Johnson apologises ‘for not understanding new rules in North East’…

“Boris Johnson has admitted that the patchwork of local coronavirus restrictions is confusing after apologising for misunderstanding rules he imposed on the northeast last night. The prime minister said he “misspoke” when botching an explanation of regional rules that came into force at midnight. The government has been criticised by local leaders about the “chaotic” way the restrictions have been imposed. They appear to undermine the national “rule of six” that was introduced to simplify matters. That confusion was highlighted when a minister admitted that she did not know the rules… Two million people in the northeast will be banned from meeting people in pubs and restaurants from today, unless they live with them. There is already a ban on socialising in people’s homes.” – The Times

  • He apologises for ‘rule of six’ gaffe – FT
  • Labour critics slam Boris’s ‘gross incompetence’ – Daily Mail
  • Prime Minister to give joint press conference with Whitty and Vallance – The Sun
  • Whitehall ‘infantilised’ by reliance on consultants, minister claims – The Guardian


  • More than 500,000 people in North Wales banned from leaving their local area – Daily Mail
  • £569m spent on ventilators but most sit in warehouses – Daily Telegraph
  • Record rate of infection puts Britain on red alert – The Times
  • Ministers agree last-minute bailout for National League – The Sun
  • Just 1,800 out of 110,000 occupied beds are taken up by Covid-19 patients – Daily Mail


  • Testing in care homes getting ‘worse not better’ as delays leave elderly at risk – Daily Telegraph
  • Ex-Sainsbury’s boss to take over as Test and Trace chief – The Times


  • How can anyone be blamed for not following the Covid restrictions if Johnson doesn’t understand them? – The Sun

>Today: Ryan Bourne’s column: It’s time to admit that Eat Out to Help Out was a mistake – because it boosted the resurgence of the virus


…as he announces ‘radical shakeup’ of adult education as Covid-19 forces career changes…

“Boris Johnson has promised Britons the right to four years of loans for higher education, declaring that “huge numbers” will need to change their jobs because of Covid-19. In a speech at a further education college in Exeter, Mr Johnson announced the Government would end the “bogus distinction” between further and higher education in expanding the ability to get student loans. Minister intend to make higher education loans more flexible, allowing adults and young people to space out their study across their lifetimes, while a new “lifetime skills guarantee” offers a fully-funded college course to people over 18 in England without an A-level or equivalent. The Government will pay for the policy under an £2.5bn boost to England’s National Skills Fund, which has already been announced and will come into effect next April.” – Daily Telegraph

  • University leaders call for next year’s A-levels to be axed – The Times
  • Students will be able to go home for Christmas – The Sun
  • Williamson launches ‘into a passionate rant against snowflake universities’ – Daily Express


  • Enemies of capitalism have no place in school – Daniel Finkelstein, The Times
  • Next year’s A levels should be cancelled – David Eastwood and Chris Husbands, The Times


  • A welcome boost to adult education in England – FT
  • Johnson is right to target Britain’s woeful track record in technical education – The Times

>Today: Dean Russell MP in Comment: Levelling up isn’t just geographical; it’s about age too

…and his confusion over coronavirus rules ‘quickens Tory revolt’

“Conservative rebels were on the brink of winning their fight for votes on Covid restrictions on Tuesday night after Boris Johnson was forced to apologise for not knowing the rules himself. The Prime Minister issued a public correction after he wrongly claimed people in the North-East could mix with other households in a pub. Rebel MPs – including the head of the 1922 Committee of backbench Conservatives and several former Cabinet ministers – said the gaffe had “strengthened the argument” for greater parliamentary scrutiny of new rules as Mr Johnson’s confusion had proved that new legislation had been rushed and was impossible to follow. Police chiefs said ministers’ inability to explain the rules made it “all the more difficult” to enforce lockdowns and justify fines.” – Daily Telegraph

  • More than 80 Tory MPs prepared to rebel over Coronavirus Act renewal – The Guardian
  • Baker warns the rules could change every 24 hours – Daily Express
  • Rules confusion reflected the palpable sense of chaos at Number 10 – Daily Telegraph
  • Tory council leader condemns ‘unacceptable’ Covid restrictions – The Guardian
  • Hospitality trade bodies demand 10pm Covid curfew be reviewed every three weeks – Daily Telegraph


  • Liverpool mayor backs 9pm supermarket alcohol curfew… – The Times
  • …as it could become first city to impose two-week ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown – Daily Telegraph
  • Plans for further English devolution shelved until next year – FT

