Top story: ‘He’s got Vote Leave back together’
Hello, Warren Murray here with some things that bear thinking about.
Boris Johnson’s new government could struggle to survive after 17 senior ministers were sacked or resigned from government in what has been dubbed the “summer’s day massacre”. Four former cabinet ministers led by the ex-chancellor Philip Hammond have indicated that they are determined to block a no-deal Brexit after resigning on Wednesday before they could be sacked.
Johnson sacked 13 others, including Brexiters, who had backed his leadership rival Jeremy Hunt. He appointed in their place a roster of leavers and rightwing free-marketers. “He has effectively got Vote Leave back together,” one Johnson-backing MP said. Priti Patel’s appointment as home secretary has been met with an outpouring of concern over her hard-right record on key issues covered by her new brief. Patel was forced to resign from government two years ago for holding secret, unofficial meetings with Israeli ministers, businesspeople and a senior lobbyist. “The result,” writes Jonathan Freedland, “is a top table that is startlingly right wing. Dominic Raab as foreign secretary, along with the pro-death penalty Priti Patel at the Home Office, puts two people once considered on the wilder Tory fringes at the heart of government – not to mention Jacob Rees-Mogg attending cabinet as leader of the House.” Internationally, the reaction to Johnson’s elevation has been mixed: the Washington Post notes his “frequent false statements”, the French newspaper Liberation calls him “extravagant and disturbing”, while pragmatic Australia is eager to strike a trade deal.
And now, the weather – Temperatures in southern and eastern England have a 70% chance of reaching an unprecedented 39C today. Commuters have been asked to avoid rail travel as trains are being slowed to reduce the chance of rails buckling in the heat. Bodies of two bathers have been recovered from the river Thames with one still missing.
Turning to the bigger picture: in a groundbreaking report, researchers say there has never been a period in the last 2,000 years when temperature changes have been as fast and extensive as in recent decades, and the scientific consensus that humans are causing global heating is likely to have passed 99%. It was previously thought dramatic swings occurred in such periods as the “Little Ice Age” and “Medieval Climate Anomaly”. But analysis of 700 proxy records of temperature change – such as trees, ice and sediment – indicate none of these affected more than half the globe at any one time. “This paper should finally stop climate change deniers claiming that the recent observed coherent global warming is part of a natural climate cycle,” said Mark Maslin from University College London. Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands have just recorded their highest ever temperatures and the climate crisis is being blamed.
Looking at YouTube, though, you might not believe anything was awry with the climate – a researcher has found most of the videos on the subject tend towards the side of discredited and denialist theories. Dr Joachim Allgaier of RWTH Aachen University says YouTube should “change their algorithms to prioritise factual information” while scientists should be putting more factual videos on the platform.
Trump not cleared, Russia still meddling – Robert Mueller, the Trump-Russia investigator, has insisted in testimony to Congress that he did not exonerate the president. His much-vaunted appearance lacked the killing stroke Democrats had hoped for, but Mueller did say that if Trump was not in office he could be charged with obstructing justice; while Russia’s election meddling was “sweeping and systematic … They’re doing it as we sit here.”
Thursday catch-up – A little extra catch-up can’t hurt …
> North Korea has fired two short-range missiles into the sea, South Korea’s military says, after warnings from Pyongyang over military exercises between Washington and Seoul next month.
> The Puerto Rico governor, Ricardo Rosselló, has bowed to pressure and announced his resignation overnight after weeks of protests over leaked text messages where he took part in homophobic and sexist jokes.
> Production of the 737 Max might have to be halted, Boeing has warned, as the airliner remains grounded by regulators. Two crashes that killed hundreds of people were linked to a design fault. Boeing has continued to build the planes in anticipation of its rectifications being cleared by authorities.
> More than £1bn of food is being thrown away or fed to animals before it leaves UK farms every year. The 3.6m tonnes wasted in primary production is more than 10 times the amount thrown away by retailers, says Wrap, the waste-reduction body.
