Published:

Sunak puts billions into new Covid-19 rescue plan

“Rishi Sunak will announce today a multibillion-pound package of support for the economy in an attempt to avoid mass redundancies this winter. The chancellor’s measures will include wage subsidies for part-time workers, VAT cuts and more loans for struggling businesses. Mr Sunak will set out his “winter economy plan” in the Commons. It is expected to feature a German-style subsidy scheme in which the government would help to pay the wages of people returning to work on a part-time basis. The system is designed to encourage companies to keep on workers in viable jobs while ensuring that others are not retained in “zombie posts” that exist only because of the government’s furlough scheme, which ends on October 31… Mr Sunak will also say that his plans for an autumn budget have been scrapped because of the resurgence of coronavirus.” – The Times

More:

  • Employers urged to ‘exhaust all alternatives’ before cutting jobs – FT
  • Businesses lash out at coronavirus curbs – The Times
  • Top scientist warns second lockdown on the way – The Sun

Comment:

  • Sunak needs to urgently rethink his plans to get UK through winter – Nils Pratley, The Guardian

>Today: Kevin Hollinrake MP in Comment: Replacing council tax and stamp duty should be part of the roadmap for a fairer Britain

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: With the 10pm curfew starting tomorrow, Sunak’s “imaginative” measures will need to come within days

Johnson faces major Tory rebellion over new lockdown rules

“Boris Johnson faces a major Tory rebellion over his new lockdown rules as his own MPs blasted him for pursuing “the wrong strategy”. MPs must approve the ongoing Covid measures in a Commons vote next week as the six-month powers granted under the Coronavirus Act expire. But dozens of Tories are threatening to vote for an amendment that would force the Government to give MPs a veto over all future Covid measures. The rebels – organised by powerful Tory backbencher Sir Graham Brady – are understood to have the backing of Labour and are confident they have the numbers of defeating the Government. One of the MPs organising the rebellion said: “If it comes to a vote, I think we’ll win it.” Former Cabinet minister David Davis said the PM’s latest measures had convinced him and several other Tories to back the rebellion.” – The Sun

  • Rebels ‘100% certain’ of blocking PM’s Covid powers – Daily Express

More:

  • London facing lockdown as UK coronavirus cases reach 6,000 – The Times
  • 10pm nightlife ban not a silver bullet to tackle Covid, says Raab – The Guardian
  • Labour apologise after frontbencher said pandemic was a ‘good crisis’ to exploit – The Sun

>Today:

New Covid tracing app to launch in England and Wales

“An app using Apple and Google technology that will alert people if they have been close to someone with coronavirus will be launched in England and Wales on Thursday, as ministers seek to beef up the government’s faltering test-and-trace programme. The arrival of the app draws a line under months of delays during which the government had attempted to produce a bespoke UK-only version that did not involve the tech giants. Matt Hancock, health secretary, warned that the country was “at a tipping point” in its efforts to control the spread of the virus. “With infection rates rising we must use every tool at our disposal to prevent transmission, including the latest technology,” he said. The government had worked “extensively with tech companies, international partners, and privacy and medical experts – and learned from the trials – to develop an app that is secure, simple to use and will help keep our country safe,” he added.” – FT

  • Anger as app fails to work on older phone models – Daily Mail

More:

  • Battle to calm coronavirus herd immunity revolt – The Times
  • Shortages threaten Johnson’s pledge of 500,000 UK Covid tests a day – The Guardian
  • Cases in Scotland surge to record high – Daily Telegraph

Vaccine:

  • Britain to run first coronavirus vaccine trials that infect volunteers – The Times
  • Revealed: Vallance has £600,000 shareholding in firm contracted to develop vaccines – Daily Telegraph
  • One in five don’t want coronavirus vaccine amid fears of side-effects – The Times

>Today: Frances Lasok in Local Government: This pandemic has shown the Conservatives need a local community focus

Gus O’Donnell and Harry Begg: Ministers must change strategy to get a grip on Covid

