Top story: Greater Manchester declares major incident
Good morning and welcome to this Monday morning briefing, with me, Alison Rourke.
One of the country’s top scientists has called on the government to be more open about how its coronavirus decisions are made, or risk losing public trust. Sir Paul Nurse, the Nobel laureate and director of the Francis Crick Institute in London, said important decisions throughout the pandemic had been made in what appeared to be a “black box” of scientists, civil servants and politicians: “Decisions are too often shrouded in secrecy. They need challenge and we need processes to ensure that happens. If they are going to keep the trust of the nation, they need to make those discussions more public.” Other senior researchers have also raised concerns about how the lack of transparency has allowed ministers to claim their policies are driven by scientific evidence. Meanwhile, Greater Manchester has declared a major incident after a rise in infection rates across “multiple localities”. Major incidents are often declared as a result of a terror attack or natural disaster but Manchester city council leader, Sir Richard Leese, said it was “standard practice for complex situations which require a coordinated multi-agency response”.
In other coronavirus news, Nazir Afzal, a former regional chief prosecutor, has questioned the impartiality of Durham police, the Met and the CPS after they all rejected his requests for a thorough investigation into alleged lockdown breaches by Dominic Cummings. People who have recovered from Covid-19 are being urged to donate their blood plasma as part of an urgent appeal to help the NHS treat those who fall ill during a potential second wave. Two new tests that are said to deliver results within 90 minutes are to be introduced across NHS hospitals and care homes. But some experts expressed reserve, saying the particular tests were not well-known. You can stay up to date with all of the day’s global coronavirus news on our live blog.
* * *
Labour donations – The leader of Unite, Len McCluskey, has been praised by left-leaning Labour MPs for ordering a review of the union’s political donations after Keir Starmer’s decision to pay damages to former staff turned antisemitism whistleblowers. Ian Lavery, the party chair under Jeremy Corbyn, is one of three former shadow ministers who have told the Guardian they support the union’s general secretary for re-examining whether to donate to Labour in the wake of the six-figure settlements. Their interventions will increase tensions between the Socialist Campaign Group of MPs and Labour’s leader following the latter’s decision to apologise and pay damages to seven staff who claimed they had been defamed by senior party figures after taking part in a BBC Panorama documentary on antisemitism.
* * *
TikTok row – Donald Trump is expected to take action on the Chinese-owned social media app TikTok in the coming days, according to the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo. It comes as Microsoft revealed last night that it was pursuing a deal with TikTok’s owners, ByteDance, after the US tech giant had discussions with the White House. Media reports suggested Trump had agreed to give the two parties 45 days to negotiate the sale. Under the proposed deal, Microsoft said it would take over TikTok’s operations in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. It said it would ensure that all private data of TikTok’s American users was transferred to and remains in the United States.
* * *
SUV pollution threat – Advertising of sports utility vehicles, which emit more greenhouse gases than other cars, should be banned so the UK can meet its climate goals, a report by the New Weather Institute thinktank, and climate charity Possible, has said. “Now that we know the human health and climate damage done by car pollution, it’s time to stop adverts making the problem worse,” said Andrew Simms, co-director of the thinktank. The large increase in numbers of the cars in the UK and around the world is the second-largest contributor to the increase in global emissions since 2010, according to the International Energy Agency. SUVs make up more than 40% of new cars sold in the UK – while fully electric vehicles account for less than 2%.
* * *
Europe’s ‘Dreamers’ – A generation of undocumented Europeans – inspired by the “Dreamers” fighting for the right to remain in the US – are battling for their own residency rights on this side of the Atlantic. Millions of young people across Europe have been born on the wrong side of little-known laws that restrict automatic citizenship at birth. A new Guardian series hears from those fighting to stay and the threat of deportation that hangs over them.
* * *
‘Champagne wars’ – With French champagne sales expected to fall by a third due to the pandemic, a bitter dispute has erupted between the vineyard owners and the champagne houses – including famous names such as Bollinger, Moët & Chandon and Piper-Heidsieck - who buy their grapes and turn them into bubbly. The champagne maisons are holding excess stock and want fewer grapes harvested, to avoid saturating the market and causing prices to fall. The vineyards say this could ruin them. With just a month before the harvest is due, there’s no agreement, something that hasn’t happened since after the second world war.
Today in Focus podcast – Inside Lebanon’s economic crisis
Scenes of economic despair are visible across Lebanon – from shops to homes, businesses to hospitals. Guardian journalist Martin Chulov discusses why the country is verging on financial collapse.
Lunchtime read: ‘I’m actually quite shy. I don’t like a ruck’
Zoe Williams talks to Jamie Oliver about fame, failure and fighting childhood obesity, including how every time he talks about the UK’s diet, it gets him in trouble. Remember Turkey Twizzlers? He started out as the living embodiment of the carefree lad about town Williams writes, and now has the frazzled look of a man who is being badgered by seven people at once. It’s been a turbulent time with his restaurant chain Jamie’s Italian going under last year. He is worried for the British restaurant industry, and not just because of Covid-19. Indeed, the virus doesn’t come into it: “If you look at everyone doing well at the moment, they are basically prepping and shifting fairly low-quality food. So the thing I’m most worried about at the moment is the actual business of cooking and service is hugely under threat. Because it doesn’t pay the bills to care.”
Frank Lampard has urged the Premier League to push back Chelsea’s start to the 2020-21 season, claiming 12 September is too early for his players to recover properly given their imminent Champions League round-of-16 tie with Bayern Munich. Lewis Hamilton hailed his remarkable three-wheeled victory at the British Grand Prix as the most dramatic climax of his career. Catalans Dragons player Israel Folau refused to join other players in taking a knee as the Super League resumed with victories for St Helens and Leeds. Stuart Broad has revealed he was “so down” after being dropped for the first Test against West Indies that he considered retiring. Joe Salisbury and Harriet Dart’s mixed doubles victory over Jamie Murray and Heather Watson at the Battle of the Brits sealed success for the British Bulldogs. Kurt Maflin was warned for making an obscene gesture in the 16th frame of his win over David Gilbert in the World Championship first round. Rory McIlroy tees up in California this week for the first of 2020’s three majors – six years since he won the last of his four. And All Blacks great Dan Carter has admitted his stint with the Blues in Super Rugby Aotearoa may end without an appearance, with the side only having one more game remaining.
Furloughed workers are three times more likely than other employees to have defaulted on a payment last month, in a sign of the economic distress caused by the pandemic. As the UK government started unwinding the furlough operation that has paid millions of workers 80% of their salary, a survey by Which? has found that 13% of those furloughed, put on enforced leave or reduced hours, have defaulted on at least one payment, compared with 4% of those still working as normal. Between 3 million and 5 million workers are still thought to be having all or some of their wages paid through the Treasury-backed scheme.
The pound is buying €1.11 and $1.31.
Coronavirus stories dominate today’s papers. The Guardian’s splash is “Top scientist attacks ‘shroud of secrecy’ over UK virus decisions”. The Times has “Covid testing machines give results in 90 minutes”, while the Mail says “90-minute tests to transform the war on corona”. The i leads with“Rapid test roll-out to fight second wave”. The Express main headline is “Backlash against ‘ageist’ over-50s virus plan”. The Mirror has “Suspend Tory ex-minister in rape probe”. And the FT has “Trump threatens broad attack on China groups despite TikTok plea”.
The Guardian Morning Briefing is delivered to thousands of inboxes bright and early every weekday. If you are not already receiving it by email, you can sign up here.
For more news: www.theguardian.com