Top story: Bercow condemns ‘act of executive fiat’
Hello, it’s Warren Murray doing this thing of ours.
There have been extraordinary scenes of rancour and defiance accompanied by cries of “Shame” in the House of Commons overnight as the prorogation of parliament until 14 October went ahead. The Speaker, John Bercow, condemned it as an “act of executive fiat”. Opposition MPs tried to physically stop Bercow from leaving his chair to go out to the House of Lords for the prorogation formalities.
Labour and opposition MPs remained in the chamber as the Speaker and Conservative MPs left to go to the House of Lords. The exit of Tories was accompanied by cries of “Shame on you!” from those remaining behind, some of whom held up placards saying they were silenced. Renditions of Red Flag, Jerusalem, Flower of Scotland and Bread of Heaven were also sung before Bercow returned to address the remaining MPs, confirm the prorogation and adjourn the Commons. The mood turned turned more festive as MPs filed out, exchanging greetings, witticisms, handshakes and hugs with Bercow as they left.
Earlier there was a parting indignity for Johnson as Labour and other opposition MPs defeated his second attempt to get a general election before 31 October. There cannot now be an election until mid-November at the earliest. MPs also passed a “humble address” ordering Johnson to publish documents detailing the government’s no-deal Brexit plans – as well as any messages about the suspension of parliament sent by his senior adviser, Dominic Cummings, and other aides. On Monday afternoon parliament’s bill to prevent a no-deal Brexit received royal assent and passed into law – Johnson has insisted, though, that he will not ask for another delay.
In a further setback for No 10, Bercow has announced he will stand down on 31 October if there is no election before then. This means his immediate successor is likely to be chosen by the current parliament, in which there is no majority for a no-deal Brexit. It also confirms Bercow will still be in post during the crucial fortnight when parliament returns from prorogation in mid-October. The Liberal Democrats have announced they are set to officially back revoking article 50 in an attempt to position themselves as the most pro-EU political party, effectively severing the chances of an alliance with Labour at a forthcoming general election.
Addiction warning over medications – Britain is being warned it is risking a US-style opioid crisis through the widespread prescribing of opioid painkillers, benzodiazepines and sleeping pills. Nearly 12 million people – about one in four adults in England – are taking medicines that they can find hard to stop, according to a review by Public Health England. “While the scale and nature of opioid prescribing does not reflect the so-called crisis in North America, the NHS needs to take action now to protect patients,” said Rosanna O’Connor, one of the report’s authors. GPs should instead consider social prescribing, from talking therapies to joining a choir, says the report, while conceding that long-term use of certain classes of drugs like antidepressants is necessary for some.
Creggan flares up – Police were attacked with petrol bombs and missiles in Derry’s Creggan estate last night as they carried out searches targeting dissident republicans, the PSNI said. It is the same place where the journalist Lyra McKee, 29, was murdered by the New IRA in April while she observed riots. The searches were launched after a dissident republican mortar bomb was recovered in Strabane, Co Tyrone, on Saturday. It was positioned close to a family home and aimed at the town’s police station, and represents the seventh attempted murder bid against the security forces in Northern Ireland this year.
‘Climate apartheid’ – The world is in a “gravely insufficient” state of readiness for the inevitable severe effects of global heating, according to a report by the Global Commission on Adaptation (GCA), which is convened by 18 nations including the UK. Trillion-dollar investment is needed to avert “climate apartheid”, where the rich escape the effects and the poor do not. But this investment is far smaller than the eventual costs and “irrefutable toll on human life” of doing nothing. Separately the National Farmers’ Union is arguing there is no need to cut back beef production or return farmland to forest for the sake of the climate – instead, UK agricultural emissions could be offset by growing fuel for power stations and then capturing and burying the carbon dioxide. Social policy group the RSA welcomed the NFU’s “ambitious targets” but Friends of the Earth campaigner Guy Shrubsole said eating less but better meat was a crucial part of the fight against climate breakdown.
