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Tuesday briefing: Australia-UK trade deal served up

·9-min read
<span>Photograph: WPA/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: WPA/Getty Images

Top story: Tariffs taken off table at PMs’ dinner

Hello, Warren Murray here, and you will have heard by now that England’s unlocking has been put back a month – more on that further in. But for now, some recently netted prawns on the barbie of news …

Details of a post-Brexit trade deal between the UK and Australia will be announced this morning, the Guardian understands. The trade department confirmed the broad terms were struck last night after Boris Johnson and the Australian PM, Scott Morrison, had dinner at Downing Street. If confirmed, the deal would be the first negotiated from scratch since the UK left the EU in January 2020.

British farmers have raised concerns about being undercut by cheap, lower-welfare imports under a zero-tariff and zero-quota trade deal with Australia. The Scotland secretary, Alister Jack, has told the BBC there are “safeguards” built in to the trade deal “so we don’t see the market swamped or dramatic price reductions”.

The news leaked a few hours after the Commons speaker, Lindsay Hoyle, lambasted the government and Johnson for going to dinner instead of announcing the Covid roadmap delay. “I was told he was in Brussels. I think the nearest brussels tonight was the sprouts in the dinner he was being served.” Johnson and Morrison dined on Welsh lamb, Scottish smoked salmon and Australian wine while finalising the agreement, the BBC reported.

* * *

England dealt a detour – We knew it was coming and now Boris Johnson has officially halted the final easing of lockdown restrictions in England for four weeks to speed up the vaccination programme as the Delta variant spreads. The prime minister insisted 19 July would be a “terminus date” with all restrictions on social contact lifted, barring the emergence of a gamechanging new variant.

The limit of 30 people at weddings in England is being lifted despite the decision to delay most other Covid reopening measures by four weeks, Downing Street has said. Pubs, bars, restaurants and nightclubs say the delay leaves them facing significant hardship or collapse. The chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has shied away from offering fresh support. In the Covid hotspot of Blackburn there was strained resignation among the people Alex Mistlin interviewed: “It’s been a scary few weeks in Blackburn because we’re at the centre,” said Andelieb Tufail, 42. “I’m gutted but it’s for our safety even if that means not going out.”

* * *

Biden v Putin – After much anticipation, some analysts are expecting an actually quite “boring” meeting between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin in Geneva on Wednesday, as both sides attempt to reboot the US-Russia relationship amid fairly clear mutual antipathy. Relations are at their worst in recent memory, littered with conflicts over Russian aggression in Ukraine, alleged election interference in the US, cyber-attacks, Putin’s support for the regime in Belarus, and Putin’s jailing of his chief opponent, Alexei Navalny. There is the possibility of cooperation on some issues, such as the climate emergency, as well as salvaging nuclear arms control measures from the disarray that was left by Trump.

* * *

Early years funding row – Ministers have been accused of “shamelessly, knowingly” underfunding childcare in England over the past decade. An investigation by the Early Years Alliance (EYA) has uncovered private government briefing documents revealing that 2020-21 funding rates for the Conservatives’ free childcare offer for three- and four-year-olds are less than two-thirds of what the government believed was actually needed. The EYA says the documents also show ministers were aware this would cause price increases of as much as 30% for parents of young children where care was not covered by the free offer. The Department for Education has said the EYA data predates increases to the rates paid by government, with additional investment announced by the chancellor in 2019 and 2020.

* * *

‘Profit from promoting fraud’ – The Financial Conduct Authority has warned it will take legal action against Google and social networks if they continue to carry advertisements for financial scams. The FCA said it issued 1,200 warnings online last year about fraudulent adverts on Google and social media, double the number from 2019. The Conservative MP and Treasury committee member Anthony Browne said most people had been “absolutely shocked” by the fact Google and social media companies “profit from promoting fraud”. Google said it was setting aside £3.5m in ad credits to support scam awareness campaigns and tightening restrictions on financial services advertising.

* * *

No more pedalling socialism – 126 years after its founding, the UK cycling movement known today as the National Clarion Club has voted to remove socialism from its constitution. It was founded in a Labour church in Birmingham in 1894; the club’s early members would pedal around putting socialist stickers on cows and trees. Now, two-thirds of members have voted at the AGM to replace “support for the principles of socialism” with support for “fairness, equality, inclusion and diversity”.

