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Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 8 July 2023

1

Dutch government collapses

The Dutch government has collapsed amid divisions between coalition parties over asylum policies, said Prime Minster Mark Rutte. His conservative VVD party had been trying to limit the flow of asylum seekers but his plans were opposed by junior coalition partners. The collapse “underscored ideological divisions that existed from the day the coalition was sworn in just over 18 months ago”, said Euronews. Rutte will remain in office in a caretaker capacity until a new coalition is chosen, with fresh elections expected in November.

2

Rich ‘should pay more for BBC’

Richer families should have to pay more for the BBC, said former chairman Richard Sharp. Speaking to the Chopper’s Politics podcast in his first interview since standing down from the broadcaster, Sharp said the current system of a flat charge is “regressive” and the licence fee could be replaced by a toll on broadband bills or a household levy based on the value of the property. Labour has said it would consider means-testing the fee.

3

US hands cluster bombs to Ukraine

Joe Biden has spoken of his “very difficult decision” to donate cluster bombs to the Ukrainian military. The US president told CNN it had taken him “a while to be convinced” to send the controversial armaments, which have a record of killing civilians. Ukraine’s leader praised the “timely” development, while a Moscow envoy slammed Washington’s “cynicism”. Cluster bombs are banned by more than 120 countries, including the UK, France, and Germany.

4

Calling God ‘father’ questioned

The Archbishop of York said calling God “our Father” is “problematic”. The Most Rev Stephen Cottrell said the phrase is “problematic” for victims of abuse and those who have suffered under “oppressive patriarchy”. Conservative Christians criticised the Archbishop for taking his “cue from culture rather than scripture”. However, liberal Christians agreed with Cottrell, arguing that “a theological misreading of God as exclusively male is a driver of much continuing discrimination and sexism against women”.

5

Osborne calls police over email

George Osborne has asked police to investigate a “distressing campaign of harassment” after a poison pen email with unsubstantiated claims was circulated to guests on the eve of his wedding. The former chancellor, who will marry his one-time adviser Thea Rogers at a church ceremony in Somerset today, is understood to know the identity of the author of the email that was circulated to guests, friends, and family as well as to prominent journalists. He has begun civil proceedings against the individual.

6

Brexit deal ‘doesn’t help trade’

Supermarket bosses have warned that Rishi Sunak’s Brexit deal to unblock trade between Britain and Northern Ireland will not solve the problems faced by businesses. A string of major retailers and suppliers have ruled out fully using the fast-track “green lane” customs system when it launches this autumn because of the “complexity and cost” involved, said The Telegraph. A spokesman said the government is “engaging extensively with businesses in Northern Ireland to help them prepare”.

7

Claims against BBC host

A leading BBC presenter is off air while allegations he paid a teenager for sexual pictures are investigated, said The Sun. The star is accused of giving the teen more than £35,000 since they were 17 in return for images. The mother of the teen said their child had used the cash to fund a crack habit. “When I see him on telly, I feel sick,” she said of the presenter. “I blame this BBC man for destroying my child’s life.” The BBC is understood to be looking into the allegations.

8

Cabinet split on pay rise

The cabinet is split over calls to give millions of public sector workers a 6% pay rise, reported The Times. Five cabinet ministers are urging the prime minister to respect the recommendations of independent pay review bodies in a bid to stop strikes and help workers with soaring costs. However, Rishi Sunak may overrule the bodies as he fears their demand could set off a “wage-price spiral” and fuel inflation. He and Jeremy Hunt, the chancellor, will respond to the recommendations in the next fortnight.

9

Jenrick criticised by fellow Tories

Some Conservative MPs are “appalled” at a Home Office decision to paint over murals of cartoon figures at an asylum centre for lone children, said the inews site. Immigration minister, Robert Jenrick, ordered the removal of murals of characters such as Mickey Mouse, because they were “too welcoming”. Rishi Sunak backed Jenrick’s move, but senior Whitehall officials and some moderate Tory MPs are understood to be horrified. Former Ukip leader Nigel Farage called the move “mean”.

10

Train driver rescues lost pug

A driver stopped his train to rescue a missing pug that was sheltering by the side of the tracks. Poppy, a six-year-old black pug, disappeared Oakham in the East Midlands after she was clipped by a speeding car. The following morning,  Michael Jones, a freight train driver, spotted the dog in a hedge at a railway junction. He stopped the train and jumped out before carrying Poppy, “who was trembling and staring at the ground”, into his cab, said The Telegraph. The dog was later reunited with her tearful owner.

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