Wednesday briefing: Boris Johnson makes delayed start

Wednesday briefing: Boris Johnson makes delayed start

Boris Johnson leaves his home in London. Photograph: Hannah McKay/Reuters

Ex-foreign secretary launches Tory leadership campaign ??? Hong Kong protests force delay to extradition bill ??? and is it healthy to want to mute the world?


Main image: Boris Johnson leaves his home in London. Photograph: Hannah McKay/Reuters

Top story: ???Kick the can and we kick the bucket???

Hello, Warren Murray here, as we go once more unto the briefing.

Boris Johnson will today launch his long dreamt-of campaign to be prime minister. On Brexit, he is expected to say: ???After three years and two missed deadlines, we must leave the EU on 31 October ??? Delay means defeat. Delay means Corbyn. Kick the can and we kick the bucket.??? Johnson, who has proven elusive in the leadership race up until today, is expected to take questions from the media at his launch. A Guardian investigation has revealed the former foreign secretary allowed arms sales to Saudi Arabia despite civilians being killed by its brutal bombing campaign in Yemen.

Rory Stewart, an outsider in the leadership race, has become the first contender to criticise the former foreign secretary personally: ???Is this the person you want writing the instruction to the nuclear submarines? Is this the man that you want embodying your nation and guiding you through the most difficult choice we???ve faced for 50 years???? Sajid Javid, another leadership contender, is also planning to launch his campaign today, calling for change at the top of the Conservatives.

???Retract, retract??? ??? We are covering the situation live in Hong Kong where demonstrators are seeking to force a citywide shutdown over a proposed law allowing extraditions to mainland China. Politicians have temporarily abandoned their debate on the bill after tens of thousands of people surrounded the legislative council building and swamped the city centre to chants of ???retract, retract??? and ???no retraction, no retreat???. The proposed law had been due for a second round of debate in the 70-seat legislative council today. Thousands of parents and teachers called for a boycott of work and classes to show their opposition to the proposed bill, which would allow mainland China to pursue fugitives in the former British colony.

Schools ???go cap in hand??? for funds ??? The cash-strapped Downshall primary school in Ilford, east London, has asked BBC Children in Need for funding to support disadvantaged pupils. Its headteacher, Ian Bennett, said it was ???criminal??? that the school had been forced to axe its team of two pastoral support workers because of budget constraints, as well as cutting back on reading support and PE staff. A Guardian investigation recently revealed more than 1,000 schools across England have turned to crowdfunding websites and wish lists to raise money just for basics. Kevin Courtney from the National Education Union said: ???Headteachers are having to go cap in hand to beg money from wherever they can just to keep their heads above water.??? The Department for Education said while schools faced ???budgeting challenges???, Downshall had received an increase per student, and in the next spending review the education secretary intended to ???back headteachers to have the resources they need???.

Midweek catch-up

> Theresa May will commit Britain to reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050, making it the first major economy to do so. The measure will go before parliament today as an amendment to the Climate Change Act that does not require a vote.

> Labour will lead an attempt to legislate against a new prime minister forcing a no-deal Brexit. Britons claim in a YouGov survey that they are avoiding the news because of Brexit coverage ??? but in the media we???re finding readers can???t get enough of it.

> The government has ordered Whirlpool to recall 500,000 tumble dryers sold as Hotpoint, Creda and Indesit over a long-known fault that can make them catch fire. The number to call is 0800 151 0905 and don???t use yours until it is fixed.

> It is 20 years since Nato troops were deployed to keep the peace in Kosovo. Tensions still flare between the Serbian and Albanian sides, and Dan Sabbagh writes that 3,500 foreign troops are still there ??? but with western attention fitful, how much longer will their mission last?

> The writer of the Chernobyl miniseries has called for tourists, like the Instagrammer who flashed her G-string, to show more respect. ???If you visit, please remember that a terrible tragedy occurred there,??? said screenwriter Craig Mazin.

???They did their job, do yours??? ??? Jon Stewart has blasted Congress and its handling of benefits for 9/11 first responders and victims, telling US lawmakers their ???shameful??? inaction is ???an embarrassment to the country???. The comedian and former host of The Daily Show testified before the House judiciary committee at a hearing attended by only a handful of lawmakers.

