The Daily Mail reports that relations between London and Moscow were at crisis point last night after a Russian vessel pursuing a Royal Navy warship opened fire in a dramatic incident witnessed by the Daily Mail. Repeated bursts of cannon fire could be heard off the deck of HMS Defender as President Vladimir Putin’s forces responded to the warship legitimately entering Crimean territorial waters in the Black Sea. Russian military sources confirmed the incident early yesterday afternoon approximately five miles from Cape Fiolent, a prominent landmark on the Crimean coastline. Launched in 2009, Defender is the fifth of the Royal Navy’s Type 45 destroyers. She is also one of the most advanced warships ever constructed. She belongs to the Royal Navy’s newly formed Carrier Strike Group and her role is to provide air defence for the UK’s new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth. But on Tuesday she broke off from the CSG’s maiden voyage to perform her own delicate, possibly dangerous task. Downing Street insisted Defender was taking the ‘most direct’ route from Ukraine to Georgia along an ‘internationally recognised travel corridor’ and was not subject to warning shots fired by Russia. A source acknowledged the Government was playing down the incident to deny Moscow the row it is seeking. The Russian embassy in London tweeted: ‘HMS Defender turns HMS Provocateur and violates Russian border. Not exactly a ”routine” transit.’


The Times reports that Russia remains a “threat to stability”, the defence secretary said after Moscow claimed that its naval vessels fired warning shots at a British warship in the Black Sea today. Ben Wallace addressed MPs after the Russian defence ministry said that HMS Defender was warned to turn back when it travelled almost two miles into Russian territorial waters. It said the British ship left Russian waters after a border patrol ship opened fire and an SU-24 jet dropped four high-explosive fragmentation bombs near its path. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) was quick to deny the claims, saying the incident did not occur as described and that HMS Defender had been in Ukrainian territorial waters. “No warning shots have been fired at HMS Defender,” a spokeswoman said.


The Guardian reports that the Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has provoked outrage – both real and amused – for suggesting children should sing the song on Friday to mark “One Britain, One Nation” (OBON) day. Williamson has praised the campaign by a former policeman, Kash Singh, and encouraged all schools to take part. A video of the song sung by Bradford schoolchildren features the flags of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Footage shows them waving union jacks and posing for group photos holding the OBON banner. The lyrics say: “We are British and we have one dream / To unite all people in one great team.” The song ends with the words: “Strong Britain, Great Nation!” repeated four times. Critics pointed out that most Scottish schools will have already broken up by Friday for the summer holidays. And, they note, Northern Ireland is not a part of Great Britain. Others have gone further – posting memes with Boris Johnson’s face pasted on the body of North Korea’s Kim Jong-un.


The Guardian reports that Britain’s economy surged ahead in June as private-sector businesses secured extra work and created thousands of new jobs, but analysts warned the boom could be short-lived if shortages of skilled staff and hold-ups to vital supplies continue into the autumn. The manufacturing and services industries, which account for more than 80% of business activity, expanded at near-record rates in June, according to a survey by IHS Markit, building on the unprecedented burst in output growth in May. Firms were in a confident mood after the easing of Covid-19 restrictions and a rush by consumers to shop and visit bars and restaurants. Before the Bank of England’s meeting on Thursday to assess the economy and decide whether interest rates should increase, it was clear from respondents that businesses were enjoying higher domestic sales and higher demand from the US, China and much of Europe for British goods and services.


