Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 4 August 2022

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

1

Bank tipped to raise rates again

The Bank of England is widely expected to raise interest rates for the sixth time in a row today. Interest rates could be increased to as much as 1.75% as the Bank tries to tackle inflation. The Telegraph said that the Bank will also “be forced to admit that inflation will remain high for far longer than previously predicted”, but The Guardian said the trend in underlying inflation – which excludes fuel, food, tobacco and alcohol – is “encouraging”, with core inflation falling for two months in a row from 6.2% in April to 5.8% in June.

2

China launches military drills

Beijing is launching its biggest ever military exercise in the seas around Taiwan following US politician Nancy Pelosi’s controversial visit to the island, which China regards as a breakaway province. Taiwan’s ministry of defence said its armed forces are “operating as usual” and monitoring surroundings. “We seek no escalation, but we don’t stand down when it comes to our security and sovereignty,” the ministry said. Analyst Bonny Lin told the BBC that there was a risk of confrontation.

3

Far-right target kids online

A “far-right ecosystem” is trying to radicalise children online, said The Guardian. Gaming forums, private chatrooms and online leaflets or “study guides” are among the formats used to introduce young teenagers to white supremacist and neo-Nazi ideas. Experts said that progressively younger school pupils are becoming embroiled in the dogmas. Ken McCallum, the director general of MI5, has warned that teenagers are being swept up in a toxic ideology of “online extremists and echo chambers”.

4

Truss shrugs off U-turn black hole

Liz Truss has brushed off concerns about her U-turn on a policy to cut public sector wages and the £8.8bn black hole the change of heart has left in her budget. The Tory leadership hopeful said the policy was “misinterpreted” by the media. She said the £8.8bn black hole in her savings budget caused by her abandoning a policy was not part of her “central costings” for funding her dramatic spending pledges. Truss’ campaign received a boost with the backing of former health secretary Sajid Javid.

5

Fresh hosepipe ban ahead of new heatwave

Millions more households could face hosepipe bans as forecasters warn of another heatwave. South East Water has become the second company to announce a hosepipe and sprinkler ban, affecting around 2.2m customers in Kent and Sussex. Meanwhile, a £250m water plant built to protect hundreds of thousands of households from the effects of drought has been switched off, The Telegraph revealed. Temperatures are predicted to rise above 30C next week.

6

US criticises UK on slavery

Britain has been criticised by the US government for failing modern slaves. In an annual report, the US said that Britain was pursuing human trafficking victims for crimes their captors forced them to commit and warned that the UK needed to improve support for child victims to prevent them being drawn back into slavery. The Home Office said it is “committed to delivering needs-based support to victims of slavery”.

7

Archie parents prepare for ‘the end’

The parents of Archie Battersbee have vowed to “fight” to get him moved to a hospice, insisting they should be allowed to choose where he takes “his last moments”. The mother of the 12-year-old has conceded that the legal battle to postpone the withdrawal of her son’s life support is at “the end” after the European Court of Human Rights refused an application to delay any changes to his treatment. His life support will be withdrawn at 11am, unless his family launch a High Court bid by 9am to move him to a hospice.

8

Jones accepts Sandy Hook was real

Controversial broadcaster Alex Jones has testified that the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting was “100% real” and that it was wrong to call it a hoax. The parents of a child killed in the shooting are seeking at least $150m (£123m) in a defamation trial brought against Jones, who is described by the BBC as a “conspiracy theorist”. After 20 children and six adults were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, Jones began to spin “lurid conspiracies that the shootings never happened”, said CNN.

9

Shop visits falling again

Visits to high streets and shopping centres fell below pre-pandemic levels last month, reversing gains made in April. As both temperatures and inflation soared, footfall decreased by 14% in July compared with 2019. The Guardian said the north of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland trailed behind the south in terms of the overall recovery from “Covid-fuelled gloom”. Diane Wehrle of Springboard said the extent of the “north-south divide” has “increased significantly over recent months”.

10

Patrick Vallance to stand aside

Patrick Vallance is to stand down as the government’s chief scientific adviser. The scientist, who played a central role guiding the UK through the Covid-19 pandemic, said his tenure was both “challenging and immensely rewarding”. As the search for his successor begins, Boris Johnson said it was “impossible to fully convey” Vallance’s importance. He is expected to appear prominently during the official inquiry into the response to Covid.

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