Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 19 July 2021

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

1. PM calls for caution

Boris Johnson has urged people to exercise caution as most restrictions on social contact are lifted in England. From today, nightclubs can reopen, there are no limits on how many people can meet or attend events and table service will not be required in pubs and restaurants. Masks will no longer be required by law. There are warnings cases will surge, with UK infections - currently at about 50,000 a day – expected to reach 200,000 a day later in the summer.

What will change on 19 July - and what won’t

2. Israeli spyware targets activists

Human rights workers, journalists and solicitors around the world have been targeted with phone malware sold to totalitarian governments by an Israeli surveillance firm. NSO insists its software is made available only to military, law enforcement and intelligence agencies from countries with good human rights records. However, The Guardian says it found that evidence of widespread and continuing abuse of NSO’s tools.

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3. Merkel shocked by ‘surreal’ floods

Angela Merkel has expressed shock at the “surreal” destruction caused by last week’s flooding. The German chancellor visited affected areas of western Germany on Sunday, talking to survivors and emergency workers. Earlier, her likely successor, Armin Laschet, was criticised after being filmed laughing during a visit to North Rhine-Westphalia, where dozens lost their lives.

What is triggering extreme flooding in Europe?

4. Starmer to target left-wing groups

Keir Starmer will purge “poisonous” campaign groups from Labour this week, according to sources who say hundreds of members could be expelled. The party’s ruling National Executive Committee is expected to proscribe four groups that promote communism, argue that antisemitism allegations are overblown and demand that the former leader Jeremy Corbyn has the whip restored. The Times says the move “sets the stage for more infighting at Labour’s conference in Brighton”.

5. Cruelty claim as racehorses slaughtered

Thousands of racehorses, including young thoroughbreds, are killed in slaughterhouses in the UK and Ireland every year, an undercover investigation has found. More than 4,000 racehorses have been slaughtered in abattoirs since 2019 and the BBC has found that rules intended to protect horses from distress appeared to be regularly ignored, with horses being shot in front of each other from a distance, resulting in a slow death.

6. Vaccine losing efficacy among the older

The Covid vaccine may be losing its effectiveness in older people, according to researchers in Israel. A monitoring team at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem found that about 90% of new confirmed cases in the over-50s group were people who had been fully vaccinated. “It seems there’s a reduced efficiency of the vaccine, at least for part of the population,” the team said. On Friday, 1,118 new cases were confirmed in Israel, up from 850 the previous day.

Pfizer vaccine efficacy ‘decreases against Delta variant’

7. Australia deports Katie Hopkins

The Australian government is to deport Katie Hopkins’ after the controversial commentator boasted about breaching hotel quarantine conditions. Home affairs minister, Karen Andrews, said Hopkins’ visa will be cancelled after she described Covid-19 lockdowns as “the greatest hoax in human history” and joked about plans to breach quarantine rules. Andrews said Hopkins’ behaviour was “shameful”. Last year Hopkins had her Twitter account permanently suspended for violating the platform’s “hateful conduct” policy.

8. Inflation to land Sunak with new bill

A surge in inflation means Rishi Sunak faces an extra £10bn in interest payments over the next two years, reports The Daily Telegraph. About a quarter of governmental debt, around £460bn, is tied to the retail price index measure of inflation, so the Treasury must pay out more money to savers and investors when prices rise. Prices in June were up 3.9% on the year and the index appears is rising steeply.

9. Harri quits ‘absurd’ GB News

Guto Harri has quit GB News after he was suspended for taking the knee during a discussion about racism in football. The former BBC broadcaster had been taken off air by the rightwing news channel, but there had been talk of him returning. However, he has since described the channel as “rapidly becoming an absurd parody of what it proclaimed to be”. His departure comes on the same weekend that the former Ukip leader Nigel Farage was hired to host a nightly prime-time slot.

The GB News reviews: foxy, fresh or utterly deadly?

10. Germany leave pitch over ‘racial abuse’

Germany’s Olympic football team walked off the pitch during a friendly match against Honduras after one of the German players, Jordan Torunarigha, faced racial abuse. The Honduran Football Federation insisted that the “alleged racial insult” had been a “misunderstanding” on the pitch. The International Olympic Committee said the two teams “resolved their differences after the match”.

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