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7 July

In the headlines

He’s “Boris Gone-son”, tweets the FT’s Jim Pickard. In his resignation speech this afternoon, the PM said he had tried to convince his colleagues it would be “eccentric” to change leaders at such a turbulent time, but “them’s the breaks”. Johnson sacked Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove last night for telling him to quit, but after another flurry of resignations this morning – including the Education Secretary Michelle Donelan, who had been in the job just 36 hours – he finally bowed to the inevitable. Many leading Tories want an interim PM until the party has elected a new leader in the autumn, says The Times’s Steven Swinford on Twitter, but Johnson said he would stay in No 10 until his successor is chosen. “This could get very messy.”

Boris Johnson

Why he had to go

In the end, the final hours of Boris Johnson’s government resembled “a Ponzi scheme running out of investors”, says Robert Shrimsley in the FT. Increasingly wild promises were being made to MPs for their support; all the while, Johnson’s circle narrowed “to an ever more supine collection of careerists” who wouldn’t stand a chance with any other leader. It was telling that, Sajid Javid and Rishi Sunak aside, the party’s most senior figures “outsourced bravery to their juniors until the outcome was clear. A weak leader begat a weak cabinet and a weak government.”


Iran’s menace is reshaping the Middle East

International negotiations around Iran’s nuclear programme aren’t going well, says Eva Marie Kogel in Die Welt. Last month, Tehran switched off 27 cameras in its nuclear plants, which are supposed to monitor whether activities are “strictly civilian” in nature. If they aren’t, Iran could have a working nuclear bomb in about a year. Faced with this prospect – and with America’s withdrawal from the region – Middle Eastern leaders are “taking matters into their own hands”, and forging alliances that would once “have been dismissed as absurd fantasies”.


This 2019 video of a beluga whale rescuing a phone dropped in a Norwegian harbour has racked up nearly five million views on Twitter. But the helpful mammal may not have been entirely benign. A similar-looking whale had previously been spotted nearby wearing a harness with the inscription “Equipment of St Petersburg”. It’s well known that Russians have trained dolphins to act as underwater spies – are they now using beluga whales?


“As I write these words, Gordon Brown is still holed up in Downing Street. He is like some illegal settler in the Sinai desert, lashing himself to the radiator, or like David Brent haunting The Office in that excruciating episode when he refuses to acknowledge that he has been sacked. Isn’t there someone – the Queen’s Private Secretary, the nice policeman on the door of No 10 – whose job it is to tell him that the game is up?”

Boris Johnson after the election in May 2010

Quirk of history

The world’s first residential university – founded around 500 years before Oxford – is set to re-open, says the BBC. India’s Nalanda University was home to more than 10,000 students from around the world before it was destroyed in the 12th century by Persian invaders. It is now being rebuilt, with the ruins incorporated into the new building.

Gone viral

During a broadcast from outside No 10 yesterday, BBC News momentarily cut back to presenter Tim Willcox in the studio – who was reading his phone with his feet up on the desk. That’s what happens “when you’re addicted to scrolling for the latest news on Boris Johnson, while also presenting the news on Boris Johnson”, wrote HuffPost’s Graeme Demianyk on Twitter.


The film and theatre director Peter Brook, who died last week, was clearly a multitasker. I was once told a story about Brook coming in to watch a play rehearsal as a favour, says fellow director Rafaella Marcus on Twitter. He studiously scribbled notes throughout, and provided “generous, fulsome” thoughts on the production afterwards. But when someone sneaked a peek at what he had written, there were only four words: “Milk. Eggs. Birthday card.”


It’s the fossilised skeleton of a Gorgosaurus – and it could be yours. The carnivorous dinosaurs were slightly smaller than the T-Rex, but faster and fiercer. Discovered in Montana in 2018, the 10ft-tall skeleton is being auctioned by Sotheby’s on 28 July, the first time a Gorgosaurus has gone under the hammer. It’s expected to fetch between $5m and $8m.


quoted 7.7.22

“A man’s character is his fate.”