???Shameful???: Jon Stewart???s emotional testimony to Congress over inaction for 9/11 responders ??? video

The US government has slashed payments to those sick and dying from the toxins released during the attacks. More than 20,000 individuals have suffered or died from cancer, breathing problems and other ailments resulting from 9/11. ???They responded in five seconds. They did their jobs [with] courage, grace, tenacity, humility. Eighteen years later, do yours,??? said Stewart, who received a standing ovation at the conclusion of his statement.

Mental health toll of wars ??? One in five people living in war zones have mental health conditions, according to a World Health Organization paper published in Lancet. ???Mental healthcare must be prioritised in countries affected by conflict, not least for the well-established links between mental health, functioning and country development,??? says the paper. Armed conflicts reached an all-time high in 2016 ??? 53 in 37 countries, says the paper. About 12% of the world???s population are living in a conflict zone and 69 million people have been forcibly displaced by violence ??? the highest number since the second world war.

???Into the Weird Adult Video Emporium??? ??? An environmentally minded grocery store in Vancouver is using plastic bags emblazoned with embarrassing slogans about porn and warts to try and discourage customers from asking for them. The only problem is, people love them.

Today in Focus podcast: How not to start a political party

Four months after it was set up, Change UK has already lost six of its 11 MPs. Heather Stewart, Guardian political editor, charts where it all went wrong. Plus Damian Carrington on plant extinctions.

Lunchtime read: Hitting the mute button on the world

Uber is testing out new features for users of its Exec service ??? including a button you can activate if you want to mute your driver. ???Quiet preferred??? is the euphemism Uber is using (you can also toggle it to ???happy to chat???). It appears to bring the dream of being able to choose who and what we listen to a step closer ??? but there???s growing evidence that cutting ourselves off like this isn???t healthy, experts tell Richard Godwin.

Illustration for mute button feature
Illustration: Mark Long


The USA kicked off their Women???s World Cup defence in style, with Alex Morgan scoring five goals in a record 13-0 thrashing of Thailand, while lightning and torrential rain stopped play for 45 minutes as Sweden laboured to a 2-0 victory over debutants Chile in Rennes.

The Bangladesh coach, Steve Rhodes, has bemoaned the lack of reserve days at the Cricket World Cup after a tournament-record third abandonment in the space of five days. England???s Mark Wood troubled West Indies on the spring tour of the Caribbean and is hoping to cause problems with his pace again when the teams meet in the World Cup on Friday. Pakistan???s captain, Sarfaraz Ahmed, does not believe today???s match will see a repeat of the jeering that has been directed at Australia???s former captain Steve Smith and former vice-captain David Warner.

Gareth Bale missed a sitter in Budapest where Wales held out until the 80th minute before Mate Patkai gave Hungary a 1-0 win in Euro 2020 qualifying. And Tiger Woods has set himself a target of a decade more at the top level as he looks to overhaul the majors record of 18 held by Jack Nicklaus.


Three Bank of England rate-setters have warned the UK remains on track to raise interest rates several times over the next couple of years. Such a move would put the country out of sync with other central banks because the US Federal Reserve appears increasingly unlikely to cut rates this year. Asian markets drifted lower overnight ahead of US inflation figures today. Closer to home, Nils Pratley rates Philip Green???s chances of getting his Topshop rescue through. The FTSE100 is set to open down 0.25% while the pound is at $1.272 and ???1.122.

The papers

Anger about the announcement of the end to free TV licences for old-age pensioners features on some of the front pages today. ???Rage UK!??? says the Sun and the Mail reports the views of protesters: ???We???ll go to prison over TV licences???.

Guardian front page, Wednesday 12 June 2019
Guardian front page, Wednesday 12 June 2019.

Elsewhere, the focus is on Boris Johnson, whom the i calls: ???Prime Minister in waiting???. The Telegraph says: ???Boris faces Remainer plot to stop no-deal??? and the Express reports: ???Boris: We must quit EU by October 31???.

The Guardian has an environment story as its lead: ???Extreme weather triggers fastest carbon emissions rise in a decade???, the FT has: ???Woodford faces humiliation by being kicked off namesake trust???, the Times reports: ???Shamed Oxfam given three weeks to reform??? and the Mirror says: ???Harry: I???ll finish my mum???s work on landmines???.

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