A roundup of this week’s news from the local to the global
Dam and Blast
The heat wave appears to well and truly have ended this week, nowhere more so than in the north of England which this week experienced up to two months’ worth of rain in a matter of hours. Since many areas affected had a lot of hills and valleys, there was such a vast amount of water running off the surface and completely inundating the river system.
Meanwhile in Derbyshire, 1,500 people were evacuated from Whaley Bridge due to fears of the Toddbrook reservoir, sitting directly above the town, breaching. Efforts are underway to pump out as much water as possible to reduce pressure on the dam wall while RAF helicopters have been used to bring 400 tonnes worth of sandbags in to try to sure up the damaged section. Despite these efforts, the risk of collapse remains at a “critical level” and twenty-two households have refused to move.
Lib Dem pact sends Tories Packing
Thursday spelt disaster for Boris Johnson’s government as his working majority – the lead that the government (and those that it may consider its allies) has over any opposition – was cut to just one. This puts the government in its most precarious position to date. It would now take one single, rebellious and hitherto unknown Tory MP to back a motion of no-confidence and suddenly the subject of a pub quiz question about the shortest premiership.
The election was triggered after the conservative Christ Davies, the then MP, was convicted of making a false expense claim and a recall petition, signed by 10,000 constituents, was handed in. Mr Davies stood again, perhaps believing that enough still supported him. But perhaps because of his conviction, perhaps because of the Brexit part sapping up Tory votes, or perhaps both he failed to win. Victory instead went to the Liberal Democrats who had struck a pact with the Greens and Plaid Cymru – who agreed not to stand – to bolster the hopes of remain backing parties in a constituency where over half of voters backed Brexit. Jane Dodds makes up the Lib Dems 13th MP.
One Week In…
Parliament may be in recess, but the new Prime Minister has used the break to embark on his union tour. He moved through Wales (posing with a chicken for good measure), moved up in to Scotland (where he was greeted by boos and jeers outside Bute House), and then to Northern Ireland. It was that last stop that was perhaps most crucial. The UKs only land border with the EU is proving to be one of the hardest elements of the Brexit puzzle to solve and Johnson adopted his expected approach which was to tell Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar that the UK would leave in October no matter what saying that the UK would not put a border in place with Ireland, so if the EU chose to do so they would be responsible. Such a position is symptomatic of Mr Johnson’s staring match with the EU – it is one in which he is determined not to blink first.
- BoJo in N. Ireland – part of a wider uk tour bigging up no deal prospects, his “union tour”
- Policy announcements
- £2.1bn of no deal planning (has this doubled?)
- In other Brexit news, the UK also announced an additional £2.1bn to help prepare for a no-deal Brexit. While some welcomed it as a further sign that the government is serious about its do-or-die approach to Brexit, others referred to it as an appalling waste of taxpayers’ money given a no deal is “totally avoidable”.
- Ryanair said it has about 900 more pilots and cabin crew than it needs, and it will therefore be making job cuts and potentially closing some European bases. A major reason for the overstaffing is the grounding of the 737 MAX leading to a cut in Ryanair’s flights as they couldn’t take delivery of their jets.
Two Mass Shootings, 29 Killed – Inside 14 Hours
In less than 14 hours, 29 people were killed in two separate mass shootings in the United States. The first took place in El Paso where a gun man opened fire just after 10:30am local time on Saturday in a busy Walmart. 20 people were killed and a further 26 injured. The attacker surrendered and was apprehended by police. He has been charged with capital murder, a charge that brings the death penalty.
Mere hours later, a gunman opened fire in an are of Ohio that is popular for its nightlife. Police killed the gunman within 30 seconds of him opening fire. It was, however, 30 seconds too late for nine people who were killed and 27 injured. The gunman’s sister was also killed in the attack.
This will inevitably lead to another discussion over gun control in America but there is nothing to suggest that these shootings, however horrific, will bring about any more change than any previous events.
- Russia’s opposition leader Alexei Nalvany was hospitalised, from prison, after an apparent allergic reaction. His supporters, however, believe he may actually have been poisoned.
- The Democratic party candidates had further televised debates with each other as they all vie to put themselves and their policies on the agenda for the 2020 US Election.
- Protests continued in Hong Kong over the weekend. The protests, which were originally against a controversial extradition bill, have taken on a wider meaning in the last few weeks. Police and protesters came together again in violent clashes.
Striking Gold at Heathrow
British Airways pilots had their right to strike upheld this week. They balloted to strike over a disagreement about pay with the airline. BA says it offered its pilots an 11.5% pay increase over 3 years (a figure disputed by the pilot’s union), but 93% of BA’s 4000 pilots balloted to strike. No dates have been announced as of yet, and the union must provide BA with 14 days’ notice.
Elsewhere in the airport, staff have postponed the strike action scheduled for the 5th and 6th August, buts some contingency plans have already been put in place (including the cancelling of flights). The message to travellers is check with your airline before you travel and allow for longer than usual to make your way through the airport.
Read our day by day summary of the ashes here!
Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes fought off the demons of last weekend to win in Hungary. A long-awaited contest between the Brit and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen delivered to expectations as the two raced aggressively but fairly. Just as F1 has been criticised for being dull, its good to see the last few races are delivering drama to keep people engaged.
There will be no Weekly News Summary next week as, believe it or not, even we need a summer holiday.