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Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 1 July 2023

1

‘First act’ of energy crisis ‘over’

Households will pay less for their gas and electricity from today after Ofgem dropped its price tag – but bills will still be almost double what they were before the energy crisis. The average household energy bill will fall by £426 a year from 1 July. The chief executive of British Gas-owner Centrica, Chris O’Shea, said last night that the “first act” of the energy crisis was over but risks remained.

2

Tories call for ‘Brexit part II’

Leading Tories are calling for a referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Court of Human Rights. After the Appeal Court ruled that the controversial Rwanda deportation plan was “unlawful”, the prospect of a pledge for a referendum in the Conservative general election manifesto has been discussed. “It would be Brexit part II,” a former government aide told the inews site. “We would campaign on ‘stop the boats’ and it would get our base out,” they added.

3

Sunak and Goldsmith trade barbs

Rishi Sunak is “embroiled in an extraordinary standoff” with Zac Goldsmith, said The Guardian, after the Tory peer accused the prime minister of being “simply uninterested” in the climate emergency. Resigning as Foreign Office minister, Lord Goldsmith made a “highly personal attack” on the PM, warning that voters would punish Sunak for his “apathy in the face of the greatest challenge we have faced”. Sunak wrote an “unusually blunt response”, claiming Goldsmith’s departure was linked to No 10 asking him to apologise for undermining the privileges committee’s inquiry into Boris Johnson.

4

France ‘on brink of anarchy’

Emmanuel Macron is under pressure to declare a state of emergency to end the riots in France. The disturbances began on Tuesday after police shot dead a 17-year-old boy of Algerian descent, named as Nahel M. With “police mutiny”, MPs “at odds” and “copycat violence”, France is on the brink of “total anarchy”, said The Telegraph. However, France’s interior minister said there was a “downturn” in unrest on a fourth night of rioting, with 471 arrests compared with 917 the previous night.

5

Supreme Court blocks Biden plan

The US Supreme Court has “struck down” Joe Biden’s proposal to wipe out billions in student debt, said the BBC. The 6-3 ruling, which affects the loans of more than 40 million Americans, effectively cancels the plan, which would have forgiven about $10,000 (£7,800) per borrower. On the same day, the justices ruled in favour of a web designer in Colorado, who refused for religious reasons to create websites to celebrate same-sex weddings. The ruling “represents the latest victory for religious conservatives at the high court”, said CNN.

6

Spacey ‘a sexual bully’

Kevin Spacey has been labelled a “sexual bully” who took “what and who he wanted when he wanted”, a court has heard. The two-time Oscar winning actor is accused of “aggressively” grabbing other men by the crotch in a series of alleged sexual assaults over a 12-year period from 2001 to 2013. Another man claims he awoke to find American Beauty actor on his knees performing a sex act on him without his consent. Spacey, who appeared wearing a grey suit and yellow tie at Southwark Crown Court on Friday, denies the charges.

7

Kate ‘key to Palace rebuttal’

The Princess of Wales insisted that the Royal family defend itself against allegations made by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, a book has claimed. Kate played a pivotal role in the way the family responded to the couple’s dramatic claims in the Oprah Winfrey interview, pressing aides to include the now infamous phrase “recollections may vary”, according to a new edition of Courtiers: The Hidden Power Behind the Crown by Valentine Low. After a “milder” statement was drafted, Prince William and the Princess are said to have wanted the statement “toughened up”.

8

Ukraine readying for jets

Ukraine could receive the first of many F-16s fighter jets within months, said a senior adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky. Speaking to the inews site from the presidential office in Kyiv, Mykhailo Podolyak said Ukraine was accelerating the acquisition of F-16s to join the nation’s fight to evict Russia from all its territory. In the same interview, he revealed that Kyiv is in talks with UK government officials over the future of a businessman living in the UK who is suspected of being a Russian secret agent.

9

Clarkson column ‘was sexist’

A column by Jeremy Clarkson, in which he wrote about the Duchess of Sussex being paraded naked in the street, was sexist, the press regulator has ruled. A record 25,000 people complained to Ipso, the Independent Press Standards Organisation, about the article, which was published in The Sun. The passage was “humiliating and degrading towards the duchess”, Ipso chairman Lord Faulks said. Clarkson has previously said he was sorry “from the balls of my feet to the follicles on my head” for the article.

10

Will sugar tax hit frappes?

Iced coffee drinks sold by high street chains contain more sugar than a can of coke, a study has found. When it examined frappès and frappuccinos from Caffè Nero, Costa and Starbucks, the consumer group, Which, found that some drinks were found to contain more than an adult’s total daily recommended intake of sugar. The finding has led some health campaigners to call for the ‘sugar tax’ imposed on fizzy drinks in 2018 to be expanded to other drinks, including iced coffees and milkshakes.

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