Thursday briefing: Corbyn – make me PM to stop no deal | World news

Top story: ‘Roll something in glitter and get over the line’

Good day, it’s Warren Murray with you at the jumping-off point.

Jeremy Corbyn has called on rebel Tories and opposition leaders to stop a no-deal Brexit by ousting Boris Johnson as prime minister and backing a Labour-led caretaker government – which would then call a general election and campaign for a second referendum. Jo Swinson, the leader of the Lib Dems, called the idea “a nonsense”, arguing Corbyn would not be able to secure the cross-party backing needed. Others were more amenable, with the SNP and Plaid Cymru welcoming Corbyn’s call for talks – although Plaid stood with the Greens in arguing a referendum should come before any election.

Some Labour MPs have said meanwhile that they would consider backing Theresa May’s deal or a version of it after all. “I think Boris will present a deal to parliament, roll something in glitter and get themselves over the line and a number of my colleagues would vote for that deal at that point,” one MP said. “A second referendum is so divisive and no deal is so damaging.” On the more batty side, the Conservative backbencher Tom Tugendhat is arguing the UK could make a snap Brexit on 24 August, followed by an immediate general election, with the Irish border issue solved by a Northern Ireland-only backstop. No 10 says it has no such plan.

Farmers for a People’s Vote will herd a small flock of sheep past the Cabinet Office this morning as they warn that more than half of UK farms could go broke if Britain crashes out of the EU on 31 October. The group says the EU and other countries would immediately apply tariffs and other barriers on food imports from the UK in the event of a no-deal Brexit. At the same time, UK tariffs on imports would be slashed in order to keep prices down for consumers, with British farmers left unable to compete.

‘We will give a solid response’ – Tensions have heightened over Kashmir after Pakistan’s PM, Imran Khan, threatened to “teach India a lesson” over its revocation of the disputed region’s special status. “The Pakistani army has solid information that they [India] are planning to do something in Pakistani Kashmir, and they are ready and will give a solid response,” said Khan. Millions of people in Indian-administered Kashmir remain without landlines, mobiles or internet access. A short while ago this morning the Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, gave an independence day speech hailing the abolition of Kashmir’s special status as a major national achievement.

Everest rules tightened – All climbers seeking a permit for Everest will need prior high-altitude mountaineering experience and demonstrable training, an expert commission for the Nepalese government has ruled. Eleven climbers were killed or went missing on the mountain in May: nine on the Nepalese side and two on the Tibetan side. Climbers and guides criticised officials for allowing anyone who paid £9,000 to attempt the ascent. Nepal issued 381 permits for Everest for this year’s climbing season. Ghanshyam Upadhyaya, a senior tourism ministry official, said: “The government will now make the required changes in laws and regulations guiding mountain climbing.”

Lib Dems sign up ex-Tory – Sarah Wollaston, the Totnes former Conservative MP, has joined the Liberal Democrats. Wollaston left the Conservatives in February to join the group that became Change UK. Six of them left in June, with Totnes sitting as independent until this latest move.

Working class ‘not all white’ – The focus on a “mystical” white working class in the aftermath of the Brexit vote has ignored decades-old and growing ethnic minority populations across the north of England, the authors of a report warn. Some northern cities now have among the largest ethnic minority populations in the UK and they are more likely to be working class than not. Researchers say “deep racial and ethnic inequalities” are not being adequately addressed by economic plans such as the “northern powerhouse”. The report from the Runnymede Trust and University of Leeds also highlights that the north of England accounts for around a third of all hate crime taking place in England and Wales.

Lichen for sex – Botanists in New Zealand are warning the public not to consume lichen growing on footpaths after misleading stories about its aphrodisiac properties spread online. The “sexy pavement lichen” has been promoted as a natural alternative to Viagra in online marketplaces, especially in China. Scientists say Xanthoparmelia scabrosa might have some properties that are similar to Viagra but it can also be “somewhat toxic” – not to mention being contaminated with dog urine and excrement, car exhaust, arsenic, mercury, lead and other things that end up on the footpath.