>Today: ToryDiary: A Conservative leader can afford to take on his left or his right – but not the 1922 Committee’s Executive


Jeremy King: Of all the mangled messages Boris Johnson has dished up, his curfew is the most poisonous

“I am beside myself with frustration at the latest measure: imposing a 10pm curfew on the hospitality industry. Pubs and restaurants that have been helping to keep people safe with stringent hygiene and social distancing measures must eject everyone on to the streets at the stroke of 10pm. Last Friday and Saturday, soon after 10pm, I walked through Soho in Central London and the area was like an illegal rave, with thousands of people mingling noisily. It was mayhem. Many were simply partying in the street. Others were trying to get away, cramming cheek-by-jowl into Ubers and black cabs, or milling around, waiting for the Tube and buses to be less jammed. It would be ridiculously naive to suppose they were all going home to bed. Across London, people were heading to illegal house parties, where there would be no precautions against the spread of Covid-19.” – Daily Mail

  • Johnson helped sow the discord that’s making it hard for him to govern – Rafael Behr, Daily Mail
  • Whatever happened to the man who loathed the Nanny State? – Ross Clark, Daily Mail
  • Sorry Hancock, here’s why I won’t be downloading your app – Philip Johnston, Daily Telegraph

Patel ‘asked Home Office to explore sending asylum seekers to island in the south Atlantic’

“Priti Patel ordered officials to explore building an asylum processing centre on a remote volcanic island in the south Atlantic – more than 4,000 miles from the UK, it has been reported. Home Office officials were instructed to look into the feasibility of transferring asylum seekers arriving in the UK to a centre on Ascension Island, a British overseas territory, according to the Financial Times. Another option said to have been considered was to construct an asylum centre on St Helena, another island in the group where Napoleon was exiled after his defeat at the Battle of Waterloo. The Foreign Office was consulted on the proposals, according to the paper, and provided an assessment on the practicalities of shipping migrants to such remote locations.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Home Secretary ‘should throw open borders’ as ‘Britain so short of brickies and welders’, experts say – The Sun
  • Care homes jobs should be on post-Brexit ‘shortage’ list – FT

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: The Conservatives should watch for a rival to their right

UK and Canada impose sanctions against Lukashenko

“Britain and Canada have imposed sanctions against Alexander Lukashenko, the Belarus president, and other high-profile regime figures. The sanctions are due to come into force from Tuesday and include a travel ban and asset freeze. It is the first time the UK has targeted a national leader with its own sanctions. Belarus has been besieged with mass protests since August following the contentious sixth election win of Mr Lukashenko, who claimed to have won 80 per cent of the vote in an election widely decried as rigged. The UK move comes as an EU effort to impose its own Belarus countermeasures is held up by Cyprus’s lone refusal to give the go-ahead, unless the bloc also imposes sanctions on Turkey.” – FT

Brexit 1) May ‘stays away’ as Johnson’s Brexit blueprint passes through House of Commons

“Theresa May is understood to have abstained from voting as Boris Johnson’s Internal Market Bill passed in the House of Commons on Tuesday evening. Former Prime Minister Theresa May is understood to have abstained on the third reading of Boris Johnson’s Brexit Internal Market Bill. The UK Internal Market Bill, which ministers acknowledged risks breaking international law, was approved by 340 votes to 256 on Tuesday evening and now passes to the House of Lords for debate. The Government has insisted the bill will protect the integrity of the UK if a future trade agreement cannot be reached with the EU. The legislation would give ministers the power to breach the divorce deal with the European Union, despite threats of legal action from the EU and resistance from some MPs… The UK’s five living former Prime Ministers, Sir John Major, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Theresa May had openly spoken out against the bill.” – Daily Express

  • Internal Market Bill passed by Commons despite Tory concerns – The Guardian

Brexit 2) EU states ‘urge France to drop hardline Brexit fishing demands’

“France is under mounting pressure from other European states who want to let Michel Barnier drop the EU’s hardline fishing demands. Paris has infuriated fellow capitals by standing firm on its insistence the bloc must secure status quo terms. The row erupted after a meeting of EU envoys this week, with representatives from non-coastal states warning Brussels is being “too strict”. They’re ready to accept we’ll take back control of our waters, and want to use a £4.6bn emergency fund to compensate European fishermen. One EU diplomat said: “We know our position is totally unrealistic, but so is the British one. We need to get to the point where there’s a more mature dialogue. It’s not that complicated.” Another added: “The EU will have to soften its position. We should not just limit ourselves to the interests of a few states.”” – The Sun

