Published:

UK rush to evacuate envoy from Kabul before Taliban arrive

“Britain’s ambassador is to be airlifted from Afghanistan by Monday evening amid fears that the Taliban could imminently take Kabul and seize the airport that would provide the only means of escape. By Saturday night, the number of UK diplomats and government officials in the country had dropped from 500 to the “low tens”, including the ambassador, Sir Laurie Bristow. The Foreign Office had previously intended for Sir Laurie to remain in Kabul airport, along with a small team of officials and alongside other international diplomats. An RAF mission to evacuate British nationals had been due to span until the end of the month. But sources said the plan had changed as the situation deteriorated significantly, and UK officials feared the airport could be overrun.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • Britain prepares to end diplomatic mission in Afghanistan as Taliban close on Kabul – Sunday Times

Analysis:

Ben Wallace: We have not betrayed Afghanistan

“Watching Afghanistan slide slowly towards civil war and the Taliban advance is a painful experience for all of us. It is especially painful for the men and women of our Armed Forces who fought over the past 20 years. Soldiers develop a unique bond in combat, and contrary to some people’s prejudices they do also really care for the people they are there to protect. So I am not surprised that my fellow veterans in Parliament feel as strongly as they do. The sense of frustration and powerlessness is shared by us all. Some former service personnel have championed the cause of Afghan interpreters and some are calling for a unilateral fighting return.” – Sunday Telegraph

Covid vaccine for teenagers before school returns

“All 16 and 17-year-olds in England will be offered a Covid jab in the next week, with the aim of building up immunity before the return to school or college next month. They will be given a single dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Secondary schools are also being put on alert to provide a vaccination programme to all children aged 12 and over. At present, jabs are offered only to children with health conditions or who live with people at high risk. But last week officials in Whitehall met to discuss the prospect of extending the vaccination programme to all those in the age group.” – Sunday Times

  • More than half of Russell Group universities make face masks mandatory – Daily Telegraph
  • Covid risk from trains could kill hundreds, rail chiefs warn – Daily Telegraph
  • The ‘grim’ wait for NHS treatment will get worse before it gets better – Sunday Times
  • New Covid variants ‘will set us back a year’, experts warn UK government – The Observer
  • Carrie Johnson urges pregnant women to get vaccinated as she receives second dose – The i Paper

Comment:

Plymouth shooting: thousands of boys drawn to ‘incel’ sites urging them to kill women

“Boys as young as 13 are being radicalised by the “incel” internet subculture believed to have motivated the Plymouth gunman Jake Davison, an expert in extremism has warned. New figures reveal that three of the biggest forums frequented by those who support the woman-hating ideology are pulling in half a million clicks from UK visitors each month. On Thursday, when Davison, 22, shot five people dead, radicalised “incels” goaded others to commit mass shootings. Incels are people, usually young men, who are “involuntarily celibate” and blame women for depriving them of sex.” – Sunday Times

  • Reddit suspended Jake Davison’s account the day before shooting after he harassed 16-year-old girl – Daily Telegraph

Comment:

Sunak 1) Chancellor urged to have a snap Budget to head off ‘outlandish’ splurge on green policies…

“Rishi Sunak is being urged to deliver a Budget just days before the COP26 summit to stop Boris Johnson making ‘outlandish’ spending pledges at the huge climate change event. Government insiders revealed that the Chancellor is being privately advised to tie the Prime Minister’s hands by making a financial statement on the eve of the environmental summit in Glasgow this November. It would be his second Budget in just seven months after the pandemic forced Mr Sunak to postpone the planned 2020 Autumn Statement to March this year. But a Government source said last night: ‘Rishi is being advised strongly that a second Budget [this year] would be the best thing to do.” – Mail on Sunday

Comment:

Sunak 2) … and Red Wall Tories threaten revolt if he hikes fuel duty this autumn – ending ten-year freeze on tax on motorists

“The Chancellor faces a Tory ‘Red Wall’ revolt if he dares to unveil a fuel-duty hike this autumn. Rishi Sunak has been told by Northern Tory colleagues to scrap any plans to end the ten-year freeze on the tax on motorists. The shot across Mr Sunak’s bows comes just days after Tories from the North and Midlands vented their anger at the impact on their voters of the Government’s ‘net zero’ environmental plans. In his Budget statement earlier this year, Mr Sunak cancelled controversial plans to raise the 58p-a-litre fuel tariff which has been frozen since March 2011. ” – Mail on Sunday

SNP faces fresh scrutiny over £55m unpaid Gupta debt

“Nicola Sturgeon is facing fresh scrutiny over her dealings with Sanjeev Gupta after the troubled steel tycoon failed to meet a pledge to set aside £55m for Britain’s last aluminium smelter. Mr Gupta’s GFG Alliance struck a ­taxpayer-backed deal with Scottish ministers in 2016 for the Fort William smelter and associated hydropower plant for £330m. Holyrood also handed the businessman a 114,000-acre Scottish hunting estate as part of the deal that is now held in an offshore company. In return, Mr Gupta committed to making regular payments into a “project account” overseen by the Scottish government for the development of the business.” – Daily Telegraph

Free speech victory for Eton teacher Will Knowland sacked over gender lecture

“A teacher who was sacked by Eton over a provocative lecture on gender has been cleared by the watchdog of professional misconduct in a verdict hailed as a victory for free speech in schools. Will Knowland, 35, was referred to the Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA) over his lecture, which was called The Patriarchy Paradox. The TRA, an executive agency of the Department for Education, can impose a lifetime ban from the profession. In a letter to Knowland, an English teacher, the TRA said: “The determination meeting has concluded that your case should be closed with no further action.”” – Sunday Times

GB News advertising boycott backfires as more people likely to watch

“Attempts to pressure companies into ditching advertisements on GB News are making many people more likely to watch the channel, according to a poll. A survey of 1,000 people found that 29 per cent were more likely to watch GB News following the boycott, compared to 14 per cent who said they were less likely to tune in. The findings suggest that the campaign designed to damage the new centre-right broadcaster may backfire. A series of firms, including Nivea, Kopparberg and Ikea, withdrew or suspended advertising campaigns on GB News following pressure by activist groups such as Stop Funding Hate and Led by Donkeys.” – Sunday Telegraph

News in brief: