Hello. Here’s your morning briefing:
Ministers agree ‘need for action’ in Syria
Downing Street says ministers have agreed the use of chemical weapons in Syria “must not go unchallenged”, but no mention has been made of any plans to use force. Nevertheless, BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg says she understands the UK is planning a “genuinely joint effort” with the US and France, rather than playing a supporting role. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, though, is accusing Theresa May of “waiting for instructions from Donald Trump”.
Across the Atlantic the language – via Twitter at least – has softened somewhat. After tweeting on Wednesday that Russia should “get ready” because missiles “will be coming” towards its ally Syria, President Trump appeared to row back, saying he had “never said when” an attack would come, and it “could be very soon or not so soon at all”.
The third key Western leader, French President Emmanuel Macron, has been bullish, insisting he has “proof” that the Syrian government attacked Douma with chemical weapons, killing dozens. The BBC’s Lucy Williamson, in Paris, says strength in matters like this is an important part of the president’s bid to project French influence around the world.
The UN Security Council will hold an emergency meeting later to discuss the crisis, but Moscow’s UN envoy has said he “cannot exclude” the possibility of a war between Russia and the US. What could Western military intervention achieve and what assets do the key players in the Syria crisis have? Read our analysis pieces to find out more.
A drink a day ‘could shorten your life’
“Everything in moderation”. “One drink won’t hurt you.” We’re all familiar with this sort of advice when it comes to alcohol, but now a major new study has challenged the idea that light drinking is good for us. Having as little as one alcoholic drink a day could shorten your life, it suggests. The upper safe limit was found to be about 12.5 units a week – that’s about five pints of beer or five 175ml glasses of above-average strength wine. Drinking five to 10 alcoholic drinks a week was likely to shorten a person’s life by up to six months. Brush up on the official drinking advice with our guide.
Sickness claims crackdown
Claims for compensation after holiday sickness have gone up 500% since 2013. The travel industry has complained vociferously that many of these are false – encouraged by unscrupulous claims management companies – but it says many tour operators have been put off challenging cases in court because of the potential for spiralling legal costs. Now the rules will be tightened up, fixing the maximum legal costs, as in cases involving other personal injury claims. Justice Minister Rory Stewart said falsely claiming ill health was fraud and risked driving up holiday costs for all travellers.
Are we on the brink of a trade war?
By Andrew Walker, BBC World Service economics correspondent
The US and China have imposed tariffs on each other’s goods. But will a skirmish between the world’s two biggest economies turn into a full-on trade war? Perhaps it has already started. Both sides have struck initial blows. The US has imposed tariffs on imports of steel and aluminium… China has struck back with tariffs on US goods including pork, wine, fruit and nuts. So, when does a series of commercial skirmishes become a trade war?
What the papers say
The Guardian says the “path is clear” for military action in Syria after the cabinet backed Theresa May, while the Daily Mail sums things up with the headline, “Missiles at the ready”. The Sun is one of several papers to report that the White House has provisionally selected eight targets – including two airfields, a research centre and a chemical weapons facility. The Times says the stand-off between Russia and the West is the most dangerous in modern times. Elsewhere, the Daily Telegraph says Saturday’s Grand National could be like no other in the past three decades, with three female jockeys among the 40 riders – and all three will be horses in with a chance.
Cosby trial US model confronts entertainer over alleged attack
Hunt apology Health secretary sorry for not declaring property firm interest
Apprenticeships Firms accused of re-labelling low-skilled jobs
Games Daley and Goodfellow win Commonwealth gold
If you see one thing today
If you listen to one thing today
If you read one thing today
Afternoon Cliff Richard is due to give evidence as he sues the BBC over coverage of a police raid on his home in 2014.
Today Ladies Day at Aintree ahead of Saturday’s Grand National.
On this day
1992 Neil Kinnock resigns as Labour leader following a disastrous general election – he places the blame for the party’s defeat firmly on newspapers sympathetic to the Conservatives.