Friday briefing: Push for meat-free day at schools | World news

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Top story: ‘We should eat less, better meat’

Hello, I’m Warren Murray, and here is how things are shaping up today.

All state schools in England would be required to offer a plant-based menu one day a week, under a suggestion put forward by the Soil Association. “We know that children would benefit nutritionally from eating more beans, pulses, and plant-based proteins,” said Rob Percival from the organic food and farming group. “The climate would also benefit – we should all be eating less and better meat.”

Recent reports from the UK Committee on Climate Change and EAT-Lancet have recommended a shift from meat to plant proteins to fight global warming. The SA says the few schools already doing a no-meat day sometimes serve up less healthy lunches such as cheese-laden pizza – underlining the need for kitchens to be given support by the Department for Education to provide more imaginative, healthier meals. The DfE has started reviewing school food standards in light of latest evidence on the importance of reducing meat and sugar consumption and boosting fibre in Britons’ diets.

Separately, researchers say Britain should consider a “no jab, no school policy” to shore up vaccination rates. They warn that immunisation is at risk of dropping to levels where measles outbreaks will happen. UK experts have questioned the idea of making vaccination compulsory, arguing it is better to promote it positively than risk alienating parents and their children.


‘Pass or fail’ – Theresa May will agree to a timetable for the election of a new Conservative leader after taking her Brexit legislation back to parliament in the week of 3 June, “whether it passes or whether it fails”, the chairman of Tory backbenchers has said. Another member of the 1922 Committee said May understood she would have to name a quick date for her departure if the withdrawal bill was voted down, with a leadership contest before the summer. Boris Johnson has confirmed he will put his hand up – and we have compiled a guide to who’s going up (Penny Mordaunt, Dominic “Ready” Raab) and who’s going down (Jeremy Hunt, Amber Rudd) in the leadership stakes. Carolyn Fairbairn, the CBI boss, says the political mess over Brexit is a “crushing disaster” with investor confidence at its lowest since the financial crash a decade ago. “From the heart of business to the heart of politics, resolve this gridlock, do whatever it takes and do it fast.”


Get ready, Tehran’s militias told – Iran has warned armed groups under its influence in Iraq to “prepare for proxy war”, the Guardian has learned. Moves to mobilise Iran’s allies in Iraq and elsewhere in the region are understood to have triggered fears in Washington that its Middle East interests are facing a pressing threat. Intelligence sources told the Guardian that leaders of militia groups comprising Iraq’s Popular Mobilisation Units (PMUs) met with Qassem Suleimani, head of Iran’s powerful Quds force, who has led Tehran’s efforts to consolidate its presence in Iraq and Syria. The US has ordered a naval battle group and B-52 bombers to the region, and the UK has raised its threat levels for British troops in Iraq. Tehran’s ambassador to the United Nations, Majid Takht-e Ravanchi, told US broadcaster NPR that Iran was not interested in escalating regional tensions but had the “right to defend ourselves”.


Farage bankrolled – The leave-campaigning insurance tycoon Arron Banks provided Nigel Farage with a furnished Chelsea home, a car and driver, and money to promote him in America, Channel 4 News has alleged. According to invoices, emails and other documents, Banks, who regularly bankrolled Farage’s former party, Ukip, spent about £450,000 in the year after the Brexit referendum, when Farage had quit as Ukip leader, the programme said. Banks is under investigation by the National Crime Agency over allegations of criminal offences by him and his unofficial leave campaign in the EU referendum. Farage refused to comment on the claims while Banks dismissed them as a “smear”.


Aussies head to ballot box – The two major parties are neck and neck as voters in Australia heads into the general election tomorrow. The centre-right Coalition government, led by Scott Morrison as prime minister, started out well behind in the polls – the cost of bitter internal divisions over issues including climate change, as well as the sacking of two of its own prime ministers (and they don’t even have Brexit!). During the election campaign, the Coalition has narrowed the gap to the opposition Labor party (which doesn’t have a “u”) through the five-week election campaign, with the latest Guardian Essential poll putting Labor ahead of the Coalition just 51.5% to 48.5%. The campaign took a poignant turn with the death on Thursday night of Bob Hawke, a totemic former Labor prime minister who was beloved of progressives for his social reforms, and admired by conservatives for transforming the country’s economy, as well as being a hugely popular public figure. If Labor wins this election, its leader, Bill Shorten, will become the country’s fourth prime minister in four years.


