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  • Keir Starmer warns PM: get a grip or risk second coronavirus wave
    by Rowena Mason Deputy political editor on June 3, 2020 at 6:14 am

    Labour leader accuses Boris Johnson of ‘winging it’ in stinging attack Keir Starmer: ‘Boris Johnson has to get a grip and restore public confidence’Coronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverageKeir Starmer has accused Boris Johnson of causing a collapse in public confidence over the government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, saying No 10 will be directly responsible if the infection rate starts to rise again.In an exclusive interview with the Guardian, the Labour leader launched a stinging attack on the the prime minister, accusing him of “winging it” over the easing of the lockdown and making an already “difficult situation 10 times worse”.The death toll surpassed 50,000 for the first time, according to official figures, 10 weeks after the nation went into lockdown.Prof Neil Ferguson, the leading epidemiologist who advised the government until he quit over breaking the lockdown rules, warned that coronavirus infections in hospitals and care homes are spilling into the community and sustaining the outbreak to the point that cases will remain steady until September.An inquiry found that people of black and Asian origin are disproportionately affected by coronavirus, leading to calls for the government to take action to protect these groups.The head of the UK Statistics Authority accused the government of continuing to mislead the public over the numbers of tests carried out for Covid-19.It emerged that England’s chief medical officer, Prof Chris Whitty, was responsible for vetoing the government’s wish for England’s official coronavirus alert level to be reduced, ruling that it should remain at four – meaning “transmission is high or rising exponentially”.No 10 said it would be cutting back its daily press conference to just weekdays to secure bigger television audiences. Related: The Tories are losing the shires – this is a gift for Keir Starmer | Gaby Hinsliff Continue reading... […]

  • UK car industry pushes for scrappage scheme to help buy new petrol and diesel vehicles
    by Gwyn Topham Transport correspondent on June 3, 2020 at 6:00 am

    Exclusive: lobby wants £1.5bn scheme to jump-start sector despite clean fuel pledgesThe UK automotive industry has been in confidential talks with the government over a possible £1.5bn scrappage scheme or “market stimulus package” that it insists should encourage the purchase of diesel and petrol cars on an equal footing with cleaner vehicles.The plans under consideration by industry and government would take £2,500 off the price of a car and put a further 600,000 new vehicles on the road.The Committee on Climate Change says cutting greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050 is necessary, affordable and desirable. Here are some of the actions needed to make that happen: Continue reading... […]

  • UK shops slash prices as coronavirus causes sales to plummet
    by Richard Partington on June 3, 2020 at 5:01 am

    Deepest monthly price cuts for 15 years as desperate retailers try to encourage consumer spendingBritish retailers struggling during the coronavirus pandemic have cut their prices by the most in a month since 2006, according to industry figures revealing the scale of the economic fallout.The British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Nielsen said shop prices fell by 2.4% in May following a decline of 1.7% in April as people continued to stay away from the high street during lockdown. Continue reading... […]

  • Borrowers on payment holidays to receive 'thuggish' debt letters
    by Patrick Collinson on June 3, 2020 at 5:01 am

    Campaign bids to change 1970s law forcing UK lenders to issue payments warningCoronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverageMillions of households that have taken payment holidays on their mortgage or other debt during the pandemic are likely to receive “thuggish” debt threat letters in coming weeks as lenders are legally required to issue the warnings.Martin Lewis, the TV presenter and chair of the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, is behind a campaign to halt the threatening letters, which stem from rules in the Consumer Credit Act (1974) that compel lenders to send a warning once a borrower has failed to make two payments in a row. Related: Martin Lewis: ‘I sit and cry at the hardship caused by coronavirus’ Related: Cash in the time of coronavirus: how to get in financial shape for the new normal Continue reading... […]

  • 'Hey Beeb': new BBC digital assistant gets northern male accent
    by Jim Waterson Media editor on June 3, 2020 at 5:00 am

    UK service promises ‘warm and friendly’ tone to rival female alternatives from US like Amazon’s AlexaThe BBC has given its new digital assistant a male voice to avoid the “problematic associations” of female-voiced rivals such as Amazon’s Alexa, which have faced criticism for reinforcing gender stereotypes. The voice-activated service, named “Beeb”, will have a limited public release this week and the corporation said it put extra thought into what accent would make it distinct from other US-developed services. Related: How to stop your smart home spying on you Related: Sign up to the Media Briefing: news for the news-makers Continue reading... […]

  • Museum hopes photo set brings out colourful side of Charles Dickens
    by Mark Brown Arts correspondent on June 3, 2020 at 5:00 am

    Colourised images of a tanned and waistcoated author on show when museum reopensLooking healthily tanned, with a warm expression, and wearing a natty yellow, green and blue Clan Gordon tartan waistcoat, he is unmistakably Charles Dickens – but as we’ve never seen him before.The Charles Dickens Museum in London has created and released the first of a new set of colourised photographs of the writer in the run-up to the 150th anniversary of the author’s death. It is a taster of a major exhibition on images of Dickens that the museum will stage as soon as it is able to reopen after lockdown restrictions are relaxed further. Continue reading... […]

