Top story: ‘Drastically increased’ penalties for crime
Good morning and welcome to this Monday briefing with Alison Rourke.
Violent criminals and sexual offenders will face drastically harsher penalties to be laid out in the Queen’s speech this morning, as the government sets out its legislative agenda. Law and order will top the bill, including “drastically increased” penalties for foreign nationals who breach deportation orders. No 10 hopes it will wrestle the spotlight from this week’s delicate Brexit negotiations and set the stage for a general election that few in Westminster think will be long in coming.
But it’s hard to see how any speech, from the Queen or not, will divert from this week’s political drama, with some EU capitals concluding over the weekend that it may now be impossible for the UK to leave the EU by 31 October with a deal. The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, told diplomats last night that Boris Johnson’s Irish border proposals remained an “untested” risk that the bloc could not countenance. A leaders’ summit is due to take place on Thursday, when it may become clear if a deal is doable or not. On Saturday the PM will either present the Commons with an EU-backed Brexit deal or set out his next steps. If there’s no deal he has until 11pm that night to request an extension.
Kurds strike a deal with Damascus – In a dramatic development overnight, the Kurdish forces in north-eastern Syria are reported to have struck a deal with Damascus to stave off the bloody Turkish assault. Kurdish forces will surrender the towns of Manbij and Kobane, in exchange for help fighting the Turkish assault. Syrian state media said army units were moving north to “confront Turkish aggression on Syrian territory”. The deal came amid reports that more than 700 prisoners with links to Islamic State had escaped a detention centre in the area. A French spokesperson said it was not clear who had escaped, but “it has been a worry for France since the beginning of this armed intervention”.
‘The system has to change’ – The women who kick-started the global #MeToo movement two years ago have warned that the allegations against Harvey Weinstein are “only the tip of the iceberg”. The movie mogul’s former assistant and theatre producer Zelda Perkins and the actor Rosanna Arquette, hailed a “profound transformation” since they spoke out, but told the Guardian there were likely more revelations to come about high-profile men abusing their positions. “The real issue is that society and the system needs to change because currently the systems all work in favour of the powerful,” said Perkins. According to Melissa Silverstein, the founder of Women and Hollywood, the #MeToo movement has been “nothing short of revolutionary” and “reshaped the film industry’s DNA”, but film festivals as institutions are still lagging behind.
Closer to home hundreds of callers have contacted a Westminster hotline set up to help advise people who have experienced inappropriate behaviour in parliament in the aftermath of the “Pestminster scandal”. But Labour MP Jess Phillips says the “culture hasn’t changed”. In the City, a recent tribunal case brought by banker Stacey Macken shows sexual discrimination remains a problem, despite winning her case over pay discrimination. Macken says she was subject to persistent harassment, crude stories and targeted by a prank that involved leaving a witch’s hat on her desk.
Pregnancy risk from drinking – Alcohol firms and the bodies they fund are encouraging expectant mothers to drink – putting their unborn child in danger – by publishing false and misleading information about the risks involved. New research, published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol, claims it is part of a drive to “nudge” pregnant women into continuing to drink because young people are turning away from alcohol. It found industry bodies globally are promoting “light drinking” as safe. Some ignored, downplayed or sparked confusion about the scientific basis of official advice to abstain completely during pregnancy.
Hungary election shock – Prime minister Viktor Orbán has suffered his first electoral blow since coming to power in 2010, with an opposition-backed candidate recording a shock win in the Budapest mayoral race overnight. Gergely Karácsony, a centre-left, pro-European candidate, said his win was “historic”; before the vote he had compared it to Istanbul’s landmark mayoral race in March, which was won by an opposition candidate, in a serious blow to Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Karácsony’s win in the Hungarian capital was repeated in many places across the country. Meanwhile in Poland, the rightwing Law and Justice party is set to win a majority in the country’s parliament and secure another four-year term, after exit polls showed it won 43.6% of the vote, up from 37.6% in 2015.
