Top story: Pressure mounts for Northern Ireland to relax laws
Good morning. I’m Martin Farrer and these are the top stories as you build up for a warm – and possibly wet – bank holiday.
Theresa May’s alliance with the the Democratic Unionist party appears to stand in the way of a swift parliamentary vote on relaxing the abortion laws in Northern Ireland. After the Republic voted overwhelmingly on Friday to legalise terminations, there were widespread calls for the north to change its stance and swing into line with the rest of the UK. The Labour party was joined by Conservative MPs and the Royal College of Midwives in calling for change and a pro-choice group will keep up the pressure for reform as it plans to tour Northern Ireland offering abortion pills. The quickest route is seen as a vote in parliament where a majority of MPs would back the measure. Another option is legislating for a referendum in the north. But the prime minister doesn’t want to do either because it would alienate the deeply conservative, pro-life DUP on whom she depends to keep herself in power. No 10 says it is a “devolved” issue and must be sorted out locally. The only problem is, Northern Ireland’s executive has been suspended for a year …
Italy crisis deepens – Italy’s nascent rebellion against Brussels has come unstuck – for now at least – as the prime minister-in-waiting, Giuseppe Conte, resigned after the country’s president refused his choice of a hardcore Eurosceptic as finance minister. Sergio Mattarella, who is unelected, said he couldn’t accept the appointment of 81-year-old Paolo Savona because he might “provoke Italy’s exit from the euro” and spook businesses and investors. Mattarella appears poised to ask a former IMF official, Carlo Cottarelli, to form a technocrat government today but the populist parties who installed Conte, M5S and Lega, will fight tooth and nail to stop him. Either way, Italians seem likely to be voting again by the autumn.
Festival deaths – A music festival in Hampshire has been cancelled after two young people died on Saturday amid warnings of a “dangerous high strength” batch of drugs. The two victims were named locally as Georgia Jones, 18, and Tommy Cowan, 20. They were both from Havant and had attended the Mutiny festival on Saturday to see Dizzee Rascal headline. Georgia’s mother, Janine Milburn, mourned her daughter on social media and warned other youngsters to avoid drugs.
Holiday heat – The south-east of England could see the hottest day of the year so far today with the temperature expected to push the mark of 29.1C set in April. Scotland will see the most prolonged sunshine but it won’t be as hot there as in the south where the humid weather is also likely to bring thunderstorms later in the day. They are not expected to be as severe as the ones which dumped a month’s rain on Edgbaston in Birmingham in an hour last night and caused flash flooding across the Midlands. One stretch of the M5 was submerged and had to be closed.
Trouble in store – If you’re wending your way home through a train or motorway service station today you might be able to judge if WH Smith is Britain’s worst shop. A poll published today by Which? ranks the ubiquitous newsagent rock bottom out of 100 retailers, with much of the ire directed at its often messy mix of newspapers, confectionery and irritating promotions. Topping the list jointly were beauty specialist Lush, the cut-price health and beauty chain Savers and the toy chain Smyths.
‘Spider-Man of the 18th’ – A 22-year-old immigrant from Mali has been likened to a superhero after climbing up the face of a block of flats in Paris to rescue a small child trapped on a balcony. Mamoudou Gassama took just a few seconds to scale the building and pull the four-year-old boy to safety. Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, praised him for his “act of bravery” and called him “Spider-Man of the 18th”, referring to the Paris district where the rescue took place.
Lunchtime read: Amid Irish joy, a thank you to Britain
Brexit has raised many questions about Britain’s place in the world, especially about our attitude to migrants. So it’s interesting to read Anne Enright’s open letter to Britons thanking them for offering hope to Irish women seeking abortions for so long. “Thanks for putting up with decade upon decade of another country’s problem and not turning this into a political argument or a cause of difficulty – but just getting on with it as the women arrived,” she writes. The abortion vote was clearly the standout story of the weekend and we also have a piece from Dublin about how it was the joyous culmination of years of campaigning for activist Anne Marie Keary.
Finally, 109 years after the Gazzetta dello Sport decided to hold a bike race across Italy to boost sales, Britain has its first Giro d’Italia winner. Yet despite Chris Froome’s win in Rome, questions remain about whether, with an adverse analytical finding, he should have been taking part at all. Joe Root says England were “collectively under par” in their chastening nine-wicket defeat to Pakistan in the opening Test at Lord’s. Corruption allegations have cast a shadow but the tourists had their house in order with England in a mess. Jürgen Klopp will make a renewed attempt to prise the goalkeeper Alisson from Roma this summer as he looks to upgrade Liverpool’s squad following defeat in the Champions League final. Chris Ashton’s return to Twickenham always had the potential to be proper box office and the former England winger scored a stirring hat-trick of tries for the Barbarians against his formner team-mates. British Davis Cup sensation Cameron Norrie is playing in only his third major but he has a method on red clay that may keep him at the French Open for a while. And yet another dazzling performance by LeBron James means the Cleveland Cavaliers are in the NBA playoff finals at the expense of the Boston Celtics.
Asian stocks made gains overnight on hopes that the US-North Korea summit might still, after all, go ahead next month. Maybe. That mean the oil price slipped back a little. The euro has had a good session so far, bouncing back from a six-month low after the Italian president nixed the choice of a Eurosceptic as finance minister. The pound is buying $1.333, but is down at €1.137.
There is no agreement on the top story this morning. The Telegraph splash head says “Use extra funding for tech if NHS is to survive”, while the Times reports on a pay rise for the armed services. They both touch on Brexit, but the FT leads on it with the headline “Lack of ‘no-deal’ plan weakens May’s threat to quit Brexit talks’.
The Guardian leads with the aforementioned Northern Ireland abortion story, and also reports on the deaths of two festivalgoers in Hampshire linked to a bad batch of drugs. Several others lead with quotes from the mother of one of the victims, 18-year-old Georgia Jones: “Don’t die like my little girl,” says the Sun, while the Mirror says “Two pills and my little girl was gone”. The Mail headline says “What a blind injustice” over a story about people being denied cataract operations.
For more news: www.theguardian.com
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