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New ‘three-tier’ coronavirus alert system from curfews to full lockdown on the way to ‘simplify’ the rules

“Boris Johnson has ordered health chiefs to simplify complex local lockdown rules within days after widespread confusion. Echoing his streamlining of social mixing regulations into a simpler “rule of six” the PM wants to implement a new tier system for threat level as soon as possible. Officials are working around the clock to flesh out the clearer system after the PM and his ministers were humiliated on the airwaves over their own confusion at the rules that can vary town to town. Each threat level would have different restrictions linked to them, based on the number of local cases. Areas with around 100 cases per 100,000 would qualify for tier one status according to an early draft of the plan and see greater enforcement of social distancing and mask wearing.” – The Sun

  • The map of Britain’s coronavirus rules – Daily Mail
  • Job centres fast-track plans to deal with four million unemployed – The Sun

More:

  • Curfew could close 11,000 pubs and cost Britain £7bn – The Times
  • Johnson facing new revolt over pub curfew – Daily Telegraph
  • Hunt says local lockdowns may have prevented national second wave – Daily Mail
  • Life won’t return to normal even after a vaccine, warn scientists – The Times

Local Government:

  • Hartlepool leader says Government broke its promise to give council final say on lockdown measures – TeessideLive
  • Mayor of Middlesbrough slams government and new lockdown measures – Northern Echo

>Today: ToryDiary: Our survey. Under one in three Party members think Johnson is dealing well with the Coronavirus as Prime Minister.

>Yesterday: MPs Etc.: The seven Conservative MPs who voted against renewing the Coronavirus Act

James Forsyth: Johnson knows he can’t cancel Christmas

“Looked at dispassionately, Christmas is one event that should definitely be cancelled. But regardless of whether they are hawks or doves when it comes to the virus, leading figures in government think that it needs to be saved. As one cabinet minister put it to me: “It’s not about logic, it’s about how people behave.” We had a preview this week of the priority the government puts on preserving Christmas. At his press conference on Wednesday, Boris Johnson was at pains to stress that the government was putting in place plans to ensure that students could come home for the festivities. One key Johnson ally says, bluntly, “Christmas is not cancellable”. This could change, of course, if intensive care units are full in December. But right now the strong feeling is that there needs to be a way found to preserve as much of the usual family holiday as possible.” – The Times

  • The public is already ‘living without fear’, No 10 might want to do the same – Fraser Nelson, Daily Telegraph
  • Once the pandemic is over the pubs we know and love will be gone forever – Robin Perrie, The Sun

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Our monthly survey finds that support for a Sweden-style Covid-19 policy is up from about a third of Party activists to almost half

A-level pupils to get three extra weeks but exams will go ahead

“A-level exams will be delayed by three weeks next year despite mounting calls for them to be cancelled again, it was suggested last night. Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, will extend the exams timetable to mid-July to help pupils affected by school closures during the pandemic, Whitehall and education sources said. Mr Williamson, who is expected to announce the extension next week, wants to avoid the need for an alternative form of assessment for students following this summer’s exams fiasco, according to The Daily Telegraph. Lord Baker of Dorking, a former Conservative education secretary, and university vice-chancellors have called for exams to be cancelled because of the disruption faced by students during the lockdown. After a national outcry, a grading algorithm used by Ofqual, the exams regulator, was dropped in favour of teacher-assessed grades.” – The Times

  • Schools turn to private sector for Covid-19 tests – FT
  • Legal threat over anti-capitalist guidance for schools in England – The Guardian

Editorial:

  • Axing next year’s assessments would let down another cohort of school leavers – The Times

EU ‘cautious’ on progress of UK trade talks

“EU officials have urged caution on the progress of trade talks with the UK even after some officials in London spoke optimistically of a breakthrough in the discussions. With the latest round of negotiations set to wrap up on Friday, Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, is expected to set a high bar before agreeing to enter intensified “submarine” talks of senior officials aimed at embarking on a final push for a deal. In closed-door meetings in Brussels, the EU’s Brexit negotiator has insisted that progress needs to be made in four key areas — fisheries, assurances of a level playing field for business, governance arrangements and justice co-operation. Several EU diplomats said they did not expect submarine talks — also known as the “tunnel” — to begin as soon as next week, with several predicting that this would not happen until after a summit on October 15 and 16, when Mr Barnier is set to report on progress to EU leaders.” – FT

  • Gove insists agreement with Brussels is still possible – Daily Mail

Internal Market Bill:

  • EU sues over breach of Brexit treaty… – The Times
  • …but Johnson ‘shrugs off’ the threat – The Sun

Comment:

  • Given the EU’s bad faith, it cannot bring to heel a sovereign Britain – Martin Howe and Clive Thorne, Daily Telegraph

