Top Stories Today is a short-form audio digest of the day’s top headlines. Find the latest episode here.
Boris Johnson is braced for the imminent publication of an inquiry into rule-breaking Downing Street parties after he spent the day in talks with allies and Conservative MPs plotting a fight for political survival.
Dame Cressida Dick, Metropolitan Police commissioner, announced a criminal probe into the gatherings yesterday, initially throwing into doubt the publication of a long-awaited inquiry by Sue Gray, a senior Whitehall civil servant.
But the Financial Times understands Gray’s investigation could be published as soon today, according to several officials. “Sue is determined it comes out soon,” one said. The prime minister is expected to receive the report today with publication to follow, government insiders said.
Gray’s report will be scrutinised by Johnson’s critics, who are weighing whether to launch an effort to oust him. A total of 54 Tory MPs must submit letters to Sir Graham Brady, chair of the backbench 1922 committee, in order to trigger a vote of no confidence.
Analysis: A police investigation into Number 10 would normally be a matter of intense concern, but as one Conservative MP put it: “This could be a lifeline for Johnson.” Here is a timeline of the parties held at the heart of UK government.
Thanks for reading FirstFT Europe/Africa. Here’s the rest of today’s news — Will
Five more stories in the news
1. Citi plans £100m revamp of Canary Wharf tower Citigroup will undertake a three-year overhaul of its 42-storey London skyscraper costing more than £100m, in what the bank described as a vote of confidence in the City of London after Brexit and the future of the office post-pandemic. Citi’s 9,000 London staff will be relocated until 2025.
2. Jes Staley pressed JPMorgan to keep Jeffrey Epstein Jes Staley, then-head of JPMorgan Chase’s investment bank, pushed the US lender to keep Jeffrey Epstein as a client — despite the disgraced financier’s 2008 conviction for soliciting sex from a minor — before the bank cut him off in 2013, according to two people involved in the discussions.
3. Banks push back against Beijing’s overseas listing rules Asia’s top banking lobby group, which includes Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan, have warned Beijing that an overhaul of the regime for Chinese businesses listing overseas may deter them from advising on initial public offerings, which would imperil a funding source for the country’s leading companies.
4. Putin to meet Italian CEOs despite Ukraine tensions The top executives of some of Italy’s largest companies including Pirelli, Generali and UniCredit are due to hold a video meeting with Vladimir Putin today to discuss economic ties, even as Europe and the US threaten to impose punishing sanctions on Russia if it invades Ukraine.
Go deeper: Russian state media are broadcasting a stream of accusations against Ukraine, painting Kyiv as an aggressor backed by a belligerent west, with the alliance threatening Moscow and driving it unwillingly towards conflict.
5. US warns of fragile chip supply Semiconductor inventories held by manufacturers have plummeted from 40 days in 2019 to an average of just five as the global chip shortage wreaks havoc on industry, the US commerce department warned.
Pfizer and BioNTech have enrolled the first participants in a clinical trial of a vaccine tailored to the Omicron variant.
Israel’s vaccine advisory panel has recommended a fourth dose of a shot for all adults, a world first.
The IMF downgraded its 2022 global economic growth forecasts, warning that the recovery will run into “multiple challenges” including higher inflation.
Pub groups are gearing up for a weekend of bumper sales as the UK’s remaining Covid-19 restrictions are lifted and consumers receive long-awaited January pay packets.
The day ahead
England lifts Covid controls The Plan B restrictions, which include guidance to work from home and wear masks on public transport, are due to be removed today.
US interest rate decision The Federal Open Market Committee announces its latest decision on US interest rates, with the first rise expected in March, while investors will be seeking clues on when the central bank will begin tapering its $120bn monthly bond purchases.
Earnings AT&T, Boeing, Wizz Air, Intel and Tesla are among those reporting earnings on Wednesday.
What else we’re reading
How Citadel Securities became ‘the Amazon of financial markets’ Founded in the 2000s, Ken Griffin’s Citadel Securities has grown into one of the world’s largest trading houses, involved in about one in four of all US stock trades and almost 40 per cent of those with individual retail investors. A decision to float would put it firmly in the crosshairs of the Securities and Exchange Commission — and Reddit traders.
Kazakhstan unrest shows Erdogan that Putin is still in charge The decision of Kazakhstan’s president to ask Vladimir Putin for help suppressing protests that rocked his country dealt a blow to Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s dreams of forming a bloc made up of Turkey and “brotherly” nations in the former Soviet Union.
Former Farc captive runs for Colombian presidency The last time Ingrid Betancourt campaigned for Colombia’s presidency, she was kidnapped by Marxist guerrillas and held in the jungle for more than six years. Two decades later, the former congresswoman and senator is making another bid for the country’s leadership.
What powers economies There is no way of knowing how the world really works without understanding the fundamental importance of energy in human affairs, writes Vaclav Smil in How the World Really Works. Read Pilita Clark’s review here. Want more on energy policy? Sign up to our Energy Source newsletter.
You call that a party? It is unclear just how long the list of political casualties from Downing Street’s lockdown-breaching BYOB bash may be, Robert Shrimsley writes, but those who don’t make it back will spend the rest of their lives asking: was it really worth it for a glass of lukewarm merlot and a bit of cheese roulade?
Ski touring — exploring the mountains by hiking up on skis fitted with sticky skins — is booming, the latest obsession for those who want to bring an element of cardiovascular challenge to their holiday. But there is an easier way to explore the slopes: a new cable car connection makes it possible to ski across much of the Dolomites in a single day.