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Local Labour and Conservative MPs unite to oppose Manchester restrictions

“Boris Johnson was on Thursday locked in a high stakes stand-off with local leaders in the north of the England after they refused to accept tough new coronavirus restrictions. The prime minister has said he is ready to force areas into onerous lockdown measures, amid warnings that the Covid-19 situation in the Greater Manchester and Lancashire areas was getting worse… Mr Johnson will on Friday have to decide whether to continue negotiations with Mr Burnham and other northern leaders, or begin ordering the closure of parts of the northern economy against their will. The prime minister is anxious to secure local buy-in for new measures. He fears that, without support from civic leaders, he will be accused of ruling by diktat and that people may not follow the new regulations… The backlash unleashed an unusual cross-party alliance of Labour and Conservative MPs in the north.” – FT

  • Ministers ‘humiliatingly’ backed off announcement yesterday – Daily Mail
  • Manchester will be forced into Tier 3 lockdown as a ‘last resort’, warns Raab – The Sun
  • Battle could rage all weekend, local leader says – Daily Telegraph
  • Northern leaders playing party politics, says Hancock – The Times

More:

  • Welsh ban on travel from Covid hotspots ‘risks division and confusion’ – The Guardian
  • Principality ‘could be plunged into a circuit-breaker lockdown in the next few days’ – Daily Mail

Comment:

  • Burnham’s opportunism makes Labour look ridiculous – Ross Clark, Daily Telegraph
  • This pandemic has been the making of England’s elected mayors – Simon Jenkins, The Guardian

>Today:

>Yesterday:

Johnson mulls his options…

“Mr Johnson is expected to impose the highest level of Covid-19 restrictions on Greater Manchester on Friday, with or without Mr Bunham’s consent, while Lancashire was close to agreeing to Tier 3 status on Thursday night. The Prime Minister now faces an intense struggle to salvage the three-tier policy. His own scientific advisers believe the system will ultimately fail and that “circuit breakers” will be necessary, potentially every school holiday. The deputy chief medical officer, Jonathan Van-Tam, also appeared to have written off the tiers approach by telling Northern leaders a national lockdown was the only policy guaranteed to work… Hospital leaders have joined those calling for a “circuit-breaker” to ease pressure on ward beds.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Government faces Tory revolt over Tier Three coronavirus lockdown – The Sun
  • Do the numbers justifying crippling new lockdowns stand up to scrutiny? – Daily Mail

Comment:

  • Suppression strategies will never work for a freedom loving democracy such as Britain – Jeremy Warner, Daily Telegraph

>Today: Iain Dale’s column: The number of people who tell me that they would ignore the rules of any new national lockdown is troubling

…as SAGE pushes for a circuit-breaker lockdown

“Circuit-breaker lockdowns should be planned for school holidays for the rest of the academic year, government scientific advisers believe. The test and trace system has become overwhelmed by rapidly rising infections and cases need to be driven lower quickly to avoid longer and more damaging lockdowns, ministers have been told. Matt Hancock, the health secretary, yesterday pressed the case for tougher action now, saying that it would “prevent greater economic damage in the future”, as ministers considered imposing circuit breakers on regions with the highest infection rates… Minutes published this week showed that the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) recommended a two-week circuit breaker lockdown last month to nip rising cases in the bud.” – The Times

  • Warning of extra cancer deaths after more than 25m GP appointments lost – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Germany enters a critical stage – as Europe increasingly converges in its Covid-19 response

Will Sunak fork out more subsidies to high alert areas?

“Rishi Sunak is understood to be looking at support for businesses in tier 2 areas that will see a potentially ruinous drop in income but are not formally obliged to close, and so are not currently eligible for wage subsidies and business grants. The chancellor has no immediate plans to make the Treasury support packages more generous, in part because of concerns about the government’s spiralling borrowing, but is keeping the need for further action under review. Ministers are also starting to think about whether to extend the £1,000 a year top-up to universal credit, which was announced at the start of the crisis and is due to come to an end next spring.” – The Guardian

  • Johnson urged to have a press conference with chief economist to rival doomsday scientists – The Sun
  • How the battle to enforce restrictions became a political row about money – Daily Telegraph

Comment:

  • The expensive promise of England’s Covid test and trace – Chris Giles, FT

Editorial:

  • Tier 2 for London will slowly strangle our economic powerhouse – The Sun
  • Government needs to be more transparent about the economic and health costs – The Times
  • Hitting the panic button will cripple Britain – Daily Mail

Fraser Nelson: The Prime Minister is sleepwalking into the national lockdown he claims to despise

“The Prime Minister is now sleepwalking into the national lockdown that he says he wants to avoid. By this weekend, just over half the country will be confined to varying degrees of social isolation. In theory, office work carries on as usual, but a change to the travel advice could stop that too. National lockdown would be terrible, he says, as it would hurt the economy and “erode our long term ability to fund the NHS”. But growth is evaporating in region after region: it means lower tax receipts, less money for public services, more poverty and more unemployment. That’s what we’re losing. It’s not quite clear what we gain… As soon as restrictions are lifted, infections rise again – so it’s a short-term measure that buys time. That would make sense if Britain had an NHS on the brink of collapse – but it doesn’t.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Macron bolsters Johnson’s Covid credibility – James Forsyth, The Times
  • These diktats will turn us into the pub Gestapo – Robert Hardman, Daily Mail
  • Our Covid cure is worse than the virus, but I’ve seen a way out – Dan Wootton, The Sun

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Three actions that Ministers must take if we’re to live without fear. Or else they and we will be lost.