  • Record numbers used UK food banks in first month of lockdown
    by Patrick Butler Social policy editor on June 2, 2020 at 11:01 pm

    Charities say government support is failing to protect low-income familiesCoronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coveragePoverty campaigners have called for an emergency cash support scheme to help struggling low-income households after UK food bank charities reported that the first full month of coronavirus lockdown was their “busiest ever”.The charities said their experience of record food bank use in April, following a huge surge in food aid in March, showed it was clear that current social security safety net measures were not enough to prevent poorer families being swept into destitution. Continue reading... […]

  • The Great Gatsby defies virus with October West End reopening
    by Lanre Bakare Arts and culture correspondent on June 2, 2020 at 11:01 pm

    Play will incorporate face masks and physical distancing into its immersive stagingCoronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverageA vastly reduced capacity and masks that double as PPE are two of the measures put in place by the producers of the immersive theatre piece The Great Gatsby, which is planning to reopen in October, months ahead of predictions for the West End.Producers Louis Hartshorn and Brian Hook told the Guardian they believe installing measures such as cutting capacity by 40%, ensuring physical distancing and deep cleaning the venue before and after every performance means they can be both safe and profitable. Related: Without government help for freelancers, coronavirus will destroy the theatre | Amy Hart Related: Smoking Gun review – week-long interactive whistleblower thriller Continue reading... […]

  • Decade of progress in tackling pupil disadvantage 'wiped out'
    by Josh Halliday North of England correspondent on June 2, 2020 at 11:01 pm

    Education charity finds coronavirus school closures may have reversed years of work to narrow gap in EnglandCoronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverageNearly 10 years of progress in narrowing the attainment gap in England between disadvantaged pupils and their classmates has probably been “wiped in a few months” due to the coronavirus pandemic, a study has found.Analysis by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) charity said the closure of schools to most pupils 10 weeks ago was likely to reverse all progress made to close the gap since 2011. Related: Home school in Dagenham: three children, no tablet, no computer Continue reading... […]

  • All UK chief medical officers rejected lower virus threat level, source says
    by Peter Walker and Severin Carrell on June 2, 2020 at 10:51 pm

    Guardian told all four CMOs discussed and refused No 10 proposal, not just Chris WhittyCoronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverageAll four of the UK’s chief medical officers rejected suggestions from No 10 that the coronavirus threat level could be reduced because it contradicted evidence that showed the virus was still widespread, the Guardian has been told.A senior source in one devolved government said the chief medical officers of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland discussed and refused Boris Johnson’s proposal. Continue reading... […]

  • Health experts cast doubt on UK hopes for holiday 'air bridges'
    by Peter Walker and Jamie Grierson on June 2, 2020 at 9:04 pm

    Agreements to exempt tourists from coronavirus quarantine restrictions are complicatedCoronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coveragePublic health experts and officials have warned that the idea of “air bridge” links between the UK and overseas holiday destinations may prove impossible this summer, amid continued concern over how they could operate safely.A number of Conservative MPs are pushing for air bridges – mutual agreements with other countries to allow travellers to fly in and out without coronavirus quarantine restrictions – ahead of the imposition of the UK’s 14-day quarantine system next week.Contact tracing is one of the most basic planks of public health responses to a pandemic like the coronavirus. It means literally tracking down anyone that somebody with an infection may have had contact with in the days before they became ill. It was – and always will be – central to the fight against Ebola, for instance. In west Africa in 2014-15, there were large teams of people who would trace relatives and knock on the doors of neighbours and friends to find anyone who might have become infected by touching the sick person. Continue reading... […]

  • US senator: Huawei 5G is like Soviets building west's submarines
    by Dan Sabbagh Defence and security editor on June 2, 2020 at 8:55 pm

    Tom Cotton tells MPs the US will review intelligence sharing if firm’s kit is usedA Republican senator told MPs that using Huawei kit in 5G phone networks would be akin to allowing Russia to build submarines for western nations during the cold war, in a tense hearing that saw him clash with opposition MPs.Tom Cotton, who represents Arkansas, said he had geopolitical and technical objections to Huawei and claimed that, if hacked, its equipment could track the movements of key parts for F35 fighter jets. Continue reading... […]

  • Terrawatch: could granite solve the hard problem of nuclear waste storage?
    by Kate Ravilious on June 2, 2020 at 8:30 pm

    Researchers have found the rock has a self-sealing mechanism that keeps fluids locked awayWe need to find somewhere safe to dispose of high-level nuclear waste; a place where we can be confident it will be isolated and contained for hundreds of thousands of years. And if we want to keep a lid on global warming then we may well need to find a similar place to store carbon dioxide too. But where? Continue reading... […]