‘Life is just too short’ – An NHS trust boss has quit her post blaming underfunding of the service and the pressures of the job, concluding: “Life is just too short.” Siobhan McArdle announced her resignation as chief executive of the South Tees Hospitals Foundation Trust which runs the James Cook hospital in Middlesbrough, Friarage hospital in Northallerton, and community hospitals in North Yorkshire and the Tees Valley. McArdle said the trust had delivered £140m in efficiency savings over the last five years and could not tighten its belt any more. Saffron Cordery, CEO of NHS Providers which represents trusts, said: “In recent years trust leaders have become accustomed to demands for productivity improvements and savings that are increasingly unachievable.”
The tale continues – Hundreds of fans have lined up to attend the midnight launch of The Testaments, Margaret Atwood’s much-anticipated sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, attended by the Canadian author herself at Waterstone’s in London’s Piccadilly.
Today in Focus podcast: Siri, sex and Apple’s privacy problem
As Apple prepares to launch a new iPhone, Alex Hern explores the privacy scandal around its automated personal assistant, Siri. Plus, Polly Toynbee on why Jeremy Corbyn is preventing Boris Johnson from calling an election.
Lunchtime read: Inside the North Korean embassy raid
In February a gang of armed men took a North Korean official hostage at his country’s Madrid embassy and demanded that he defect. The attackers told So Yun-sok they wanted him “to become the ambassador of a new state set up by them – a ‘free’ state”.
The men claimed that “the North Korean government has very little time left” and said other groups were “going to do the same thing”. When So refused, their plan fell apart, and they fled. Who were they, and why did they risk everything on this wild plot?
Gareth Southgate has offered support to Declan Rice after the West Ham midfielder revealed he and his family received online threats following his switch in allegiance from the Republic of Ireland to England. In cricket, several problems with the makeup of the England team have become clear during the Ashes series and action is needed to resolve them.
Anne van Dam, the 23-year-old Dutch golfer with the “perfect” swing, has managed to break the mould on her journey from Arnhem to Gleneagles for her Solheim Cup debut. Rafa Nadal has always played in Roger Federer’s long shadow but, as his US Open victory over Daniil Medvedev showed, he is still capable of generating his own light. And the former England cricket captains Geoffrey Boycott and Andrew Strauss have been knighted in Theresa May’s resignation honours list for their service to sport.
The pound has clung on to most the gains it made yesterday after figures showed that Britain’s economy grew more than expected in the last quarter. Sterling is at £1.234 this morning, down only very slightly overnight, and is buying €1.117. On Asian markets, falling factory gate prices in China caused jitters among investors worried about the stagnating economy while the FTSE100 is seen largely flat this morning.
Brexit is splashed across all of today’s front pages. The Guardian carries a large picture of the outgoing Speaker, John Bercow, but reserves its headline for the PM: “Six votes, six defeats as PM loses bid for snap election”. The Times also carries a picture of Bercow under the headline: “MPs stop Johnson from calling October election”. The Telegraph’s headline is “Johnson: I’ll defy law over Brexit extension”, alongside a large picture of Carrie Symons, who will be visiting the Queen at Balmoral this weekend with the PM. The early edition of the FT also carries a picture of Bercow: “Speaking out: Bercow stands up for Commons as he moves to step down”.
“Boris blasts Brexit ‘Yellow Bellies’,” writes the Express, adding “MPs savaged for ‘outrageous’ excuses over stalling election”. It also has on its front page the PM’s claim that “defiance of referendum is costing country €250m a week”. The Mirror focuses on Theresa May’s resignation honours, with “No shame”, saying “as parliament is suspended over the Brexit crisis, Theresa May has the audacity to reward the bungling advisers who got us in this mess”.
Neither the Sun or the Mail lead on Brexit. Instead their splashes are reserved for the “shock rise in pill addicts as docs prescribe to 11.5m” (The Sun – which also has a small headline “end of the Berc show”). The Mail has “At last action to beat pills crisis”, but goes hard on the retiring Speaker in a smaller headline: “End of the Bercow Show, the partisan pipsqueak who disgraced his office”.
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