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26 July 2019updated 07 Jun 2021 3:33pm

Five things you need to know: Climate change more important than Brexit, say UK public

By New Statesman

Climate change more important than Brexit, 71 per cent say

A majority of Britons believe the climate change is a more important long-term issue than Brexit and that it should be a priority for Boris Johnson’s new government, an opinion poll has found. After the UK endured its second-hottest day on record, with temperatures peaking at 38.1C, a ComRes survey for Christian Aid showed that 71 per cent of the UK public agreed that the climate crisis was more important than the UK’s scheduled departure from the EU. Six out of 10 adults said the government was not doing enough to prioritise the issue. 

Laura Taylor, director of advocacy for Christian Aid, said: “It’s clear that beyond the present political turmoil, UK adults know there is a bigger crisis, which is potentially catastrophic for the whole of humanity – particularly some of the world’s poorest people, who are more vulnerable to the effects of this climate emergency.” In his first speech as Prime Minister, Johnson, who has previously questioned whether human activity is causing climate change, said the UK was “leading the world in the battery technology that will help cut CO2 and tackle climate change and produce green jobs for the next generation”.

EU reject Johnson’s demands for new Brexit deal

The EU has flatly rejected Boris Johnson’s demands for a revised Brexit agreement. In a House of Commons statement yesterday, the new Prime Minister emphasised that he would “prefer us to leave the EU with a deal” but that “getting rid” of the Irish backstop – a guarantee to prevent a new hard border – was an essential precondition. 

During a later phone call with Jean-Claude Juncker, however, the EU president reiterated “the EU’s position that the withdrawal agreement is the best and only agreement possible”, according to a commission spokesman. Juncker told Johnson the EU was willing to “add language” to the political declaration – the non-binding document on the future UK-EU relationship – but would only consider other proposals “providing they are compatible with the withdrawal agreement”. The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier warned that removing the backstop was “of course unacceptable” and branded Johnson’s speech “rather combative”. 

US government to use death penalty for first time since 2003

The US government is set to resume use of the death penalty for the first time in 16 years prompting fierce criticism from human rights groups and senior Democrats. Attorney General Wlliam Barr said that five federal inmates would be executed between December and January. While US states have continued to regularly use capital punishment, the government has put to death only three defendants since restoring the federal death penalty in 1988, most recently in 2003. Democratic presidential candidate and former prosecutor Kamala Harris denounced capital punishment as “immoral and deeply flawed” and fellow contender Bernie Sanders vowed to abolish it if elected.

Steve Baker rejects job in Johnson’s government

Leading Conservative Brexiteer Steve Baker has rejected a job in Boris Johnson’s new government, stating that he did not wish to endure the “powerlessness” he previously felt as a junior Brexit minister. The refusal of Baker, the vice-chair of the hardline European Research Group, to accept a post is the first major setback for Johnson’s reshuffle. Baker last night tweeted: “With regret, I have turned down a ministerial job.  I cannot repeat my experience of powerlessness as a junior @DExEUgov minister”. He added that he had “total confidence” in Johnson’s vow to achieve Brexit by 31 October and warned that “disaster awaits otherwise”.

Google and Amazon increase revenue by 20 per cent

Google’s parent company Alphabet and Amazon have reported a near 20% rise in revenues for the latest quarter. Alphabet, which also owns YouTube, increased revenue to $38.9bn and tripled after-tax profits to $9.9bn. Amazon recorded revenue of $63.4bn and profits of $2.6bn. Both firms are being scrutinised by US authorities, along with Facebook, over concerns of market monopolisation. 

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