Wednesday briefing: Tory rebellion brews over vaccine passports

Buongiorno, Warren Murray here with your passport to the news.

Conservative MPs believe Boris Johnson faces a major rebellion over Covid vaccine passports but could be supported by Labour, who were on Tuesday night wavering over whether to back them. Tory MPs opposed to the plan for nightclubs, other crowded indoor venues and possibly more places, said more than 40 Conservatives were prepared to defy the PM over civil liberties concerns. The scale of the rebellion could put any vote on a knife-edge if opposition parties also oppose it.

Negli Stati Uniti, an emboldened Dr Anthony Fauci has clashed with Rand Paul, a Republican senator for Kentucky and longtime opponent of mask-wearing. Paul suggested that Fauci had lied before Congress in May when he denied that the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded so-called “gain of function” research on viruses at the Wuhan virology lab in China.

Fauci told a Senate committee that a study cited by Paul referenced a different sort of virus entirely. “This paper that you are referring to was judged by qualified staff up and down the chain as not being gain of function … Senator Paul, you do not know what you’re talking about, quite frankly. And I want to say that officially. You do not know what you are talking about … If anybody is lying here, senatore, it is you.” More coronavirus news at our live blog.

France paid to hold back boats – The UK taxpayer is to hand over a further €62.7m (£55m) to France to fund another clampdown on small-boat crossings of the Channel, the Home Office has revealed. The home secretary, Priti Patel, agreed to pay the sum as part of a deal reached with the French interior minister, Gérald Darmanin, “Nessuno è al di sopra della legge e oggi bisogna fare giustizia. Almeno 430 people crossed the Dover Strait on Monday, a record for a single day. On Tuesday more than 287 migrants succeeded in reaching the UK, bringing the total for the year to at least 8,452 according to available official data compiled by PA Media.

Carrie’s ‘clowns’ – Boris Johnson’s closest aides decided he was unfit to be prime minister within weeks of his 2019 election victory and began plotting to oust him, Dominic Cummings has claimed. On the BBC, in his first TV interview since quitting as one of the most senior advisers in No 10, Cummings told how disagreements grew between him and the PM over how to tackle Covid. He also accused the prime minister’s wife, Carrie, of trying to “appoint complete clowns to certain key jobs”. He urged Brexiters to consider creating a new party to take on the Conservatives or do what he did and “take over an existing party and try and bend it to something that’s different” – but did not say he should necessarily be at the forefront of such a movement.

Midweek catch-up

> Boris Johnson has called on the EU to “address the serious issues that have arisen” as he publishes a blueprint aimed at re-engineering the Northern Ireland Brexit protocol, Compreso eliminating checks on goods ranging from car parts to fresh food including sausages.

> Men’s spending on goods cause 16% more climate-heating emissions than women’s, despite the amount of money being very similar, a Swedish study has found. The biggest difference was men’s spending on petrol and diesel for cars.

> Rishi Sunak is poised to usher in cuts to public services of up to £17bn compared with pre-pandemic plans unless he takes action this summer to increase funding, the Institute for Fiscal Studies has said.

> Labour’s ruling body has gone ahead and banned four far-left factions that were vocal supporters of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. The NEC also altered its complaints process to address its handling of complaints about antisemitism.

> Unsolicited sending of obscene images should be made illegal through the creation of a new offence of cyberflashing, a UK government-commissioned review has recommended. Separately, street harassment is to be outlawed in England and Wales.

> After Jeff Bezos and friends went just over the edge of space in his Blue Origin rocket, experts have addressed why the spacecraft has a very particular shape.

Trump ally on foreign influence charge – The chair of Donald Trump’s 2017 inaugural committee, Tom Barrack, has been arrested for allegedly conspiring to influence Trump’s foreign policy positions to benefit the United Arab Emirates and commit crimes striking at what prosecutors described as “the very heart of our democracy”. Barrack, 74, of Santa Monica, California, was among three men charged in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, with conspiring to act as an unregistered foreign agent as they tried to influence foreign policy while Trump was running in 2016 and later while he was president.

