Friday briefing: The agony and Andy Murray ?????tennis great to retire

Friday briefing: The agony and Andy Murray ?????tennis great to retire

Andy Murray in his practice match against Novak Djokovic before the Australian Open in Melbourne. Photograph: Michael Dodge/Getty Images

Champion doubts he???ll play at Wimbledon as hip gives up ??? benefits freeze likely to be scrapped ??? and low-carb diets cause harmful lack of fibre


Main image: Andy Murray in his practice match against Novak Djokovic before the Australian Open in Melbourne. Photograph: Michael Dodge/Getty Images

Top story: Champion???s torment at bowing out

Good morning ??? Warren Murray bringing you the Briefing with just four sleeps to go until the ???meaningful vote???.

In emotional scenes overnight, Andy Murray has announced he will retire from tennis this season and doubts he will make it through to Wimbledon in July. The news came at an anguished press conference in Melbourne, where the boy from Dunblane, who rose to become one of Britain???s greatest tennis players alongside Fred Perry, was heartbreakingly candid about the hip injury that has left him with debilitating pain. ???I said to my team, ???Look, I think I can get through this until Wimbledon. That???s where I would like to stop playing,?????? said the former world number one, fighting back tears. ???But I am not certain I am able to do that.???

Emotional Andy Murray says he plans to retire this season ??? video

Murray is steeling himself for what is ???almost certainly??? one last effort, at the Australian Open on Monday against the Spaniard Bautista Agut. ???I???ve been struggling for a long time. I have been in a lot of pain for probably about 20 months now,??? Murray said. ???I have pretty much done everything that I could to try and get my hip feeling better. It hasn???t helped loads. I???m in a better place than I was six months ago, but still in a lot of pain. It has been tough.??? The tributes are flowing, and Kevin Mitchell, the Guardian???s tennis correspondent, has filed an appreciation of ???one of our greatest ever sportsmen???.

???Right at the time??? ??? The benefits freeze is unlikely to be continued beyond 2020, according to Amber Rudd, the work and pensions secretary. The Tory welfare policy introduced five years ago by George Osborne is estimated to cost some working families hundreds of pounds a year. In 2017 the Joseph Rowntree Foundation predicted it would drive almost half a million people into poverty by the time it came up for renewal in 2020. Rudd told Sky News: ???It was the right thing to do at the time ??? it???s got one more year to run, I look forward to it coming off.??? Reacting last night, a Labour source said the freeze had cut incomes ???for those most up against it??? while the rich and big business got tax cuts. ???Rudd is flat wrong when she says it was the right policy.??? Today, Rudd will announce a partial rollback to the two-child limit on universal credit payments.

Coming up next, the fibre diet ??? Eating more fibre from less processed sources such as wholegrain cereals, pasta, bread, nuts and pulses can slash people???s chances of heart disease and early death, according to a landmark review for the World Health Organisation. Fashionable low-carb diets may increase people???s risk of heart disease because they throw out the fibre with the carbohydrates, the research suggests. University of Otago???s Professor Jim Mann, who led the research, said: ???Here we have got very strong evidence that a high-fibre diet, which for the majority of people is at least high-ish in carbohydrates, has an enormous protective effect ??? Fibre-rich whole foods that require chewing and retain much of their structure in the gut increase satiety and help weight control and can favourably influence lipid and glucose levels.??? Another of the authors, Professor John Cummings from the University of Dundee, said: ???This is the end of 50 years of researching dietary fibre ??? We need to get this written in stone and part of people???s lives.???

Brexit clock ticks down ??? The Confederation of British Industry is urging MPs to back Theresa May???s deal in next Tuesday???s vote, warning that a hard Brexit would cut GDP by up to 8% and cost thousands of jobs. May has sought to win Labour support for her Brexit deal by making a direct offer to union leaders to beef up workers??? rights. In his September conference speech, Jeremy Corbyn offered to support the prime minister???s deal if she toughened up employment rights and environmental standards ??? though May has rejected his further condition of a permanent customs union. The PM has said the Commons Speaker, John Bercow, should explain to parliament why he allowed MPs to vote on Dominic Grieve???s Brexit amendment. ???Obviously the Speaker made a decision on a particular amendment; I was surprised at that decision,??? the PM said, repeating others??? calls for Bercow to publish the advice he received from his clerks.

Big questions answered ??? Fiona Bruce has hosted Question Time for the first time, and Mark Lawson was watching. ???Bruce???s opening link, in which she declared ???it???s lovely to be here!???, like a mayor opening a garden party, raised fears that she was going to soften the show,??? Lawson writes.