The Times reports that John Bercow will not be nominated for a peerage by Sir Keir Starmer despite his defection to the Labour Party. Sources close to Starmer said that the former Speaker of the House of Commons, the first in two centuries not to be given a seat in the Lords upon retirement, would not be made a peer by the present Labour leadership. The opposition’s snub to Bercow, 58, effectively destroys any chance he once had of fulfilling his well-publicised ambition of joining other past Speakers in the upper chamber. While he has denied having struck a deal with Labour for a peerage, The Times reported yesterday that after Downing Street refused to nominate him he had lobbied Jeremy Corbyn and written his own reference and nomination


The Evening Standard reports: Sadiq Khan today told Londoners whose cars will breach the Ulez rules to consider trading them in for a newer model if they want to avoid the £12.50-a-day levy. The ultra-low emission zone is due to expand from central London to the boundaries of the North and South Circular roads on October 25. City Hall estimates that about one in five vehicles in the enlarged 140sq mile zone will be liable to pay the 24/7 levy – 100,000 cars, 35,000 vans and 3,000 lorries. The Mayor said he had sympathy with Londoners liable to pay the Ulez but said there were plenty of second-hand cars that met the new emissions rules. Speaking to the Standard, Mr Khan said: “You don’t need to buy a brand-new vehicle. You can buy a second-hand vehicle.”  He said that, without Government support, he would be unable to make extra cash available for scrappage schemes to help low-income Londoners, small businesses and charities trade in non-compliant vehicles.


Auto Express reports that used car prices have shot up to an unprecedented level, with drivers paying more on average than ever before to secure a second-hand motor. Pent-up demand from the months in which dealers were closed under Covid-19 lockdown restrictions has been released, with drivers rushing to buy used cars in the same way they did when the first national lockdown ended in summer 2020.The key difference this time around, though, is the global semiconductor shortage. This has resulted in a smaller supply of new cars, meaning a higher proportion of those wanting to replace their existing car are heading to the used market.


The Mirror reports that England is split on whether fully vaccinated travellers should have to quarantine on their return from countries on the amber and red list. A survey of 2,000 adults in England found that while four in 10 don’t think it’s fair that those who have had both jabs still need to follow the quarantine rules, the same number believe it is the right thing to do. Data from the NHS revealed fewer than one in 200 travellers from amber list countries are testing positive on their return. The rate of 0.4 per cent is prompting calls for the government to relax restrictions on those arriving in the UK from amber counties, who currently face a 10-day quarantine period.


The Sun reports that Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi has ramped up calls for remaining Brits to get jabbed  – as he credited the “phenomenal” rollout with saving more than 14,000 lives and stopping 45,000 hospitalisations. Urging Brits to pull together in a “Dunkirk spirit”, he said ploughing ahead with vaccines will clear the path to Freedom Day. Mr Zahawi also astonishingly revealed that a third of 18-24 year-olds have already had a first dose – only days after they were called up. He was also bullish about meeting the target of double-jabbing all over-40s by July 19.


The Express reports that Angela  Merkel has cracked down on Britain and insisted visitors from the UK arriving in the European Union should isolate themselves.  The German Chancellor wants better coordination to to fight the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant that is quickly spreading throughout the UK and is now making its way through the bloc. Ahead of Thursday’s summit with fellow EU leaders, she told the Bundestag lower house of parliament “In our country, if you come from Great Britain, you have to go into quarantine – and that’s not the case in every European country, and that’s what I would like to see.” Speaking alongside European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at a press conference, she warned the bloc’s failure to agree to a joint travel policy on coronavirus was starting to “backfire”. She went on : “We now have a situation in Portugal that could perhaps have been avoided, and that’s why we have to work even harder on this.  We’ve made pretty good progress in recent months, but we’re not yet where I would like the European Union to be.”


From the Guardian: If you’re regularly annoyed by the misuse of language, a new survey shows you are certainly not alone. ‘Perspectus Global’ recently surveyed 2,000 British people about hated mispronunciations. Apparently, while 65% of people are cool enough to let a mispronunciation go unchecked, 35% like to correct their friends, with 10% making a point of correcting strangers. The most important thing about language is that it can communicate meaning. 35% of respondents were annoyed by people saying “pacifically” when they meant “specifically”, making it the biggest offender. And 28% took issue with “probly” instead of “probably”, making it the next. But it’s important you don’t persistently correct people or you’ll become a pariah and  nobody wants to end up in the social artick!


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