Friday morning UK news briefing: The true cost of lockdown

·7 min read
Morning UK news briefing: Today's top headlines from The Telegraph
Morning UK news briefing: Today's top headlines from The Telegraph

Welcome to your early morning news briefing from The Telegraph - a round-up of the top stories we are covering today. To receive twice-daily briefings by email, sign up to our Front Page newsletter for free.

Good morning. Throughout the pandemic, a fierce debate raged over whether the lockdowns put in place by the Government were worth the cost to our society. Today, new evidence suggests that the lockdowns may be causing more deaths than Covid.

How closely have you followed this week's news? Try our quiz. For the latest Your View, we asked for your advice to A-level students who did not achieve their desired grades. These are some of the best responses.

Inside track with Chopper's Politics email | Audio | Crossword

Excess deaths hit 1,000 a week post-lockdown

While as a country we spent much of 2020 and 2021 stuck in our homes, many asked if the negative consequences of that policy might outweigh the benefits of slowing the spread of Covid. Today, official figures for excess deaths from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that around 1,000 more people than usual are currently dying each week from conditions other than the virus. The Telegraph understands that the Department of Health has ordered an investigation into the figures amid concern that the deaths are linked to delays to and deferment of treatment for conditions such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Over the past two months, the number of excess deaths not from Covid dwarfs the number linked to the virus. If those figures continue, the number of deaths will exceed those from the Omicron wave by the end of this year. The British Heart Foundation said it was “deeply concerned” by the findings, while the Stroke Association said it had been anticipating a rise in deaths for a while.

The surge in deaths comes at an awful time for the NHS which is still trying to clear an enormous backlog of treatments and appointments created by the lockdowns, with figures released last week showing that a record 29,317 patients were forced to endure 12-hour waits in accident and emergency in July, a rise of a third in a month. The effects are creeping into other parts of the state, too, with news emerging that funerals are being delayed because of a crisis in registry offices and bodies are being left in cold storage

Lenient A-level marking to stay another year

A-Level students could be given more lenient marking next year to ensure fairness, the exam watchdog has said. Pupils who collected their results yesterday after sitting the first exams in three years faced tougher grading than the last two years, but more lenient marking than in 2019. They were also given advance information in some exams and formulae and equations sheets for some tests, in recognition of the disruption caused to their learning by pandemic restrictions. However, if the Government was to return fully to 2019 exam conditions in 2023, the next cohort to take exams would suffer more than this year’s group because it would require the share of A* and A grades to fall 10.9 per cent, following an 8.4 per cent fall this year.

Amol Rajan: the BBC man with a finger in every pie

While the Conservative leadership race drags on for week after week, it’s taken the BBC just days to announce Jeremy Paxman’s replacement as the host of University Challenge. Amol Rajan now has an impressive string of programmes to his name, so where on Earth did he come from and how did he become so everpresent? Stephen Armstrong finds out and asks whether Rajan really can keep doing it all.

Also in the news: Today's other headlines

Consumer misery | A record-breaking economic gloom is gripping Britain as households brace for a “nightmare” winter of soaring costs. Consumer confidence has plummeted to its lowest ever level as the Bank of England increases interest rates to counter rocketing inflation, according to a closely watched survey from the data company GfK.
Meanwhile, separate data showed that a host of industries are in contraction in a sign the country is teetering on the brink of recession.

Around the world: Warnings of nuclear danger

Ukrainian intelligence has warned Russia is plotting a “false flag” attack on Europe’s largest nuclear power station today as Volodymyr Zelensky urged the leaders of the UN and Turkey to intervene and secure its safety. Video footage also emerged that appeared to show a large number of military trucks inside the plant, despite Moscow’s denied it was using Zaporizhzhia as a “shield” for its army equipment including ammunition. Meanwhile, Joe Barnes asks if the West is losing interest in its backing of Ukraine.

Comment and analysis

Today's PlusWord – and yesterday's solution

Try today's PlusWord, which our deputy puzzles editor Michael Baker solved in 1min 54sec. Can you beat him? Yesterday's solution: DINGO.

Sport briefing: Man Utd close in on Real Madrid star

Manchester United are closing in on the £60 million signing of Real Madrid midfielder Casimero as well as Dutch youngster Cody Gakpo from PSV. The twin moves come after a disastrous start to the season left the record English champions sitting bottom of the Premier League table. Jason Burt and Mike McGrath have the exclusive details on the proposed transfers. In tennis, Emma Raducanu’s strong run at the Cincinnati Masters has come to end after she lost to Jessica Pegula.

Editor's choice

  1. 'Therapy-speak’ ruined arts | How psychobabble is sucking nuance out of art

  2. Scurge of glamping| How the middle class have ruined camping

  3. Losing Control | 20 plants and flowers that should come with a health warning

Business briefing: Slashing City of London red tape

Liz Truss should create a new City super-regulator to liberate businesses from red tape if she becomes prime minister, the former chairman of Lloyds has said. The intervention comes amid a growing debate over how, if at all, the next prime minister should reform regulation of Britain’s finance industry. Ben Marlow, however, warns it could spark huge financial instability.

Tonight's dinner

Moroccan-spiced bean soup | A satisfying dish by Xanthe Clay that can be on the table in 30 minutes.

Gardening tips: Guide to surviving drought

With some of the lowest recorded rainfall in the past six months across large areas of the country, gardeners have had to learn how to target their watering. Not only has the drought caused plants to suffer, but the intense heat and light have also taken their toll on many favourites, such as roses and begonias. Tom Brown has some top tips to try around the garden to help plants deal with extremes of drought and deluge.

How to get glowing skin at 60

And finally... for this morning's downtime

Missing in action | Can the 007 series continue without James Bond? In Kim Sherwood's novel Double or Nothing, 'Miss' Moneypenny has become 'Ms' – and is now a Jaguar-driving spymaster. Jake Kerridge explores the other changes in his review.

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