Coronavirus 1) Surge in demand ‘caught testing chief by surprise’

“Demand for tests could be four times higher than capacity, the testing chief said as she admitted that she did not anticipate such a large rise when children returned to school. Baroness Harding of Winscombe said that laboratory capacity was based on the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies’ (Sage) projection of the spread of disease, rather than numbers looking for reassurance. She insisted the problem was that too many people seeking checks did not have symptoms, suggesting a change in behaviour was more likely to solve the current shortages than extra capacity. Lady Harding told MPs that there had been a “very marked increase in the number of young children being tested, a doubling of children under 17 being tested”, with even larger rises in those aged five to nine.” – The Times

  • Demand in England at up to four times capacity, says Harding – The Guardian
  • Test and Trace system could be outsourced to Amazon, secret plans reveal – Daily Telegraph
  • Anxious parents ‘sinking Covid testing system’ – The Sun
  • ‘Chaos and inefficiency’ in coronavirus testing labs – The Times

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Plan A for schools is in danger of breaking down. So we need a Plan B for schools – online.

Coronavirus 2) Socialising ban for northeast as local lockdowns hit 10 million

“More than ten million people in Britain are living under local lockdowns after the government added the northeast to the list of areas affected by restrictions. Residents in the region have been banned from meeting people outside their households while restaurants and pubs will be made to close at 10pm to stop the spread of infection through late-night socialising. Matt Hancock, the health secretary, told the Commons: “From tomorrow, in Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Newcastle upon Tyne, Gateshead, Sunderland and Co Durham, residents should not socialise with other people outside their own households or support bubble.” He said that the measures had been taken at the request of local councils that were seeing “concerning rates of infection” in the northeast.” – The Times

  • Leeds poised to join list of areas under local coronavirus lockdowns – The Guardian
  • Hospitals told to clear beds for coronavirus spike in two weeks – Daily Telegraph
  • Second national lockdown proposed by UK scientific advisers – FT
  • Government will do ‘whatever’s necessary’ to halt spread of bug, says Hancock – The Sun
  • Boss of retailer Next slams ‘joyless’ working from home and says employees miss the office – Daily Mail

>Today: Raghib Ali in Comment: Evidence suggests that this Covid second wave won’t be as severe as the first. Nonetheless, it’s a threat to the NHS.

Coronavirus 3) Government could use emergency powers to give the public an unlicenced vaccine

“The government could use emergency powers to vaccinate the public against Covid-19, it was revealed last night. Ministers would utilise regulations to bypass EU laws if a vaccine becomes available prior to the end of the Brexit transition agreement on December 31, as reported by the i. Even if a possible vaccine has not been passed by the European medicines watchdog the government will push to use it due to the threat the pandemic poses. A consultation on the plans closes at midnight on Friday. The independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is advising ministers on the use of any potential vaccine. The government is keen to quell fears an unlicensed vaccine is unsafe and said it will go through several safety trials before being used on the general populace.” – Daily Mail

  • Police back Johnson over ‘no snitching’ on neighbours over rule of six – Daily Telegraph


  • My very British revolt against the ‘rule of six’ – Joy Lo Dico, FT

>Today: ToryDiary: What could give the Government a sense of purpose – and chances to achieve? Making Gove Deputy Prime Minister.

Fraser Nelson: Anchorless Johnson is allowing Britain to drift towards another lockdown

“It’s not just that the country can’t understand his coronavirus game plan: his Cabinet, too, is baffled. The truth is that even the Prime Minister doesn’t know. The test-and-trace technology has – to put it politely – not worked out the way he wanted. He has no Plan B. Meanwhile, Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer, has been visiting him with terrifying graphs, numbers and predictions of what will happen if the Government doesn’t act – unless he has a better idea. Which he doesn’t. Local authority leaders call up, also asking for lockdowns. In the absence of a national strategy, he acquiesces. The result is a creeping lockdown, now affecting one in seven Brits. Polls show confidence in his handling of the pandemic at an all-time low.” – Daily Telegraph

  • The Prime Minister is most excited by the prospect of a green recovery – James Forsyth, The Times


  • Johnson urgently needs to strengthen his cabinet and Downing Street operation – The Times

