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7 June

In the headlines

Health Secretary Matt Hancock says the government is “absolutely open” to pushing back the 21 June reopening date. According to the Telegraph, a two-week delay is “under discussion” now the Indian variant has been found to be 40% more transmissible than the Kent one. The Mail urges: “Don’t wobble now, ministers!” The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have named their new daughter Lilibet Diana. “Spotlight-dodgers ensure totally normal low-key birth by naming kid after Queen,” says the Daily Star. Under-30s have been invited to book a Covid jab. Dating apps such as Tinder will offer youngsters “boosts” that promote their profile when they’re vaccinated, says The Guardian.

Foreign holidays

How dare ministers ruin our summer?

Politicians are showing holidaymakers “utter contempt”, says Camilla Long in The Sunday Times. Ministers Matt Hancock and Grant Shapps can’t even decide what to call the new variant – Indian or Delta – but they agree that it’s scary, and that holidays abroad are “an act of complete selfishness”. So the 112,000 people who’ve gone on holiday to Portugal must find £711 for flights home after it was yanked off the travel green list last week. That hasn’t stopped ministers swanning off to Cornwall for a “three-day corporate jolly” with their G7 mates.

The pandemic

Staff shortages threaten our recovery

Jamie Rogers can’t get his staff back to work, says John Harris in The Guardian. As lockdown started lifting, a handful quit his award-winning restaurant in Kingsbridge, south Devon. He has had to offer a £1,000 bonus to managers if they guarantee “they will stick with him through the summer”. Jobs in the town “that were worth £10 an hour last year are suddenly paying double that”. Rogers’s dilemma is part of a bigger trend: a global labour shortage.

Inside politics

Boris Johnson is taking lessons from John le Carré, says Tom McTague in a profile of the PM for The Atlantic. “I read Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy at school. It presented to me this miserable picture of these Foreign Office bureaucrats,” Johnson told McTague. “For me, they were the problem.” The only character he liked was the cynical but romantic hero, George Smiley: “All romantics need the mortar of cynicism to hold themselves up.” It was the only serious point he made throughout our interview, says McTague. But when I pressed him on it a few days later, Johnson had forgotten. “Did I say that?” he asked. “How pompous of me.”


The German army is struggling to remove booze supplies from Afghanistan as its troops pull out, says Der Spiegel. More than 65,000 cans of beer and 340 bottles of wine are sitting on the tarmac at Camp Marmal, in Mazar-i-sharif. They can’t be sold locally because alcohol sales are forbidden in the Muslim country, and the 1,000 troops who remain on the base are subject to a drinking ban. German soldiers are normally allowed two beers a day, but they have been placed on “high alert” during the withdrawal.  

Gone viral

A heroic rat named Magawa has retired from detecting landmines, says BBC News. It has sniffed out 71 of the deadly devices in Cambodia over a five-year career, earning a prestigious PDSA Gold Medal – often referred to as the George Cross for animals. “He’s slowing down,” says Magawa’s handler, Malen. “We need to respect his needs.” The giant pouched rat will work for a few more weeks to mentor new rodent recruits.


Schools should stop describing classes as “top set” and “bottom set” because it dents self-esteem, several teachers tell the Times Educational Supplement. “Such fatalism creates a self-fulfilling prophecy of low expectations,” says Caroline Spalding, a headteacher from Derby. A suggested alternative: “previously low-attaining” and “previously high-attaining”.


Quoted 07-06

“Somebody’s boring me… I think it’s me.” 

Dylan Thomas

Snapshot answer

It’s Frank Gehry’s latest creation, a twisted steel tower in Arles, France. The American architect modelled the building on Van Gogh’s Starry Night, painted while the artist was living in a nearby asylum in 1889. The building, which will open as an art centre on June 26, is 184ft high and made up of 11,000 stainless steel panels.