Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 28 July 2022

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

1

Risk grows of accidental nuclear war with China

The UK’s national security adviser has warned that the West and China could “miscalculate our way into nuclear war”. Stephen Lovegrove raised the spectre of an “uncontrolled conflict” between China and the West, adding that Britain had “clear concerns” Beijing was expanding and modernising its nuclear arsenal. In a speech in Washington at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, he also warned that China’s “disdain” for arms control agreements was a “daunting prospect”.

2

Unions threaten general strike

Unions have warned the UK could face a general strike within months as rail workers voted for fresh action. Mick Lynch, secretary-general of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT), has called for a general strike in retaliation to the government’s threats to curb industrial action, warning of the “biggest resistance mounted by the entire trade union movement” which would rival the “general strike of 1926, the suffragettes and Chartism”.

3

Single jab closer for Covid and colds

Researchers have taken a “promising” step towards a single Covid-19 and cold vaccine. The scientists at the Francis Crick Institute in London discovered that a specific area of the spike protein of Sars-CoV-2 – the virus that causes Covid-19 – could become a target for a jab that could offer protection against all the Covid variants and common colds. A spokesperson said the targeted area is “less subject to mutations, and so a vaccine targeted at this area should be more robust”.

4

Starmer faces anger over sacking

Shadow ministers have privately questioned whether Labour’s position on strikes is sustainable, after Keir Starmer controversially sacked the frontbencher Sam Tarry for doing broadcast interviews from a rail strike picket line. The Ilford South MP attended the protest at London’s Euston station despite Starmer telling his frontbench MPs to stay away. However, union leaders have criticised the Labour leader for the decision and Tarry said he had been standing “in solidarity with striking workers”.

5

Sea levels rising faster

Sea levels are rising significantly faster than a century ago, said the Met Office. In its annual look at the UK’s climate and weather, the Met Office said although sea levels have risen by around 16.5cm (6.5ins) since 1990, they are now rising by 3mm-5.2mm a year, which is more than double the rate of increase in the early part of last century. The State of the Climate report also said that higher temperatures are the new normal for Britain.

6

Protesters storm Iraqi parliament

Hundreds of supporters of the Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr “danced and sang in parliament” in protest at a rival bloc’s nomination for prime minister, said The Guardian. Al-Sadr’s political alliance won the most seats in last year’s general election, but it is not in power due to political deadlock following the vote. Police reportedly fired tear gas and water cannon at the protesters. No lawmakers were present at the time. The scenes “served as a reminder of the multiple crises faced by Iraq, despite its oil-rich status”, said the BBC.

7

Ukraine cuts off Russian troops

Western military sources said Ukraine’s campaign to retake the occupied Kherson region is “gathering pace”. Thousands of Russian troops are now in danger of being cut off from the rest of the occupied territory after a key bridge into the city of Kherson was hit by Ukrainian forces. Presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said there is a “certain plan” of the armed forces of Ukraine to “isolate [Russia’s] military operations”.

8

Tories reveal misogyny policies

The Tory leadership hopefuls have announced their plans to tackle violence against women and girls, with Rishi Sunak proposing a new “down-blousing” offence and Liz Truss suggesting a law against sexist street harassment. Labour MP Stella Creasy, who has pushed for misogyny to be made a crime, called it a major U-turn by the foreign secretary. Truss also said she would rush in a National Domestic Abuse Register to break the cycle of repeat offending by abusive men, while Sunak said he would create a new emergency taskforce to hunt down grooming gangs.

9

First revenue drop for Facebook

Facebook’s parent company has warned of budget cuts after it suffered its first drop in revenues in its history. Meta said revenues fell to $28.8bn (£23.7bn) in the three months ending in June, down from $29bn the previous year. The company blamed “weak advertising demand” and said it would cut back on hiring and cut spending plans. The Telegraph said the decline “brings an end to 18 years of growth for the company [Mark] Zuckerberg originally conceived in his Harvard dorm room”.

10

Britain could face hot weekend

Temperatures in Britain are expected to climb to 29C in the days ahead. Met Office forecaster Clare Nasir said that “over the next few days apart from a few showers most places will be dry and warm”. However, into the weekend it “warms up further across more southern and eastern areas whereas to the north and west fresher with outbreaks of rain”. People in England are being urged to curb their use of water as the country faces its driest conditions since 1976.

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