“Yet each announcement of new rules, coupled with a steady stream of leaks, shows a government struggling to emerge from firefighting mode and into a workable longer-term strategy. It is as though our institutions were not built for this. From excess deaths to precipitous falls in GDP and wellbeing, the UK has unequivocally failed compared to its peer countries. One glaring issue is that the government has no framework for dealing with trade-offs, so we lurch from one policy to the next depending on whether the chancellor or the health secretary has won the argument of the day. Such a framework should be the cornerstone of government strategy. If implemented properly, it would allow for more effective decentralisation, which has been key to the success of countries like South Korea and Germany in this crisis. To this end, here are four recommendations for the government to turn around its lacklustre performance.” – The Times

  • The three taboos at the heart of the Government’s coronavirus fiasco – Allister Heath, Daily Telegraph
  • Protect the elderly and let the rest of us carry on as usual – Rod Liddle, The Sun
  • This isn’t the Johnson that Britain voted for – Stephen Glover, Daily Mail
  • Johnson is struggling with the politics of Covid, but it’s dangerous to write him off – Martin Kettle, The Guardian
  • The Tories are turning into a big state party – Iain Martin, The Times

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Covid. Mass lockdowns v a Swedish option is a flawed choice. But if Ministers can’t make mass testing work, it’s the one we’ll have.

‘Garden of England’ set to grow own borders under plan for Kent ports

“Plans to force British and international lorry drivers to obtain an “access permit” to drive into Kent next year have caused uproar after they were outlined to MPs by Michael Gove, the cabinet minister responsible for Brexit implementation. Under the scheme, announced by Mr Gove on Wednesday, drivers will be tracked by number-plate recognition technology and forced to pay spot-fines of £300 if found to be travelling without the correct customs documentation. The measures are designed to avoid clogging the roads around the Kent Channel ports of Dover and Folkestone when customs controls are reimposed on the UK’s border with Europe at the end of the Brexit transition period on January 1. Mr Gove warned that queues of up to 7,000 trucks could form in Kent if business did not do more to prepare for the new border, leading to a furious backlash from the customs industry, which blamed the government for failing to provide adequate guidance and ready new IT systems.” – FT

  • British lorries will need permit to enter Kent after Brexit – The Times
  • Gove unveils ‘moment of opportunity’ in 100-day exit countdown – Daily Express

More:

  • Ferry firm handed multi million-pound contract by Grayling has gone bust – The Sun

Johnson overrules Sunak to keep triple lock on pensions

“Boris Johnson has “put his foot down” and overruled the chancellor to retain the triple lock on increases in the state pension, The Times has been told. The government tabled legislation yesterday to avoid the state pension being frozen in April because of the fall in average earnings. The technical bill clears the way for the Conservatives to deliver on their triple lock manifesto pledge, under which the state pension rises in line with wages, inflation or 2.5 per cent, whichever is highest. Rishi Sunak has been pushing for it to be suspended for fear of soaring costs because of the recession and a fall in wages caused by the furlough scheme, which covers 80 per cent of earnings. Once the scheme ends, a sharp one-off rise in average wages is forecast to be recorded next year, leading to a jump in pensions the following year.” – The Times

Prime Minister will call on nations ‘to make big commitments’ on climate change at virtual UN meeting

“Boris Johnson will call on nations to make ambitious commitments on climate change when he addresses a virtual UN today. The PM will announce that the UK will co-host an event with the UN on December 12th to mark the five-year anniversary of the landmark Paris Agreement where most countries committed to cut emissions. The Prime Minister will say: “As the world continues to deal with coronavirus we must look ahead to how we will rebuild, and how we can seize the opportunity to build back better. The UK will lead by example, keeping the environment on the global agenda and serving as a launch pad for a global green industrial revolution. But no one country can turn the tide – it would be akin to bailing out a liner with a single bucket.” – The Sun

  • Fossil fuel companies ‘misleading’ Johnson on green hydrogen – The Times

Jenrick ‘ignored civil servants’ to spend Towns Fund millions on Tory marginals

“Ministers ignored the advice of civil servants before ploughing millions into marginal constituencies, a cross-party group of MPs has been told. Last September, weeks before the general election, Robert Jenrick, the communities secretary, announced that he would award £25 million each to deprived areas under a regeneration scheme called the Towns Fund. Mr Jenrick and Jake Berry, a junior housing minister, chose 61 of the 101 towns. Analysis by The Times found that 60 of the areas they selected were in Conservative-held seats or Tory targets. The average majority in those towns was just 3,000. Mr Jenrick also chose his own seat of Newark – one of only two with a majority of more than 10,000 to receive funding. The government initially refused to publish details of the selection criteria, but was overruled by the National Audit Office (NAO), leading to accusations by the public accounts committee that the government had used “flimsy, cherry-picked evidence” to choose the towns.” – The Times

