Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Friday 31 Jul 2020

1. Home visits banned in parts of northern England

New rules in the north of England mean separate households have been banned from meeting each other indoors in Greater Manchester and parts of east Lancashire and West Yorkshire due to a spike in coronavirus cases. Matt Hancock, the health secretary said the rise in transmission was “largely due” to people not observing social distancing. However, Labour criticised the government for a lack of clarity over the measures.

2. Met Office: weather increasingly impacted by climate change

Four UK temperature records were broken in 2019, with the Met Office saying it shows the “increasing impact” of climate change. Hannah Cloke, professor of hydrology at the University of Reading, said: “As well as extreme hot temperatures, the stand-out weather events in 2019 were the many different types of floods, causing millions of pounds worth of damage and causing misery to many people.”

3. Top Republicans reject Trump’s call for election delay

Republicans in the US have rejected Donald Trump’s suggestion that November’s presidential election should be delayed over alleged fraud concerns. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy dismissed the president’s proposal. Trump cannot postpone the election without the approval of Congress. He “appears to be doing everything in his power to undermine the credibility of November’s vote,” says the BBC.

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4. Top companies to defy government over office return

A number of England’s biggest businesses will defy the government’s drive to get workers back into offices in August. The Guardian says many big businesses will stick with home working arrangements or delay a partial return until September at the earliest. Google and NatWest Group are allowing staff to stay at home until 2021 in what is being seen as a sign of a permanent shift in working culture.

5. CPS criticised as rape convictions reach an all-time low

The Crown Prosecution Service is under fire after rape convictions in England and Wales fell to a record low. The National Police Chiefs’ Council’s leads for rape, domestic abuse and charging said the fall in convictions was “very concerning,” while Sarah Crew, the most senior police officer for rape in England and Wales, told The Guardian she was “bitterly disappointed”.

6. Scotland’s next Tory leader could be Cummings critic

The new leader of the Scottish Tories is set to be a critic of Dominic Cummings. Jackson Carlaw was forced out as party leader yesterday, less than six months since he took charge. It is believed he was forced to quit by senior figures who are backing Douglas Ross, 37, the former Scotland Office minister, who left the government in May over Cummings’s 260-mile drive to Durham during the lockdown.

7. US economy in historic contraction as joblessness rises

The US economy shrank by an annual rate of 32.9% between April and June, government data has revealed. It was its sharpest contraction since the Second World War. In more bad news for the US economy, another 1.43 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, a second week of rises after a four-month decline.

8. Lifestyle changes could delay or prevent dementia

Changes in lifestyle could delay or even prevent dementia, according to a new report. Experts say that excessive drinking, exposure to air pollution and head injuries all increase a person’s risk of dementia, adding that up to 40% of dementia cases could be delayed or prevented by addressing 12 lifestyle practices. “Dementia is potentially preventable,” said Gill Livingston, professor of psychiatry of older people at University College London.

9. Trump pays tribute as Republican dies of Covid-19

Herman Cain, a former Republican presidential candidate, has died from coronavirus. “Herman Cain - our boss, our friend, like a father to so many of us - has passed away,” a message posted on his official website said. Donald Trump paid tribute to Cain at the White House, saying: “He was a very special person... and unfortunately he passed away from a thing called the China virus.”

10. Wife ends marriage as Tory MP is convicted of sexual assault

Former Conservative MP Charlie Elphicke has been convicted of three counts of sexual assault and warned he faces the "very real possibility" of jail time. The 49-year-old was found guilty of one charge relating to an incident with a woman in her early 30s, and two involving a parliamentary worker in her early 20s. His wife said the conviction “ends my 25 year marriage to the only man I have ever loved”.

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