Five things you need to know today: Democratic women hit back at Trump’s racist attacks

Plus, Tory candidates declare Irish backstop dead, Khan rejects the Tulip tower and Italian police seize far-right weapons stash. 

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“Don't take the bait”

The four Democratic congresswomen targeted by Donald Trump’s racist attacks have dismissed his remarks as a “disruption and a distraction” and have urged Americans “not to take the bait”. Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib spoke out at a press conference after Trump tweeted that they should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came”. With the exception of Omar, who moved to the United States from Somalia as a child, all of the women were born in the US. "This is simply a disruption and a distraction from the callous chaos and corrupt culture of this administration, all the way down," Pressley said. Omar and Tlaib reaffirmed their calls for Trump to be impeached. 

Tory candidates declare Irish backstop “dead” 

Boris Johnson has increased the threat of a no-deal Brexit after rejecting the Irish “backstop” in any form. Asked in the final head-to-head debate of the Conservative leadership election whether he would accept a time limit to the backstop, Johnson replied: “No, is the answer. No to time limits, or universal escape hatches, or all these kind of elaborate devices, glosses, codicils and so on that you could apply”. Jeremy Hunt, who Johnson is expected to defeat by a landslide margin next week, agreed that “the backstop, as it is, is dead”. In the New Statesman, political correspondent Patrick Maguire writes that Johnson has “sharply limited his room for maneouvre” and “increased the chances of a destructive confrontation with his own party”. 

Khan cuts down the Tulip

Plans to build a 1,000ft (305m) skyscraper, known as “the Tulip”, in the City of London have been rejected by Sadiq Khan. A spokesman for the London mayor said that the building, which would have been the second-tallest in western Europe, was of insufficient quality for such a prominent location, would result in harm to the capital’s skyline and would result in very limited public benefit. The City of London Corporation, which approved the proposals in April, argued that the Norman Foster-designed skyscraper would attract 1.2 million visitors a year.

Italian police seize far-right weapons stash

Anti-terrorism police in northern Italy have seized an air-to-air missile and other automatic weapons during a raid on far-right extremists. Police said the discoveries stemmed from an investigation into Italians who aided Russian-backed separatist forces in eastern Ukraine. Three men were arrested, one of whom, Fabio Del Bergiolo, stood in 2001 as a Senate candidate for the neo-fascist Forza Nuova party.

Making the trains run on time

A new agency independent of the government should be in charge of day-to-day operations of the UK railways, the chair of a review of the industry has said. Keith Williams, the former chief executive of British Airways, said that ministers’ involvement should be limited to overall policy and budget decisions. In an article for the Financial Times, Williams also wrote that rail “franchising in its current form has had its day”, arguing that franchises should last longer than the current average of seven to eight years. 

For coverage of the day's politics follow The Staggers blog