Fortnite black hole – It might be the dream of many parents, but millions of gamers were horrified when they saw an asteroid that had been looming in the game, spark up and turn into a black hole. Within a short time, the asteroid had blown up the entire map of the online battleground. A lot of time and in some cases money has been invested in the international phenomenon that is Fortnite, particularly by the most hardcore players. But many were left wondering if this was the end of the game, or just an attention-grabbing space catastrophe to mark the start of a new season (a season lasts around 10 weeks). I’ll leave you to be the judge.
Today in Focus podcast: What is the truth about vaping?
Jamie Doward and Max Sanderson join Anushka Asthana to navigate a way through the haze of the debate around vaping. Is it really safe? Plus: Frances Perraudin on the anniversary of #MeToo – what has really changed after two years of the campaign against sexual harassment and sexual assault?
Lunchtime read: ‘I’ve lost people before … this is different’
The pioneering musician Tricky was raised among gangsters and tough women who taught him to survive. But nothing prepared him for his biggest loss in life: his daughter, Mazy. “One of the biggest problems with my daughter is that I’ve never loved anybody that much before,” he tells Tim Jonze of the 24-year-old, who passed away this year. His autobiography charts his unlikely rise from young Bristol tearaway to one of British music’s most creative visionaries. His hushed style of rapping and ability to reconstruct soul, punk, reggae and hip-hop into strange new shapes has long left critics scrabbling for words to define him. From an uncommon childhood, where criminality was an accepted way of life, music was an escape route. But the spotlight didn’t always suit him as Hell is Round the Corner sets out.
Rugby World Cup hosts Japan are daring to dream after they proved their ability in the most difficult circumstances with a ferocious performance in a victory that ended Scotland’s hopes. Ben Youngs has warned Australia that England have yet to show their hand and dismissed concerns they will be undercooked for the first quarter-final in eight years against the Wallabies this weekend. Brigid Kosgei delivered a dizzying head-twister of a performance to blow away Paula Radcliffe’s world marathon record, but a miserable fortnight for Mo Farah took a sharp turn for the worse in Chicago as he trudged home more than four minutes behind the leaders in his worst ever marathon time. Wales’ hopes of qualifying for Euro 2020 remain alive after Gareth Bale scored and they drew 1-1 with Croatia in Cardiff, while Scotland beat San Marino 6-0 at a sodden Hampden Park. Fifteen-year-old Coco Gauff continued her extraordinary breakthrough year by defeating Jelena Ostapenko to win her first WTA title in Linz. The Chelsea manager, Emma Hayes, was full of praise for the depth and versatility of her team after ending the 11-game winning run of the Women’s Super League champions, Arsenal. And in his first game for Guildford Phoenix ice hockey team, the Premier League and Champions League-winning goalkeeper Petr Cech was the hero of the evening, saving the crucial shot in the penalty shootout.
The number of shoppers heading to UK high streets, retail parks and shopping centres has fallen by 10% in the last seven years, according to research. Retail footfall dropped 1.7% last month compared with the same month last year, and 1.6% on a three-month basis. “With Brexit looming, many consumers are holding off from all but essential purchases,” said the British Retail Consortium chief executive, Helen Dickinson.
The pound is buying €1.142 and $1.260.
Brexit is unsurprisingly splashed across many of the front pages. The Times has “EU tells Johnson to give more ground on Brexit”. The Telegraph says: “Fury as EU demands more Brexit concessions”. The i has “Johnson’s allies attack deal as EU prepares for delay”. The FT’s headline is: “Johnson’s hopes for swift Brexit deal dented as proposals baffle EU”. The Guardian has “Barnier’s warning as Brexit talks stutter”, but saves its splash for “PM seeks to thrust law and order on to agenda in Queen’s speech”. The Mail also focuses on the speech, with “Crackdown on foreign criminals who sneak back to UK”, as does the Express: “Boris blitz on crooks”.
The Mirror and the Sun go down different paths. The former leads with “Harry’s mum: meet me face to face”, about the mother of the British teenager who died in a road crash flying to the US to try to meet the American diplomat’s wife who is suspected of involvement in the accident. The Sun leads on the battle between the wives of footballers Wayne Rooney and Jamie Vardy: “I don’t like Roo anymore: Jamie deletes Wayne on Instagram”.
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