Tuesday briefing: ‘dirty tricks’ in Batley and Spen

Giorno a tutti. I’m Martin Farrer and these are the top stories this morning.

The Batley and Spen byelection race has descended into allegations of dirty tricks as Labour’s campaign was accused by one of its own MPs of using “dog-whistle racism” to win votes. One party leaflet distributed to Muslim voters showed Boris Johnson with India’s nationalist prime minister, Narendra Modi, and the message “Don’t risk a Tory MP who is not on your side”. The Labour MP Navendu Mishra said the “divisive” leaflet sought to turn communities against each other. Separately, Labour has alerted the police to fake leaflets that said the party believed “the biggest threat to our precious multicultural society is whiteness”. The TUC is reportedly taking legal advice over the leaflets, which also show Sir Keir Starmer taking the knee, and say the Labour leader “believes that it is high time that white people acknowledge their privilege”.

Tensions are running high in the constituency where Labour is facing a difficult challenge from the Conservatives and the former MP George Galloway. Labour activists have reported being attacked by gangs of youths and many fear the byelection – in which Kim Leadbeater, the sister of murdered MP Jo Cox is standing for Labour – risks increased divisions in the West Yorkshire town and the Muslim community more specifically. One activist, 79-year-old retired GP Abdulrehman Rajpura, said it was the “worst election” he had ever seen.

‘It must end’ – Hundreds of thousands of pupils will no longer have to isolate after contact with a positive Covid case when schools return in September in England, ministers are expected to announce shortly. It is believed 250,000 bambini missed school in a single week because of coronavirus infections, self-isolation or school closures this month. It came as the new health secretary, Sajid Javid, took a noticeably more hawkish tone than his predecessor, Matt Hancock, when he announced that most Covid restrictions in England “must come to an end” su 19 luglio. tuttavia, with high-profile cases in the world of showbiz and sport, scientists still say now is not the time to abandon all curbs. Footage has appeared online showing one of the government’s key advisers, chief medical officer Chris Witty, being harassed in a London park, with the vaccine minister, Nadhim Zahawi, calling for the “thugs” to face charges. A surge of new cases is causing concern in Tokyo with just weeks to go before the start of the Olympic Games.

Hancock fallout – Labour has demanded a re-examination of 85 oversight jobs across Whitehall amid questions about Conservative government appointments to the health department. It follows revelations about the former health secretary Matt Hancock, who gave his university friend and now lover Gina Coladangelo a job in his department. It has also emerged that the social care minister, Helen Whately, used her own email account for official work. A government source said her private account was only used for diary invitations and in line with department guidance.

Phones off – Mobile phones could be banned in schools as part of a government clampdown on poor discipline in classrooms in England. The education secretary, Gavin Williamson, said phones could have a “damaging effect on a pupil’s mental health and wellbeing”. Headteachers and unions accused him of using the issue as a distraction from the government’s poor handling of the pandemic.

Sleepless in Seattle – Portland, Seattle and other cities in the US Pacific north-west are enduring their highest ever temperatures amid a searing heatwave. Forecasters in the area said that the final temperature for Monday could reach 43C (110F) in Seattle and 46C (115F) in Portland and that the heatwave could continue tomorrow. Here’s why it’s happening.

Au revoir les Bleus – Favourites France have crashed out of Euro2020 after losing a thrilling last-16 tie on penalties against unfancied Switzerland. Les Bleus’ star player, Kylian Mbappé, missed the crucial spot kick but he was defended by his manager, Didier Deschamps. In an equally gripping game, Spain overcame Croatia 5-3 after extra-time to progress to the quarter-finals. The drama means England have a huge act to follow this evening when they take on Germany. No pressure.

Boris Johnson has a new health secretary this week after the resignation of the man tasked with leading the government’s Covid response. But there are plenty of unanswered questions, says Jonathan Freedland.

Lucy Mangan is full of self-loathing for being unable to stop herself watching Love Island after it returned for another series last night. But she has still managed to file a very funny review, writing that the collection of “buff, bronzed beauties, each burnished outwardly to a high shine by sun tan oil, and inwardly by moderate-to-severe narcissism, have all been ordered straight from the Instagram shop”. Who can resist?

Back in the Wimbledon singles draw once more, Andy Murray took an invaluable step forward as he defeated Nikoloz Basilashvili, the 24th seed, to reach the second round. Novak Djokovic lost the opening set to British 19-year-old Jack Draper but the world No 1 came back to win comfortably in four sets. In the women’s draw, Katie Boulter made good on her wildcard entry as she saw off the American qualifier Danielle Lao, mentre a reinvigorated Sloane Stephens, the former US Open champion, beat Petra Kvitova to advance.

All hell broke loose in the Tour de France as overall favourites and sprint contenders both hit the tarmac in a chaotic climax to the third stage, won in Pontivy by Tim Merlier, a fast-rising Belgian sprinter. Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes team will not cede to their driver’s demands for swift action after the world champion was soundly defeated by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen at the Styrian Grand Prix. And the British & Irish Lions have arrived safely in South Africa but uncertainty still hangs over their tour itinerary, with rising Covid-19 infection rates in the province of Gauteng prompting increasing concern.

Japanese carmaker Nissan is planning to build a battery “gigafactory” in Sunderland, bringing a huge post-Brexit jobs and investment boost to the north-east and the car industry. Scottish brewery BrewDog is under fire for its Willy Wonka-style “solid gold can” promotion after the cans in question turned out to be largely made from brass. After world stocks hit a record high yesterday, the FTSE100 is set to shed 0.2% at the opening while the pound is on $1.386 and €1.166.

Sajid Javid’s bullish lockdown announcement leads many papers. Il Express says “Mr Optimism: it’s the end of the line for lockdown”, mentre il Mail is equally enthusiastic: “Bring it on! Javid fights for freedom”. Il i has “19 July is end of the line for lockdown says Javid”, e il FT goes a more nuanced “Javid shifts tone on curbs in call for nation to ‘learn to live’ with Covid”.

Il Custode leads with “Ministers to end isolation for pupils in England”, as does the Telegraph: “End ‘madness’ of isolating children”. Il Volte also has a school-themed lead, reporting “Pupils face total ban on mobile phone use”. Tonight’s big match is the main event for the Sun – “Come on Harry … even Hancock scored!” – and the Mirror – “A night made for heroes”. In Scotland, il Record says possible holiday restrictions are a “A boot in the Balearics”, mentre il National leads with “Holyrood power grab by Tories ‘Laid Bare’ in court battle”.

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