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Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 16 July 2023

1

Blair tells NHS to ‘cooperate’ with private sector

The NHS is “not serving its purpose” and should “cooperate with the private sector”, said Tony Blair. In an interview for Sky News, the former prime minister was asked if he thought the NHS was providing a good standard of service. “No, at the moment,” he replied. He said that “in respects the staff do a great job in difficult circumstances” but “a lot of the waiting lists are terrible”. He went on to call for “complete cooperation between the public and private sector”.

2

Wallace warns of 2030 cold war

Ben Wallace will step down as defence secretary at the next cabinet reshuffle after four years in the job. Speaking to The Sunday Times, he said he would not stand at the next general election, but ruled out leaving “prematurely” and triggering a by-election. He also warned that the UK could be in a “cold war” by 2030, due to China’s activities in the South China Sea, where Beijing has been constructing new islands and stationing military equipment.

3

US expected to smash heat records

Parts of the US are expected to bake in record temperatures today, with nearly a third of Americans under heat advisories, from “Florida to California and up to Washington state”, said the BBC. With at least 38 heat records expected to be broken today, the all-time global heat record is “in jeopardy” at Furnace Creek in Death Valley, said ABC News. Meanwhile, a separate heatwave in southern Europe is expected to continue into next week.

4

UK trade pact questioned

Kemi Badenoch has agreed a deal for the UK to join an Indo-Pacific trade bloc. The business and trade secretary inked the accession protocol to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership in New Zealand, making Britain the first new member and first European nation to join the bloc since its formation in 2018. However, noted Sky News, official estimates suggest the deal will add just £1.8bn a year to the economy after 10 years, representing less than 1% of UK GDP.

5

Russia and Ukraine trade barbs

Moscow and Kyiv have accused each other of shelling civilians in a village in Zaporizhzhia after three people were wounded in attacks. The head of Ukraine’s presidential administration said Russian forces bombed the village of Stepnohirske using rocket launchers, but Moscow-backed officials insisted it was Kyiv’s forces that shelled a school in the village of Stulneve. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s border guard has claimed that Wagner mercenaries have now arrived in Belarus from neighbouring Russia.

6

‘Boot camps’ considered for jobless

Ministers are considering hospitality “boot camps” to get unemployed people back to work and help the nation’s pubs and bars fill over 100,000 vacancies. The government has met with hospitality leaders to discuss how to make it easier for unemployed people to find work in the sector. The Telegraph said boot camps, where Job Centre candidates would be trained on basic hospitality skills such as food preparation and food safety, were considered. Tory MP Alun Cairns said the idea “could play a key part in developing young people who are far away from the workplace”.

7

Dementia drugs ‘will go to rich first’

“Groundbreaking” new dementia drugs are likely to be “the preserve of the rich”, said The Observer. NHS patients will be subject to a “massive postcode lottery” when the drugs are launched in the UK, according to the co-chair of the government’s national mission to battle the condition. Hilary Evans, who is also chief executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said the licensed treatment will be available only to “small pockets of the UK”. An NHS spokesperson said the health service is a “world leader at rolling out new treatments”.

8

UN dismisses Syria demands

Syria’s conditions in an offer to allow aid to keep reaching rebel-held territory are “unacceptable”, said the UN. Syria’s ambassador said that his government would continue to allow aid to enter the country via the Bab al-Hawa crossing from Turkey. However, the government reportedly insisted that “the United Nations should not communicate with entities designated as ‘terrorist’”. Damascus also wanted the distribution of all aid to be supervised and facilitated by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent. Around 4.1m people in north-west Syria depend on the aid deliveries.

9

RFK suggests Covid conspiracy

A Democrat presidential candidate has claimed that Covid-19 was a genetically engineered bioweapon that may have been “ethnically targeted” to spare Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese people. Speaking in New York, Robert F Kennedy Jr said, the coronavirus “is targeted to attack Caucasians and black people” and “the people who are most immune are Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese”. He conceded that he didn’t know “whether it was deliberately targeted or not” but said “there are papers out there that show the racial or ethnic differential and impact”.

10

Will Vardy face new court date?

“Warring Wag” Rebekah Vardy is “going into battle again” after a linen firm accused her of imitating their brand, said The Mirror. The wife of Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy owns the commercial rights to the Wagatha Christie name and could therefore use it to market a range of products. But the trademark has “rubbed posh linen firm Christy up the wrong way”, said the paper, and they have accused Vardy of imitating their 170-year-old brand.

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