> In Hong Kong, the Yuen Long district is fighting back after masked gangsters – suspected to be triads in league with authorities – brutally attacked people at a train station including pro-democracy protesters. Parts of the station have been covered with photos of victims and attackers, along with signs saying “Take Back Yuen Long”.
Death of a soldier – This extraordinary photograph provides a rare and poignant look back in time to the Korean war: the remains of a soldier, lying as he fell in what is now the demilitarised zone (DMZ) dividing the north and south. “You can see that this soldier was killed by a bullet wound to the head,” said Park Jongwoo, the photographer. “But apart from that, we knew nothing about him.”
Park took the picture in 2012 after becoming the first civilian photographer allowed in. He documented the work of Makri, the South Korean government agency tasked with recovering and identifying war remains. “Like this photo, many war remains are found with rifles and bullet clips, and the bodies lie in the exact position they fell, preserved in the mud, as if they are frozen in time.”
Today in Focus podcast: Can Corbyn take on Boris Johnson?
Listen to Heather Stewart on Labour’s attempts to reunite around its Brexit policy, plus Sonia Sodha on Boris Johnson’s first speech as prime minister.
Lunchtime read: How the state runs business in China
When US officials were pressed in early 2019 to provide evidence that Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications giant, had facilitated spying on the US and its allies, they pointed out that Beijing had already made their case for them: first with the party’s systematic infiltration of private companies, and second with the introduction of a new national intelligence law in 2017. The law states that “any organisation and citizen” shall “support and cooperate in national intelligence work”.
Meanwhile pressure from party committees to have a seat at the table when executives are making big calls on investment and the like means the “lines have been dangerously blurred”. In private enterprises, as with state-owned firms and every institution, in President Xi Jinping’s China the party is the ultimate authority, writes Richard McGregor.
Ten days after the World Cup final at Lord’s, England were bowled out by Ireland for 85 in 23.4 overs, their shortest completed Test innings in this country as Tim Murtagh, the Middlesex stalwart, snared five for 13 in his first and only spell of nine overs. Geraint Thomas’s hopes of defending his Tour de France title were dealt a blow when his Ineos road captain, Luke Rowe, was thrown out of the race, together with his Jumbo Visma counterpart Tony Martin, after the pair had an altercation towards the end of stage 17. Meanwhile home favourite Thibaut Pinot has the passion and feel as a climber to push his rivals all the way as the race reaches a decisive stage. Newcastle United’s new manager Steve Bruce said he was “not Mike Ashley’s bagman” as he detailed a bold manifesto for his tenure at St James’ Park. And Tony Adams has said his role as the Rugby Football League’s president will not involve him offering advice to those already working in the sport.
Tesla shares have tumbled more than 11% after the company reported a larger than expected $408m loss in its second quarter earnings and announced the departure of its chief technology officer (CTO), JB Straubel. Despite selling more cars than ever, Tesla is still struggling to prove it is profitable and has suffered a series of high-profile exits. Facebook, though, has raked in revenues of $16.9bn in the second quarter of 2019 despite two giant fines by US government agencies totaling $5.1bn. Asian shares have staged a decent rally though South Korea’s Kospi declined after the North launched two missiles into the sea. The pound has been trading at $1.247 and €1.120 while the FTSE looks like it will be around 0.2% higher at the open.
The front pages all lead with Boris Johnson’s cabinet reshuffle, with the Times dubbing Wednesday “Johnson’s afternoon of cabinet carnage”. The Sun calls it “Night of the blond knives”, and the Guardian writes: “Ruthless Johnson takes his revenge”.
The FT says “Johnson picks hardcore cabinet to meet 99-day Brexit deadline”, the i says “Brexiteers take over” and the Express reports “Boris waves in a new era”.
“All guns blazing,” says the Mail, and the Telegraph splashes with a quote from Johnson’s first speech as prime minister: “The people who bet against Britain are going to lose their shirts”. The Mirror reports on Johnson’s apparent “first gaffe as PM” after he discussed his private chat with the Queen, during which she apparently told him: “I don’t know why anyone would want the job”.
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