Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 8 August 2021

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

1

Planet ‘dangerously close’ to catastrophe

The world is “dangerously close” to running out of time to stop a climate change catastrophe, says the government’s climate chief Alok Sharma. “We can't afford to wait two years, five years, 10 years - this is the moment,” he tells The Observer. However, he did not condemn the government for allowing more fossil fuel projects and he defended the government’s record on plans to reach net zero emissions by 2050, which have been heavily criticised.

2

NHS waiting lists could rise to 15m

Ministers have been warned that the waiting list for NHS care in England could rise to 15m people in the next four years without a significant increase in its current capacity. The Observer says the warning comes as a “battle over future funding” is “set to kick off between health secretary Sajid Javid, NHS England, and chancellor Rishi Sunak” with the sides “far apart”.

3

Taliban takes another city

The Taliban claims it has taken control of the city of Sheberghan in the northern Afghan province of Jawzjan. This is the second regional capital to fall to the militant group, after Zaranj in the south-western province of Nimroz fell on Friday. Taliban fighters also entered another provincial capital, Kunduz in the north of the country, on Saturday evening.

4

PM ‘threatened to sack Sunak’

An angry Boris Johnson has suggested that he might sack Rishi Sunak, reports The Sunday Times. On Monday, the prime minister met his senior Downing Street aides and was, according to those present, “apopleptic”, “raging” and “f***ing tonto”. The PM was fuming because a letter Sunak had written to him, calling for a significant easing of Covid travel restrictions, was reported in the media before he had been given it.

5

UK sends firefighters to Greece

British firefighters are being sent to Greece to offer support in the battle against wildfires. Units from Merseyside, Lancashire, south Wales, London and the West Midlands fire services are due to fly out to Athens after more than 400 wildfires have broken out across Greece in the last 24 hours. “We are fighting a very big battle,” said a Greek minister.

6

Hammond lobbied officials for bank

Philip Hammond, the former chancellor, has been accused of breaching the ministerial code after writing to one of his former senior officials to advocate on behalf of a bank he was paid to advise. In an email last summer, Hammond told the Treasury’s second most senior civil servant that OakNorth Bank wanted to offer the government the use of a “toolkit” it had developed to assess potential borrowers. A spokesman for Hammond insisted that no rules were broken.

7

Unis will continue online teaching

Several leading universities have refused to bring back full face-to-face teaching in the autumn, despite government advice that they can lift all coronavirus restrictions. University College London, the London School of Economics, Imperial College, Cardiff and Leeds were among the institutions saying that lectures would continue to be held online. Lord Baker of Dorking, the former Conservative education secretary, said the universities' stance was “outrageous”.

8

PM and Starmer ratings plunge

Boris Johnson’s personal approval rating has slipped to its lowest level since he entered 10 Downing Street. The prime minister’s overall approval rating has fallen to -16, down from the -13 he recorded two weeks ago and -8 a fortnight before that. However, Labour leader Keir Starmer’s approval rating is also down, with a net score of -11 – down from -6 two weeks ago.

9

London’s Pakistani exiles warned

Pakistani dissidents living in London have been warned that their lives are in danger. British security sources are understood to be concerned that Pakistan might be prepared to target individuals on British soil. One of the UK’s former national security advisers said authoritarian states such as Rwanda, Tanzania and the Philippines are becoming increasingly emboldened to start silencing critics overseas.

10

Team GB will match London 2012 haul

Team GB are set to match their medal total from London 2012 on the final day of the Tokyo Games. With Team GB already on 64 medals, boxer Lauren Price is guaranteed either a silver or a gold when she fights in the women's middleweight final later. That will put Britain on 65 medals - equalling their performance as hosts nine years ago and making Tokyo their second-most successful overseas Olympics after Rio 2016.

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