Top story: Ireland condemns ‘unwise’ Brexit move
Morning everyone. My name is Martin Farrer and these are the top stories from the UK and around the world this morning.
Boris Johnson is planning to override the Brexit withdrawal agreement on Northern Ireland in a move likely to capsize delicately balanced trade talks with the EU and pave the way for a no-deal Brexit. The prime minister is today expected to set a deadline of 15 October for completion of the talks or Britain will walk away for good. A no-deal Brexit will be “a good outcome” for the UK, he will say. The success of the talks, which resume this week, will be jeopardised by plans revealed yesterday for the government to introduce legislation to “eliminate” the legal force of the withdrawal agreement – the treaty that sealed Britain’s exit from the EU in January – in areas including state aid and Northern Ireland customs. Any plan to unpick the carefully constructed compromise to keep the Irish border free of checkpoints will enrage other European governments, especially Dublin’s. The Irish foreign minister has already called the plan “unwise”, while Labour said threatening to renege on was an “immense act of bad faith”. As the talks head to the wire, the chief negotiator in Theresa May’s government accused his successor, David Frost, as having “a brass neck” for claiming the then prime minister blinked in the first negotiations.
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Covid spike alarm – Health experts have accused the government of “losing control” of the coronavirus pandemic after the UK recorded a 50% increase in new cases yesterday. Almost 3,000 people tested positive, the highest daily total since May and an alarming escalation in infections just as schools have begun returning and thousands of students are about to head off to universities across the country. “They’ve lost control of the virus,” said Prof Gabriel Scally, a former NHS regional director of public health. “It’s become endemic in our poorest communities and this is the result.” Labour demanded that the health secretary, Matt Hancock, give an urgent statement to MPs explaining the increase and continued failure to create an easily accessible testing system. Adding to concerns, schools in Teesside have recorded cases of the virus. The schools in Redcar, Hartlepool and Middlesbrough will remain open.
At least six NHS trusts in England could be overwhelmed by a spike in Covid-19 this winter if they are faced with April’s levels of virus cases on top of normal winter pressures, according to a Guardian analysis of bed capacity. Research in Austria has found that patients hospitalized with Covid-19 still have lung damage, breathlessness and coughs weeks after being discharged. India has overtaken Brazil as the country with the second-most cases behind the US after racking up more than 90,000 new infections on Sunday. You can follow all the developments from around the world in our live blog.
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Attacker appeal – Police in Birmingham are still searching for the lone attacker who carried out a string of knife attacks in the city centre that left one dead and seven injured. West Midlands police have released CCTV of a man they said was wanted for the apparently random rampage through the city in the early hours of Sunday. The public have been urged not to approach the suspect. The force said it had received a strong response from its appeal for help tracing the man, with a team of detectives working through the night to follow up new lines of inquiry.
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Djokovic default – The world’s No 1 men’s tennis player, Novak Djokovic, has apologised after being thrown out of the US Open for accidentally hitting a line judge in the throat with a ball. Djokovic had just blown a chance to take the first set of his fourth-round match against the Spaniard Pablo Carreño Busta when he hit a spare ball behind him in frustration, striking the line judge, who fell to the ground in clear discomfort. After a lengthy discussion with officials, the Serb was defaulted and with it lost the opportunity to win an 18th career grand slam title. He left Flushing Meadow without facing the media but later issued a statement on Instagram saying: “This whole situation has left me really sad and empty.”
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Grenfell anger – Survivors and relatives of victims of the Grenfell Tower fire have described as “madness” rules which mean they cannot attend the resumption of the inquiry into the disaster because of Covid-19 related restrictions. The inquiry said it was “planning for bereaved, survivor and resident attendance as soon as it is possible” and was considering a ballot system allowing in 10 members of the community at a time.
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Pressure point – A medical charity is urging that GPs should be allowed to hand out blood pressure monitors on prescription to reduce the number of people who die from strokes and heart attacks. Making the monitors more widely available would allow people to control the condition more effectively and reduce the demand on GPs’ surgeries, Blood Pressure UK said.
Today in Focus podcast
Guardian writer Sirin Kale spoke to friends and family of Belly Mujinga about her life and death. Belly, a transport worker and mother to an 11-year-old girl, developed Covid-19 after being allegedly spat on during her shift at London’s Victoria station. Her death made headlines and raised pressing questions about racial injustice.
Lunchtime read: Jay Blades on race, police and being on TV
Jay Blades, the star the BBC hit The Repair Shop, tells Emine Saner about his battle with racist teachers, police brutality, homelessness and breakdown on his long and unlikely road to television fame. The secret of the show, he says, is that it “allows men to be emotional and in tune with their feelings and display it to millions of people”.
Jos Buttler delivered a glorious demonstration of how to pace a run chase as England ran down Australia’s total of 157 with seven balls to spare to win the second Twenty20 and secure the three-match series. Lewis Hamilton has accepted he and Mercedes were at fault in the error that cost him a likely win at the Italian Grand Prix. English professional cricket suffered its first Covid-19 abandonment since the resumption when stumps were pulled at the Bob Willis Trophy match between Northamptonshire and Gloucestershire just after lunch. Gareth Southgate says he will not discard Kyle Walker because of his red card in Saturday’s 1-0 Nations League win over Iceland but he will “hammer home” the importance of discipline to each of his players. Adam Yates lost his grip on the yellow jersey as Slovenian cyclists swept the board in the second Pyrenean stage of this year’s Tour de France, with Primoz Roglic taking the overall lead and a 21-year-old Tour debutant, Tadej Pogacar, winning the 153km ninth stage of the race to Laruns in the Pyrenees. Chelsea were held at Manchester United in their opening game of the Women’s Super League season, a late equaliser by Leah Galton rather spoiling Pernille Harder’s debut for the defending champions. And the Republic of Ireland paid tribute to Jack Charlton but the players were not inspired and suffered a 1-0 Nations League defeat to Finland, while Neco Williams scored his first goal for Wales – a last-gasp header – on only his second appearance in a 1-0 win over Bulgaria.
The head of TUC has denounced a possible freezing of the national living wage amid reports that the Treasury plans to backtrack on a pay rise for the lowest paid. The rate was due to rise 6.2% from £8.72 to £9.21 in April. Stock markets in Asia Pacific were flat overnight in what looked to be holding pattern while Wall Street has a break for Labor Day. The FTSE100 is poised for a 1% bounce, however, while the pound has dipped a bit to $1.324 and €1.119.
The Guardian, along with several papers, leads with the latest twist in the Brexit saga under the headline: “Brexit talks on brink as PM overrides withdrawal deal”. The FT has “UK plan to undermine withdrawal treaty threatens Brexit trade talks”. Others pick up on Boris Johnson’s optimistic vision of no deal. The Times’ main story says “No-deal can be a good outcome, insists PM”, the Express has “Boris: no deal Brexit is ‘a good outcome’”, and the Telegraph splash head reads “Johnson: 38 days for Brexit deal or we walk”.
The Mail trumpets its “Get Britain flying again” campaign with the headline “Test hope to halve quarantine” and the Scotsman says “Scots tracing app ‘within days’ as virus cases spike”. The Mirror leads on the Marcus Rashford/Tory MP spat – “Heartless & clueless” – and the i says “PM vows crackdown on disruptive protests”.
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