Top story: Speaker warns Brexiters they cannot defy parliament
Good morning briefers. I’m Martin Farrer and it’s my pleasure to bring you the top stories this Wednesday morning.
John Bercow plans to stay on as speaker of the House of Commons in a move that is likely to enrage Brexit-supporting Conservative backbenchers who believe he is biased towards the remain camp. Speaking after making a speech in Washington DC, Bercow said it was not “sensible to vacate the chair” while there were major issues before parliament. Bercow had told friends that he would stand down in July after 10 years in the chair, but he has appeared to rule that out in favour of seeing parliament through the Brexit crisis.
Bercow also doubled down on his standoff with Eurosceptics by saying that whoever replaced Theresa May as prime minister would not be able to impose a no-deal Brexit on the country if parliament remained opposed to the idea. It will be seen as a rebuke to leading contenders such as Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab, who have both championed the no-deal option regardless of what MPs might say. Another Tory leadership contender, Rory Stewart, rejected suggestions that he only entered the race as a “suicide bomber” who could clear a path for Michael Gove. Meanwhile, the incumbent in No 10 warned that her successor would have to find a consensus in parliament before Britain could leave the EU.
However, things are arguably even worse for Labour with the party under formal investigation for antisemitism by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, Alastair Campbell expelled for voting Lib Dem and heartland voters deserting for the Brexit party.
Hacking claim – Saudi Arabia has been accused of hacking the electronic devices of a dissident who is believed to be living in Britain under police protection. The allegation is contained in a letter of claim which was delivered to the Saudi embassy in London on Tuesday and was sent on behalf of the Saudi satirist Ghanem Almasarir. It says he was targeted by Saudi Arabia with malware via suspicious texts and corrupt links. The malware was developed by the Israeli surveillance company NSO and has allegedly been used in the past by Saudi Arabia and other governments to target journalists, human rights campaigners and political activists. The Saudis have six weeks to settle the claim before the accusations are formally taken to court.
Emissions failure – Around 33m cars tampered with in the Dieselgate emissions scandal are still on Europe’s roads four years after manufacturers were revealed to have cheated the testing system. Only one-quarter of the total number of faulty cars have been removed, a study shows, and it will take another two years to recall the rest. Florent Grelier, of Transport and Environment, which conducted the analysis, said the slow progress was “unacceptable” and showed that Brussels lacked the political will to impose mandatory recalls on the car industry. EU sources said they did not want to “emotionalise” the debate by framing the lack of action by member states as unacceptable.
Boat killing – A British man has been jailed for eight years in the US for killing his wife while they were on honeymoon on their yacht in the Caribbean. Lewis Bennett, 42, was sentenced yesterday in Miami over the death of Isabella Hellmann, 41, as they sailed off the Bahamas in 2017. Bennett says his wife, with whom he had a young daughter, disappeared overboard when the boat struck something in the water at night. Bennett fled the stricken craft and was later found to have been smuggling thousands of dollars worth of rare coins. His wife’s body has never been found.
Abortion battle – The US supreme court has signalled it is more open to state restrictions on abortions by upholding an Indiana law supported by pro-life groups that regulates the disposal of fetal remains. But the justices yesterday evaded the question of a broader provision that would prevent a woman in the state from having an abortion based on gender, race or disability. In Missouri, officials indicated that they might not renew the licence of the only abortion clinic in the state which would make it the only one in the country without such a facility. The moves are the latest in a series of cases seen as potential springboards for anti-abortion campaigners to challenge the landmark 1973 decision Roe v Wade, which paved the way for its legalisation across the US.
From Mao to the modern – Seventy years ago, China fell to forces led by Mao Zedong, ushering in a Communist party rule that has seen the country endure huge upheaval, brutality and unprecedented social and economic change. Our Beijing correspondent Lily Kuo has been talking to Chinese men and women – young and old, well-off and not-so-well-off – who have lived through some of those changes. They include Zhang Xizhen, who grew up amid the brutality of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution (“we can’t have chaos”), and Xiao Chen, a peasant boy who lived the dream of studying at university only to see hopes of a socialist idyll dashed (“they don’t care about the workers”).
Today in Focus podcast: what happens when industry leaves town
British Steel’s collapse is a hammer blow to Scunthorpe, where it employs 5,000 people. To find out what people in east Yorkshire can expect, Helen Pidd returns to Redcar, which lost the majority of its steelworks in 2015. Also today: Rory Carroll on the case of Ian Bailey, on trial in France for murder in his absence.
Lunchtime read: why a midlife crisis is no joke
Reggie Perrin, Walter White and countless other fictional creations have long been held up as exemplars of the midlife crisis. But such dramatisations have helped trivialise what is a fundamental part of human existence, psychologists believe, and make it harder for us to understand a problem that will affect us all. As she gets to grips with life in her 40s, Zoe Williams speaks to one expert who thinks that a new medical specialism between paediatircs and geriatrics is needed to deal with the problems of ageing. She writes: “Just because the parameters of the discussion about midlife crises were obsolete, it shouldn’t have blinded us to the kernel of truth: that life is finite, that sensations of waste, futility, emptiness and inauthenticity, are a natural consequence of realising that.”
Maurizio Sarri stormed away from Chelsea’s training session at the Olympic Stadium in Baku on the eve of the Europa League final against Arsenal after admitting he is considering his future. Naomi Osaka has handed out enough bagels in her career to open a bakery but the world No 1 experienced the humiliation herself before recovering to beat Anna Karolina Schmiedlova 0-6, 7-6 (4), 6-1 – one of the oddest scores at this year’s French Open. In the men’s draw, Australia’s Bernard Tomic says he is “pretty sure” he tried during his first-round encounter with Taylor Fritz, despite losing the match in just 82 minutes. Jessica Ennis-Hill has warned that women feel under pressure not to have children during their sporting careers because they fear they could lose their sponsors. And Mohamed Salah wants to score Liverpool’s winner in the Champions League final to banish the misery of last season’s defeat by Real Madrid.
A report from Britain’s leading independent economics thinktank says council spending on local services has fallen by more than a fifth since 2010 as austerity spreads across the nation. On the markets, Asian stocks were subdued again and US bond yields also fell amid cocnerns about global growth. The FTSE100 looks like reflecting that with a 0.5% fall at the opening this morning. The pound is flat at $1.266 and €1.133.
The Labour party’s troubles feature on several front pages, as the row over antisemitism within the party intensifies.
The Telegraph says “‘Shameful’ Corbyn faces party mutiny”, while the Mail calls it “Labour’s day of shame” and the i says “Labour’s day of turmoil”. The Mirror says “Corbyn to back second referendum” and the Guardian has more Brexit news: “Bercow risks fury of Eurosceptics with pledge to stay on as Speaker.” The Times reports on the Tory leadership contest: “Hunt’s gaffe boosts Gove bid for Tory leadership.”
The FT prefers “Alibaba chooses Hong Kong as fresh listing aims to raise $20bn”, the Express leads with a policing story: “Millions of crime victims left high and dry” and the Sun has a story about a rugby legend sending indecent pictures: “Dallagio sent me pics of his tackle”.
The Guardian Morning Briefing is delivered to thousands of inboxes bright and early every weekday. If you are not already receiving it by email, you can sign up here.
For more news: www.theguardian.com