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Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 22 July 2023

1

Tories fear electoral ‘wipeout’

Conservatives fear an “election wipeout” with the party losing 100 to 150 seats, said the inews site. Labour and the Lib Dems are expected to work together to deliver the Tories a “fatal blow” at the general election, said the outlet, despite denials of an official Lib-Lab pact. Meanwhile, Rishi Sunak is preparing to launch a “more aggressive political campaign” with “divisive” policies on crime, migrant boats and transgender rights, said The Times.

2

‘Worst-case’ climate scenarios unfolding

The planet is in “unchartered waters” as a series of climate records on temperature, ocean heat, and Antarctic sea ice have tumbled, said the BBC. The developments have alarmed some scientists who say their speed and timing is “unprecedented”. It is “hard to immediately link these events to climate change” said the broadcaster but scientists already fear some “worst-case scenarios are unfolding”. A leading British climate scientist said yesterday that he believes the target to limit global warming to 1.5C will be missed.

3

Officials access Johnson phone

Messages sent by Boris Johnson during the pandemic will be handed over to the Covid Inquiry after security officials finally gained access his old phone. The former PM’s handset has been the centre of a “legal tug of war” between Lady Hallett’s inquiry and the Cabinet Office, said the inews site. Johnson was forced to turn off the phone in May 2021 after it emerged the number had been available on the internet for nearly two decades, leading to the danger it could be hacked.

4

Are Brits becoming ‘soap dodgers’?

Britain is becoming “a nation of soap dodgers”, said The Times, as sales of personal hygiene products slump during the cost of living crisis. Demand for soap fell by 48% in the first six months of 2023 compared with the same period last year, while sales of hand wash are down 23%. While soaring prices have been cited, the paper said another “possible explanation” is that Britons have “become more European in their approach to hygiene”. Past studies have found that less than half of French people take a shower or bath every day.

5

Zelensky fires ambassador

Ukraine’s ambassador to London has been fired after he publicly scolded Volodymyr Zelensky for comments he made about Ben Wallace. Vadym Prystaiko had accused the Ukrainian president of displaying “unhealthy sarcasm” toward the UK Defence Secretary, who had suggested Ukraine should stop treating its allies like “Amazon”. Wallace’s remarks had prompted anger in Kyiv and he later said his words had been “somewhat misrepresented”.

6

Strikes on busy travel day

Millions of Britons face travel disruption today as rail strikes continue on one of the busiest travel days of the year. The “continued deadlock” between railway unions and the government over pay and conditions will see “some parts of the UK having no train services at all”, said Sky News. However, transport unions have called off planned strikes on the Tube next week following last-ditch talks. BBC London transport correspondent Tom Edwards said the development followed a “major step forward” in talks.

7

Waitrose attacks ministers on welfare

Waitrose has criticised the government for scrapping plans to make animal welfare labels mandatory. Writing in The Telegraph, James Bailey, Waitrose’s executive director, warned that Britain risks a “race to the bottom” on standards and that Britain’s farmers could be undercut by battery-caged chickens imported from the Asia Pacific. “Customers deserve to know where the meat on their dinner table comes from and how it lived,” wrote Bailey. A Defra spokesman said: “We will continue to work with farmers and supermarkets to improve food information for consumers.”

8

Tributes to ‘torchbearer’ Bennett

Tony Bennett was “singing at his piano” just days before he died, said his representatives. The jazz legend, known for songs such as The Way You Look Tonight, Body and Soul and (I Left My Heart) In San Francisco, died on Friday aged 96. He “became the torchbearer for the Great American Songbook during a seven decade career”, said The Guardian, while The Telegraph said “his artistic life was defined by its longevity as well as his stubborn refusal to sing songs he felt were beneath his talents”.

9

Cameron hopes he’s better husband

David Cameron said he hopes he is a “better” parent and husband than he was while in office. “I’m definitely doing a greater share of the cooking and organising than I did,” the former PM told The Times. “I’ve got two teenagers and a 12-year-old, so there’s quite a lot to be done.” Cameron has “rarely spoken or been seen in public since he left Westminster”, noted The Telegraph. He admitted that “you don’t get to determine what your legacy is as prime minister” as “other people will decide that for you”.

10

Was ‘escaped lion’ a pig?

The “escaped lioness” that sparked a 30-hour search and had residents on the fringes of Berlin “shelter in their homes” and the rest of the German capital “on tenterhooks” was probably a common wild pig, said The Guardian. After no further sightings were reported, Michael Grubert, a local mayor, said experts had analysed the video that had originally caused the panic. “With a relatively high degree of certainty the tendency is towards a wild boar,” Grubert said. The sound of a lion roaring turned out to have been played through speakers by a group of teenagers.

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