Friday briefing: Heat on Boris Johnson and not just about Brexit | World news

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Top story: Climate crisis seen as more important

Hello, Warren Murray here to help you get up on the news without breaking a sweat …

Seventy-one percent of Britons believe climate change is more important in the long term than Brexit and should be a top priority for Boris Johnson’s government. A ComRes survey for Christian Aid also found six out of 10 adults said the government was not doing enough about it and two-thirds agreed that Johnson should put the issue at the top of his agenda.

Britain’s heatwave this week demonstrated the urgency, said Laura Taylor from Christian Aid. The highest temperature recorded on Thursday was 38.1C in Cambridge. It is only the second time temperatures over 100F have been recorded in the UK, according to the Met Office. Network Rail says disruption to services is likely to continue today after delays caused by the threat that rails could buckle in the heat as well as sagging overhead lines. Large swaths of the UK have also experienced thunderstorms and lightning strikes related to the hot spell. They’ve been baking on the continent too, of course – records of 42.6C have been reached in Paris, 40.4C in the Netherlands and 40.6C in Belgium.

‘Massive shift to the right’ – There has been an embarrassing blip in Boris Johnson’s plans after the leading Eurosceptic Steve Baker rejected a job on Boris Johnson’s frontbench, saying he did not want to repeat the “powerlessness” he felt as a junior minister under Theresa May. Meanwhile the Stourbridge MP Margot James, who resigned as a minister to oppose a no-deal Brexit, has refused to rule out quitting the Conservative party over concern that Boris Johnson’s cabinet represents a “massive shift to the right”. “I still feel that he’s been elected by the party and deserves a chance,” said James, a former businesswoman. But if the manifesto was to leave without a deal, “I certainly wouldn’t campaign for that”.

Margot James MP. Photograph: Wiktor Szymanowicz/Rex/Shutterstock

After Johnson appointed a series of rightwingers to his government, James raised concerns that some of the “shady people” around him and those who “funded the original referendum campaign” would want to slash corporate taxes and regulations: “There is a cadre of owners of large private companies who want Brexit because they want a low-tax, low-regulation economy.”

‘Immoral and deeply flawed’ – The US government has scheduled the execution of five death row federal inmates for December and January, the first federal use of the death penalty in 16 years, William Barr, the attorney general, has directed Hugh Hurwitz, acting head of federal prisons, to schedule the executions of five death-row inmates convicted of murdering children and elderly people. The executions are due to take place in the Terre Haute penitentiary in Indiana. They would use pentobarbital, a controversial lethal injection that often has to be mixed by a compounding pharmacy because no one else will supply it. Kamala Harris, a former prosecutor seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, wrote: “Let me be clear: capital punishment is immoral and deeply flawed. Too many innocent people have been put to death. We need a national moratorium on the death penalty, not a resurrection.”

Boat crossing disaster – Up to 150 people trying to cross the Mediterranean from Libya to Europe are missing and feared drowned after two boats capsized. Libya’s coastguard said two boats carrying about 300 people capsized about 75 miles (120km) east of the capital, Tripoli, on Thursday. About 137 people were rescued and returned to Libya. Crossings to Europe usually peak in summer when the seas are calmer. European leaders have partnered with the Libyan coastguard and other Libyan forces to try and stop the crossings but rights groups say people seeking migration are left at the mercy of brutal armed groups or confined in squalid detention centres without adequate food and water. Judith Sunderland from Human Rights Watch said: “Instead of taking responsibility themselves, EU countries have been propping up the Libyan coastguard without the resources or dedication to save lives at sea.”

Judge alerted to mock-stabbing video – A teenager cleared of murdering his friend posted a video of himself making stabbing motions just hours after the acquittal. The 17-year-old boy, who can be referred to only as Boy A, admitted fatally stabbing Yousef Makki but successfully argued it was self-defence. Shortly after his acquittal the boy published a video of himself making a stabbing action and listening to drill music about “shanks” – slang for knives. The video was then sent by an unknown person to a member of Makki’s family, causing them distress. The judge was alerted and Greater Manchester police has launched an investigation into the video.

