Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 12 July 2021
The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am
Pride and abuse as England lose
Gareth Southgate has taken responsibility for his side’s loss to Italy in the final of the European Championships after England’s best performance at a major tournament since 1966. Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho all missed penalties during a tense shoot-out. Despite widespread praise for the team, dozens of England fans were arrested at the match and the Football Association has condemned racist abuse aimed at Rashford, Sancho and Saka on social media after the final whistle.
‘Wary’ PM to urge ‘caution’
The prime minister will warn people today not to return to life as normal after 19 July unless they want to have restrictions re-imposed. Although he will confirm that all remaining limits on social contact will be lifted in England next week, Boris Johnson will emphasise that “caution is absolutely vital” in the face of rising infections, in what The Times says will be a “wary tone”. The PM has also dropped assurances that the end of restrictions is “irreversible”.
Court considers passport gender
The Supreme Court will hear today that people should be allowed to state their gender as X on their passports instead of just male or female. Lawyers for Christie Elan-Cane, who identifies as non-gendered, will ask the court to declare that the absence of “X passports” is a breach of human rights. The Court of Appeal ruled in 2020 that policy requiring British passports to have a male or female gender category did not breach Elan-Cane’s rights.
Breakthrough in long Covid study
An advance in research into long Covid patients could one day pave the way for a test for the condition. Experts at Imperial College London found a pattern of rogue antibodies in the blood of a small number of people with long Covid. Dr Elaine Maxwell, from the National Institute of Health Research, said the early findings were “exciting” and could lead to a simple blood test within six to 18 months.
Branson hails ‘magical’ space trip
Sir Richard Branson went into space on his Virgin Galactic rocket plane yesterday. Together with five colleagues, the 70-year-old travelled 53.4 miles above the Earth on VSS Unity. He billed the flight as a test of the space tourism experience he expects to begin selling to customers from 2022. “It’s been the experience of a lifetime,” he said. “I’ve dreamed of this moment since I was a kid but honestly, nothing can prepare you for the view of Earth from space. It’s just magical.”
Georgian cameraman dies after beating
A television cameraman in Georgia has died after being assaulted by far-right assailants during a protest against an LGBTQ Pride march. Alexander Lashkarava, 37, was found dead in his bed in the early hours on Sunday, the channel reported. Last Monday he was beaten by a mob of anti-LGBTQ protesters and sustained fractures to his facial bones. Reporters Without Borders has accused authorities of “culpable passivity”.
Delta sparks US resurgence
Covid cases in the US have risen above the 20,000 level for three days in a row as the Delta variant spreads rapidly. The rise has taken Covid levels back to those last seen in May. More than 90% of recent cases have occurred in counties with vaccination rates lower than 40%, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The seven-day average of daily new cases is up by 47% from two weeks ago and hospital cases have risen by 11%.
Treasury admits data wipe
The Treasury has wiped all data from more than 100 government-issued mobile phones because their users, including Tom Scholar, the department’s permanent secretary, entered the wrong pins. In response to a freedom of information request, the Treasury said its IT desk had reset 117 of its 2,100 mobile phones in 2020. Users of government phones are required to change their pins and passwords frequently.
Study finds Covid worsened inequality
Higher savings and rocketing house prices have made the average household £7,800 richer during the pandemic, the Resolution Foundation has found. However, the think tank said the gains overwhelmingly benefited middle and high-income households, which means a worsening of wealth inequality. A senior economist said policy makers could “no longer afford to ignore the dominant role wealth is playing in 21st-century Britain”.
Protests held in Cuba
In one of Cuba’s biggest anti-government demonstrations in memory, thousands of people have marched on Havana’s Malecon promenade to protest against food shortages and high prices. Protesters chanted “freedom”, “enough” and “unite”. The island is enduring its worst economic crisis in decades, along with a resurgence of Covid cases, as it deals with US sanctions imposed by Donald Trump.