Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 17 July 2022

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

1. Britain braces for historic heat

An amber warning for extreme heat is in place for England as the country prepares for record temperatures. The Met Office warning will rise to red tomorrow for the first time. The health secretary said new measures, including extra working hours for ambulance crews, are being put in place, with temperatures possibly reaching 41C (106F). Britons are being urged to do the “neighbourly thing” and check on people who may be more vulnerable.

2. Sunak faces Tory backlash

Rishi Sunak has promised to scrap EU laws “getting in the way” of British businesses to spark “a new Big Bang”. However, The Sunday Times said Sunak, once the party’s “golden boy”, is now “derided by his array of enemies as anything from a snake to a socialist”. Meanwhile, Penny Mordaunt has accused other leadership hopefuls of running “black ops” briefings against her, and Liz Truss vowed to scrap “Stalinist” housing targets.

3. Campaigners call for rent freeze

Calls are growing for emergency rent freezes amid warnings that landlords are “pouring petrol” on the cost-of-living crisis by hiking up rents across the United Kingdom. The i said some tenants have seen their rent increased by more than 20% overnight by landlords as experts warn official figures aren’t showing the true extent of rises across the country. The campaign group Generation Rent is calling for a rent freeze until consumer inflation has returned to 2%.

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4. ‘Apocalyptic’ fires sweep Europe

Thousands were evacuated from their homes as vast wildfires swept across western Europe yesterday. The blazes, which came during a record-breaking heat wave, have destroyed “swathes of land” in Portugal, Spain and France, said The Observer. One resident in south-west France described the forest fires as feeling “post-apocalyptic”. Heat waves have “become more frequent, more intense, and last longer because of human-induced climate change,” said the BBC.

5. PM ‘missing in action again’

Labour has accused Boris Johnson of being “missing in action again” by heading to Chequers instead of chairing an emergency Cobra meeting over the rising temperatures that could put lives as risk. Cabinet Office minister Kit Malthouse stood in for Johnson as chair of the meeting amid fears of thousands of deaths and as numerous hospitals declared critical incidents. Johnson is “partying while Britain boils,” said The Mirror.

6. UN bans weapon sales to Haiti

The UN Security Council has voted unanimously to ban some weapon sales to Haiti, after 234 people were killed or injured by gang violence in four days. The resolution calls on UN member states to prohibit the sale of small arms, light weapons and ammunition to “non-state actors”. A UN spokesman called on gangs to halt the violence and encouraged Haitian authorities to ensure that fundamental human rights are “placed at the front and centre of their responses to the crisis”.

7. Savile judge calls for Westwood probe

The former judge who led the review of the Jimmy Savile scandal at the BBC has backed an independent investigation into the corporation’s handling of complaints about the DJ Tim Westwood. Dame Janet Smith said an impartial figure must examine complaints after the director-general, Tim Davie, at first insisted that the BBC had seen “no evidence” of Westwood’s alleged wrongdoing. Although Davie’s tenure has been stricken by scandal, this is the first time he finds himself “closely involved,” said The Sunday Times.

8. Sharma threatens to quit

Alok Sharma, the cabinet minister who led last year’s Cop26 UN climate summit, has suggested he could resign if the next prime minister fails to commit to a strong agenda on the climate crisis. Accusing some of the candidates of being “lukewarm” on net zero in the contest so far, Sharma told The Observer that climate change is “absolutely a leadership issue”. Asked if he could resign if candidates were weak on net zero, he said: “Let’s see, shall we?”

9. Deaths at Florence hotel

A British man has been found dead at a hotel in Florence alongside a woman suffering from serious injuries. The 40-year-old man was found dead in his room at the four-star Hotel Continentale on Saturday morning after staff alerted the police. A police source told the Daily Mail that the man was found “with a series of cuts, bruises and other injuries on his body”. They added that the woman was seriously hurt and the man “appears to have had some sort of seizure”.

10. Queen ‘told Meghan to fly to US’

The Queen and Prince Charles suggested to Duchess of Sussex that she fly to the US to reconcile with her father, according to a new book. In his biography of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Tom Bower claimed that the Queen and the Prince joined Harry and Meghan on a conference call in which they urged the Duchess to fly to America for “a reconciliation”. Bower writes: “Meghan rejected the suggestion...the conference call ended with both the senior royals perplexed.”

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