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13 September

In the headlines

Boris Johnson will shortly unveil his winter plan to avoid a Christmas lockdown, says The Sun. Booster jabs for the over-50s are on the agenda and vaccine passports are not. Good, tweeted the chairman of the Covid Recovery Group, Mark Harper. Vaccine passports are “pointless, damaging and discriminatory”. What’s more, children aged 12 to 15 could start getting their Covid jabs as early as next week, says Ben Riley-Smith in the Telegraph, and may only need a single dose for protection. Thriller writer Lee Child has no regrets about twice turning down the chance to write a James Bond novel. Bond was a creation of the 1950s, he says. “It is effectively a period piece.” Perhaps he was right and Bond is past his sell-by date, says the Daily Star. “We should all live and let die.”

Comment of the day


Why China is courting the Taliban

It might be unglamorous but the rising price of lithium matters “quite possibly more than the debacle in Kabul”, says Jeremy Cliffe in The New Statesman. The batteries needed to store and transport sustainable energy are made from the metal, which will be “as fundamental to 21st-century industrial economies as oil was in the 20th century”. China is leading this new resource race: the country developed too late to influence the geopolitics of oil, so at the turn of the millennium it identified electric cars and their components as a future area of influence. Now China has a 42% market share for electric vehicles, while the US has just 11%, and Chinese firms are the world’s biggest lithium producers.

Priti Patel

The media is poisoning politics

We always see the worst in our politicians, says Matthew Syed in The Sunday Times. “Tony Blair? The butcher who took us into Iraq. Gordon Brown? The sucker who sold gold on the cheap. George W Bush? The president with the IQ of a chimp.” What about the flip side? Bush saved millions of lives through his malaria initiative in Africa. Blair saw through the Northern Ireland peace process. Brown’s handling of the credit crunch had a great and lasting effect. And Theresa May – “the clown who messed up Brexit” – introduced laws to stamp out modern slavery.


A running joke among Emma Raducanu’s US Open team was that she hoped to earn enough money to replace the Apple AirPods she lost at the beginning of the tournament, which cost about £109. With her £1.8m champion’s cheque, she could buy more than 16,500 pairs.

Inside politics

A letter sent from parliament to an inmate at HMP Coldingley, Surrey, has been found to contain a “significant” amount of ecstasy, reports The Sun. Written on House of Commons headed notepaper, the reply to a request for information fell foul of the prison’s scanning equipment when it arrived. A formal investigation has now been launched to find the partying parliamentary staffer.


The 40th MTV Video Music Awards gave viewers the complete TV package last night, says The Cut. Everybody’s favourite “dad band” Foo Fighters was upstaged by Gen Z heroes Olivia Rodrigo, 18, Justin Bieber, 27, and Lil Nas X, 22, who was in “full marching-band regalia”. He then “immediately stripped down, just as the MTV gods intended”. After months of “trying-their-best, socially distanced” awards shows, it was a nice, “thrillingly horny” change.


“Just saying the words ‘Emma Raducanu’ causes people to light up and become lyrical about her incredible trajectory, her fluid, almost balletic playing style, or the fact that she is so charming in interviews, with her giant smile and her teenager’s lack of guile. She seems to possess everything that is good about being young: energy, fearlessness, focus and drive. She is wonderful to look at, in repose and in motion … Then there is her wholesomeness, the sort of glowing, clean-limbed athleticism that so transported John Betjeman [see below].”

India Knight, The Sunday Times

Snapshot answer

It’s Winston Churchill. The wartime PM’s artwork is selling better than ever, says art critic Waldemar Januszczak in The Sunday Times, not that I can understand why. “His work would not even have made it past the first round at the Royal Academy Summer Show.” Still, earlier this year a Churchill owned by Angelina Jolie went for £8.3m, and one given to the Onassis family went for £1.3m, and this “paint by numbers” scene above is expected to fetch up to £2.5m. Adolf Hitler, also a keen artist, was definitely more talented. “But his auction record is a measly £100,000. So that’s another war Churchill is winning.”


“Love-thirty, love-forty, oh! weakness of joy,
The speed of a swallow, the grace of a boy,
With carefullest carelessness, gaily you won,
I am weak from your loveliness, Joan Hunter Dunn.”

From A Subaltern’s Love Song by John Betjeman