Fiona Bruce, far right, with guests Melanie Phillips, Jo Swinson and James Cleverly.
Fiona Bruce, far right, with guests Melanie Phillips, Jo Swinson and James Cleverly. Photograph: BBC

???But her follow-up questions to the three politician panellists ??? James Cleverly for the government, Emily Thornberry for the opposition, and Liberal Democrat Jo Swinson ??? were as brisk and persistent as David Dimbleby???s. The new presenter felt fresh and effective, but the BBC should have taken advantage of the succession to shake up the structure as well, and Bruce can only truly be judged when she has some non-Brexit subject matter.???

Fatberg game-changer ??? ???This is an important step in the battle against blockages. We???ve all seen the impact of fatbergs, and we want to see fewer of them.??? Hear, hear Michael Roberts, chief executive of Water UK, who this morning hails the arrival of a ???safe to flush??? label for wet wipes. Many wipes are labelled as flushable when they don???t break down quickly in the sewers, and clump together with fats, oils and grease on a massive scale. The results have included a 250-metre fatberg in Whitechapel in London in 2017, which weighed as much as 19 elephants, and a 64-metre fatberg discovered this week in Sidmouth, Devon.

Today in Focus podcast: Who???s paying for Trump???s wall?

With the US government in partial shutdown, the president continues to demand funding for his Mexican border wall.

Donald Trump in the Oval Office.
Donald Trump in the Oval Office. Photograph: Leah Millis/Reuters

Lauren Gambino, in Washington DC, and Bryan Mealer, in Texas, discuss how Trump???s central campaign promise has led to this point of paralysis. Plus, John Harris looks back to the optimism of 1989.

Lunchtime read: Stop watching the clock

Between daylight saving and obligatory early starts, we live at the mercy of ???official??? time ??? and many of us feel permanently out of sync. Most of us are not free to choose our work or school hours; we have little control over the lighting in our public spaces and external environment; and we are even forced to reprogram our internal clock twice a year because of daylight saving time.

We shouldn???t be fighting our body clocks, say chronobiologists.
We shouldn???t be fighting our body clocks, say chronobiologists. Illustration: Dennis Vernooij for the Guardian

But the German spa town of Bad Kissingen aims to be different. It has rebranded itself as the world???s first ChronoCity ??? a place where internal time is as important as external time, and sleep is sacrosanct. In July 2013 the council contacted a chronobiologist about tweaking the lives and affairs of the town and its people to better accommodate their body clocks. Since then there have been victories with flexible working, but it is an evolving effort ??? the idea of abandoning daylight saving was defeated. Science journalist Linda Geddes explains an individual???s ???chronotype??? is based on their sleep behaviour. It turns out there really is such a thing as a morning person or a night owl, and there is an argument for employers and society to accommodate that.


Cristiano Ronaldo???s lawyer has confirmed authorities in Las Vegas have issued a warrant to collect DNA from the football star in the wake of allegations he raped a woman in the city in 2009. Ole Gunnar Solskj??r accepts Mauricio Pochettino ???has done a very good job??? at Tottenham and understands why he is being linked with the permanent Manchester United manager???s role. The Southampton striker Charlie Austin has been handed a two-match suspension by the FA after admitting making a gesture towards Manchester City fans during the recent Premier League game at St Mary???s. And Danny Cipriani has made a timely return from injury and will start at fly-half for Gloucester tonight against Munster in a must-win European Champions Cup tie at Kingsholm.


Overnight, the car industry boss Carlos Ghosn has been indicted in Japan on fresh charges of financial misconduct. Asian stocks inched up to five-week highs after Jerome Powell reiterated the Federal Reserve will be patient about raising interest rates, while trade talks between Washington and Beijing moved to higher levels. The US treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, said China???s vice-premier Liu He would ???most likely??? visit Washington later in the month.

The FTSE is set to open higher and the pound is worth $1.276 and ???1.107 at time of writing.

The papers

The Guardian???s lead story is ???Blow to the low-carb diet as WHO report says fibre cuts early deaths???, a story that also features on the front page of the Times. But that paper splashes with: ???May calls on union chief in bid to save Brexit deal???.

Guardian front page, Friday 11 January 2018
Guardian front page, Friday 11 January 2018.

The Express is thrilled with Michael Gove???s criticism of Corbyn???s Brexit stance: ???Finally! Someone tells it as it is???, while the Financial Times reports: ???Ford and JLR slash thousands of EU jobs in drive to stem sales slide???. Stories about the love lives of powerful men run on the front pages of the Sun: ???Amazon slime??? and the Mirror: ???Cheat Boris and lover in Greek hideaway???. The Telegraph reports: ???Trans row as men get access to women???s NHS wards???, the Mail has: ???PM orders speedboat killer: give yourself up???, and the i says: ???Can???t recycle: Britain to burn more than half its rubbish???.

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