A roundup of this week’s news from the local to the global
No, Prime Minister
On Sunday Philip Hammond has said, that should Boris Johnson win the Conservative party leadership contest, and therefore become Prime Minister, he would resign. Mr Hammond cited the fact that Mr Johnson has insisted that any of his cabinet must sign up to being willing to leave on October 31st without a deal and since that was something he could not sign up to, he would resign to Theresa May before she handed over to Mr Johnson.
While the results of the contest will not be announced until Tuesday, it is widely expected Boris Johnson will be the victor.
- Trainspotting: Official figures reveal that there were 1,187 drug deaths in Scotland last year, or 218 people per million – a rate higher than the USA, despite Americas opioid epidemic and something that has risen at a rate quicker than anywhere in Europe. Scotland has asked for Home Office help to tackle the problem.
Dire Straits of Hormuz
On Friday, Iran seized the British flagged tanker the Stena Impero in an escalation of tensions at an already fragile time. Iran accused the crew of breaking maritime laws, but both the ship’s owners and the UK Government say this is profoundly untrue. The foreign secretary said he was “extremely disappointed” with Iran, as the capture of the vessel came days after the Iranian foreign minister had told Mr Hunt that he wanted to deescalate the rising tensions between the two nations after the Iranian Revolutionary Guard had tried to seize another vessel, but were deterred when the Royal Navy vessel HMS Montrose stepped in. Iran had been threatening to take a vessel hostage for the last two weeks after Royal Marines in Gibraltar seized a vessel believed to be carrying oil to Syria, in contravention of EU sanctions. On Sunday, Iranian TV showed images of the Iranian flag flying from the mast of the Stena Impero while diplomats talked of trying to reach a solution. The Revolutionary Guard says its investigation into the alleged offences that it says bought about the boarding could take a month or more.
Ursula von der Leyen was approved by the European Parliament to be the next president of the European Commission – the executive body of the European Union. There was much controversy surrounding the selection of those proposed for the EU’s top jobs (a process that the United Kingdom sportingly sat out) after they were selected in a manner that critics thought was too closed off, but that the EU argued was needed in order to satisfy the 27 states and the balance between ends of the political spectrum, gender, and representation of different regions of the EU. That controversial process, however, may go some way to explaining the fact that Mrs von der Lyen was approved with only nine more votes than the majority required. As the EU heads into an era where it requires unity to deal with the challenges ahead, her tenure will get off to a brittle start.
Too Many Tweets Might Make a Twat
Donald Trump told four Democratic congresswomen, all of whom were non-white and two of whom were Muslim, to “go back” and “fix their own corrupt governments” – three of the four women were born in America, the fourth is an American citizen. While Trump denied it, the tweets were branded racist with Senator John Lewis “I know racism when I see it. I know racism when I feel it. And at the highest level of government, there’s no room for racism”. With no apology, Trump would go in the week to say the women should apologise to the country and that he did not “believe that they are capable of loving our country”.
In between spats, the president tweeted that he would be calling the Prime Minister of Sweden regarding the imprisonment of A$AP Rocky who was arrested on suspicion of assault in Sweden. Many were pleased to hear that in a balance between children in cages and rappers behind bars, the president made sure to get his priorities straight.
- Ebola in the DRC: The WHO declared a global health emergency in the Democratic Republic of Congo as a result of the Ebola epidemic. No travel restrictions have been imposed as the WHO believes that could in fact make things worse due to the detrimental effect on people’s livelihoods, instead extensive screening will take place. The current outbreak is the second biggest on record, with more than 2,500 infected and 1,600 dead.
- Power Sharing in Sudan: The Transitional Military Council in Sudan reached a power sharing agreement with the opposition. Mass protests in April lead to the fall of the Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir. Since then protests have taken place over just how the transition to democracy should come about. While the current deal lacks detail, it does at least spell out a path that the sides agree on.
