/Monday briefing: Statue toppling ignites row over racism

Monday briefing: Statue toppling ignites row over racism

Top story: It’s like the toppling of Saddam statue, says historian

Morning everyone. I’m Martin Farrer and these are the top stories to start your week.

Anti-racism campaigners have claimed a symbolic victory after protesters in Bristol toppled a statue to the 17th century slave trader Edward Colston that has long been the focus of anger in the city. Demonstrators driven by the worldwide reaction to the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis gathered at the memorial on Sunday before attaching ropes to it, hauling it down and then pushing it into the docks. The historian David Olusoga compared it to the toppling of the statue of Saddam Hussein in Iraq but home secretary, Priti Patel, called the incident “disgraceful”. Colston made a fortune from the slave trade but was honoured by the city for his philanthropy to churches, almshouses and schools, some of which still bear his name. After a weekend of protests all over the country, ministers have been criticised by black politicians and campaigners for claiming that Britain is not racist. David Lammy, the shadow justice secretary, said it was “real ignorance” to suggest that the protesters were not motivated by discrimination at home.

In Minneapolis, where Floyd died two weeks ago after his neck was knelt on by a police officer for nine minutes, lawmakers have vowed to dismantle the city’s police department. The unprecedented response came after what the city council president called the failure of “incremental reform” and calls at protests all over the US for police departments to be defunded. You can read how the world has responded to the protests and how they day unfolded in the US at our live blog.


Virus victims – Doctors say many coronavirus victims have died at home and lain undetected for up to two weeks before being found by relatives or neighbours. A study by pathologists in London found “plenty” such cases, including instances where the body had begun to decompose before being discovered. Campaigners for the elderly said the study highlighted the vulnerability of older people living alone, while a doctor explains the “profoundly sad job” of certifying the deaths of victims who died alone. BAME women are suffering greater financial and psychological stress from the pandemic than their white counterparts, polling suggests. Charities are concerned about Boris Johnson’s refusal to offer support to immigrants who are struggling to get by during the crisis because they don’t qualify for benefits. Lawyers backed by health workers and the families of some coronavirus victims have launched a new investigation into the lockdown car trip to Durham by Johnson’s key adviser, Dominic Cummings.

Britain’s three biggest airlines – BA, EasyJet and Ryanair – have started legal action against the government’s new 14-day quarantine rules for overseas arrivals which come into force today. Find out what the rules say and what they mean for travellers here. And you can catch up with all the main developments with the pandemic at our live blog.

There’s more in our Coronavirus Extra section further down … and here’s where you can find all our coverage of the outbreak – from breaking news to factchecks and advice.


Fishing net – Ministers fear that the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator has lost control of the talks over the future of the fisheries industry, raising doubts over the UK’s hopes of sealing a swift Brexit deal on trade and security this summer. Michel Barnier was reportedly blindsided by European fishing nations – France, the Netherlands, Spain, Ireland, Denmark, Belgium, Germany and Sweden – last week when they rejected a compromise deal.


Army death – The Ministry of Defence has launched an investigation after a man was found dead at an army base in Shropshire. The body was discovered on Sunday morning at Clive Barracks in Tern Hill, the current base of the 1st battalion of the Royal Irish Regiment. The MoD expressed “great sympathy” about the death but said it would “inappropriate to comment any further at this time”.


Times a-changing – A senior editor has resigned from the New York Times in the wake of the furore about a comment piece in which a republican senator wrote that troops should be sent in to deal with the George Floyd protests. James Bennet, editorial page director at the Times since May 2016, has quit and one of his deputies reassigned.


Not so smart – So-called “smart” domestic appliances such as dishwashers and fridges that can be controlled remotely may not be worth the extra cost in the long run, according to Which? The consumer group says the machines can cost hundreds of pounds more than conventional ones but often malfunction after as little as two years.

Coronavirus Extra

Known cases of the virus around the world have passed 7 million, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker site. The US remain the worst-affected country with almost 2 million of those confirmed cases and more than 110,503 deaths. Brazil’s rightwing government, which presides over the world’s second highest number of cases, has been accused of totalitarianism after it stopped publishing a daily tally of fatalities. Britain has 287,000 cases and over 40,625 deaths. In contrast, New Zealand says it has no more active coronavirus cases for the first time since 28 February and the government is expected to lift all remaining lockdown restrictions.

Today in Focus podcast

The effects of global heating are in evidence everywhere across the islands of Antarctica – from penguin colonies to melting glaciers. The Guardian’s global environment editor Jonathan Watts explains how conditions are changing quickly.

Today in Focus

A journey into Antarctica

Lunchtime read: writer and actor Michaela Coel on work and race

coel



Photograph: Natalie Seery/BBC/Various Artists Ltd and FALKNA

After bursting on to the small screen as a sexually frustrated woman losing her religion in Chewing Gum, Michaela Coel is back in a new self-written drama about young creatives navigating work, consent and racism. Coel explains how I May Destroy You was inspired by her own experience of sexual assault and why she thinks her character could become the voice of her generation.

Sport

With the resumption of Premier League season just a week away, we start a countdown to the kick off with a look at how each team is shaping up, starting with Arsenal. The mayor of Liverpool believes the Reds’ potentially title-clinching game against Everton on 21 June should be played at Goodison Park. Thirteen EPL clubs are using the player trading site Transfer Room to conduct business in the post-Covid world. The world super-featherweight champion Jamel Herring, a former US marine, talks to Donald McRae about PTSD and depression ahead of his headlining fight in the sport’s first post‑quarantine world championship bill in Las Vegas on 2 July. Rugby league is considering increasing the number of interchanges ahead of a hoped-for restart of mid-August.

Business

A City taskforce has warned that £36bn worth of government-backed business loans could turn toxic by next year as companies struggle to repay growing debts during the Covid-19 crisis. Asian shares rose overnight thanks to better than expected US jobs figures on Friday. The pound is buying $1.271 and €1.125.

The papers

Many of the front pages carry pictures of the toppled statue of Edward Colston, including the Guardian alongside a splash headline saying “Government accused of ‘ignorance’ on UK racism”. The Mail headline quotes Priti Patel calling the race protests Mail “Lawless & reckless” while the Mirror says “The march for change”.

Guardian front page Monday 8 June 2020



Photograph: The Guardian

The Times leads with “Laws to curb Chinese takeovers” and at the Telegraph they’ve plumped for “Quarantine won’t work, Home Office concedes”. The Scotsman says “‘Stick to the rules’ plea as no new virus deaths recorded” and the i is on similar territory with “Stay at home warning for northern cities”. The FT goes with “Shipping industry warns of trade logjam as crews remain stranded”. The Sun leads on the Prince Andrew-Jeffrey Epstein case – “Yanks: hand Andy over” – and the Express has “Boris battle plan to save 3m jobs”.

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