Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 2 August 2022

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

1

US kills al-Qaeda leader

The CIA has killed the leader of al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, in a drone strike in Afghanistan. US president Joe Biden said Zawahiri, who took over al-Qaeda after the death of Osama Bin Laden in 2011, had “carved a trail of murder and violence against American citizens”. The US believes he and Bin Laden plotted the September 11 attacks together. The New York Post described the assassination as “the most significant US counter-terror operation since the 2019 slaying of Isis commander Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi”.

2

Tory leadership race tightens

Liz Truss has received the backing by former leadership rival Penny Mordaunt. Writing for The Times, Mordaunt, who narrowly lost out to Truss in the final round of voting among MPs, said the foreign secretary has “grasped the mood of the country” and is the candidate most likely to win the next general election. However, a private poll for Truss’ campaign found that she was now only five points ahead of Sunak, in contrast to surveys at the end of the knockout stages that suggested she had a 24-point lead over her rival.

3

Pelosi ‘to visit Taiwan’ despite warning

Nancy Pelosi is expected to visit Taiwan today despite warnings from Beijing that it will “not sit idly by” if the trip goes ahead. Although the stop is not currently on Pelosi’s public itinerary, a Taiwanese official said that the US House speaker is expected to stay in Taiwan overnight. Commenting on relations between the US and China, CNN said that Pelosi’s trip, if it goes ahead, is “almost certain to create greater instability in the relationship that would make future conflict more likely”.

4

UN sounds nuclear alarm

The UN Secretary General has warned that the world is one misstep from devastating nuclear war. “We have been extraordinarily lucky so far,” said Antonio Guterres, adding that “humanity is just one misunderstanding, one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation”. At the opening of a nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty conference in New York, Guterres said: “Eliminating nuclear weapons is the only guarantee they will never be used.”

5

PM blames ‘2019ers’ for his exit

Boris Johnson believes the 2019 intake of Conservative MPs contributed to his downfall by failing to back him as he was losing his grip on power, according to the i newspaper. According to friends of the outgoing PM, Johnson thinks the group spent too much time on Twitter, leaving them “flaky”, “neurotic” and “lacking robustness” when it came to rallying round him in recent months. Some MPs believe Johnson is “bitter” and “refusing to recognise his own part in his resignation,” said the paper.

6

BA suspends short-haul sales

British Airways has suspended the sale of short-haul flights from Heathrow for at least a week. The carrier acted to comply with Heathrow’s decision to cap passenger numbers at 100,000 a day as an attempt to reduce disruption over the school holidays. The Times said the “unprecedented move” will result in thousands of seats being removed from sale and will push already high prices up further across the industry. “BA will have hated having to do this at the peak of the summer season,” a senior aviation source told the paper.

7

‘Unprincipled’ reform on dangerous inmates

Dangerous prisoners will be blocked from automatic release following an unprecedented rule change. The move will allow ministers to override judges’ “fixed term sentences”, which set automatic release dates at halfway or two-thirds through offenders’ jail terms. Dangerous prisoners will instead be referred to the parole board to require them to serve out their full prison sentences before they are released into the community. Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust and former prison governor, described it as an “unprincipled transfer of sentencing powers from the judiciary to the executive”.

8

Brits to stand trial in proxy court

Three Britons accused of being mercenaries are to stand trial in a Russian proxy court in eastern Ukraine. According to Russian media, John Harding, Dylan Healy, and Andrew Hill will be tried in the Donetsk People’s Republic, a breakaway region of Ukraine. The court, which is not internationally recognised, sentenced two British men to death recently. The UK and Ukraine condemned the death sentences for violating international laws protecting prisoners of war.

9

Nandy visits striking workers

The shadow levelling-up secretary Lisa Nandy has been photographed visiting striking workers days after one of her colleagues was sacked for comments made on a picket line. Shadow cabinet ministers have warned of a “breakdown in discipline” after Nandy was pictured in Wigan, where she is the local MP, by the North West regional secretary of the Communication Workers Union, Carl Webb. Last week, the shadow transport minister, Sam Tarry, was sacked for conducting multiple broadcast interviews from a rail workers’ picket.

10

‘Smart water’ to target club pests

Revellers at nightclubs who harass women will be sprayed with “smart water” in a bid to combat sexual assaults. Security guards will be issued with canisters of the forensic spray that they can use to tag suspects’ bodies and clothes, said The Telegraph, allowing police to later project ultraviolet light onto the suspect and their clothes to reveal the smart water’s signature. Officials claim it has had a deterrent effect because clubbers are told it is in use.

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