The ongoing fallout from the crisis in Afghanistan dominates Thursday’s national press headlines (19 August) after parliament was recalled to debate the issue.
Prime minister Boris Johnson and Dominc Raab bear the brunt of the criticism, with US president Joe Biden also under fire for his role in the withdrawal of troops from the country, which has allowed the Taliban to seize power.
There is also news of the effectiveness of current vaccines on transmission of Covid-19, while VisitEngland has laid bare the impact of the pandemic on visitation to the country’s top attractions.
Most national titles also carry prominent tributes to comedian Sean Lock, whose death aged 58 was announced on Wednesday.
Here are the key national headlines from Thursday’s national press (19 August).
Johnson and Raab face flak for Afghanistan response
Prime minister Boris Johnson and foreign secretary Dominic Raab come in for widespread criticism across Thursday’s national press for their response to the rapid escalation in the crisis in Afghanistan at the weekend, which saw the Taliban seize power. Parliament was recalled on Wednesday to debate the issue, with Johnson and Raab – who did not immediately return from holiday when the Taliban’s rapid advance on capital Kabul went all-but unchallenged – facing steep scrutiny from both the opposition and members of their own party. (various)
’Chaotic’ Afghanistan withdrawal unavoidable – Biden
US president Joe Biden has defended his administration’s handling of the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan after nearly 20 years. Speaking to ABC News in the US, Biden said: "The idea that somehow there’s a way to have gotten out without chaos ensuring, I don’t know how that happens." British MPs, meanwhile, branded the US’s withdrawal "shameful" when parliament was recalled on Wednesday, with Boris Johnson suggesting the US was to blame for the chaos. (BBC News / The Times)
Significant drop in visitors to English tourist attractions
England’s tourist attractions saw a 65% drop in visitor numbers last year, compared with 2019, new figures from VisitEngland’s annual survey has revealed. The decline, owing to Covid, was most pronounced at museums, galleries and places of worship, many of which rely on overseas visitors. Visitors to the Tower of London, which has consistently been the UK’s most visited attraction since 2009, fell 85% sending the tower tumbling to 10th in the list. London attractions were hardest hit owing to their reliance on foreign tourists, said VisitEngland. (The Telegraph)
Israel tightens Covid rules as cases surge
Israel is now requiring anyone over the age of three to show proof of vaccination or a negative test for Covid-19 to enter a wide range of indoor spaces, including restaurants, cafes, museums, libraries, gyms and swimming pools. It comes as the Delta variant spreads in what is one of the most highly-vaccinated countries in the world. Cases hit a six-month high of nearly 9,000 on Monday, and there has been a sharp uptick in Covid-19 related deaths. Israel is currently on the UK government’s green watchlist; it was one of 12 countries placed on the UK’s first green list in mid-May but was placed on the watchlist earlier this month. The country has classified the UK high-risk in terms of Covid-19 infection, which has seen it reintroduce a quarantine requirement. (BBC News)
Vaccination less effective at halting spread of Delta variant
A new study by the University of Oxford has found full vaccination against Covid-19 through one of the approved vaccines in the UK is less effective at reducing the risk of transmission of the Delta variant of Covid-19 as it was the Alpha (Kent) variant. According to The Telegraph, the study concluded that those who are fully-jabbed could be as capable as passing on Covid as those who are unvaccinated, although full vaccination does make it less likely they will contract the virus in the first place. (The Telegraph)
Tributes paid to comedian Sean Lock, 58
The Metro led widespread tributes to comedian Sean Lock, whose death at the age of 58 was announced on Wednesday. Lock died at home from cancer, surrounded by his family, his management company said. Tributes poured in, with the Metro carrying heartfelt tales from close friends including Lee Mack and 8 Out of 10 Cats co-star Jon Richardson, who said he idolised the comic before joining the circuit himself. Bill Bailey, meanwhile, who met Lock more than 30 years ago, paid his own highly emotional tribute speaking to BBC Radion 5 Live’s Naga Munchetty. (The Metro / BBC)
Spanish village’s ’rural life’ warning to tourists
The mayor of the Spanish village of Ribadesella has revealed some visitors complaints about the realities of spending time in the country’s rural north. Ramon Canal said the mayor’s office recently took several calls from a woman complaining about a rooster waking her up at 5am. Other complaints included braying donkeys and cow mess. Far from addressing the complaints, the village has launched a poster campaign calling on visitors to "assume all the risks" of rural life, with one poster reading: "If you can’t handle all this, you may not be in the right place." (The Guardian)