Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 1 July 2022

The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am

1

Tory whip quits over grope claim

Boris Johnson’s deputy chief whip has resigned from the government after The Sun alleged he groped two men at the Carlton Club, a Tory Party private members’ club in central London, on Wednesday night. In a letter to the PM, Christopher Pincher said he had “drank far too much” and “embarrassed” himself and other people on a night out. “I apologise to you and to those concerned,” he added. A Downing Street source told the BBC that he would remain the Conservative MP for Tamworth.

2

US climate action restricted

The US Supreme Court has restricted the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate global-warming emissions from the country’s power plants. The court agreed with the arguments of 19 mostly Republican-led states and leading coal giants that the agency did not have the authority to limit emissions. Joe Biden called it a “devastating decision” and CNN said the “major blow” to climate action comes “just as scientists warn the world is running out of time to get the climate crisis under control”.

3

No. 10 considers VAT cut

The prime minister’s chief of staff has proposed a VAT cut to address inflation and help households with the cost-of-living crisis. Steve Barclay suggested reducing the 20% headline rate of the tax, arguing that a temporary cut would reduce the tax bill for millions and ease inflation, which is at its highest for 40 years. However, The Times noted that cutting VAT to 17.5% would cost the government about £18bn and the Treasury “has warned that it could ultimately fuel inflation by overstimulating the economy”.

4

Blair: Brexit won’t be reversed soon

Once a leading advocate of a second EU referendum, Tony Blair has admitted that Brexit will not be overturned for at least a generation. Speaking at a conference organised by his own think tank, the former Labour PM said: “However passionately I opposed Brexit, I understand we’ve done it. We’ve done it legally, we’ve done it politically and it’s not going to be reversed any time soon – let’s say any time in this generation.” However, he added, Britain needs to “fix” its trading relationship with Europe.

5

Hong Kong swears in new chief

Security is tight as Hong Kong marks 25 years since the handover from British to Beijing rule. Making his first trip outside of mainland China since the start of the Covid pandemic, Chinese President Xi Jinping swore in John Lee as Hong Kong’s new chief executive. The Guardian said Lee, a former hardline police officer, “sounded a nationalistic tone” at the ceremony, saying Hong Kong “can make a contribution to the revival of the great Chinese race”. Lee, who got the job in a one-man election, will replace Carrie Lam.

6

TV ad breaks may get longer

Advertising breaks could get longer and more frequent as part of a review by Ofcom. The regulator said it was examining the rules that govern the frequency and length of advert breaks on commercial broadcasters. However, it said it would consider allowing more product placement as a “trade-off” for retaining present advertising limits. Currently, commercial public service broadcasters ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 can carry an average of seven minutes of advertising per hour, but other commercial broadcasters are allowed up to 12 minutes.

7

Warning of flu and Covid outbreaks

A health boss has warned that Britain could be facing an unusually early flu wave. Speaking to the Royal Society of Medicine, Dr Susan Hopkins, the chief medical adviser at the UK Health Security Agency, said that “while we normally don’t see influenza really kick off until the end of November to December” this year it “might happen as early as late September-October”. She added that she expects “at least one” Covid wave in autumn and winter and that there would be ongoing community transmission of monkeypox.

8

Horse-race lobbying revealed

Documents obtained by The Times suggest a Conservative MP lobbied ministers on behalf of the horse-racing industry after racing and betting firms handed him free tickets to race events with a value of £25,000. Philip Davies petitioned Chancellor Rishi Sunak and the then culture secretary Oliver Dowden by forwarding correspondence from racing organisations advocating policy changes. The newspaper said Davies “vociferously denied” that he was influenced by the hospitality he had received.

9

Spike in vasectomy requests in US

Doctors in the US say there has been a surge in requests for vasectomies following abortion bans in several states. The Washington Post said doctors in some states reported a “300 to 400%” increase in vasectomy consultations and a “200 to 250%” increase in internet traffic regarding the procedure. Doug Stein, a doctor known as the “Vasectomy King”, said the uptick in requests was “very, very noticeable” in the aftermath of the Supreme Court ruling. More than half of US states have either imposed severe abortion bans or are expected to shortly.

10

Crown actor ‘at risk from stalker’

Claire Foy, who played the young Queen Elizabeth in The Crown, faced “significant risk” from an alleged stalker who sent her 1,000 emails in a month, a court has been told. Jason Penrose, 39, who gave his address as Highgate Mental Health Centre, is said to have targeted Foy in November and December last year, bombarding her with explicit emails, contacting her sister and visiting her home. The Metropolitan Police is seeking to extend a stalking protection order against Penrose. The hearing was rescheduled for 22 July.

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