Clarion members circa 1950
Clarion members circa 1950. Photograph: Allan Cash Picture Library/Alamy

A majority of members decided the mention of socialism was “divisive and non-inclusive” and could alienate newcomers. Those who opposed the motion have accused the national club of “trying to erase history”. Tim Mitchell, secretary of the Saddleworth Clarion chapter, said: “There’s a line that goes back in the Clarion all the way to Keir Hardie [the Labour party founder] and the suffragettes … No one was suggesting that members have to wave a red flag around, but you can’t erase history.”

Today in Focus podcast: The people’s anger in Colombia

An attempt by the Colombian government to introduce sweeping tax changes in response to the coronavirus crisis was met earlier this year by angry protests. Thousands of people flooded on to the streets throughout the country for four consecutive days. It was enough to prompt President Iván Duque to withdraw his tax plans – but by then it was too late to stop the protests, says Joe Parkin Daniels in Bogotá.

Lunchtime read: Football supergrass exposed

They used to look like quagmires, ice rinks or dustbowls, depending on the time of year. But as big money entered football, pristine pitches became crucial to the sport’s image – and groundskeepers became stars.

A groundsman cuts the grass at Ashton Gate stadium, Bristol
A groundsman cuts the grass at Ashton Gate stadium, Bristol. Photograph: Adam Gasson/Alamy

Sport

Gareth Southgate has praised Ben Chilwell and Jadon Sancho for responding positively to being left out of England’s squad against Croatia, saying their professionalism played a part in the team making a winning start to Euro 2020. Steve Clarke refused to blame David Marshall after the Scotland goalkeeper was beaten from almost 50 yards by Patrik Schick in the Czech Republic’s 2-0 victory in Glasgow. Spain dominated possession but could not break down Sweden, who could have grabbed victory with chances on the counter in a goalless draw in Seville, while Slovakia began their campaign with a 2-1 win over neighbours Poland. The North Macedonian football federation has called for Uefa to investigate Marko Arnautovic’s remarks towards North Macedonia supporters after the Austria striker scored late in their Euro 2020 game on Sunday.

The final weekend of Wimbledon will be played on Centre Court in front of a capacity crowd – the first at a sporting event since the UK went into lockdown as the Covid-19 pandemic took hold. Graham Thorpe hopes the Hundred allows England’s batsmen to relax before their five Test series against India and believes their mental approach is proving more of a hindrance than any technical problems. An investigation into possible corruption during the Olympic boxing competition at Rio 2016 is to be led by Prof Richard McLaren, the man who uncovered the full extent of Russian state-sponsored doping. Phil Mickelson believes he has a “unique opportunity” to complete the career grand slam in his home city of San Diego on the back of his stunning US PGA Championship triumph. Andy Murray believes he is still capable of competing with the top players in the game as he returns to competition this week at Queen’s Club in London. And the British & Irish Lions hooker Ken Owens believes the strict Covid-19 restrictions facing the squad can act as a strength rather than a weakness for the upcoming tour of South Africa.

Business

Less than 1% of travel insurance policies provide people with full comprehensive cover for Covid-related disruption, according to research by Which? It analysed 263 travel insurance policies and rated only two as “complete” – HSBC Select and Cover and Barclays Travel Pack – meaning they protected against a whole range of issues. The FTSE100 is set to dropo 0.7% this morning, while the pound is flat at $1.411 and €1.164.

The papers

You can see all the main front pages in a separate roundup today – a summary follows. The Mail splash headline is “PM: curbs could go on and on”. The Guardian has a picture of a glum-looking prime minister and the headline “‘Time to ease off the accelerator’: Johnson delays end of lockdown”. The Sun’s headline reads “Will we ever be free?”, beneath the words “Nation’s torment”.

The Times splash headline is “We must learn to live with Covid, warns PM”. The Telegraph says “It’s definitely July 19 … unless it’s not” focusing on the prime minister’s caveated remarks. The Express, ever-loyal to Johnson, has the headline “Boris: Let’s be sensible … delay will save lives”, while the Mirror makes play of the big push to get more people vaccinated before 19 July: “Vax to the future”.

The FT goes with the disappointment of business sectors about the delayed end to lockdown. “Business has hopes dashed as lockdown’s end delayed,” it says. The i’s headline is “No unlock for another four weeks”. The lockdown is also the big story for the papers outside London with the Northern Echo saying “Freedom is put on hold for now”, and the Yorkshire Post headline reading “Lockdown easing date delayed”. The Scotsman is also concerned about the spread of the Delta variant and reports: “New variant of virus leaves twice as many seriously ill”. The National says “‘Weeks of delay’ Scottish Covid curbs warning”.

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