Metro shores up balance sheet – Metro Bank has quickly raised £375m from a fundraising call it hopes will quash rumours about its financial health after a run on savings accounts and deposit boxes. A bank spokeswoman said the share placing closed early on Thursday evening, less than three hours after it started. The bank offered shares at a price of £5 each, 14% below the stock’s closing price on Wednesday. Metro in January announced it had miscategorised its risk on £900m worth of commercial and buy-to-let property loans – prompting investigations by regulators. The lender has also been feeling pressure from low interest rates, tough competition and regulatory requirements.

Today in Focus podcast: Mum and me

Guardian columnist Aditya Chakrabortty, the son of two Indian immigrants, explains why he felt so frustrated with a recent report from Tony Blair’s thinktank. And Katharine Murphy previews tomorrow’s Australian election.

Lunchtime read: ‘I would love to be a crowd consultant’

“Whatever happened to the Venezuelan revolution?” asks Simon Jenkins. “Two weeks ago, we were assured by the media it was all over, bar the shouting. I can only assume that Nicolás Maduro’s opponent, Juan Guaidó, miscalculated … The opposition was forced to retreat and lick its wounds. The greatest of historical fallacies is to confuse crowds with power. Tiananmen Square did not bring down the Chinese regime. Millions of Egyptians in Cairo’s Tahrir Square merely won more dictatorship. The assiduous demonstrators on the streets of Khartoum are still waiting to see in which direction Sudan’s guns are turning.

Juan Guaido, whose Venezuelan rebellion fizzled.



Juan Guaidó, whose Venezuelan rebellion fizzled. Photograph: Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty Images

“We sometimes forget that crowds can cut two ways … Maduro was able to stage an apparently sizeable rally in his own support. I believe that where the crowd can be most effective is when deployed tactically against a specific, winnable goal. Local crowds in the north of England have all but stopped fracking. Anti-GM food campaigners won their war in Europe. Demonstrators against the Sackler family in New York are wrecking its reputation and cutting arts funding. Where power is shamed by publicity, it can concede ground without too much inconvenience. I would love to be a ‘crowd consultant’.”

Sport

Defending US PGA champion Brooks Koepka has fired an early warning shot to his rivals, with a first round 63 to head the leaderboard at the end of day one. The world No 3 finished one stroke ahead of New Zealand’s Danny Lee, with Tiger Woods blaming illness for a rusty 72.

Sunderland have progressed to the League One playoff final after a tense 1-0 aggregate victory over Portsmouth, in which a fan was ejected for attempting to assault one of the Sunderland players. Meanwhile, Gareth Southgate has consulted his England squad over the players’ potential response to racial abuse, with the squad reportedly electing to rule out pitch walk offs as a form of protest.

The overall top-ten has changed entirely at the Giro d’Italia, after a successful breakaway group of 13 riders saw Italian rider Fausto Masnada pick up the stage victory, and compatriot Valerio Conti move into the pink jersey. And Nick Kyrgios has been defaulted from a second-round match at the Italian Open after hurling a chair on to the court following a game penalty for alleged verbal abuse.

Business

Asian stocks were mixed overnight with Japan up 1.5% but shares in Shanghai continuing to suffer from uncertainty about the US-China trade dispute. The FTSE100 is tipped to drop 0.25% at the opening bell while the pound is weaker again at $1.279 and €1.144.

The papers

May’s misery is on the front pages today. The Telegraph reports: “Tory ‘men in grey suits’ tell tearful may her time is up”, the Daily Mirror attempt is: “May ends in June”, and the FT says: “May to set timetable for No 10 exit after June vote on withdrawal bill”.

Guardian front page, Friday 17 May 2019



Guardian front page, Friday 17 May 2019.

Boris Johnson’s pitch for the job leads the Times: “May pleads for time as Johnson targets No 10”, the Mail: “Boris shows his hand”, and the i: “Johnson: make me your prime minister”. The Guardian features a story about May setting a timetable for her departure form the top job, but leads with its exclusive: “Iran tells militias to prepare for proxy war in Middle East”.

The Express doesn’t mention Johnson or May on the front page, instead leading on a campaign by a mother whose child has cystic fibrosis: “Give children drugs to keep them alive,” it says. The Sun features leads on a story labelling navy leaders a “Bunch of anchors” for sacking a navy “hero” over misuse of a car.

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