Back down on fishing rights ‘or prepare for no-deal Brexit’, warns Macron

“European Union leaders, led by France, dismayed Downing Street last night by calling Boris Johnson’s bluff on his threat to walk out of negotiations and giving him an ultimatum to back down. President Macron told the prime minister that he should prepare for a no-deal Brexit unless he was willing to concede a “good settlement” preserving fishing access for French boats in British waters after the Brexit transition, which ends on December 31. “Under no condition can our fishermen be sacrificed during Brexit,” he said yesterday at a summit in Brussels. “If conditions aren’t met it’s possible we don’t have an agreement. We are ready for that. If there are no good terms found at the end of the discussion we are ready for a no-deal.”” – The Times

  • Frost ‘disappointed’ as EU fails to commit to intensified trade talks – Daily Telegraph
  • No 10 ‘startled’ by EU insistence that UK accept trade terms – The Guardian
  • Johnson ‘ready to force Brexit crisis’ with no-deal ultimatum – FT

More:

  • Sturgeon ‘shamelessly’ wooing EU leaders with column in German newspaper – Daily Telegraph

>Today: ToryDiary: ‘We need to talk about the Union’: An inside look at the new group of Conservative MPs fighting for Britain

>Yesterday: Stephen Booth’s column: As the Brexit deadline nears, the UK stands strong on fishing rights, but Frost hints at movement on state aid

Johnson’s £5bn broadband plan ‘ludicrously unrealistic’

Shield“Boris Johnson’s election promise to connect the entire country to cutting-edge broadband speeds by 2025 has been dubbed “ludicrously unrealistic” after the parliament’s spending watchdog warned that rural internet users risk being left behind by the slow pace of progress. The comments from Meg Hillier, chair of the public accounts committee, followed a National Audit Office report that said the 2025 target was “challenging” and warned that those rural areas risk being further left behind. The government launched a £5bn plan to subsidise the upgrade of telecoms networks to full fibre from older copper networks in rural areas in September 2019. The funds were designed to connect the final 20 per cent of the country but little progress has been made in delivering on the plan, according to senior industry executives.” – FT

  • Almost half of his ‘education catch-up’ fund remains unallocated – The Guardian

Labour rebels defy whip and vote against ‘licence to kill bill’

“Sir Keir Starmer has suffered the biggest rebellion of his leadership after dozens of Labour MPs defied the whip to oppose legislation allowing MI5 and police informants to commit crime. In a sign of the tensions between Sir Keir, left-wing MPs and trade unions, seven frontbenchers quit their posts to vote against the Covert Human Intelligence Sources Bill. Concessions from Sir Keir in eleventh-hour calls and meetings with potential rebels were not enough to deter 34 Labour MPs, among them the Corbynite shadow ministers Dan Carden and Margaret Greenwood, from defying a three-line whip to abstain on the bill’s third reading. Dubbed the “licence to kill bill” by human rights campaigners, the legislation has provisions to allow people secretly working for the police and security services to commit criminal acts to protect their identities.” – The Times

  • ‘Last remaining’ Corbynite on Labour front-bench resigns – Daily Express
  • Patel lashed Labour for not backing the new law – The Sun

Trump and Joe Biden lay out opposing visions for America

“America’s deep partisan divisions were on display in rival town hall events held 1,000 miles apart last night instead of a presidential debate, although the separation of the two candidates helped voters to learn much more about their views than at their rancorous showdown last month. The second debate was cancelled after President Trump refused to take part in a virtual joust with Joe Biden, the Democratic candidate, under plans drawn up amid fears that he might still be infectious after being treated for coronavirus. Instead Mr Trump, 74, was grilled by voters in Miami, the Florida city where the debate was meant to take place, and Mr Biden, 77, held a town hall event in Philadelphia. Each began at 8pm, forcing undecided voters to choose a candidate to watch or to flick between two contrasting broadcasts.” – The Times

  • A defeated Trump will have no way to stay – Gerard Baker, The Times

>Today: Lord Ashcroft in International: Trump – “toxic”, “awesome”, both or neither? My American election focus groups in Michigan and North Carolina.

News in Brief:

  • Tories shouldn’t be misled by public opinion on lockdowns – Harry Phibbs, CapX
  • Unionists must stop playing by separatists’ rules – Stephen Daisley, The Spectator
  • Social media moves to block alleged disinformation: sensible or censorship? – Joseph Rachman, Reaction
  • How Big Tech is fixing the election – Douglas Murray, UnHerd
  • What’s the point of the ECHR? – Andrew Tettenborn, The Critic

And finally… Farage is ‘shilling gold and silver on the internet’

“Yes, he might have spent the first two decades of his career in the City, he might be mates with finance tycoon Arron Banks, hell he might even have filmed his introductory video in a classic City haunt (more on that in a bit) but Farage is now taking aim at the City establishment. (He’s a nuanced man, is our Nigel. You might recall that the Brexiteer’s wife is German and that two of his children also have German passports.) Specifically, Farage seems to want to get the message across to people that they should look after their own finances, and that they should consider buying precious metals… We were waiting for him to say “be your own bank” and tell everyone to buy bitcoin, but he stopped short of that, for now.” – FT

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