Top story: Move follows downing of US drone by Iran
Good morning – this is Alison Rourke bringing you your last briefing for the week.
Donald Trump is reported to have given initial approval for a strike on Iran in retaliation for Tehran shooting down a US drone, before pulling back at the last minute. According to the New York Times, planes were in the air and ships were in position, but no missiles were fired before word came to stand down, the NYT said, quoting an unnamed official. The paper also said US military and diplomatic officials were expecting strikes on a handful of radar and missile sites after the president’s top national security officials and congressional leaders gathered at the White House on Thursday night. Trump earlier appeared keen to calm tensions, saying the US Global Hawk drone might have been brought down by a “loose and stupid” Iranian officer without authorisation from Tehran. Meanwhile the US Federal Aviation Administration banned all US airlines from flying in Iranian airspace close to where the drone was shot down.
Mark Field – Pressure is mounting the Conservative MP and Foreign Office minister after a video emerged showing him grabbing a Greenpeace protestor who disrupted the chancellor’s Mansion House speech last night. The video shows Field pushing the female activist against a pillar, gripping her by the back of the neck and marching her away. The protesters, most dressed all in red and wearing sashes bearing the words “climate emergency”, had attempted to read out a message and “drown out” Philip Hammond. City of London police said they had “received a small number of third party reports of an assault taking place at the [Mansion House] event” and were looking into the matter. No arrests have been made.
Greenpeace UK said the organisation was “shocked at the footage of an elected MP and government minister assaulting one of our peaceful protesters at the Mansion House tonight.” Field issued a statement apologising to the woman: “I deeply regret this episode and unreservedly apologise to the lady concerned for grabbing her but in the current climate I felt the need to act decisively to close down the threat to the safety of those present.” He said he had grasped her “firmly in order to remove her from the room as swiftly as possibly”. He has referred himself to the Cabinet Office to determine if there has been a “breach of the ministerial code”.
The Labour MP Dawn Butler called for Field to be suspended or sacked over the incident, describing the footage as “horrific”. Chuka Umunna tweeted that the incident was “totally unacceptable”. But the Tory MP, Sir Peter Bottomley, defended Field, saying the activist “was trying to create a fuss. Most viewers would say it’s good that she didn’t succeed”.
Hunt v Johnson – The foreign secretary and his predecessor will battle it out to become PM after yesterday’s Tory leadership vote drew suggestions that Johnson backers had voted tactically to oust Michael Gove from the contest. Johnson’s camp believes remain-voting Hunt, whom some at Westminster dub “Theresa in trousers”, will make a less formidable adversary than Gove, who along with Johnson was one of the leading figures in the Vote Leave campaign. The two men will now need to persuade around 140,000 Tory party members to back them.
With Hunt set to stay in the headlines, Pennysylvania’s Language Log started asking why some broadcasters have stumbled over his name, replacing the H with a C: “I wonder if the leading K sound is because they expect to say Corbyn then change to Hunt too late,” pondered one. Another wrote: “It seems to me that the similarity between a ‘h’ and a ‘k’ sound (at least when it’s a strongly pronounced ‘h’) is part of the picture.”
‘Landmark tipping point’ – 2019 will be the first year that fossil fuels make up less than half of the electricity generated, according to National Grid, following a dramatic decline in coal-fired power and rising renewable energy. A decade ago, coal plants generated almost a third of the UK’s electricity, but in the first half of this year they have provided only 3%. In the same time, renewable energy has climbed from 2% to 20% of all electricity produced in the UK. The National Grid is dubbing it a “landmark tipping point” and “historic achievement” in the road to a net-zero carbon economy by 2050.
Dough the right thing – People are more likely to return a lost wallet if it is stuffed with cash, than if it’s empty, a team of economists has found. In a mass social experiment involving 17,000 “lost” wallets in 40 countries, the study found that a majority of people returned the wallets and – contrary to classic economic logic – they were more likely to do so the more money the wallet contained. “We mistakenly assume that our fellow human beings are selfish,” said Alain Cohn, an assistant professor of economics at the University of Michigan and first author of the study. “In reality their self-image as an honest person is more important to them than a short-term monetary gain.”