BA Cairo flights back on – British Airways is to resume flights to Cairo from today, following a week’s suspension over security concerns. Both BA and Lufthansa stopped flights last Saturday. The airlines, two of the biggest in Europe, gave little explanation. BA cited the “safety and security of our customers and crew”. In its travel advice for British nationals heading to Egypt, the Foreign Office warns: “There’s a heightened risk of terrorism against aviation. Additional security measures are in place for flights departing from Egypt to the UK. You should cooperate fully with security officials at airports.”

Fast track to moon – Nasa has decided that only the industrial corporation Northrop Grumman can supply it with an astronaut habitation module in time to meet the White House’s directive of landing humans on the moon again by 2024. Usually it requests bids from industry but in this case decided it would take too much time. Northrop Grumman’s habitation module will be based on its existing Cygnus cargo craft that currently supplies the International Space Station. It will be part of the Lunar Gateway, a small space station in orbit around the moon that will act as a layover point for astronauts before they descend to the lunar surface.

Today in Focus podcast: Boris Johnson’s Brexit cabinet

This morning Jonathan Freedland talks about Boris Johnson’s brutal cabinet reshuffle, which brings the members of the victorious Brexit campaign into the heart of government. And: Laura Snapes on the nominations for the Mercury music prize.

Today in Focus

Boris Johnson’s Brexit cabinet

Lunchtime read: Enslaved on a British cannabis farm

Minh was 16 when he was kidnapped, raped and trafficked to the UK, then locked up and forced to grow cannabis. But when the police found him, he was treated like a criminal rather than a victim.

A young Vietnamese man who was trafficked to the UK to work at a cannabis farm.

A young Vietnamese man who was trafficked to the UK to work at a cannabis farm. Photograph: David Levene/The Guardian

Annie Kelly reports on the plight of hundreds of children trafficked from Vietnam every year and forced to work in hidden cannabis farms across the UK: small cogs in a vast criminal machine that supplies Britain’s £2.6bn cannabis black market.


Jack Leach said he now knew about the nervous nineties, after falling just eight runs short of a famous century as England’s nightwatchman on day two of the Test against Ireland at Lord’s. Geraint Thomas chased a fierce attack by his Team Ineos teammate Egan Bernal, yet still lost second place overall to the Colombian as the tension in the Tour de France ramped up another notch and the unflappable Julian Alaphilippe again clung on to his overall lead. Dave Brailsford has denied that Team Ineos have a growing disciplinary problem after his team’s tactics were questioned and, for the second year running, one of his riders was kicked off the Tour for violent conduct.

The Arsenal full-back Sead Kolasinac fought off two men wielding knives after he and his teammate Mesut Özil were attacked in north London. Everton have revealed the proposed designs for their new £500m stadium to be built on semi-derelict dockland in north Liverpool. And Cameron Bancroft has seemingly stormed into Australia’s Ashes squad with an unbeaten match-winning knock of 93 that could result in him reuniting with David Warner at the top of the order for the first Test.


The Trump administration has announced a compensation package for farmers hurt by the China trade war worth up to $16bn. Food producers, who have seen shipments to China slump amid the ongoing tit-for-tat dispute, will receive up to $160 per acre for affected crops. Google parent Alphabet has managed to record a profit of $9bn despite increased regulatory scrutiny, while inventor James Dyson has reportedly bought a second ultra-luxury home in Singapore. Alphabet’s earnings were not enough to offset disappointing results elsewhere, sending Asian stocks down overnight. The FTSE100 is expected to open down as well, while the pound is at $1.245 and €1.116.

The papers

Boris Johnson and the heatwave dominate the front pages today, with papers featuring one or both stories as their leads.

Guardian front page, Friday 26 July 2019

Guardian front page, Friday 26 July 2019.

Among the papers splashing with the weather are the Daily Mail: “Boiling point!” and the Mirror: “Cool it”. The Sun opts for both, with the headline: “Johnsun” alongside a highly disturbing image of the sun with the new prime minister’s face, complete with fuzzy blond hair. The Telegraph also alludes to the weather in its main story: “Johnson turns up the heat on Europe”.

The Guardian leads with the EU informing Johnson that his espoused backstop plans would not work for them: “Brussels rejects Johnson’s plans for new Brexit deal over summer”, as does the Express: “Boris on warpath with EU”. The Times reports: “Tory right’s anger over senior aide to Johnson”, the i says: “Johnson backs migrant amnesty for 50,000 people in the UK without papers” and the FT has: “Draghi paves the way for stimulus package to revive ailing eurozone”.

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