position than many other countries".

But she refused to guarantee that blackouts could be avoided, saying only that Britain would "get through the winter".

Chief business correspondent Oliver Gill considers how we could reach the doomsday scenario of all the lights going out.

Many households will be looking to improve their home's energy efficiency, but Ruth Bloomfield discovers that investing thousands does not always lead to big savings.

After speaking with Emmanuel Macron on the margins of the first European Political Community summit, Ms Truss declared him a "friend".

The Prime Minister caused controversy during her leadership campaign in August when she said that the "jury’s out" on whether the French president was a "friend or foe" to the UK.

In a sign of warming relations between Paris and London, the two leaders agreed to work with Britain to stop migrants crossing the Channel.

Meanwhile, Ireland's deputy prime minister has admitted the Northern Ireland Protocol is a "little too strict", amid hopes of a new deal with the EU.

Your View | Earlier this week, we asked how you thought Ms Truss should come back from her tax cut U-turn. Read the best responses.

Will we get a bank holiday for King's coronation?

As officials draw up plans for the coronation of King Charles III, there is speculation that a date next June is being considered.

Sources said they feared some in government were pushing back against the idea of businesses closing down for the day over fears it would stifle growth.

But Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg has declared his support for an extra bank holiday to mark the ceremony.

Deputy political editor Daniel Martin reports on the date widely rumoured to be under consideration.

Daily dose of Matt

Matt makes fun of Vladimir Putin's isolated position for today's cartoon. And cartoonist Blower looks at Liz Truss's stormy days ahead.

Also in the news: This morning's other headlines

Leaked peerages list | Brexit-backing Tories who supported Boris Johnson will be appointed to the House of Lords within days to reduce the chances of legislation being defeated. There are 15 Conservatives on the list to become new peers, more than all the other political parties combined. Political editor Ben Riley-Smith can reveal the full list of political peerages that is set to be announced by Downing Street.

Around the world: Island unites to rescue migrants

Rescuers hauled traumatised shipwreck survivors up a sheer cliff by rope after two boats carrying hundreds of migrants capsized in the Aegean, leaving 21 dead. Many other asylum seekers were still missing after the vessels sank hundreds of miles apart – one off the Greek island of Lesbos and the other off Kythira, an island in the far south of Greece. As Nick Squires reports, the dinghy that sank off Kythira prompted a dramatic night-time rescue, with firefighters and locals pulling people to safety one by one as they clung to a rocky outcrop at the base of the cliff.

Residents help to rescue migrants on Kythira - AP
Residents help to rescue migrants on Kythira - AP

Comment and analysis

Sport briefing: Wimbledon plunged into chaos

The All England Club has been plunged into turmoil by the departure of three senior directors and a move to sideline its chairman Ian Hewitt in the wake of the controversial decision to ban Russians and Belarusians from this year's Wimbledon. Tennis correspondent Simon Briggs has our special report. In football, Man United survived a scare in Cyprus last night and Arsenal thrashed Norwegian side Bodo/Glimt 3-nil.

Editor's choice

  1. Helen Skelton's Strictly Diary | 'Does this mean no one likes me?'

  2. A bone to pick | How dogs took over Britain's restaurants

  3. Identity politics | The trap of avoiding the 'common' child's name

Business briefing: Property sales collapse

Property sales are falling through at the fastest rate since the Covid market shutdown because of soaring mortgage rates. Melissa Lawford reports on what is likely to happen next. Meanwhile, Royal Mail rushed forward the monthly payment into its pension scheme to help prevent a cash crunch, after the mini-Budget sent money markets into a tailspin.

Gardening: Hyacinth bulbs for Christmas blooms

One of the joys of hyacinth bulbs is the vast range of brightly coloured, fragrant flowers that lift our spirits after a long, dark winter. Some hyacinth bulbs are labelled as "prepared", which means that they have been exposed to hot and cold temperatures, bringing them into flower more quickly and enabling us to manipulate them into producing cheery blooms at Christmas. Tom Brown explains the best time to start them.

Tonight's dinner

Chicken piccata with sizzled lemons | Salty capers, an absurd amount of garlic and a buttery wine sauce – what is not to love about this recipe, asks Eleanor Steafel?

And finally... for this morning's downtime

Green transport | Motorhomes have been slow to adopt battery power due to range and cost issues, but some campervanners are proving that it can be done. Erica Crompton explores the EV transition that is coming to campervans.

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