Patel and Foreign Office ‘at war’ over asylum plans

“The Foreign Office has been accused by Priti Patel’s allies of leaking “bizarre and unworkable” asylum policies to discredit her in an intensifying Whitehall blame game. It was reported this week that the home secretary had asked officials to consider the construction of an asylum processing centre on Ascension Island, a British overseas territory more than 4,000 miles from the UK. The Home Office distanced itself from the plans and it subsequently emerged that Downing Street had commissioned the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office to explore options for overseas processing of asylum seekers. The Times disclosed yesterday that the government’s favoured option was to process migrants on disused ferries moored off the British coast… Foreign Office sources dismissed the claims, while another ally of Ms Patel said that many of the policies had been drawn up by a Cabinet Office task force.” – The Times

  • Home Office deports lone asylum seeker on £30,000 chartered flight – Daily Telegraph
  • Government in secret consultation with maritime industry over measures to prevent crossings – FT
  • Home Office moved Covid-affected asylum seekers against orders – The Guardian

Editorial:

  • Refusal to publish report into Home Secretary’s alleged bullying reflects badly on Johnson – The Times
  • UK ideas for offshore asylum processing centres pose a risk to human rights – FT

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Ascension Island: a leak that tells us more about the inside of the Home Office than government policy

Chancellor urged to cut broadband tax and save households nearly £2billion a year

“Chancellor Rishi Sunak is being urged to cut broadband tax and save households nearly £2 billion a year. Tory MPs and broadband start-ups want the Treasury to slash the VAT on high speed internet from 20 per cent to five per cent – which would save the average household around £70 a year. Jonathan Gullis and Dehenna Davison, MPs in “red wall” ex-Labour seat, plus top Tories Tom Tugendhat and Tracey Crouch have written to Mr Sunak. The broadband rate of 20 per cent is four times higher than other utilities, and CEO of broadband startup Cuckoo Alexander Fitzgerald has joined the MPs in calling for the cut. They argue that the tax rate should reflect the fact the internet is a necessity, not a luxury. Jonathan Gullis, MP for Stoke-on-Trent North, said: “I am passionate about our Government’s levelling up agenda, helping to create jobs and growth right across the country.” – The Sun

  • With Johnson’s power ebbing, Labour is right to turn the spotlight on Sunak – Gaby Hinsliff, The Guardian

>Today: Iain Dale’s column: Covid-19. There is no good reason why the arts sector should get a billion pound bailout while coach operators do not

>Yesterday: Stephen Crabb MP in Comment: Sunak must extend the uplift to Universal Credit – and make his intentions clear now

SNP MP under police investigation after taking Covid to the Commons

“An SNP MP broke Covid laws twice by bringing coronavirus into Parliament before travelling home to Scotland on a train despite knowing she had the virus. SNP frontbencher Margaret Ferrier was under police investigation on Thursday night and faces a potential £4,000 fine for “reckless” behaviour after testing positive for the virus on Monday. The MP then failed to inform her party of her test result, keeping it secret for two days. It was not until Wednesday that the party was told and was able to notify Parliamentary authorities. She was suspended by the SNP on Thursday night as Commons authorities and NHS contact tracers scrambled to track down everyone she had come into contact with and began a deep clean of Parliament. Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP leader and Scottish First Minister, said Ms Ferrier’s actions were “utterly indefensible” as her future as an MP was called into question.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Nationalists muddy the waters on when they knew – Twitter
  • Sturgeon breaks silence in furious outburst – Daily Express

Editorial:

  • Hoyle’s sure-footed stewardship is restoring dignity to the Commons’ role – The Times

>Yesterday: Henry Hill’s Red, White, and Blue column: Beneath its rosy poll ratings, time is catching up with the Scottish Government

Trump and wife Melania test positive for coronavirus

“President Trump has announced that he and his wife Melania have both tested positive for coronavirus, throwing the White House into a health crisis only 32 days before the election. The president, 74, had announced last night that he and the first lady were entering self-quarantine as they awaited test results after Hope Hicks, a close aide, tested positive. But in the early hours of this morning the situation escalated dramatically. “Tonight, the first lady and I tested positive for COVID-19,” Mr Trump wrote on Twitter. “We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!” A memorandum from the White House doctor stated that Mr Trump and Mrs Trump “are both well at this time, and they plan to remain at home within the White House during their convalescence”.” – The Times

  • GOP still has time to pick a replacement – Daily Mail
  • President is ‘worst offender’ for spreading fake health news – The Times

News in Brief:

  • Prime ministers can’t pick the crises that define them – James Forsyth, The Spectator
  • State aid is the biggest Brexit dispute – but there is a workable compromise – Professor Steve Peers, CapX
  • How unions cower from Covid – Paul Embery, UnHerd
  • Japan’s new Prime Minister is taking on the post-War status quo – Gabriel Gavin, Reaction
  • Trial by jury – Joshua Rozenberg, The Critic

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