Monday briefing: Kwarteng steps on the gas

Oggend, I’m Virginia Harrison with the top stories this morning.

Britain’s looming gas crisis will be in focus today as business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng holds an emergency summit with gas industry chiefs in an effort to contain the fallout caused by soaring market prices. It follows a frantic weekend of wrangling focused on contingencies for consumers and businesses. Kwarteng said small firms would be allowed to go bankrupt, with their customers auctioned off to the company prepared to offer them the cheapest rate. Five small energy firms have gone bust in the last five weeks. That’s left more than half a million customers in need of a new supplier. Industry sources warn another four could fold by the end of the month, leaving another one million customers stranded.

The pressure on firms comes as wholesale gas prices have surged to record highs in recent weeks due to a combination of a faster than expected pandemic recovery, depleted stocks and a shortfall in wind power. The crisis is creating fears across other industries. The chair of the NHS Confederation warned the ensuing lack of carbon dioxide could lead to operations being cancelled. Op dieselfde tyd, meat and poultry processors say abattoirs may have to cease operations in the next fortnight, because they are dependent on CO2 for the humane slaughter of animals.

Emmys 2021 - It’s been a huge night for British talent at the Emmys with The Crown picking up a swag of awards while Kate Winslet and Michaela Coel were among other notable winners. The Crown was named best drama. Olivia Colman, Tobias Menzies, Josh O’Connor and Gillian Anderson all won acting nods for their work on the Netflix series. Kate Winslet collected best lead actress in a limited series for Mare of Easttown. Screenwriter and actress Michaela Coel took the gong for best writing for a limited series for breakout hit I May Destroy You. Other British winners included actors Hannah Waddingham and Brett Goldstein for their roles in Ted Lasso.

Climate fears – Boris Johnson has said he fears there’s only a 60% chance that the $100bn in climate finance viewed as key to securing an ambitious outcome to the Cop26 summit will be in place by the time world leaders meet in Glasgow in November. Speaking to journalists en route to New York at the start of a three-day visit to the US, in which he hopes to “galvanise” progress towards a new climate deal, the prime minister said he would be urging developed countries to come forward with additional funding.

Aukus tensions flare – A Franco-British defence ministers’ summit due to take place this week has been cancelled as Paris steps up its protests against the new US-UK-Australian defence pact. France is incensed after Australia abandoned a lucrative but troubled contract for new diesel submarines to switch to nuclear-powered alternatives after six months of secret negotiations with the UK and US. The cancellation of the meeting shows there will also be diplomatic fallout for the UK.

Pay dispute – NHS staff have voted overwhelmingly to oppose the government’s 3% betalingsverhoging as Britain’s biggest health union, Unison, warned thousands of workers are “fed up of being taken for granted”. The government is now under growing pressure to reconsider its pay award. Unison will discuss the issue at its annual conference today, which comes on the heels of similar feedback from the Royal College of Nursing – with nine out of 10 of its members saying the 3% rise wasn’t acceptable.

Baby bust? – Britain is facing a “baby shortage” that could lead to “long-term economic stagnation”, a thinktank has warned. Die Social Market Foundation (SMF) said the birthrate was almost half what it was at its post-war peak in the 1960s, and the country’s ageing population could lead to economic decline. One helpful measure, SMF says, could be better childcare. The group say typical British working parents spend 22% of their income on full-time childcare – that’s more than double the average for western economies.

Prince Charles – Clarence House is confronting fresh questions over further revelations in the royal “cash-for-honours” scandal involving middlemen who reportedly took cuts for setting up meetings between wealthy donors and the Prince of Wales. Prince Charles “met at least nine times” with William Bortrick, the alleged fixer at the heart of the claims, who is said to have received thousands of pounds to secure an honour for a Saudi billionaire and brokered a personal thank you letter from Charles to a Russian donor, the Sunday Times reported.

The culture taps might have run a little dry during the pandemic, but this autumn they are switching back on. From Abba to Lil Nas X, Succession to Starstruck, Hamlet to Hairspray – what should you get excited about? Our critics give their pick of the new crop.

“The reality, natuurlik, is that being traumatised does make you a difficult person to get along with,” says psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk. Trauma has been a focus of van der Kolk’s working life and his 2014 book, The Body Keeps the Score, has become a huge pandemic hit. It’s topped bestseller lists this summer and became a meme on social media. So what does that tell us about the world we live in? Zoe Williams sat down with the famed psychiatrist.

Farewell, dan, Jimmy. Sporting celebrities come and go but Greaves, who has died at the age of 81, was not just a peerless English goalscorer but a footballer who remained etched in the memory of those who saw him play, and endeared himself to another generation as a much-loved TV pundit in the 80s. Nuno Espírito Santo conceded “there were a lot of things that went wrong” as his Tottenham side sustained an ultimately chastening 3-0 home defeat against Chelsea, which leaves Thomas Tuchel’s team joint top of the Premier League with Liverpool. Pep Guardiola is facing a mounting injury crisis with the fitness of Ilkay Gündogan, Rodri, Aymeric Laporte, John Stones and Oleksandr Zinchenko all in the balance as Manchester stad enter a crucial three-match, eight-day period.

The idea that someone could play 199 internationals for England, score two Twenty20 international hundreds and yet never hit a one-day international half-century on home soil might seem implausible. But Danni Wyatt was a living embodiment of that statistic. Harlequins, die defending champions who beat Exeter in the greatest final in Premiership history last season, opened the defence of their crown in typically exhilarating fashion. The Italian Filippo Ganna broke Flemish hearts on the opening day of the world road race championships in the Belgian cycling heartland by taking a narrow victory in the elite men’s time trial over home favourite Wout van Aert.

Boris Johnson plans to press Amazon boss Jeff Bezos on the company’s tax record when the prime minister meets him in New York today as part of his three-day trip to the US. It was recently revealed that Amazon’s revenues in the UK increased by more than 50% in 2020 to £20.63bn, maar its key UK division paid just £18.3m in direct taxes. The FTSE100 is looking like it’s slipping up to half a point at the bell this morning. The pound is down as well at $1.371 and €1.170.

The UK’s looming gas price crisis features on most front pages. Die Voog leads with Kwasi Kwarteng’s emergency summit with gas industry chiefs to be held later today. Read the full story hier. Die FT says “Energy groups seek emergency support to weather gas crisis”. Die i focuses on the energy firms’ request for an end to the price cap, while the Times headline is “Taxpayers face bill for propping up energy firms”. Metro offers “Crisis? Watt crisis?”.

Die Telegraph says Boris Johnson will use this week’s trip to the White House to press US president Joe Biden to open up for UK visitors. Die Mail pushes for a shift away from telehealth appointments – amid what it reports as a “growing toll of cancers and devastating illnesses missed by ‘remote’ doctors” – with the headline “Let’s get back to seeing GPs face to face”.

The papers also bear tributes footballer Jimmy Greaves. “Goodbye Greavsie” says the Mirror en die Daily Express, terwyl i remembers “The Messi of his day”.

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