  • Barnier lifts hopes of Brexit deal amid new ‘buzz’ in talks – Daily Express
  • Brussels ‘have proposed intensive secret trade negotiations’ – The Sun
  • EU rebuffs new UK proposals on state subsidies – The Guardian


  • UK intelligence data ‘would be deleted’ in event of no-deal Brexit – The Guardian
  • Merkel’s ‘good behaviour’ clause sparks fury as £670bn Covid fund delayed – Daily Express

Tory MPs back ‘buying British’ at Blue Collar Conservatives event

“Tory MP Paul Howell has insisted he would pay a premium to buy British products after an poll found an overwhelming majority also would. Paul Howell explained supporting British business is part of the bigger plan to create jobs in the UK. While Dehenna Davison MP added that politicians should promote British goods more. During the second day of the Blue Collar Conservatism conference, Mr Howell said: “It always feels good to support your local environment whether that’s your local town, your county or a parliamentary seat. “I think paying a small premium that is creating jobs in our part of the world is absolutely a good thing to do.” Ms Davison added: “There’s an amazing sense of community in the North East that I don’t think anywhere else in the country has.”” – Daily Express

>Today: Interviews: “Petrolhead” Milling denies that Elliott is really in charge at CCHQ, and says that she’s visited all 48 Red Wall seats

Fifteen Bloody Sunday veterans face no charges, review confirms

“Northern Irish prosecutors have upheld a decision not to charge 15 British Army veterans over the events of Bloody Sunday. A review of the initial conclusion by the Public Prosecution Service (PPS), announced in March last year, came to the same verdict yesterday. Families of some of the victims had asked for it to be looked at again. Only one veteran, Soldier F, is facing prosecution over deaths that resulted from the Parachute Regiment opening fire on demonstrators in Londonderry on January 30, 1972. In total, 13 people were killed and 15 were wounded. Last year the PPS concluded that the admissible evidence did not provide a reasonable prospect of conviction against 18 other suspects, including two suspected former members of the Official IRA. Of the 16 veterans not being charged, one has died.” – The Times

Trump and Joe Biden trade personal attacks in chaotic debate

“President Trump launched a series of personal attacks on Joe Biden and aggressively cut across his rival time and again, as Americans were left aghast at the most rancorous and chaotic TV debate in US election history. A querulous Mr Trump, 74, refused to condemn white supremacists — telling the Proud Boys far-right group to “stand back and stand by” — repeatedly ignored pleas from the moderator to stop interrupting Mr Biden and left America with a chilling warning about the election: “This will not end well.” Mr Biden, 77, lost his cool a few times in the face of a barrage of jibes from the president, at one point telling him; “will you shut up man”. He hurled back several insults, calling Mr Trump “racist”, a “fool”, a “liar” and “totally irresponsible” over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.” – The Times

  • Internet explodes with memes as despairing viewers watch ugly contest – Daily Mail
  • President criticised for telling white supremacist group Proud Boys to ‘stand by’ – Daily Telegraph


  • Trump is a force of nature on the debate stage and his scared and tired rival was blown away – Rosa Prince, Daily Telegraph
  • Five takeaways from the first Trump-Biden debate – Edward Luce and Rana Faroohar, FT

Salmond inquiry chair claims SNP ‘obstruction’ has halted probe

“Nicola Sturgeon has been accused of treating the official inquiry into the Alex Salmond affair “with contempt” after its chairwoman announced that SNP and Scottish Government “obstruction” had succeeded in stopping its investigation. In an extraordinary statement, the convenor of the cross-party Holyrood committee examining the botched civil service probe into sexual harassment allegations said MSPs were “completely frustrated” at a refusal to provide key documents and testimony which meant they were unable to get to the truth. Linda Fabiani said she was awaiting further evidence from Peter Murrell, the SNP’s chief executive and Nicola Sturgeon’s husband, who is yet to respond to a series of questions from the committee. She said the inquiry “simply cannot proceed at this stage”, with requests for information from Scottish Government civil servants and Mr Salmond himself also outstanding. MSPs have now abandoned plans to call new witnesses to give evidence next week.” – Daily Telegraph

News in Brief:

  • No, the Government’s moves to put more conservatives in public life is not authoritarian – Henry Hill, CapX
  • Conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan is one fight too many for Putin – Gabriel Gavin, Reaction
  • Trump’s debate clash with Biden was a national embarrassment – Daniel DePetris, The Spectator
  • Has Covid become less dangerous? – Tom Chivers, UnHerd
  • The University: The idea and how to destroy it – David Starkey, The Critic