Today in Focus podcast: Philip Hammond, the Treasury and Brexit

Poppy Trowbridge discusses her work as a special adviser in Philip Hammond’s Treasury as it tried to plan for Brexit and avoid crashing out with no deal. Plus, Carey Gillam on how the biotech company Monsanto tried to destroy her reputation.

Today in Focus

Phillip Hammond, the Treasury and Brexit

Lunchtime read: ‘Fascists will say they love God’

Skin’s memories from Skunk Anansie’s first blast of fame are scintillating. She duetted with Pavarotti in front of the Dalai Lama, sang happy birthday to Nelson Mandela, and became the first black Brit to headline Glastonbury in 1999, something she had to remind the world about after Stormzy’s vaunted performance this year. “If I’m really honest,” she says, “I was way more irritated when Beyoncé said she was the first black woman. I really like Stormzy and I think he does a lot of good. I would never tear that guy down and I would never start a beef and take that moment away from him … We’re all proud of the fact he’s a black man, doing the black man things.”

Skin from Skunk Anansie.

Skin from Skunk Anansie. Photograph: Linda Nylind/The Guardian

Skin’s mantra is “Everything is political” and Skunk Anansie’s latest track, What You Do for Love, their first original outing since 2016, bears that out. The track again speaks to the contradictions and divides we’re witnessing in society. “The fascists will say they love God,” she explains. “You use the word love but you’re doing really heinous things to a lot of people. And so that’s just where the idea for that song came from.”


Jürgen Klopp praised the contribution of Adrián, Liverpool’s new goalkeeper, after watching his team beat Chelsea in a penalty shootout to win the European Super Cup. Frank Lampard could console himself with the performances of N’Golo Kanté and Christian Pulisic, who gave the Chelsea manager reasons to be cheerful despite the defeat. After the Larry Nassar saga, USA Gymnastics should not exist but Simone Biles continues to redefine brilliance in a sport that shamefully failed her, writes Marina Hyde. England will put their faith in two bowlers who did not play at Edgbaston in their bid to solve the problem that is Steve Smith when the second Ashes Test finally gets under way at Lord’s today, following yesterday’s washout.

Footballer Emiliano Sala and the pilot flying the plane he was in when it crashed into the Channel were probably exposed to “potentially fatal” levels of carbon monoxide, investigators have announced. Queens Park Rangers have called on Uefa to take stronger action against racism after their under-18 team were forced to leave the pitch during a recent friendly in Spain. And Eddie Hearn has warned Andy Ruiz Jr he must honour the contract for his rematch with Anthony Joshua in Saudi Arabia after the Mexican-American insisted the bout would take place in the United States.


Asian markets have fallen sharply overnight in response to the huge losses on Wall Street and the City yesterday. Investors have been spooked by doom-laden movements in the US bond markets and stocks have been hit in Japan, China and Hong Kong. Worst affected is Australia where shares are down 2.6% with energy companies badly hit by the continued drop in oil prices. The FTSE will open down this morning while sterling fell to $1.205 and €1.081. You can follow all the developments at our live blog now.

The papers

Jeremy Corbyn’s bid to replace Boris Johnson is on the front pages of several of the papers. The Guardian’s headline is “Corbyn urges opposition leaders and Tory rebels to help oust PM”; the Telegraph has “Corbyn in bid to oust Johnson over Brexit”; and the Mail goes with “Corbyn’s No10 coup”. The Express headline is “Boris blasts plot to block Brexit”.

Guardian front page, Thursday 15 August 2019

Guardian front page, Thursday 15 August 2019.

The Times carries a picture of Greta Thunberg setting out on her trans-Atlantic voyage (the Guardian also pictures Thunberg on its front page), but keeps its lead story slot for “Fraud victims failed by police”. It details a Times investigation that alleges call handlers working for police have been trained to mislead victims of fraud into thinking their cases will be investigated – when, it says, most won’t.

The FT leads with “Bonds sound recession alarm as China and Germany show strain”. The Mirror splashes on further allegations about Ghislaine Maxwell’s involvement with Jeffrey Epstein. And the Sun leads on the Duke and Duchess of Sussex with the headline: “Heir heads” – a story that claims Prince Harry caused outrage by using a private jet for the second time in two weeks, despite his own warnings about global heating.

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