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2 June

In the headlines

The UK recorded no Covid deaths yesterday for the first time since the start of the pandemic, boosting hopes that the government will stick to the promised 21 June reopening. It shows we have “nothing to fear from freedom”, says the Mail. Interviewed by Piers Morgan last night, Labour leader Keir Starmer was asked 14 times whether he had ever taken drugs. He offered “14 evasions”, says Politico. Heinz ketchup is to be made in the UK for the first time since 1999, creating 50 new jobs. “Surely it should have been 57?” says the Daily Star.


Boris Johnson’s marriage to Carrie Symonds confirms him as “our most theatrical prime minister” in decades, says Anthony Seldon in the Independent. A PM hasn’t got hitched in office since Lord Liverpool in 1822. Lloyd George married his “mistress and confidante” Frances Stevenson in 1943, but that was 20 years after he’d left Downing Street. No 10 hasn’t hosted a bash like Saturday’s garden festivities since PM-in-waiting Anthony Eden married Winston Churchill’s niece Clarissa in 1952. The omens aren’t so rosy. Lloyd George was dead within 18 months of his nuptials, Lord Liverpool crashed and burned after 1822, and Eden’s premiership was swamped by the Suez Crisis four years after his marriage. A forlorn Clarissa complained “that the canal was flowing through her drawing room in Downing Street”. But I think Symonds will be good for the PM. The new Mrs Johnson believes deeply in the environment, for a start. Historians like me tend to downplay the sway of a PM’s spouse, but it’s huge. And our “incomplete prime minister”, part intuitive brilliance, part shambolic intuitionist, needs a strong hand. Dominic Cummings accentuated his weaknesses. Symonds might bring out “his considerable and overlooked strengths” of empathy, optimism and communication.


A letter to The Guardian from Tony Mabbott of Rotherham: “On Saturday, you published a photo of the UK prime minister above the headline ‘A dangerous cult now runs Britain’ (28 May). I was pleased to see that, despite the constant turmoil of the world, some things, such as The Guardian’s famed penchant for typos, never change.”

Gone viral

A fearless 17-year-old from Bradbury, California, fended off a brown bear that attacked her family dogs. Hailey Morinico, who found the mother bear on the wall of her backyard, swiping at her pets, ran up to it and pushed it off. “I did it to protect my kids,” she said in a TikTok video – but she warned others against doing the same. “You might not have the same outcome”. Brown bears are among the world’s most dangerous animals. They are not usually aggressive, but will attack humans to protect their cubs or when foraging for food.


Quoted 02-06

“Progress would be wonderful – if only it would stop.”

Austrian author Robert Musil

Snapshot answer

It’s a teenage Keir Starmer. The Labour leader was interviewed by Piers Morgan last night and revealed that as a child in Oxted in the 1970s, he joined the East Surrey Young Socialists. Admittedly, there weren’t many of us, said Starmer, just a “gang of four” who spent weekends heckling their local Tory MP, Geoffrey Howe. His adult life has been more glamorous. Starmer was a lawyer alongside Amal Clooney, wife of George, and remembered boozy lunches with the couple. “What started off as a lunch ended up as an afternoon, ended up as an evening. There were quite a lot of empty bottles by the end of the evening.”