  • Keir Starmer: 'Boris Johnson has to get a grip and restore public confidence'
    by Rowena Mason on June 2, 2020 at 8:00 pm

    Labour leader says any rise in R-rate is fault of No 10 following Cummings affair and mixed messagesCoronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverageKeir Starmer warns PM: get a grip or risk second wave of coronavirusFor the last two months, Keir Starmer has been cautious about criticising the government’s coronavirus response.He has preferred to be forensic rather than furious, accepting that ministers have a difficult job. Continue reading... […]

  • More than a number: stories behind five of the 50,000 UK lives lost to coronavirus
    by Aamna Mohdin on June 2, 2020 at 7:58 pm

    The eldest survived two world wars and the Spanish flu, while three others were from the same familyCoronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverageHilda Churchill survived the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, not to mention two world wars, but the 108-year-old succumbed to coronavirus on 28 March, and she remains Britain’s oldest victim. Less than a week later, about 200 miles south in Watford, 23-year-old John Alagos would become the youngest medic to die from Covid-19.And, as the death toll continued to climb over the following weeks, tributes poured in for Keith Dunnington, 54, who had worked as a nurse for more than 30 years and died at his parents’ home in South Shields on 19 April. Continue reading... […]

  • Calls mount for public inquiry into UK BAME Covid-19 death rate
    by Denis Campbell, Haroon Siddique and Peter Walker on June 2, 2020 at 7:52 pm

    Public Health England’s report criticised for lack of practical guidance or explanationKey findings of PHE reportCoronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverageMinisters are under pressure to hold a public inquiry after an official report confirmed that people from black, Asian and minority ethnic groups are dying disproportionately from Covid-19.Political leaders, medical groups and trade unions voiced deep frustration and anger after the government failed to set out any concrete steps to end the ongoing “scandal”. Related: Key findings from Public Health England's report on Covid-19 deaths Continue reading... […]

  • MPs join 90-minute-long queue to vote to end virtual voting
    by Lisa O'Carroll on June 2, 2020 at 7:41 pm

    Critics say move to physically-distant voting puts vulnerable and BAME politicians at riskCoronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverageMPs are to return to parliament after a government motion was passed to prevent the resumption of virtual voting, despite what one MP called “absurd” scenes of a kilometre-long conga line of politicians trying to vote.The 527 MPs snaked through Westminster halls and courtyards for an hour and 23 minutes to vote on the proposal by the Commons leader, Jacob Rees-Mogg, which was carried by 261 votes to 163. It incited a furious reaction from many MPs, including those who are shielding and black and ethnic minority (BAME) politicians.Currently in the queue to join the queue to vote. Genius level stuff this cat shepherds out there?! Continue reading... […]

  • Trump and Biden offer starkly different visions with nation at a crossroads
    by David Smith in Washington on June 2, 2020 at 7:41 pm

    The de facto Democratic nominee vows not to ‘fan the flames of hate’ as the president brandished a Bible and boasted of using ‘overwhelming force’ against protestersGeorge Floyd killing – latest US updatesSee all our George Floyd coverageThe existential choice facing America was laid bare on Tuesday, as Donald Trump and Joe Biden set out radically contrasting visions for a nation convulsed by seven nights of protests over police brutality and racial injustice. Related: 'Words of a dictator': Trump's threat to deploy military raises spectre of fascism Related: Peaceful George Floyd protests around the US – in pictures Continue reading... […]

  • The Tories turn parliament into the world’s worst theme park | John Crace
    by John Crace on June 2, 2020 at 6:44 pm

    Jacob Rees-Mogg quashes digital Commons in favour of every vote becoming a 45-minute conga lineWhere to start? If it wasn’t already bad enough that the UK has the highest mortality rate in Europe and Dominic Cummings is given a free pass on his midnight flit to Durham and a 60-mile round trip eyesight test, the Tory government has now decided to turn the House of Commons into the world’s worst theme park. One where the only attraction is the kilometre-long queue itself for a ride that doesn’t exist.Some countries have used the global health crisis to discover the best of themselves. We have actively worked on becoming the worst possible iteration of ourselves. Still, at least the rest of the world can piss themselves laughing at our expense. So maybe look on it as a global public service. Continue reading... […]

  • Mark Zuckerberg criticised by civil rights leaders over Donald Trump Facebook post
    by Alex Hern and Jim Waterson on June 2, 2020 at 6:34 pm

    Activists say Facebook boss’s decision to leave ‘shooting threat’ up sets dangerous precedentCivil rights leaders have criticised Mark Zuckerberg’s decision to take no action against a Facebook post from Donald Trump appearing to threaten to start shooting “looters”, after a Monday night meeting with the company’s executives ended in acrimony.“We are disappointed and stunned by Mark’s incomprehensible explanations for allowing the Trump posts to remain up,” Vanita Gupta, Sherrilyn Ifill and Rashad Robison said in a statement. Continue reading... […]