Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 3 August 2023

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

1. Tories fear rates backlash

Interest rates are expected to rise for the 14th successive time today. Most economists have predicted the Bank of England will increase its base rate to 5.25% from its current 5%. Several Tory MPs told the inews site that they were increasingly concerned about the impact of high interest rates on the party at the ballot box. “The reality is to get inflation under control, people do have to be poor,” said one backbencher. “You have to have less money. But that is not a particularly politically sellable strapline.”

Five options to get the UK back to 2% inflation

2. Trump due in DC court

Donald Trump is due to be formally charged at a court hearing on charges of plotting to overturn his 2020 election defeat. Security is being “ramped up” in Washington DC for today’s hearing, said the BBC. Trump is expected to return to the “epicentre of his alleged bid to overthrow the 2020 election” to answer “historic charges”, said CNN. On the eve of the arraignment he dismissed the case as proof of the “corruption, scandal and failure” of the US under Joe Biden’s presidency.

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Donald Trump criminal charges for 6 January could strain 2024 candidacy

3. Sunak enrages NHS staff

NHS staff are “furious” after Rishi Sunak blamed them for waiting lists, reported The Mirror. The paper said the “shameless PM” tried to blame dedicated staff for going on strike as they “try to save the service from collapse after years of austerity”. Sunak had said junior doctor and consultants’ strikes are “the reason the waiting lists are going up”. The prime minister’s remarks came during an interview on LBC radio, during which he was “tone-deaf” and “about as empathetic as a robot with dead batteries”, said the i news site.

NHS at 75: the UK’s shining light through the years

4. Trudeau and wife separating

The Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, is separating from his wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, after 18 years of marriage. The “political power couple”, who first met as schoolchildren, said they had decided to part after “many meaningful and difficult conversations”, reported The Telegraph. Grégoire Trudeau “has been the wife to this prime minister and mother of his children”, said the Toronto Star, but also “an adviser, on everything from campaign style to the biggest decisions Trudeau has made”.

5. Foreign aid cuts criticised

The UK’s foreign aid cuts are a “death sentence” for children in the world’s most dangerous places, charities have warned. After the potential effects of cuts were outlined in “grim detail” by an internal government document, said The Guardian, ministers are facing calls from Save the Children and Oxfam to restore the aid budget back to 0.7% of national income. Charities said that thousands of women will die in pregnancy and childbirth as a result of cuts. A Foreign Office spokesperson said UK aid spending is due to increase to £8.3bn next year.

6. Viewers abandoning traditional TV

The number of viewers watching traditional television has had the sharpest fall since records began, said Ofcom. The proportion of people tuning into traditional TV each week fell from 83% in 2021 to 79% in 2022, as older viewers joined the trend of watching streaming services. Programmes on Disney+ are “resonating with those aged over 64”, said The Times, with the proportion of that demographic using the service up 12% in 2022, from 7% the previous year.

The death of DVDs and the decline of ownership in digital age

7. Russian Ukraine citizenship claims

Ukrainians living in Russian-occupied territory are being forced to assume Russian citizenship, according to a US study. Researchers at Yale University found that residents of the Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions who do not seek Russian citizenship are subjected to “threats, intimidation, restrictions on humanitarian aid and basic necessities, and possible detention or deportation”, in a bid to “force them to become Russian citizens”. Moscow said in May that it had given passports to almost 1.5m people living in parts of Ukraine.

8. Council-maintained schools on the up

Research has found that council-maintained schools in England are outperforming academies in Ofsted ratings, sparking fresh calls for councils to be able to open their own schools. The study, conducted on behalf of the Local Government Association, found 93% of council-maintained schools were ranked “outstanding” or “good” by Ofsted as of 31 January 2023, compared with 87% of academies that have been graded since they were converted. The findings demonstrated the “value of a democratically organised and supported school system”, said Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union.

9. Minister faces leaflet probe

A minister is facing a police investigation over a campaign leaflet about a proposed new traveller site in his constituency. David TC Davies, the Welsh secretary, has been accused of “peddling racist language” in the document, said The Times. The leaflet was headlined “Gypsy and Traveller site coming to your area soon!” Davies, the MP for Monmouth, said the leaflet was “not a criticism of the gipsy and traveller community”, who he claimed are also unhappy about the plans for the site.

10. Is warmer weather close?

Forecasters are at odds over whether warmer weather will arrive next week. The BBC’s weather service said that the jet stream will move further north, bringing in a band of high pressure over the UK. “It looks like the low pressure systems will tend to clear away”, said BBC forecaster Stav Danaos, and the weather will turn “drier, brighter, and finally a little bit warmer”. However, said the Met Office, “with unsettled conditions never too far away, it looks unlikely that we will see any prolonged or excessive heat”.

Why is Europe sweltering while the UK is a washout?

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