Tuesday briefing: Go-ahead for Covid boosters as winter nears

Hello, this is Warren Murray with your trusted first read of the day.

Boris Johnson is to confirm the start of a booster jabs programme for the over-50s, while government scientists have approved vaccinations for older schoolchildren. In an address this afternoon, the prime minister is expected to signal his opposition to any further outright lockdowns this year, while keeping measures such as mask-wearing and social distancing in reserve.

The go-ahead on jabs for children aged 12 to 15 has teaching unions warning that schools are being put in an “invidious” position. They have called on ministers to confirm the programme will be overseen by specialists so teachers do not become caught up in issues of consent or anger from anti-vaccination groups.

Despite announcing over the summer that vaccine passports would be required for entry to nightclubs and other large crowded venues, Johnson is also expected to confirm what Sajid Javid said on Sunday: that the controversial documents will not be introduced on 1 October. Instead the policy will be kept in reserve. Other announcements on rules for international travel could come by Thursday. The red, amber and green lists are expected to be replaced with a “go” and “no go” list of countries.

Taliban leaders out of view – The supreme Taliban leader, Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, has not been seen in public a month after the militants seized control of Afghanistan, leading some Afghans to question whether he is alive. Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban deputy prime minister, has also gone missing – there have been rumours in Kabul that he was killed or badly injured in a fight with another senior Taliban figure during an argument about how to divide Afghanistan’s ministries. Videos, audio and old photos shared online by the Taliban purported to show Baradar is alive, but did not feature anything that could confirm when they were taken. The Taliban covered up the death of founding leader Mullah Mohammad Omar for two years.

Starmer sets out stall – Labour will guarantee a £10 minimum wage, ban fire-and-rehire and give rights against unfair dismissal to all workers from day one in power, Keir Starmer is to pledge at the TUC conference. Starmer will contrast Labour’s offer with the Tories’ plan to increase national insurance under which “working families across the country don’t get a pay rise but will get a tax rise”. He is to expand on key pledges of the Corbyn era including a ban on zero-hours contracts. Starmer will say millions of people face a £1,040 a year cut to universal credit next month along with a tax rise. The party leader is navigating choppy territory with unions over Labour’s plans to make staff redundant. Both GMB and Unite have balloted Labour party staff over compulsory redundancies.

‘The other side never gives up’ – Hillary Clinton has said the US remains in a “real battle for our democracy” against pro-Trump forces on the far right, seeking to entrench minority rule and turn back the clock on women’s rights. At a Guardian Live online event on Monday, Clinton fended off suggestions the world was witnessing the twilight of US democracy but said: “I do believe we are in a struggle for the future of our country … The other side wants to rule by minority,” she said. “It wants to change election laws so that it doesn’t lose elections, despite what the will of the people might be.”

Clinton was also asked about the abortion ban passed in Texas at the beginning of month. “I’ve seen the forces that are arrayed against progress when it comes to women’s autonomy, when it comes to the advancement of civil and political and economic rights. I know very well that the other side never gives up. They are relentless in their view of what is a properly constructed society, and in that view, white men are at the very top and nobody else is even close.”

Sun setting on coal power – More than three-quarters of the world’s planned coal power plants have been scrapped since the Paris climate agreement was signed, meaning 44 countries no longer have any future coal power plans, research by three climate groups has found (though see the business section below for more on that). In the UK there is bafflement over plans to install at least 20,000 new gas boilers, partly at taxpayers’ expense, at a time when experts say low-carbon dioxide alternatives such as heat pumps should be brought in instead. Meanwhile an international poll has found that four in 10 young people are hesitant to have children as a result of the climate crisis. Nearly six in 10 of those aged 16 to 25 were very or extremely worried about climate change, while a similar proportion said governments were not protecting them, the planet, or future generations.

