Monday evening news briefing: Firefighters vote to strike

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Evening Briefing logo

Good evening. The fallout from Nadhim Zahawi's sacking continues to loom large over Downing Street, as Rishi Sunak defended the investigation that led to the former Tory party chairman's dismissal. Also this evening, firefighters have become the latest group of public sector workers to vote for strike action.

Evening briefing: Today's essential headlines

Strikes | Firefighters and control room staff have voted to strike over pay, the Fire Brigades Union has announced. If they go ahead, the strikes will be the first nationwide fire strikes over pay since 2003. It comes as Rishi Sunak is under growing pressure to end the wave of public sector strikes. Up to half a million workers including teachers, train drivers and civil servants will start walkouts on Wednesday.

Sunak hits back at claims made by allies of Zahawi

Downing Street has disputed claims made by allies of Nadhim Zahawi that he did not have a fair hearing during the ethics probe into his tax affairs which ultimately led to him being sacked. No 10 said Rishi Sunak was "confident" that Sir Laurie Magnus, his Independent Adviser on Minister’s Interests, had time to establish the facts. The former Tory chairman's allies said at the weekend that he had only had 30 minutes to put his case to the adviser before his report was published. However, it is understood that Sir Laurie spoke to Mr Zahawi for a second time on Saturday. Tom Harris writes that with Mr Zahawi gone, the Tories have lost their media bulldog.

Meanwhile, William Shawcross has recused himself from the inquiry into Richard Sharp's appointment as chairman of the BBC. Mr Shawcross, the Commissioner for Public Appointments who would have been responsible for reaching a judgment, confirmed his decision in a letter published this afternoon. He wrote: "As I have met Mr Sharp on previous occasions, I have decided to recuse myself from this particular investigation." The investigation into Mr Sharp is taking place following claims that he helped Boris Johnson arrange a guarantee on a loan of up to £800,000 while Mr Johnson was the prime minister.

Kremlin accuses Johnson of 'lying' about missile threat

The Kremlin has accused Boris Johnson of "lying" when he said Vladimir Putin had threatened him with a missile strike during a phone call in the run-up to the invasion of Ukraine. Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesman, told reporters that what the former prime minister said was not true, or "more precisely, a lie". Speaking to the BBC, Mr Johnson said that the Russian president had threatened him with a missile strike that would "only take a minute". Meanwhile, Nataliya Vasilyeva reports that a Siberian nursery has been forced to remove Union Jack flags from its classroom after a parent complained that its English classes were glorifying a “hostile state”.

Germany on cusp of recession, experts warn

Experts have warned that Germany has fallen into recession, after official data revealed a surprise slump at the end of last year. Europe's top economy contracted 0.2pc in the three months to December, according to preliminary figures from statistics authority Destatis, which some economists are interpreting as evidence the country entered a mild recession over the winter. The downturn comes less than a fortnight after Chancellor Olaf Scholz said the country would avoid a recession.

Comment and analysis

World news: Pakistan mosque bombing kills dozens

At least 61 people were killed and dozens of others were wounded in a suicide bomb attack on a mosque inside a police compound in north-west Pakistan on Monday. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the blast in Peshawar, which caused sections of the building to collapse onto worshippers, and hospitals said as many as 150 people had been wounded. Officials were investigating how the bomber was able to sneak into the mosque inside a police headquarters housing sensitive intelligence and counter-terrorism offices. The attack is thought to be the deadliest Taliban strike on Pakistan's state in nine years.

Monday interview

‘I’m here to bring the fun back’: Foxtons chief on reviving Minis, parties and skiing holidays

Guy Gittins believes restoring the estate agent's ‘DNA’ will help it return to its glory days

Read the interview

Sport news: McIlroy drains £435,000 putt

Rory McIlroy overcame a final-round charge from Patrick Reed to win the Dubai Desert Classic in a tense duel between players who were involved in a pre-tournament spat. Our golf correspondent James Corrigan writes that the top-ranked McIlroy rolled in a birdie putt from around 15 feet on the 18th hole for a four-under 68 that left him a stroke clear of Reed, who shot 65. McIlroy's clutch putt on the 18th avoided a play-off against Reed and landed the £1.23m prize for first place, £435,000 more than the sum on offer for runner-up. Meanwhile, Sean Dyche has been announced as the new Everton manager - Chris Bascombe writes that Dyche may become the most important manager in the club's history.

Editor's choice

Film | Why was 1948 the greatest ever year for British cinema?

Health | The telltale signs that you're completely drained – and how to recharge

Cancer | 'I'm the first person in the world to be cured of secondary breast cancer'

Business news: Over 600,000 to miss tax deadline

Over 600,000 people are expected to miss tomorrow's self assessment deadline, resulting in a £60m bumper haul of late penalties for HM Revenue and Customs. Hundreds of thousands will be hit by an automatic £100 fine if they fail to file their tax return by midnight on 31 January. The £100 penalty applies whether or not any tax is owed. If after three months the taxpayer still has not filed, they are then charged £10 a day. Before the weekend, there were 2.7 million taxpayers who had yet to submit their tax return, according to data from HMRC shared with The Telegraph out of the total 12 million expected to file.

Tonight starts now

Three easy ways to improve your heart health | Over a quarter of deaths in the UK are attributable to heart and circulatory diseases, however, a new study shows that incorporating these heart-healthy micronutrients into your diet can reduce cardiovascular risk.

Three things for you

And finally... for this evening's downtime

In search of Britain's last rainforests | The UK is home to some of the world's finest temperate rainforests, but they are slowly disappearing. A movement has been growing with the aim of identifying and protecting their last vestiges.

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