‘We crave a Disney ending’ – Time could be running out for a stranded baby killer whale named Toa, who has charmed New Zealand but needs round-the-clock care to stay alive. The young calf, thought to be between two and six months old, became stuck in rocks 10 days ago. A cast of hundreds, from experts to volunteers, have been caring for Toa while the search for his pod continues.

Dr Karen Stockin, a marine biologist, said internationally recognised practice for separated cetaceans this young was either lifelong human care or euthanasia: “New Zealand has no captive or rehabilitation facility that could support Toa.” The conservation department’s marine species manager, Ian Angus, said that while the rescue operation was entering into a delicate stage, Toa’s health remained good and the focus was on reuniting him with his pod.

Pegasus Project part 3: In the latest part of our mini-series, Michael Safi hears from Nina Lakhani on how 15,000 Mexicans including journalists and politicians appeared on a list of possible targets for surveillance.

War may be winding down, but the Syrian economy lies in ruins. And with Bashar al-Assad in charge for seven more years, the country remains splintered. After the president was sworn in following a poll described by Britain and Europe as “neither free nor fair”, his first foreign guest was China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi.

China’s high-visibility stake in postwar Syria is straight from its playbook elsewhere in the Middle East, as well as in Asia and Africa: windfall investments in return for local access and global cover, writes Martin Chulov.

Our Tokyo 2020 newsletter brings you the best of the Olympic and Paralympic buildup and competition. Get ahead of the field by signing up here!

England ended their white-ball summer with yet another series victory after clinching a final-over thriller in this T20 decider against Pakistan by three wickets. Alistair Brownlee has backed the International Olympic Committee’s decision to proceed with the rescheduled Games amid the Covid-19 pandemic, saying a stripped-back Games will be better than none at all. Giannis Antetokounmpo ended one of the greatest NBA finals ever with 50 points and a championship after his Milwaukee Bucks beat the Phoenix Suns 105-98. Il britannico & Irish Lions have been given a major boost following confirmation that all three Test matches against South Africa will now be played at sea level. Anthony Joshua will defend his WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight titles against former undisputed world cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk as the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium hosts a boxing event for the first time on 25 settembre. And revelations made in Monday’s Panorama documentary have raised urgent questions for horseracing, writes Greg Wood, and urgent action is needed from the sport’s authorities in Britain and Ireland.

The price of bitcoin has dipped below $30,000 for the first time in a month after regulators in the US and Europe signalled stricter oversight for cryptocurrencies. The European Commission wants to make companies handling cryptos for clients register their name, address and bank account details, matching rules designed to stamp out money-laundering. US regulators said they were planning tighter rules for stablecoins, digital currencies that are pegged to conventional money. The dollar itself has been stronger, sending the pound to $1.362, while sterling has slipped to €1.156. The FTSE100 is set to rise 0.2% this morning.

Il Custode’s front page story is that Emmanuel Macron and 13 other heads of state and government are on the leaked Pegasus database. It also reveals that border officials in England are “turning a blind eye” to Covid border checks. Il Daily Telegraph leads on the NHS app, with “PM urged to expand Covid app exemptions”. It also gives a prominent spot to the UK’s decision to pay £55m to French border officials to fund a further clampdown on migration. You can read our story Qui.

Il Volte’ headline on the French border patrols is “Migrant crossings into Britain hit new record”. The Daily Express has “Migrant crisis: Patel pays French £54m to do their job”. Il FT leads on Brexit as the UK prepares to unveil new demands on trading arrangements. Il Independent’s headline is “Industry leaders hit out at ‘ping’ exemption chaos”.

Il i reveals that England has three weeks “to avoid new Covid restrictions”, reporting that “Sage scientists have urged ministers to bring back rules early”. “Pandemic Pandemonium” is top of the Mirror, as “One million kids off school”. Metro leads on the France migration deal with “Gunboat diplomacy” as does the Daily Mail, with “Now Priti channels £54m to France”.

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