‘Supreme authority’ – Charlotte Johnson Wahl, the mother of the prime minister, has died at the age of 79. The portrait painter passed away “suddenly and peacefully” at a London hospital on Monday, said a family statement. Born in 1942, she was the daughter of the barrister Sir James Fawcett, who was the president of the European human rights commission in the 1970s.

She read English at Oxford but interrupted her studies to travel to the US with Stanley Johnson, whom she married in 1963. She later returned to complete her degree, becoming the first married female undergraduate at her college, Lady Margaret Hall, and achieving second-class honours. The prime minister has previously described his mother as the “supreme authority” in the family.

McDonald’s ran out of milkshakes, Nando’s had to close some of its restaurants due to a lack of chicken, and Halfords has warned it is short of bikes. Meanwhile, at a key time for harvests, crops are rotting in the fields. It all points to a crisis in Britain’s supply chains that analysts say is the most severe since the 1970s; a perfect storm of pandemic disruption coupled with post-Brexit labour shortages.

In the UK, the majority of those now in hospital with Covid-19 are unvaccinated. Many face their last days with enormous regret – and their relatives are telling their stories to try to convince others like them.

Several of Britain’s top track and field stars have told Sebastian Coe they are at breaking point with the current regime at UK Athletics and have made a plea to him to intervene. A 25-yard thunderbolt from Andros Townsend capped a six-minute salvo to turn the game around as Everton came from a goal down to beat Burnley 3-1. Britain’s newest sporting star, Emma Raducanu, has put her stunning success at the US Open down to her “very hard-to-please parents”, who she said had given her the mental strength to succeed. Andy Murray has hailed Raducanu’s “incredible” win in New York and spoken of a “huge opportunity” for British tennis. Novak Djokovic lost his bid to achieve a calendar slam at the final hurdle at Flushing Meadows, but he may finally have won the hearts of tennis fans, writes Jonathan Liew.

Premiership players are being “strongly encouraged” to become fully vaccinated by rugby authorities in England with clubs offered incentives in an effort to boost uptake. Chris Woakes has put his decision to withdraw from the second half of the IPL down to a winter with England that he feels compares with the home summer of 2019 in terms of sporting magnitude. Lewis Hamilton said he was reminded of his own mortality and the risks he takes competing in Formula One after his crash with Max Verstappen at the Italian Grand Prix. And winning last season’s Champions League final has lifted the pressure from Thomas Tuchel, but the Chelsea coach has urged his players to stay hungry as they begin their title defence against Zenit St Petersburg tonight.

Britain’s last big coal-fired power stations are being paid millions to keep the lights on amid a drop in wind generation and a global gas shortage. It’s a warning that ministers would be wise to heed. In China, the property giant Evergrande has said that it can’t sell properties and offload other assets fast enough to service its massive $300bn debts. The news saw its shares fall nearly 10% and appears to bring a full-scale restructuring a step closer. The FTSE100 is on course for a flat opening, and the pound is on $1.385 and €1.172.

Boris Johnson’s winter Covid plan dominates today’s front pages. The Guardian leads with “Booster jabs for over-50s as No 10 accelerates vaccine programme” while the Times has “Over-50s to receive booster jabs for winter”. The Mail offers its take on Johnson’s Covid plan, declaring “Return of the doom squad”. The Express splashes with “Boris ‘confident’ Covid plan means no return to lockdown”.

Other papers focus on the push to vaccinate children. The Mirror leads with “Jabs for kids in days” while i has “Vaccines for children to be rolled out next week”. The Telegraph’s main story is “Parents told to get their children vaccinated”. The paper also runs a picture of the prime minister with his mother, Charlotte Johnson Wahl, who has died at the age of 79.

The Independent leads with “Revealed: the Gove speeches littered with sexism, racism and homophobia”. The FT says “Johnson’s £15bn ‘stupid tunnel’ killed off in Treasury crackdown”. And there’s still plenty of love for US Open winner Emma Raducanu, with smiling portraits of the British tennis star in New York post-win, on several front pages.

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