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19 June

In the headlines

Rishi Sunak has ruled out extra help for people struggling with mortgage payments, despite the average rate for a two-year fixed deal rising above 6% for the first time since December. A quarter of homeowners on fixed-rate mortgages are due to renegotiate deals before the end of 2024, and will pay an average of £2,900 more a year, according to one think tank. Labour will end new North Sea oil and gas exploration, Keir Starmer has pledged. Speaking in Edinburgh this morning, the Labour leader also promised to reverse the ban on new onshore wind farms and create a state-owned energy company focused solely on green projects. A new commemorative 50p coin celebrating the 75th anniversary of the arrival of HMT Empire Windrush has been released by the Royal Mint. Designed by Jamaican-British artist Valda Jackson, the piece features two black people standing against the backdrop of a Union Jack.


This year’s winners of the prestigious OpenWalls Arles photography competition include two packed swimming pools in Seoul; a young cowboy and his horse in Monument Valley, Nevada; the Bwlch Road in Rhondda Valley; a photo shop that looks like it has been photoshopped on to a mountain landscape; and a bride in the Bulgarian city of Plovdiv. See more here.

Inside politics

Political speech-making is at a “low ebb”, says Philip Collins in Prospect. Rishi Sunak bangs on about putting things in “buckets”; Matt Hancock talked up the “mission-driven capability of Team Health and Care”. One reason is that, these days, there’s just not that much at stake. Churchill’s speeches were resonant not only because he was a brilliant orator, but because they genuinely mattered. Same with Volodymr Zelensky today. Like Churchill and David Lloyd George before him, the Ukrainian president has managed to “elevate the purpose” of war – making it not just a dispute over territory, but a “fight for a moral idea”. That’s the problem for British politicians: unless they declare war on the EU, their speeches will never be that important.

Eating in

Britain’s most expensive restaurant – the £420-a-head Sushi Kanesaka in Mayfair, where guests are forbidden from wearing perfume in case it interferes with the delicate flavours – serves food so fresh it’s “still breathing at your table”, says Katie Gatens in The Sunday Times. “This is Jim,” declares chef Shinji Kanesaka, smiling as he holds up a writhing Scottish lobster. Jim is “paraded along the counter” for all the diners to see. Then in one “swift, samurai-like motion”, the chef breaks his spine with a long blade and pulls the tail from his body. “Luckily, there are no vegans in the room.”

Tomorrow’s world

As the wait goes on for autonomous cars to become mainstream, “water transportation is ahead of the game”, says Inside Hook. Plenty of self-driving boats – equipped with advanced AI that helps them avoid obstacles and adapt to shifting conditions in real time – are already being used for cargo transport, waste collection and gathering oceanic data. Norway is home to the world’s first fully electric and driverless freight ship; at next year’s Paris Olympics, the start-up Roboat is planning to operate an autonomous ferry to transport spectators (pictured). Self-driving ships are much safer than their on-land counterparts, because they don’t have to deal with hazards like pedestrians and traffic.

On the money

The UK is expected to lose 3,200 millionaires in 2023, the third-highest net outflow in the world after China (13,500) and India (6,500). Factors include Brexit and the row over non-dom tax status, according to the Henley Private Wealth Migration Report. Australia is expected to attract the highest net inflow of rich folks, with 5,200 of them heading Down Under this year, followed by the UAE (4,500) and Singapore (3,200).


It’s a 3,000-year-old sword that was unearthed earlier this month at an ancient burial site in southern Germany, said to be so well preserved it “almost still shines”. The dug-up dagger is made entirely from bronze and has a distinctive octagonal hilt. It was found along with arrowheads and other nick-nacks in the grave of a man, woman and boy in Nördlingen, between Nuremberg and Stuttgart.



“Only Napoleon did more than I have done. But I am definitely taller.”

Silvio Berlusconi