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26 May

In the headlines

Dominic Cummings has torn into his former boss, Boris Johnson, telling a Parliamentary committee that the PM “got some very serious things wrong” in the pandemic. He added that Johnson discussed getting injected with Covid on TV to reassure people. Cummings said Health Secretary Matt Hancock should have been fired for “lying to everybody on multiple occasions”, adding that “senior ministers, senior officials, senior advisers like me fell disastrously short” in the crisis. The weather will improve for the bank holiday weekend. “Britain is set to roast as temperatures soar to 23C,” says The Sun. 


At the beginning of the pandemic, everyone rushed to national stereotypes to explain different countries’ performances, says Ruchir Sharma in the FT. How wrong they were. Britain was chastised for a shambolic response led by an equally shambolic prime minister; now its vaccine rollout is “feted”. Sweden’s “defiantly light-touch approach”? Perfectly suited to its naturally solitary citizens, until it wasn’t. And India’s low early death toll was said to be due to the “innate immunity” to disease built up in its unsanitary slums. Look how that turned out.


Jared Harris, star of Mad Men and The Crown, recalled growing up with his “very regimented” stepfather Rex Harrison in The Observer. When the My Fair Lady star went to post a letter in the box on the corner, “he would put on a three-piece suit, his camel-hair coat, his Professor Higgins hat. He would get his basset hound and walk to the corner. Then he would come back and take it all off again.”

Tomorrow’s world

Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic is another step closer to commercial space flights, after its manned Unity rocket completed a jaunt to an altitude of 55 miles on Saturday. It was the first launch from Spaceport America, the company’s base in the New Mexico desert, says Tom Gillespie in Sky News. Four Virgin Galactic staff are set to join the pilots on the next trip, and Branson has booked himself in for the one after. He’s got competition: Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin are planning commercial flights in the next 12 months.


Quoted 26-05

The quickest way of ending a war is to lose it.” 

George Orwell

Snapshot answer

It’s the “jellyfish” roundabout in the seven-mile Eysturoy tunnel, which connects two of the Faroe Islands: one of the few destinations on the UK’s “green list” of countries and a key location for the latest James Bond film, No Time to Die. Bond fans can now visit the tunnel, thought to be the world’s first underwater roundabout, on a 007 sightseeing tour around the islands.