Good morning. It’s been a dramatic 12 hours in politics-land after ice sculpture-gate caused some embarrassment for the Tories and led to them threatening Channel 4’s right to broadcast. We’ll also bring you the best of the rest of the news, and you can follow our rolling political coverage here.
What’s going on?
Some awkwardness for Boris Johnson today, after he refused to participate in a debate on the climate crisis with other party leaders, and was empty-chaired in a very creative way, with Channel 4 filling his place with a melting ice sculpture of the Earth. Nigel Farage also failed to attend and a similar ice sculpture stood in his stead.
The Conservatives are not taking this sass lying down. They accused the broadcaster of bias for not allowing Michael Gove to take Johnson’s place, accusing them of “conspiring” with the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, to block the party from making its case. The Conservatives even threatened to review Channel 4’s broadcasting remit over the ice sculpture move. (The Guardian’s Hannah Jane Parkinson is somewhat sceptical of the genuineness of Gove’s desire to participate).
As for the actual substance of the climate crisis debate, we have verdicts and analysis, talking you through the parties’ policies and bona fides. Today, children across the UK are striking from school, calling for climate action.
The Guardian can also reveal 11 wealthy American donors who have given a total of more than $3.7m (£2.9m) to rightwing UK groups in the past five years, raising questions about the influence of foreign funding on British politics. The groups are here.
In the wake of the Brexit vote, some of the ultra free-market thinktanks, which have received funding from the groups, have gained exceptional access to the heart of Boris Johnson’s government, as the investigations team unpacks in today’s long read.
At a glance
The day ahead
On the Labour side of things, Jeremy Corbyn is currently not scheduled to make any appearances on Friday but the shadow transport secretary, Andy McDonald, will be in the east Midlands as the party launches its regional manifestos targeting local issues. The Scottish Labour leader, Richard Leonard, will be in Livingston to discuss the party’s package for young people.
Boris Johnson is expected to hold a press conference in London on Friday morning. Expect ice jokes.
Johnson has also declined an invitation to a leaders debate tonight in Cardiff, as have Corbyn and Farage. But leaders of the Lib Dems, SNP, Green and Plaid parties will attend a BBC seven-way debate alongside representatives of the Conservatives, Labour and the Brexit party.
The Lib Dem leader, Jo Swinson, will be in south Wales to discuss safety issues with senior members of the Muslim and Jewish communities and will then attend the BBC debate.
The Scottish Liberal Democrats are launching their manifesto in Edinburgh.
Best of the rest
> Families of the victims of the Hillsborough disaster are furious after the acquittal on manslaughter charges of the policeman in charge on the day, David Duckenfield. Margaret Aspinall, of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, said the justice system was “a disgrace to the nation”.
> Ireland has joined 11 other European Union countries to veto a directive aimed at forcing companies to reveal their profits and tax in member countries. Ireland’s low-tax regime means a lot of multinationals have their European HQ in the country.
> Malta’s prime minister, Joseph Muscat, emerged at 3am from a marathon cabinet meeting to vow that he would stay in the job until the investigation into the murder of the journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was complete. He said his cabinet had decided against a presidential pardon for businessman Yorgen Fenech, who had requested one in return for providing information on other alleged conspirators.
Today in Focus podcast
Too many women’s lives are ending after what those accused of their deaths say were “sex games gone wrong”. Anna Moore looks at why strangling has become so normalised. And: Helen Pidd looks back on the general election week.
Lunchtime read: Thom Yorke’s hymn to New York noir
Our film writer Xan Brooks meets Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke and Hollywood A-lister Ed Norton to discuss the former’s musical contribution to the latter’s new film, a New York noir called Motherless Brooklyn. Yorke describes how he wrote Daily Battles and why he was “too messed up” to score Fight Club.
Unai Emery is determined to fight on as the Arsenal manager despite a 2-1 defeat by Eintracht Frankfurt that leaves him on thin ice. Ole Gunnar Solskjær was upbeat despite the youngest European side in Manchester United’s history falling to a 2-1 defeat to Astana in Kazakhstan while Celtic clinched top spot in Group E with a solid 3-1 win over Rennes at Parkhead.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc has made it clear he believed his teammate Sebastian Vettel should not have collided with him at the Brazilian Grand Prix. John Brown became the first Buffalo receiver to throw a touchdown pass as the Bills went on to post a Thanksgiving win over Dallas Cowboys. Former two-weight UFC champion Conor McGregor is set to return to the octagon on 18 January where he will take on veteran American Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone in a welterweight bout at UFC 246. And New Zealand rugby team, the Crusaders, will keep their contentious name but the club has overhauled its logo after a review of the Christchurch mosque shootings.
Fortnum & Mason has had a bumper year, seeing profits rise 26% to £12m despite protests in Hong Kong disrupting its new shop in the city. The luxury food provider has benefited in recent years by the growing popularity of upmarket tea. The pound is at $1.291 and €1.172. The FTSE is set for a modest fall this morning, following the lead from Asia overnight
The Telegraph leads with the Conservative party backlash against Channel 4 over the ice statue used in place of Boris Johnson, saying: “Tories threaten ‘biased’ Channel 4”. The i also likes that story, calling it “PM’s climate meltdown”. In more campaign news, the Times leads with “Tories and Labour in battle for the north”, the Mirror says “Boris: working class men are drunk, criminal & feckless” and the Express goes with “Outcry over Labour Brexit ‘lies’”.
The Guardian leads with the acquittal of David Duckenfield and the headline: “So who was to blame? Fury of the Hillsborough families”. The Sun is in agreement, saying “Still no justice”. The Mail leads with Harvey Proctor’s damages victory – “Yard pays £900k to MP accused by abuse liar” – and the FT has “Ex-Nissan chief says Japanese nationalists hurt carmaker”.
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