Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 4 August 2023

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

1. Hunt warning after rates rise

The chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, said Britain was stuck in a “low-growth trap” after the Bank of England said it was concerned that inflation was becoming embedded in the economy, requiring interest rates to be kept “sufficiently restrictive for sufficiently long” to ease price rises. After the Bank raised the base rate by 0.25 percentage points to 5.25 per cent, some analysts predicted a prolonged period of high rates but James Moore, The Independent’s chief business commentator, said “the cycle of rate rises is coming to an end”.

Interest rates rise to 5.25% for first time in 15 years

2. ‘Sombre’ Trump pleads not guilty

Donald Trump has pleaded not guilty in a Washington DC court to conspiring to overturn his 2020 election defeat. The former US president “spoke softly” to confirm his not-guilty plea, name and age, and that he was not under the influence of any substances, said the BBC. The Washington Post said he was “sombre” in court and the New York Post said that when he was not speaking, Trump “slumped over the defendant’s table”. Outside the building, he told reporters the case was “persecution of a political opponent”.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

Donald Trump criminal charges for 6 January could strain 2024 candidacy

3. Arrests after oil protest

Five people were arrested after activists climbed on the roof of the prime minister’s home before covering it in oil-black fabric. The Greenpeace campaigners used ladders and climbing ropes to reach the roof of the manor house in Kirby Sigston, North Yorkshire. “We’re all here because Rishi Sunak has opened the door to a new drilling frenzy in the North Sea while large parts of our world are literally on fire,” said one of the activists. A Number 10 source said “we make no apology for taking the right approach to ensure our energy security”.

Does the UK need more North Sea oil and gas?

4. Private health expansion planned

Rishi Sunak is preparing the “biggest expansion of private sector involvement in the NHS since the Tony Blair era”, said The Telegraph, as the government hopes to clear unprecedented backlogs. As ministers pledge to “use every tool at our disposal” to cut waiting lists ahead of the next election, private sector firms will be asked to operate community diagnostic centres for NHS patients, carrying out more than 400,000 scans, checks and tests a year. The latest data shows 7.47m – more than one in eight people – are on waiting lists.

Pros and cons of privatising the NHS

5. Accidental malaria breakthrough

Scientists have discovered a naturally occurring strain of bacteria which they say can help stop the transmission of malaria from mosquitoes to humans. The researchers said the discovery, which was made by chance after a colony of mosquitoes in one experiment did not develop the malaria parasite, could lead to a new tool for fighting one of the world’s oldest diseases, which kills 600,000 people every year. The bacteria can reduce a mosquito’s parasite load by up to 73%, said Science magazine.

The taming of Malaria

6. Mail confirms Wootton suspension

MailOnline has confirmed that it has suspended Dan Wootton’s column while allegations he used a pseudonym and offered colleagues money for sexual images are investigated. The GB News presenter denies any criminal wrongdoing and says he is the victim of a “witch hunt”, but he has admitted to “errors of judgment in the past”. He is accused of using fake online identities to trick men into sending him explicit images for tens of thousands of pounds, reported Byline Times.

Dan Wootton: GB News presenter admits ‘errors’ but denies criminality

7. RAF leads Estonia mission

RAF pilots intercepted 50 Russian aircraft while defending Nato skies over the past four months. Following a “significant” increase in Moscow’s activity near Baltic borders, RAF Typhoons flew for more than 500 hours to protect alliance airspace. The UK has been leading Nato’s air policing mission in Estonia since early March and an Estonian commander described the noise of their Typhoons as the “sound of freedom”. Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, said that the RAF had sent a “strong message” to Vladimir Putin that “we stand united with our allies against any threat to our borders”.

Nato vs. Russia: who would win?

8. Doctors urge pollution resilience

A group of doctors have told politicians to stand firm on initiatives to tackle air pollution, warning that they see its “devastating health consequences” in patients on a daily basis. After Keir Starmer called on the London mayor, Sadiq Khan, to reconsider the expansion of the capital’s ultra-low emission zone after the Uxbridge byelection defeat, more than 400 doctors urged leaders not to water down city-wide schemes aimed at cutting air pollution levels in order to chase votes from a “vocal minority”. Air pollution is the single largest environmental risk to public health, noted The Guardian.

Will Sunak and Starmer drop green policies to win voters?

9. Bank language guidance revealed

Bank leaders have called for the banning of terms including “black market”, reported The Times. The trade body UK Finance has issued a guide on language it says is “non-inclusive”. The cyber security term “black hat”, referring to an unauthorised user on a network, should be replaced with “unethical”, it suggested, while “sanity check” should be replaced by “functional test” in order not to “infer a level of disability”. The revelation of the 2021 guidance come weeks after Nigel Farage was debanked by Coutts because of his right-wing political views, noted the paper.

Debanking row: is Nigel Farage case just tip of the iceberg?

10. Police investigate bee sting

Police in a Welsh town are on the hunt for a thief who stole 14 beehives. Officers have appealed for witnesses after the hives disappeared from Blackwood Road near Llangollen, North Wales, over the weekend. “Bit of an unusual one for you today”, said PCSO Iwan Owen, of the North Wales Rural Crime team, on Twitter, “we’ve had reports that 14 beehives with incumbent bees have been stolen”. He added that anyone who is “aware of somebody who has a sudden influx of beehives” should get in touch.

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.