Monday evening news briefing: 'Summer of drift' over bills

·6 min read
Your evening briefing from The Telegraph
Your evening briefing from The Telegraph

Good evening. With growing calls for urgent help to address the cost-of-living crisis, might there be an early emergency budget? Don't count on it. Meanwhile, a devastating blast in south London has destroyed a house and claimed at least one young life.

Evening briefing: Today's essential headlines

Deadly house explosion | A girl, believed to be aged just four, has been killed and three more people are injured after an explosion caused a house to collapse in south London. Neighbours reported a strong smell of gas and feeling dizzy in the days before the blast. Our story has the latest developments and pictures showing the scale of the damage.

The big story: 'Summer of drift' in cost-of-living crisis

After his belated honeymoon, Boris Johnson is back at work today. In his absence, calls for more urgent government help to tackle the escalating cost-of-living crisis have grown louder.

But with Downing Street insisting the prime minister has no plans to introduce major new fiscal measures before the end of his premiership, there is what Britain's biggest business lobby group described as a "power vacuum".

There are four weeks until Mr Johnson's successor is crowned – and any hopes of swift intervention to address rising energy costs and soaring inflation looked to have been quashed today.

Figures close to Mr Johnson and the two Tory leadership candidates, Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak, indicated they would not meet to discuss any announcements before the new prime minister is unveiled on September 5.

As Dominic Penna reports, sources close to both campaigns insisted they were working on the details of what they would do in office, while No 10 denied Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi was preparing prospective measures for the new PM.

Tony Danker, CBI director-general, said a "summer of drift" risked leaving households uncertain how they would pay their energy bills.

Both Ms Truss and Mr Sunak are promoting new policies to win over their party voters – but the pair have clashed over the timing and extent of potential tax cuts and other financial support packages.

A supporter of frontrunner Ms Truss today suggested that "handouts" may form part of her plans for an emergency budget to ease the crisis, while an ally of Rishi Sunak said the former Chancellor will ensure "bold" economic interventions on a similar scale to Covid measures.

Lauren Almeida looks at the options on the table – and how much households could save.

Electricity ration threat

On top of soaring prices, Britain faces a mounting risk of energy shortages. Norway today set out plans to ration electricity exports, saying it will focus on refilling dams to preserve its low reserves of hydropower ahead of power production when levels fall below seasonal averages – effectively limiting exports to western Europe. The country is one of Europe's top exporters of electricity, but water levels are already so low that the government has been forced to act to prevent winter shortages. James Warrington reports how Britain relies on hydropower from Norway through an interconnector under the North Sea.

Interest-only mortgages

As households tighten their belts further still, homeowners and buyers are racing to switch to interest-only mortgages in response to soaring mortgage rates. But experts warned borrowers could be playing with fire as they risk becoming trapped and unable to pay off mortgages. There is also bad news for landlords, as lenders pull buy-to-let deals from the market. Property correspondent Melissa Lawford explains the options.

Comment and analysis

Around the world: Russia's 'clandestine networks'

Russia is forming 40 "volunteer battalions" to make up for losses in its regular army, offering high pay and short-term contracts to lure new recruits. Local officials from Vladivostok to Moscow have been put in charge of sourcing the troops and are pulling in volunteers without combat experience, according to Russian media. Meanwhile, a report reveals that Russian spies are setting up "clandestine networks" to source military kit as Moscow's war machine is reliant on Western technology.

Monday interview: Sex, violence and power politics – Are you ready to enter the House of the Dragon?

The £160million Game of Thrones prequel is almost here – and it is strong stuff. Expect power struggles, epic battles and some rather un-medieval levels of intimacy. Chris Harvey talks to its stars. Read the full interview

Matt Smith as Daemon Targaryen in House of the Dragon - HBO
Matt Smith as Daemon Targaryen in House of the Dragon - HBO

Sport briefing: How Haaland is changing Man City

For much of this summer, the footballing world has wondered how Erling Haaland would adapt his game to suit Manchester City. Perhaps it was the wrong way round. The main lesson from City’s opening-weekend win at West Ham was not that Haaland is changing for his new team, but they are changing for him. Sam Dean explores how he is making the side far more dangerous. After Manchester United's dismal defeat to Brighton, Jason Burt argues the club have failed Erik ten Hag.

Editor's choice

  1. Milestone | Why I decided to spend the whole year celebrating my 50th

  2. Marriage Diaries | My husband ogles younger women – what should I do?

  3. Midlife Fitness Files | Pilates helped fix my arthritic neck and shoulder

Business briefing: Revolt at Beijing's tracking app

Twitter founder Jack Dorsey has called for an "end" to China's ruling Communist Party in response to the country's strict, app-enforced zero-Covid policies. China's mandatory health-tracking app shows users a "green code" if they are allowed to travel and a "red code" if they are required to immediately self-isolate or enter quarantine. As Gareth Corfield explores, Chinese authorities are reportedly using the health app as a means of controlling dissenters and protesters.

Tonight starts now

Closing the Commonwealth Games | The 2022 Commonwealth Games will come to an end tonight night after 11 days of sporting action with a production celebrating the musical heritage of the West Midlands. Mercury Prize-nominee Laura Mvula will give a special performance of a newly commissioned track inspired by Nick Cave's Red Right Hand, the theme song to Peaky Blinders. Read more of what to expect to round off celebrations after a day in which England's Sam Ward helped fire the men's hockey team to a third successive Commonwealth bronze.

Three things for you

And finally... for this evening's downtime

Glass half full | It might seem self-evident that those with an optimistic outlook tend to enjoy happier lives than those of a less sunny disposition. The effect, however, is more striking than might be supposed. James Le Fanu explains the science behind why optimists live longer – and it comes down to two factors.

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