Your Wednesday Briefing
Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday with Sajid Javid, left, then the health secretary, and Rishi Sunak, third from the right, then the chancellor of the Exchequer.Credit…Pool photo by Justin Tallis
Boris Johnson’s power lies in the balance
Boris Johnson, the British prime minister, is battling for his political survival after the bombshell resignations yesterday of two top cabinet officers: Rishi Sunak, the chancellor of the Exchequer, and Sajid Javid, the health secretary. In the hours that followed, Alex Chalk, the solicitor general, and several people in junior government posts also quit.
The latest crisis centers on Chris Pincher, a former minister in Johnson’s government who is accused of groping two men. Johnson initially claimed he was unaware of similar previous allegations against Pincher, including a formal complaint. But after news reports suggested the contrary, Johnson was yet again accused of lying. He has apologized for appointing Pincher.
Just a month ago, Johnson survived a no-confidence vote by his fellow Conservative lawmakers after unrelated scandals. He is, therefore, protected against another vote for a year, meaning pressure to resign from within his own government could be the only effective method of forcing him out.
Reshuffle: Moving quickly to plug the holes in his cabinet, Johnson gave the critical job of chancellor of the Exchequer to Nadhim Zahawi, who had been the education secretary. The job of health secretary went to Steve Barclay, who had been a minister in the Cabinet Office.
Analysis: While the mechanics of forcing Johnson out are complicated — and he shows little indication that he is willing to bow out on his own — the dynamics just got much harder for him, writes Mark Landler, The Times’s London bureau chief.
Suspect charged in July 4 mass shooting
Robert Crimo III has been charged with seven counts of murder in connection with the deaths of seven people at a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, Ill., a suburb north of Chicago. Eric Rinehart, the Lake County state’s attorney, said he expected to file dozens more charges against Crimo in the coming days. Crimo faces life in prison if convicted.
The charges come as the police revealed they had seized 16 knives, a dagger and a sword from Crimo in 2019 after a relative told officers that Crimo had planned to “kill everyone.” Earlier that year, someone had reported to the police that Crimo had attempted suicide, raising questions about how he was able to legally purchase several guns in the time since.
The shooting came days after President Biden signed the most significant gun measure to clear Congress in nearly three decades. It was unclear whether any of the regulations would have stopped the gunman, who carried out his attack in a state with tough gun laws but that is bordered by states where firearms are much easier to come by.
Toll: A seventh victim died yesterday after five were killed at the parade on Monday, and a sixth died at a hospital. More than 30 people were wounded by the gunshots fired from a rooftop, officials said. Victims ranged in age from 8 to 85, doctors who received the injured at hospitals said.
Britain’s summer of labor discontent
Labor unrest in Britain is growing as the cost of living soars. Criminal-defense lawyers are the latest group to demand more pay, following the biggest strikes in a generation by rail workers last month. Staff members at the national airline, British Airways; state schoolteachers; and health and postal workers have also threatened walkouts.
As energy costs surge, inflation approaches double figures and taxes and the cost of loans increase, Britons are demanding higher wages with a militancy not seen in years. For some, the strikes have raised the specter of the 1970s, when labor unrest left trash uncollected, prevented the dead from being buried and dealt a fatal blow to the government of the day.
Public services, long under strain, seem to be crumbling in some cases. Nearly 6.5 million people in England are waiting for hospital treatment, and there are 100,000 staff vacancies in the country’s health care system. Britons have been advised to allow 10 weeks if they want to renew their passports, and the average wait to take a driving test is 14 weeks.
Pushback: A resolution to the demands of the various groups of workers looks remote. While inflation is eroding spending power across the country, the government is determined to curb raises for fears that they would push inflation higher and prompt ever greater pay demands.
THE LATEST NEWS
Around the World
With Ukraine’s Luhansk Province firmly in its grasp, Russia ramped up shelling on the outskirts of the city of Bakhmut as an apparent prelude to an offensive into the province of Donetsk.
A hacker offered to sell a Shanghai police database that could contain information on one billion Chinese citizens.
Palestinians expressed outrage after the U.S. said that Shireen Abu Akleh, a prominent Palestinian-American journalist, was most likely unintentionally killed by a bullet fired from Israeli military lines.
France repatriated 16 wives of jihadists from detention camps in Syria, a move it had long ruled out. They are expected to be charged in connection with joining the Islamic State.
Germany posted its first monthly trade deficit in 30 years.
From the U.S.
The rapidly spreading Omicron subvariant known as BA.5 has become dominant among new coronavirus cases in the U.S.
Families and doctors in the U.S. worry that strict bans on abortion could threaten in vitro fertilization.
The U.S. government aims to expand restrictions on exports to China and other countries in cases where U.S. national security may be threatened or human rights are at stake.
A Georgia prosecutor subpoenaed Rudy Giuliani, Senator Lindsey Graham and five others with ties to Donald Trump as part of an investigation into the former president’s election interference.
What Else Is Happening
The Women’s European Championships open tonight in Manchester, with England’s match against Austria. All eyes are on the host country.
The Australian police have begun legal proceedings against the tennis player Nick Kyrgios for allegedly assaulting a former girlfriend in December.
The euro fell to a 20-year low against the U.S. dollar amid fears about the European economy.
A Morning Read
In a world of online ticketing, the queue for Wimbledon tickets is clearly an anachronism. But the world’s most famous tennis tournament — with its grass courts, all-white-clothing rule for players and artificially low-priced strawberries and cream — is an anachronism writ large.
It isn’t just about traditionalism, officials say. “The queue is not still here because it’s just a thing we’ve always done,” said Sally Bolton, chief executive of the All England Club. “The queue is here because it’s about accessibility to the tournament. That’s really integral to our traditions.”
ARTS AND IDEAS
Mathematics’ highest honor
The Fields Medals, given to young mathematicians every four years, honor not just past achievements, but also the promise of future breakthroughs. This year, they went to four people.
Maryna Viazovska is the second woman to win the medal. She is known for proofs for higher-dimensional equivalents of the stacking of equal-size spheres — a variation of a conjecture by Johannes Kepler involving the best way to stack cannonballs.
June Huh struggled with math in college and barely made it into a doctoral program. There, he came to prominence in the field of combinatorics, the number of ways things can be shuffled.
James Maynard has worked on a conjecture for years: For any pair of prime numbers separated by 2, there will always be a larger pair. “It’s the tension between being somehow simple and fundamental but mysterious and poorly understood,” Maynard said of his interest in primes.
Hugo Duminil-Copin studies the mysteries of ferromagnetic phase transitions. There are mathematical models for the phenomenon in one and two dimensions, but he works in the intractable third. “The ability to produce exact formulas just collapses completely,” he said.
PLAY, WATCH, EAT
What to Cook
A specialty all over Portugal, pasteis de nata have a cinnamon-flavored custard nestled in a flaky puff pastry crust. Eat warm.
What to Read
The Portuguese novelist Djaimilia Pereira de Almeida’s reading recommendations to get to know Lisbon.
What to Watch
Five international movies to stream now, including an unconventional French rom-com and a Polish midlife-crisis thriller.
Now Time to Play
Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Philly Ivy (four letters).
And here’s today’s Wordle and the Spelling Bee.
You can find all our puzzles here.
That’s it for today’s briefing. Thanks for joining me. — Natasha
P.S. Our Travel desk is saying goodbye to the tracker of pandemic travel restrictions, a project started two years ago.
The latest episode of “The Daily” is on the new U.S. gun safety law.
Whet Moser wrote today’s Arts and Ideas. You can reach Natasha and the team at [email protected].