Today’s top headlines from The Telegraph

It comes as Mark Drakeford has been accused of lying to the public by a former health statistics boss after he said omicron was “probably” just as severe as delta, despite three studies concluding the opposite. 

Jamie Jenkins, the former head of health analysis at the Office for National Statistics, said that the Welsh First Minister had made an “untrue statement with the intent to deceive” as he scrambled to justify his coronavirus restrictions in the face of evidence that the latest Covid variant is milder. 

That research will also be little comfort to Scottish owners of nightclubs, which have been ordered to close for at least three weeks unless table service and physical distancing are introduced.

Football fixture chaos

Meanwhile, Covid outbreaks at Leeds United and Watford have plunged the Premier League into Boxing Day scheduling chaos

Leeds’ match at Liverpool and Watford’s trip to Wolves have both been called off with 72 hours to spare following requests from the clubs. 

The league apologised to fans, but the disruption is also an added headache for broadcasters. Read on for details

For those hoping to get away this festive season, Austria has joined France in tightening travel restrictions for British arrivals, just as the ski season gets underway. 

From Saturday, all Britons wishing to visit the Alpine nation must present proof of full vaccination, a booster and a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of travel. 

Yet there is some positive Covid news around. 

AstraZeneca has said a three-dose course of its Covid-19 vaccine is effective against the rapidly-spreading omicron variant, citing data from an Oxford University study.

Morecambe and Wise

Despite all the Covid concerns, Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, confirmed that no further restrictions will be announced in England before Christmas. 

So how do we make the best of the big occasion? 

To start, a Morecambe and Wise episode lost for 50 years will be aired on Christmas Day after the footage was found in Eric Morecambe’s son’s attic. 

The long-lost episode will be broadcast on BBC Two and colourised for the first time. 

What about the food? 

If you have not yet worked out how you plan to cook Christmas dinner, Mark Hix offers the ultimate recipe on how to cook roast turkey

Also, Tom Kerridge, Tommy Banks and more share their favourite Christmas dishes, and how to make them.

PS – Thanks again for sharing your unique family Christmas traditions to try to help your fellow Front Page readers enjoy this year’s festivities. Here is some inspiration from David Norris, 63, of Brentwood:

“We have a tradition within the family that has been going on since the late 1880s of welcoming the Christmas Pudding with a song that my grandmother learnt at junior school, aged eight. The composer was anonymous and besides the wider family we have only come across one other family that sings it.” (Email here if you want the lyrics.)

Comment and analysis

Around the world: Putin demands Western guarantees

Vladimir Putin today demanded that the West give Russia security guarantees “right now” as he claimed the United States agreed to launch talks as soon as next month. The Russian president in a marathon press conference in Moscow insisted that Russia, which reportedly amassed over 100,000 troops near Ukraine, is not threatening anyone but instead worries about Nato’s military activity near its borders. Read how President Putin snapped back when asked by a British reporter if he could offer a guarantee that Russia will not attack Ukraine. It comes as hundreds of Russian paratroopers hold two days of military drills near Ukraine’s border simulating capturing territory. Read on for details.

Thursday long-read

How cancel culture came to define 2021

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