Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 1 July 2021

The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am

1. Starmer faces ‘leadership challenge’

Angela Rayner and a group of supporters are preparing for her to challenge Keir Starmer if Labour loses today’s by-election in Batley & Spen, according to reports. The Times says that MPs close to Labour’s deputy leader have been canvassing support among parliamentary colleagues and trade unions. However, a spokesperson said Starmer has no plans to step aside and is determined to lead the party “into the next general election and back into government”.

Next Labour leader: who is tipped for the top job

2. Xi Jinping attacks ‘bullies’

China will not be “bullied” by “sanctimonious preaching” from foreign powers, Xi Jinping has said. During a speech to mark the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Xi added: “We have never bullied, oppressed, or subjugated the people of any other country, and we never will.” In front of a crowd of 70,000 in Tiananmen Square, Xi also praised the ruling CCP for lifting the nation out of poverty and humiliation, and vowed to expand China’s military and influence.

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Inside the plans for the Chinese Communist Party’s 100th anniversary

3. Furlough begins to wind down

The government has started to wind down its flagship job support scheme, meaning employers will have to shoulder more of the costs of furlough from today. Staff will continue to receive 80% of their wages, but employers will pay part of that for the first time. Analysts have predicted that the shift could cause layoffs, with older workers at greater risk of redundancy. The Office for Budget Responsibility calculates that the government’s outlay on the furlough scheme peaked at £10bn a month.

Six million furloughed workers ‘broke rules by carrying on working during lockdown’

4. Canada gripped by heatwave

At least 486 sudden deaths have been reported over five days during British Columbia’s savage heatwave. The chief coroner for Canada’s westernmost province said that 165 sudden deaths would typically occur in the province over that period. Commenting on the extreme conditions, The Washington Post says “it’s climate change, stupid”. Scientists told the paper that the temperatures may hint at a climate reality that they thought was still decades away.

Is red snow the latest warning sign of worsening climate crisis?

5. Booster Covid jabs within months

Half the population will be offered a third Covid jab alongside the flu vaccine to reduce the risk of more restrictions this winter. Under fresh guidance issued by Downing Street, tens of millions of Britons could be offered a third Covid vaccination as soon as September. Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van-Tam said that getting through the winter without returning to lockdown was “heavily dependent” on keeping protection from vaccines high.

Can booster jab nullify new Covid-19 threats?

6. Charges against Trump Organization

The Trump Organization and its chief financial officer have been charged in a tax-related investigation. The development marks the first criminal charges against the former president’s company since prosecutors began investigating it three years ago. The Guardian says the charges are believed to involve alleged tax violations related to benefits the company gave to top executives, possibly including the use of apartments, cars and payment of school tuition.

What convening of New York grand jury means for Donald Trump

7. William and Harry to unveil statue

Prince William and Prince Harry will reunite today to unveil a statue to mark what would have been Princess Diana’s 60th birthday. The brothers commissioned the statue in 2017 as a tribute to their late mother who died in 1997. Its unveiling comes after 18 months of tensions in the relationship between the Duke of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex, however, the Daily Mirror says the unveiling sees the brothers “reuniting for mum”.

Prince William ‘angered Harry by asking Diana’s brother to halt marriage to Meghan’

8. Bill Cosby walks free

The comedian and actor Bill Cosby left prison yesterday after his sexual assault conviction was overturned by Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court. Admitting their ruling was unusual, the judges said there had been a “process violation” by the prosecution. Cosby, 83, had served two years after being found guilty of drugging and molesting Andrea Constand. Dozens of women have publicly accused Cosby of sexual assault, but he was only criminally tried for the alleged incident involving Constand.

From the archive: Bill Cosby jailed for sexual assault

9. Man apologises over Whitty incident

A man has apologised after accosting England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty in a London park. Lewis Hughes told The Sun he was sorry for “any upset caused” during the incident. A video shows two men laughing and jeering as they grab hold of Whitty. “If I made him feel uncomfortable, which it does look like I did, then I am sorry to him for that”, said Hughes, a 24-year-old estate agent who lost his job following the incident.

Instant Opinion: ‘Chris Whitty is a brave man to continue so fearlessly’

10. Donald Rumsfeld dead

Donald Rumsfeld, who served as US secretary of defence under two presidents, has died at the age of 88. Described as “the acerbic architect of the Iraq War and a master Washington power player” by CNN, Rumsfeld was a key proponent of the war on terror following the 9/11 attacks. His family said he had died at home in the town of Taos, New Mexico. George W. Bush led the tributes, describing him as “a man of intelligence, integrity and almost inexhaustible energy”.

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