Thursday evening UK news briefing: SNP's anger at money for Ukraine weapons

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

Evening briefing: Today's essential headlines

The big story: SNP's ire at money for Ukraine weapons

Joe Biden has announced $800 million in new weapons for Ukraine.

Boris Johnson vowed Britain will spend 2.5pc of its GDP on defence by 2030.

Yet the same enthusiasm for expenditure to back Ukraine does not appear to extend north of the border.

Speaking from the Nato summit in Madrid, Boris Johnson warned of a "very different era" of insecurity in Europe, as he said the UK would boost its spending in the wake of the war in Ukraine in what officials believe will amount to an increase of £55 billion cumulatively.

Mr Johnson's comments will put pressure on other Nato leaders who have not yet reached the previous 2pc target, as the Kremlin's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said a new "iron curtain" is descending between Russia and the West.

Yet Nicola Sturgeon's ministers have said no more of their money should be given to Ukraine for weapons after being pressured by the Treasury to hand over £65 million.

Kate Forbes, the Scottish Finance Secretary, said she had agreed to provide the money "on this occasion" but lashed out at the Treasury, making clear "this must not be seen as any kind of precedent."

At the summit, Mr Biden mistakenly referred to Switzerland joining Nato instead of Sweden in his latest gaffe during a speech.

The US president was praising two new additions - Finland and Sweden - to the alliance when he incorrectly referred to Switzerland. Watch it here.

As world leaders have done their best to appear statesmanlike, a poll showed Mr Johnson's favourability among Ukrainians is almost as high as Volodymyr Zelensky's.

The Prime Minister was viewed "very" or "somewhat" favourably by nine out of 10 Ukrainians surveyed, in comparison to 93pc who thought the same of the Ukrainian president.

Snake Island exit

On the front line, Russia has said their forces have withdrawn from Snake Island in a move that could be pivotal in ending the blockade on Ukraine's Black Sea ports.

Moscow's defence ministry said today its troops left the rocky outcrop as a "gesture of goodwill" to demonstrate that Russia is not impeding the United Nations' effort to open a humanitarian corridor to export grains out of the country.

But the Operational Command of Ukraine's armed forces in the south said the remaining Russian forces fled the outpost on a speedboat after a number of missile attacks.

This special report reveals why Ukraine just would not let Snake Island go, while Dominic Nicholls analyses why Ukraine's Snake Island victory could be a major blow for Vladimir Putin.

'Disgusting sight'

Perhaps the retreat from Snake Island explains some of the cattiness displayed by Russia's leader after Mr Johnson mocked him at the G7 summit earlier this week, where he joked about taking his jacket off to emulate Putin's topless photo opportunities.

Putin said Mr Johnson would be a "disgusting sight" with his shirt off, after his joke with Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Prime Minister.

He later added that Mr Putin was evil, that he was an example of "toxic masculinity" and that he would not have invaded Ukraine if he was a woman.

Yet Michael Deacon suggests that if Putin were female he would be just as brutal.

Bizarrely there was one former world leader prepared to defend Putin - well, a sporting one - as ex-Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone said he would "take a bullet" for the Russian president and described him as "a first-class person".

Comment and analysis

Around the world: Xi arrives in silenced Hong Kong

Hong Kong has overcome its challenges and "risen from the ashes", China's President Xi Jinping said today, as he arrived in the former British colony to celebrate 25 years since its return to Chinese rule. Xi and his wife, Peng Liyuan, were greeted by children waving flowers and Chinese and Hong Kong flags who chanted, "Welcome, welcome, warmly welcome" in Mandarin. One of Hong Kong's last remaining opposition groups cancelled the only pro-democracy protest planned for Xi's visit after its members were threatened by national security police.

Thursday interview

'Ghislaine Maxwell forced me into a room to be raped – and smiled'

Sarah Ransome, second from right, and Elizabeth Stein, right, outside the New York courthouse - AP
Sarah Ransome, second from right, and Elizabeth Stein, right, outside the New York courthouse - AP

One of Jeffrey Epstein's victims, Sarah Ransome, explains why the socialite's sentencing was a cause for celebration – and tells Josie Ensor why she no longer fears her

Read the interview

Sport briefing: Britons victorious at Wimbledon

A host of British players are in action today across the grounds at Wimbledon on day four. Heather Watson made it through to the third round after beating Wang Qiang, while Katie Boulter was also victorious on Centre Court. Follow the action here. Meanwhile, Chelsea's new owners have commissioned an investigation into accusations of a toxic culture of bullying within their marketing team after it emerged the former head of the club’s television channel took his own life. In boxing, Anthony Joshua has revealed that he sacked his training team, including long-time trainer Rob McCracken, because no one told him he "was losing" his heavyweight title fight against Oleksandr Usyk.

Editor's choice

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  3. The Glam-Ma Makeover | What this superstar makeup artist can teach midlife women

Business briefing: More workers to pay higher rate tax

Lots of data today on the pressure on household finances. Almost two million people have been pushed into paying higher and additional rate tax since the last general election. Since 2019, the number of people paying 40pc or 45pc tax has risen from 4.25 million to more than 6.1 million workers, official figures from HM Revenue & Customs have shown. This graph shows how tax rises are outpacing income growth. Indeed, families suffered their longest-ever squeeze on disposable incomes even before Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine compounded the shock by sending energy bills soaring. Tom Stevenson reveals how to protect your money as a recession screeches into view.

Tonight starts now

Barbecue booze | Last week's heatwave gave us a chance to cook and eat outside for the first time this year, and to crack open solidly built, fully ripe, no-nonsense reds to go with chargrilled steak. This week's weather has seen many more opportunities. There are several styles of full-bodied red that particularly shine with a barbecued steak. They are not usually a warm-weather drink, but these go perfectly with a red-meat feast. Here are the best-value red wines for a summer barbecue.

Three things for you

And finally... for this evening's downtime

The Princess, review | Joey King is terrific as the princess who ploughs her way through an entire castle full of baddies to avoid marrying a sociopathic prince. Robbie Collin watched the tale of a damsel entertainingly dishing out heaps of distress.

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