In his Budget, George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, slowed the planned rate of bringing in £12 billion of welfare cuts. He forecast a surplus by 2020. The bank levy would be reduced but a surcharge on bank profits imposed. The total of benefits that a family can claim a year would be cut to £23,000 in London and £20,000 outside it. Tax credits for those with more than two children were to be reduced. Local authority and housing association tenants in England who earn more than £30,000 (£40,000 in London) would have to pay more rent. Maintenance grants for students would be turned into loans. Income tax thresholds were raised. Married couples or civil partners would be able to leave property worth up to £1 million to their children free from inheritance tax. Elected mayors and councils would be given powers to extend shop opening hours. The BBC agreed to fund television licences for people over 75 in a deal to allow the fee to rise with inflation. James Naughtie is to leave Radio 4’s Today, which he has helped to present since 1994. Princess Charlotte of Cambridge was christened, being wheeled to the church in a perambulator once belonging to the Queen.
A minute’s silence was kept in memory of the 52 people killed in the London bombings of 7 July 2005. A man draped in the black flag of Isis, with a little child on his shoulder, was questioned by police in the street outside the Houses of Parliament and sent on his way. HSBC staff in Birmingham on a team-building exercise made a video of themselves pretending to be Isis terrorists killing a captive with a knife; after it was posted online the bank sacked them. Antony Jenkins was sacked as chief executive of Barclays after falling out with the board. Two men were killed by lightning bolts on the same day in separate parts of the Brecon Beacons in Wales.
A 30-mile queue of lorries on the M20 waiting to use the Channel tunnel, known as Operation Stack, was cleared after French strikers returned to work, only for the queue to build up again because 150 migrants had tried to storm the tunnel during the night. A second migrant in a fortnight died trying to get into England by jumping on to a Channel tunnel train. The London Underground went on strike. There was a 7 per cent rise in new car sales in the first six months of the year. Edward Greenfield, the music critic, died aged 86. Val Doonican, the singer, died aged 88. The Forth Bridge was given world heritage status along with ten other sites, including the vineyards of Champagne.
The Greeks voted No in their obscurely worded referendum, by 61.3 per cent to 38.7, with a turnout of 62.5 per cent. The banks remained closed. Yanis Varoufakis resigned as finance minister, saying he thought it would help negotiations and declaring: ‘I shall wear the creditors’ loathing with pride.’ He was replaced by Euclid Tsakalotos. A new deadline to come to an agreement was given to Greece by leaders of eurozone countries. The island of Lesbos (population 86,000) received 1,600 unauthorised migrants landing on its shores in one day, and a total of 15,000 in June. In Ecuador a million people turned out for an open-air Mass said by Pope Francis, who went on to visit Bolivia and Paraguay.
In Nigeria at least 40 people were killed by two bombs in a restaurant and a mosque in Jos, and at least 20 people were killed by a bomb in the city of Zaria. The attacks were blamed on Boko Haram, which had killed at least 200 in the preceding week. In Aden at least 30 died in an aerial bombing raid in a campaign against Houthi rebels by a coalition led by Saudi Arabia, which has killed more than 3,000 since March. In Vienna talks between world powers and Iran to settle an agreement on its nuclear development breached another deadline. Fidel Castro, aged 88, the former president of Cuba, spent four hours talking to experts on cheese.
Hungarian MPs voted to build a fence along the 109-mile border with Serbia to keep out migrants. A woman in Uttar Pradesh died after alleging that two policemen had set her on fire at a police station after she refused to pay a bribe. The Chinese stock market saw falls. A man on the run in Australia asked the police via Facebook to issue a more flattering mugshot of him. The Siberian region of Kemerovo offered a free ram and ewe to 500 poor families with at least three children. CSH
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