Thursday evening news briefing: Daily winter blackouts warning

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Evening Briefing logo

Good evening. As the price of energy goes up, so have the warnings of potential blackouts this winter. We have details of National Grid's plan to possibly even pay households to cut their usage. But first, the headlines...

Evening briefing: Today's essential headlines

Ukraine latest | A Kremlin-installed leader has suggested Russia's defence minister and one of Vladimir Putin's closest allies should shoot himself because of failures in the Ukraine conflict. Watch Kirill Stremouso, deputy head of the annexed Kherson region, pouring scorn on Moscow's generals in a highly rare public rebuke of its top brass. Meanwhile, as the Kremlin's forces continue to collapse in the south, a Russian tank crew has been filmed surrendering to Ukrainian troops in Kherson with a white sheet hung from their vehicle's gun barrel.

The big story: Risk of rolling blackouts this winter

It is Britain's worst-case scenario plan to keep the lights on this winter. The UK faces blackouts for up to three hours a day if it is unable to import enough energy, as National Grid today warned that households and businesses could be cut off for periods of time if electricity supplies run short.

The electricity would be turned off in some areas to ensure power does not go down more widely. Rachel Millard has our full report on what could happen.

Consumers will also be relied on to accept payments to cut energy usage at peak times if supplies are tight.

Households could be paid more than £10 a day. And, as environment editor Emma Gatten reports, one of the country's biggest suppliers is even offering households £20 a month to cut energy usage during peak hours in a trial scheme to help avert rolling blackouts.

It comes as cuts to Russian supplies of gas to Europe amid its war on Ukraine have wreaked havoc on gas and electricity markets – and supplies of electricity from France are also strained due to outages on its nuclear fleet.

After energy bills rose last week as the new price cap took effect, households appear to be going back to basics. John Lewis, Britain's biggest department store chain, said shoppers had rushed to buy warmer clothes in recent weeks – with sales of thermal underwear having doubled in a week as people seek to avoid turning on the heating.

It seems a good time to revisit a feature by Rosa Silverman that is packed full of cheap and easy tips for keeping the heating off until November.

Tax cut worries grip markets

The pound slumped further against the dollar today as concern over the Government's tax-cutting fiscal plans continue to grip markets. Sterling extended its losses during another torrid day for the currency, tumbling more than 1pc to trade below $1.12.

While Liz Truss's reversal of plans to abolish the top rate of income tax and the Bank of England's £65bn intervention in bond markets have helped to calm last week's turmoil, investors remain on edge about the UK's outlook.

In an implicit criticism of the Prime Minister's growth plan, the head of the International Monetary Fund warned that energy price caps and unfunded tax cuts are taking families on a "rough and dangerous ride" that will keep interest rates higher for longer.

And, in her analysis, associate editor Camilla Tominey concludes that Trussomonics may not be worth the pain.

Seating plan conundrum

With Ms Truss today joining key European leaders at a crunch summit in Prague, diplomacy was on the menu. But it also played a big part in the seating plan.

Emmanuel Macron's new European Political Community was almost thrown into disarray by disagreements over where each of the 44 leaders would sit.

Officials admitted that finding the right arrangement for the new forum of EU and non-EU nations, the brainchild of the French president, was a major headache.

Europe editor James Crisp reveals that it forced hours of talks between diplomats.

Comment and analysis

Around the world: Sleeping children killed at nursery

At least 23 children are among dozens of people murdered at a children's nursery in Thailand after an ex-police officer went on a rampage before killing himself and his family. The attacker is said to have stormed the nursery with a gun and a knife before carrying out his attack while the children at the pre-school were sleeping. At least 35 people are believed to have been killed in total, including a pregnant teacher. Asia correspondent Nicola Smith reports on the horrific aftermath.

Thursday interview: 'I never had political ambitions, but if there’s anything I can do to help…'

Prof Brian Cox, TV's favourite physicist, speaks to Guy Kelly about the Budget, Elon Musk and making contact with stadiums full of thinkers. Read the interview

Sport briefing: Raducanu's season ends early

Emma Raducanu's management has confirmed she will play no more matches on the WTA Tour this season due to a wrist problem. Tennis correspondent Simon Briggs says it is the latest fitness worry in a year that has accumulated as many medical bulletins as victories. In football, Mike McGrath reports that Pep Guardiola's name will be discussed by football federation officials later this season at the end of the World Cup – with just nine months left on his current deal at Manchester City.

Editor's choice

  1. Greggs versus Pret | Who should win the battle for your lunch money

  2. Health | How to have dinner at 5pm and last through until breakfast

  3. The Arts Agenda | 'TV is too dark – and I don't mean the scripts'

Business briefing: Railway workers' pay revealed

Striking rail maintenance workers are already paid almost a fifth more than those doing comparative roles, the industry regulator has said. The Office of Rail and Road said workers demanding double-digit pay rises are already on salaries that are 18pc higher than "market comparators". Ahead of fresh strikes on Saturday, the Prime Minister is under growing pressure to follow through on her pledge to crack down on unions amid fears the rail network could be shut down completely over Christmas.

Tonight starts now

Book a fly-free holiday | Even before this summer's flight chaos, many of us have been looking for ways to avoid flying – whether that is because we want to travel more sustainably, because travelling to an airport is not convenient, or simply because short-haul air travel has plumbed new depths in terms of comfort, reliability, and enjoyment. While flight-free travel is not necessarily cheaper and the logistics can require time, effort and meticulous planning, the advantages are many. Month by month, Teresa Machan suggests the perfect short-haul trips to book.

Three things for you

And finally... for this evening's downtime

Mental health | Overwhelmed, fatigued and on edge? You could be about to snap, so it is time to take action. With the cost-of-living crisis setting stress levels soaring, Jane Alexander explains seven symptoms – and five things you can do to help lessen your load.

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