- El Chapo Inside: Joaquin Guzman, aka El Chapo, was sentenced to life in prison plus thirty years. He was convicted in February of 10 charges including trafficking a range of drugs and conspiracy to commit murder.
- British Airways not in Egypt: BA has cancelled all flights to Cairo for a week as a security precaution but did not detail the exact reason for the sudden halt. Lufthansa also suspended flights on Saturday, but they resumed on Sunday.
Royal Holloway revealed that it intends to restrict access to its back gate. For the last academic year students have had 24-hour access through the back gate, but after a number of complaints from local residents the college has said it has arrived at the “difficult” decision to close the gate between the hours of 12:30AM and 5:30AM. The Royal Holloway Student Union said that it had “defended the sensible use of the back gate” but “But, despite repeated warnings and collaborative efforts by the Union and College to reduce noise, a small minority of students have unfortunately continued to paint the wider student body in an unrepresentatively bad light”. It said that it would monitor the impact of the decision on student well-being.
Read more on the Orbital website here.
No Brexit (Party) Negotiation
On Tuesday, the Brexit Party released a campaign video that featured images of Royal Holloway’s iconic Founders Building. The college said it was not and could not be aligned to any one political movement and that the filming was carried out without the consent of the university. The Student Brexit Group, a Brexit party affiliate, apologised and promised to ensure better oversight in the future, while the Brexit Party removed the video as requested.
Read more on the Orbital website here.
- TfL has announced that it plans to have full 4G coverage on the London underground by the mid-2020s. The project will start on the Jubilee line with the eastern portion of the line expected to have connectivity from March.
Slow and steady: World Championship Snail Race took place this weekend in a Norfolk summer fete as more than 200 snails battled it out for victory with Sammy taking home the crown in a time of 2 minutes 38 seconds.
Open Success: Shane Lowry won his first major at the Open at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland with a dominant six-shot victory. Lowry had a nervy start, bogeying the first hole and the fourth and fifth. However, he dug in and was able to not give Tommy Fleetwood, his nearest challenger a chance at drawing level. Lowry started the celebrations early as he walked to the 18th green with the fans clearly on his side as he finished the job.
Drawing it out: Australia have retained the Women’s Ashes after drawing today’s test. In the multi-format series, Australia opened up a 6-0 lead by winning all three ODIs before the four-day test was drawn, thus giving them the two points needed to ensure retention. Three T20s remain.
Ride on, ride on: In the Tour de France this week, Julian Alaphilippe originally extended his lead in the General Classification, but on Sunday that was cut back as he cracked on the final climb, but his performance was still commendable. He now has a lead of 1:35 over Geraint Thomas, but the gap between Thomas and Emmanuel Buchannan (second place to sixth) is just 39 seconds – this is still anyone’s race. Britain’s Simon Yates won stages 13 and 15 this week, showing that he has recovered from his disappointing Giro d ’Italia and is in good stead for the Vuelta a Espana, of which he is the defending champion.
Yes, there is more than UK politics going on this week, but a lot is going on so expect it to dominate your news…
The Lib Dems have a leadership contest going on and either Ed Davey or Jo Swinson will be announced as leader. Unlike the conservative contest which has been a lot more visceral, both Swinson and Davey seem to broadly agree on the direction of their party, they just seem to disagree about exactly who should lead it.
The UKs new Prime Minister will be announced between 11:30 and 12:15. Whether Jeremy Hunt or Boris Johnson wins, they will face the old problems; deep internal disagreements, countrywide divisions and how on earth to solve the Northern Ireland conundrum.
Theresa May makes one more appearance in the commons before going to the Palace to formally resign as PM. The new PM then goes to see the queen to formally take over, before a speech outside 10 Downing Street. We may get some cabinet appointments in the evening and from there will be able to determine more about the direction of our new government.
In their first full day in office the new Prime Minister will crack straight on with the difficult job ahead by… going on holiday. Parliament will begin its summer recess until the 3rd September.