Wallace attacks Labour’s ‘illegal wars’ in debate on veterans

“The Defence Secretary triggered a row last night by suggesting British troops had taken part in ‘illegal wars’. Ben Wallace appeared to question the legality of the Iraq invasion while standing at the Commons despatch box. In a heated exchange with his Labour counterpart, Mr Wallace said: ‘What we should recognise is much of the mess we are having to come and clean up today is because of your [Labour’s] illegal wars, your events in the past.’ Labour defence spokesman John Healey replied: ‘That is not worthy of the office of the Secretary of State for Defence. This is too important for party politics. It should be beneath the Secretary of State to reduce this to party politics.’ The row came as MPs debated legislation the Government has said will mean service personnel will be protected from ‘vexatious claims and endless investigations’.” – Daily Mail

  • Three Labour MPs quit Shadow Cabinet after voting against Bill designed to shield army veterans – The Sun

Intelligence services:

  • Undercover MI5 agents broke the law to foil May assassination plot, reveals Home Office – Daily Mail
  • Human rights groups voice fears over ‘licence to kill’ for spies – The Times

>Yesterday: James Sunderland MP in Comment: The Prime Minister has said he’s willing to see our armed forces back up the police. But there’s much more they can do.

Starmer may back Sturgeon’s bid for second divisive Scottish independence vote

“Sir Keir Starmer could back Nicola Sturgeon’s bid to hold another divisive Scottish independence vote, it emerged. Boris Johnson vowed to block a second referendum, which needs Parliamentary approval. Labour’s leader said the Scottish Nationalists will have a “mandate” for it if they win next May’s elections. He also refused six times to say he would join the PM in blocking the poll. He told the BBC: “We’ll be going into that election making it very clear another divisive referendum on independence is not what’s needed.” He added: “I am not doing a hypothetical of what will happen after that.” Scotland voted against in 2014 in what was billed as a “once-in-a-generation” vote. Ms Sturgeon has been calling for another ever since.” – The Sun

BBC ‘braced for more turbulence’ as arch-critic is tipped for top job

“Tim Davie has not even been the BBC’s director-general for a month but the UK broadcaster is already being thrown into another leadership battle, this time with a more existential edge.  Boris Johnson’s government will soon launch a process to nominate the BBC’s next chair, a position that the corporation’s charter states must be filled through “a fair and open competition” but in practice can be settled by the whim of the prime minister. Reports that Mr Johnson is minded to tap Charles Moore, his former boss at the Daily Telegraph newspaper, have rattled senior figures in the BBC and Whitehall, who have told colleagues they are convinced it is more than just a Downing Street scare story.  The concern is not his notable record as a Fleet Street editor and Margaret Thatcher biographer, which earned him a peerage from Mr Johnson last month. It is that Lord Moore has waged a decade-long war on the BBC’s licence fee, which extended to a court punishing him with a £262 fine in 2010 for refusing to pay it.” – FT

  • Corporation criticised for giving Starmer right of reply to Johnson’s ‘public information’ address… – Daily Telegraph
  • …in which he says Covid-19 is ‘not an act of God but a failure of government’ in ‘political attack’ – Daily Mail

Comment:

  • Why Grayson Perry is wrong about intolerant liberals – David Aaronovitch, The Times

>Yesterday: Darren Grimes in Comment: Not even Charles Moore can save the BBC

News in Brief:

  • The Tory brawl over Covid rules – James Forsyth, The Spectator
  • The Keynesian comeback – Tim Congdon, The Critic
  • Sunak needs to be tough if he is to protect jobs long term – Maggie Pagano, Reaction
  • The hard left hates Starmer’s appeal to patriotism – Dr David Jeffery, CapX
  • Can nationalism be used to fight climate change? – Aris Roussinos, UnHerd

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