Monday briefing: South Korea simulates missile attack on North

Top story: James Mattis warns of ‘massive’ response

Good morning and welcome to the Guardian’s daily briefing. I’m Martin Farrer and these are the stories making waves this Monday morning.

South Korea has responded to Sunday’s nuclear test by North Korea with a huge show of military force as tensions in the region increased. The drills involved launching missiles in a simulated strike against its northern neighbour’s Punggye-ri nuclear test site. Joint drills with US forces are planned, military chiefs said. Seoul also appears poised to approve further deployments of a US missile defence system which will anger China and Russia, who think the Thaad system could be used by the Americans to spy on them.

US defence secretary James Mattis said Washington would respond to any attack on American soil with “massive” force while Donald Trump said Pyongyang’s actions were “very hostile”. The South Korean president, Moon Jae-in, held telephone talks with Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe after agreed greater pressure is needed on North Korea, including stronger United Nations resolutions.

In Beijing, Xi Jinping is facing a lack of options over how to deal with the North Koreans according to academics and China-watchers, one of whom says the Chinese are “pissed off” with their bind. Our correspondent Tom Phillips dissects what Xi might do.

Justice system shake-up – A report into deaths in police custody will find that families who have lost loved ones have been failed by the system in their battle for answers, the Guardian has learned. The report, which is yet to be published, recommends major reforms such as a ban on those detained under mental health powers being held in police cells and being transported in police vehicles, and free legal advice for families of those who have died in custody. The report by Dame Elish Angiolini QC, which is nearly 300 pages long, will be a landmark in police-community relations when it is published.

Brexit battle – Theresa May and David Davis will attempt to navigate a potentially stormy week by warning any Tory backbenchers thinking about rebelling over the Brexit bill should get into line or risk handing the keys of No 10 to Jeremy Corbyn. Critics of the European Union (withdrawal bill), which will be given a second reading on Thursday, say it does not allow for enough parliamentary scrutiny of new laws. But the Brexit secretary will use a Commons address on Tuesday to say that passing the bill is in the interests of MPs on all sides. The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, upped the ante on Sunday by saying that the British people needed to be “educated” about the consequences of Brexit.

A poll by the thinktank British Future today shows that four out of five people who voted leave in the EU referendum would accept migration of high-skilled workers from the bloc to increase or stay the same. But remain and leave supporters back a reduction of low-skilled workers.

The big walkout – Staff at two branches of McDonald’s will go on strike today after a ballot in favour of action amid concerns over low wages and the use of zero-hours contracts. Around 40 staff in Cambridge and Crayford in south-east London are demanding a wage of at least £10 an hour, more secure hours and union recognition. Rail workers at Southern, Arriva and Merseyrail are also on strike today in disputes over the role of guards and driver-only services. The action on will disrupt travel as people return to work after the holidays and schools reopen.

UN aid blocked – The crisis engulfing Rohingya Muslims in north-west Myanmar appears set to deepen after it emerged that the UN has been prevented from delivering aid to the area amid a bloody army crackdown. The UN’s Myanmar office told the Guardian’s south-east correspondent, Oliver Holmes, that deliveries were suspended “because government field-visit restrictions rendered us unable to distribute assistance”. Pakistani rights activist Malala increased pressure on Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi by saying the “world is waiting” for her to stop the violence.

Retirement call – The TUC says the government should use productivity gains from the greater use of robots and artificial intelligence to reverse planned changes to the state pension age. Before its annual congress starting on Sunday in Brighton, the TUC said innovation ought to bring greater benefits for working people instead of benefiting only the owners of businesses.

Lunchtime read: A Portrait of Britain

What does Britain look like in the late summer of 2017? One answer is suggested by a collection of 100 photographs that will go on display at railway stations and shopping centres across the country until the end of the month. They include Grenfell Tower survivor Corinne Jones, septugenarian Cornish surfer Gwyn Haslock and actor Warwick Davis. They also include a portrait by Sian Davey of her daughter Alice, who has Down’s syndrome, aimed at charting “fear and uncertainty” on the path to unconditional love.


Lewis Hamilton is in pole position in the F1 world championship after winning the Italian grand prix on Sunday, and says he enjoys being the “villain” in the title race. Gareth Southgate is beginning to get the feeling of what it’s like to be the villain of English football as he rejected suggestions that his team lack pride in playing for their country after his team’s lacklusre win over Malta on Friday. They play Slovakia at Wembley tonight.

In the US Open tennis, there’ll be no fairytale return from her drug ban for Maria Sharapova who was beaten by Anastasija Sevastova overnight, while Venus Williams might just get a glorious swansong after she reached the quarter finals.


Investors turned to safe havens such as the yen and gold this morning when the financial markets opened for the first time since news of North Korea’s nuclear test. It was bad news for Japanese stocks, however, and the Nikkei dropped almost 1% because exporters are likely to suffer from the higher currency. Gold hit a 10-month high to stand at $1,335.90.

The pound is up slightly at $1.295 and €1.089.

The papers

The Sun splashes with the troubles of Wayne Rooney after he was arested for drink driving. The headline is “Wayne thinks it’s all over”. The Mirror also features Wayne’s worldy worries, but the main story is that 460 people are dying every year while waiting for a transplant organ.

The FT has a startling headline: “Trump opens door to attack on North Korea after “H-bomb” test. The Telegraph also goes on that story with “US warns it is ready to annihilate North Korea”, while the Times reports Boris Johnson’s response to Kim Jong-un’s tests saying he does not “see an easy military solution” to the problem.

The Mail believes the most important story of the day is news that you could get fined heavily for putting your bins out too early, or filling them too full. To be fair it also mentions North Korea on the front. As does the Guardian, although it splashes on an as yet unpublished report into deaths in police custody which is recommending far reaching reforms.

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