Stonehenge solstice – A live camera set up close to the famous stones will allow people to tune in to sunrise on the longest day of the year. After dark, the live feed will be replaced by a computer-generated image of the night sky as it would be at the moment a viewer clicks on the link to the website. English Heritage hopes that the feed will allow those who cannot make the trip in person, to experience sunrise, sunset and the ever-changing night sky, and even make them feel closer to the ancient people who created the stone circle.
Today in Focus podcast: On the frontline – why has environmental journalism become so dangerous
The field of environmental journalism is now one of the most dangerous after war reporting. Investigative reporter Juliette Garside and global environment editor Jon Watts discuss why journalists are facing rising levels of violence. And: Polly Toynbee on the final two Tory leadership candidates.
Lunchtime read: Danny Boyle – from Trainspotting to the Beatles
Danny Boyle is the man who galvanised 90s cinema with Trainspotting, won an Oscar in the 00s for directing Slumdog Millionaire and presided over the all-embracing splendour of the opening ceremony at the 2012 London Olympics. If he is not quite at Paul McCartney level, he is surely within shouting distance. His new film, Yesterday, imagines a world where no one has heard Beatles’ hits. Boyle likens it to Rocketman and Bohemian Rhapsody, two other crowd-pleasing pictures about Britain’s musical past. “It’s an interesting trend. In a time of complete uncertainty – politically, economically – people latch on to the things they can depend on,” says Boyle. He tells Xan Brookes about why a world without the Beatles would be infinitely worse, bailing out on the latest 007 venture, and why Robert Pattinson should be the next James Bond.
Andy Murray has embarked on his third comeback and, against all expectations, he and Feliciano López beat the best doubles team in the world, Juan Sebastián Cabal and Robert Farah, at Queen’s Club. “I feel optimistic about the future,” said the Scot. Australia had spluttered on their way to four Cricket World Cup wins but roared to full power to notch a fifth and all-but confirm a semi-final place with a 48-run win over Bangladesh at Trent Bridge. The United States completed their group-stage romp with a 2-0 win over Sweden, setting the stage for a Women’s World Cup date with Spain in the round of 16. Sebastian Vettel has said he remains dissatisfied with the penalty that cost him victory at the Canadian Grand Prix. England are not due to finalise their Rugby World Cup squad until August but the chances of Dylan Hartley, Chris Robshaw and Danny Care being included are fast receding after they were omitted from next week’s preliminary training camp. And sacked former Wallabies player Israel Folau has created a crowdfunding page in a bid to raise $3m of donations for his legal action against Rugby Australia.
Energy customers could face a potential total bill of £172m stemming from suppliers which have collapsed since the start of last year. The companies have to fork out for renewable generation, infrastructure and metering but consumers could end up footing the expenses left behind by bankruptcies.
The pound is buying €1.124 and $1.271.
Once again the front pages focus on another round of ballots in the Conservative leadership race. There is a lot of talk of Boris Johnson’s “revenge” on Michael Gove, who scuppered Johnson’s chances of winning the top job last time around.
The i reports “Dirty tricks: Johnson gets revenge on Gove”, the Express says: “Revenge is sweet for Boris”, the Telegraph has: “Boris exacts his revenge as Gove is squeezed out”, the Daily Mail has “Boris gets his revenge”.
Other papers focus on the fact that it is now a two-man contest. The Guardian’s splash is: “It’s Johnson versus Hunt. But was the result fixed?”. The FT has “Hunt survives to face Johnson in Tory run-off for Downing Street”, the Times calls it a “Dirty battle for No 10” and the Mirror says the vote offers a choice between “The liar v the NHS wrecker”.
The Sun, alone, chooses to focus on a non-Tory leadership race story, leading with “Disastermind”, a story about the BBC coming under fire for claims a Mastermind contestant had won with a wrong answer.
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