Downing Street fears growing rift with Biden

“Joe Biden’s rebuke of Boris Johnson over Brexit has deepened concerns in Downing Street about a lack of contact with the presidential candidate. The UK’s ambassador to the US, Dame Karen Pierce, has not met Mr Biden since taking up her post, senior officials admit. They point out that the Biden team is keeping all foreign powers at arms’ length as it seeks to avoid the allegations of collusion that dogged Donald Trump in 2016. Mr Biden, the Democratic candidate in November’s election, rebuked Mr Johnson after his threat to scrap parts of his Brexit deal with the EU that relate to Northern Ireland. He said the US would only agree a trade deal if the UK respected the Good Friday agreement. His intervention came after Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, had sought to put the UK’s case to senior US politicians including Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives.” – The Times

  • Johnson hits back at US presidential hopeful – The Sun
  • Angry Tory MPs reject Biden’s comments on UK-EU Brexit talks – The Guardian
  • Trump’s Northern Ireland envoy issues border warning – FT


  • Europe will block trade deal if Internal Market Bill is not ‘rectified’, threatens Verhofstadt – Daily Telegraph
  • Britain backs down in Brexit ‘food blockade’ row – Daily Telegraph
  • EU could table new demands to prevent Britain from ripping up a future trade agreement – Daily Express


  • Why the Tories should fear a Biden presidency – Freddy Gray, Daily Telegraph
  • The President may be winning over Hispanic voters – Gerard Baker, The Times
  • The new civil war tearing America apart – Tom Leonard, Daily Mail
  • We should be rooting for Trump’s re-election – Matthew Lynn, Daily Telegraph


  • Anglo-American relations may be about to get a little chillier – Daily Telegraph


Government warned over bid to protect veterans

“A bill aimed at curbing vexatious claims against troops is “dangerous and harmful” to the reputation of Britain’s armed forces and the safety of UK personnel, the prime minister has been warned. Military and political figures have urged Boris Johnson to reconsider the “ill-conceived” legislation, which will return to the Commons next week at committee stage. The former head of the armed forces Field Marshal Charles Guthrie, the ex-defence secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind, and Dominic Grieve, a former attorney-general, last night sent a letter to Downing Street raising concerns about the Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Bill. The legislation seeks to limit false and historical allegations against personnel via a “triple lock” of measures, including a statutory presumption against criminal prosecution five years after an alleged crime.” – The Times

Hunt exposes damning toll of lawsuits against NHS

“Blunders on maternity wards are costing the NHS nearly £1billion a year, the former Health Secretary warns today. Jeremy Hunt has revealed that almost twice as much is spent on lawsuits following poor care of mothers and babies as on the combined pay of all the labour doctors in England’s hospitals. The expenditure was part of the health service’s astonishing £2.4billion bill for legal fees and compensation in 2018/19. Mr Hunt, now chairman of the Commons health select committee, also uncovered figures showing three quarters of hospitals are refusing to publish reliable data on the number of avoidable deaths of patients in their care – three years after he ordered them to do so. He highlighted research showing up to 150 lives are being lost needlessly every week in NHS hospitals. Writing for the Mail today, he described this as ‘appallingly high’.” – Daily Mail

Brexit campaign chair sworn in to Lords

“Chair of the Vote Leave campaign, Gisela Stuart, was sworn into the House of Lords as a peer this afternoon. The former Labour MP has been rewarded by Boris Johnson with a seat in the House of Lords. Ms Stuart was previously the MP for Birmingham Edgbaston from 1997 until 2017 when she stepped down. Mr Johnson has given peerages to a number of Brexiteers since becoming Prime Minister. In August he appointed 36 new peers to the House of Lords, including several notable Brexit campaigners, two former Tory chancellors, supportive allies from his time in London City Hall, and his newspaper propeiotor Evgeny Lebedev. Downing Street said the additions to the Chamber were need to maintain the “expertise” within the House of Lords.” – Daily Express

  • Watson joins betting firm behind Paddy Power – The Times


  • Only an honest conversation about the Corbyn era will help us learn from it – Owen Jones, The Guardian

>Today: John Pennington in Local Government: Labour is punishing motorists in Bradford

News in Brief:

  • Why  Downing Street fears a second wave – James Forsyth, The Spectator
  • It’s time to end the state pension Ponzi scheme – Henry Hill, CapX
  • Why the BBC needs to sack the suits – Ian Birrell, UnHerd
  • How the media peddles data that under-represents BLM violence – Bruce Newsome, The Critic
  • Does Biden understand the Belfast Agreement? – Muntaz Ahmed, Reaction