Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 29 July 2022

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

1

Energy giants’ profits branded ‘truly obscene’

Huge profits announced by two British giants have been slammed as “obscene”. British Gas owner Centrica made £1.3bn in the first six months of this year, while Shell “raked in £9.4bn in just three months,” said The Mirror. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady described the profits as an “insult” and Howard Cox, of the FairFuelUK Campaign, said they were “truly obscene”. However, Tory leadership front-runner Liz Truss said last night that now is “not the time” for energy firms to pay more tax to help with the cost of people’s bills.

2

Heatwave linked to climate change

Leading scientists said the scorching temperatures in the UK last week would have been “almost impossible” without human-induced climate change. After the UK recorded temperatures above 40C for the first time, scientists in the World Weather Attribution group said that without human-caused climate change these would have been 2C to 4C cooler. Meteorologists have said the results of the study, which found that extreme temperatures in western Europe are rising faster than expected, are “sobering”.

3

Met officers joked about rape

Metropolitan Police officers joked about raping women in a WhatsApp group with PC Wayne Couzens before he abducted, raped and murdered Sarah Everard. The group shared rape fantasies of colleagues and teenage girls, quipped about shooting people in the face and exchanged racial slurs and homophobic language, Westminster magistrates’ court was told.  PC Jonathan Cobban, PC William Neville, and Joel Borders are accused of sending “grossly racist, sexist, misogynistic” messages, sometimes when on duty. Couzens is not a defendant.

4

‘Don’t play with fire,’ China tells US

China’s Xi Jinping warned Joe Biden against “playing with fire” over Taiwan. Beijing said that during a lengthy and “candid” phone-call, Xi reiterated China’s position that it considered Taiwan – a self-governed territory – to be an inalienable part of China. “Public opinion shall not be violated, and if you play with fire you get burned,” Xi told Biden, according to China’s state news agency. CNN said Taiwan has “emerged as a serious point of conflict”.

5

Energy discount scheme explained

Details of how the £400 energy bills discount for households will be arranged have been announced. The government said the discount, administered by energy suppliers, will be paid to millions of households over the course of six months starting in October. Customers paying by direct debit, either monthly or quarterly, will see an automatic deduction off those bills. Prepayment meter customers will be provided with Energy Bill discount vouchers in the first week of each month.

6

Washington DC at ‘tipping point’ over migrants

The mayor of Washington DC has said the city is at a “tipping point” as undocumented migrants arrive on buses in the district. Muriel Bowser called the arrival of some 4,800 migrants from the southern border a “humanitarian crisis” and asked for National Guard troops to be activated to help process the migrants. Migration across the US-Mexico border has soared to record levels.

7

Truss earns Wallace endorsement

Ben Wallace has said Liz Truss is the “only candidate” with the experience to lead the nation from day one in the job. Writing in The Times, the defence secretary said Truss is a winner “not because she’s a slick salesperson but because she is authentic” and said he was backing her because she is “straight and means what she says”. Both the candidates vying to lead the Conservative Party have coveted his endorsement because he emerged as the clear favourite among Tory members before the leadership contest began.

8

Former ambassador dies

Sir Christopher Meyer, the former Downing Street press secretary and onetime ambassador to the US, has died aged 78. The veteran diplomat died after suffering a stroke while on holiday in the French Alps with his wife Catherine, said the Daily Mail. The couple had been watching films together when Baroness Meyer heard her husband drop his iPad. Meyer’s six years in Washington came during the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush eras. He was also press secretary to prime minister John Major between 1993 and 1996.

9

Wagatha Christie verdict due

The verdict in the High Court case between Rebekah Vardy and Coleen Rooney will be published at midday, following the two-week “Wagatha Christie” trial in May. Vardy sued Rooney for defamation following a public accusation that she had leaked private information about Rooney to the tabloid press. The Sun, said the judge, Mrs Justice Steyn, has not given either woman advanced notice of the verdict, “so no-one could be tempted to leak it,” prompting the tabloid to headline it’s story: “Gagatha”.

10

Neighbours comes to an end

The final episodes of the soap opera Neighbours have been aired in Australia. A crowd of devoted fans gathered to watch on a big screen in Melbourne, the city where the show is set and produced. The final episodes will be shown in the UK on Channel 5 this evening. The Australian soap, which has run for almost 37 years, has had “plane crashes, bushfires, drownings, and several tearful bedside death scenes,” said the BBC, which originally broadcast it in the UK.

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