ConservativeHome Newslinks for Saturday 31st October 2020

Published:

Coronavirus 1) Johnson will unveil tough new regional lockdowns today…

“Boris Johnson is expected to place Liverpool under tough coronavirus rules today as he announces a new tiered local lockdown system amid fraying relations with leaders in the north. The prime minister will chair a meeting of the Cobra emergency committee to finalise new interventions to curb the virus, having briefed cabinet ministers last night. He will then make a statement in the Commons before hosting a televised press conference at about 6pm with Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, and Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer for England. MPs will be asked to debate and vote on the measures this week. The strictest of the three new alert levels, labelled “very high”, is expected to entail the closure of pubs, bars, casinos and gyms.” – The Times

  • Pubs, gyms, casinos, bookmakers and social clubs to shut for at least a month and up to six months in parts of the country – Daily Telegraph
  • Areas to be divided into Media, High and Very High Risk – Daily Mail
  • Second national lockdown looms, scientist warns – The Times
  • Virus can live for 28 days on phone screens – The Times
  • Cancer and heart patients could be left to cope alone – The Times
Explained:
>Today:

Coronavirus 2 ) … but Northern leaders refuse to call time on pubs and restaurants

“The prime minister is under pressure not to close hospitality venues in the north’s coronavirus hotspots. Although lockdown measures are expected to be announced for Liverpool today, conversations are continuing about restrictions in areas including Greater Manchester and Lancashire, which also have high infection rates. Politicians in both regions are strongly opposed to any closures in the hospitality sector, which are expected should they be placed in the third tier of virus restrictions. In a joint letter published yesterday, five Manchester Labour MPs wrote that transmission in hospitality settings “constitutes a very small proportion of infection rates”.”  The Times

  • Calls to end secrecy of body driving the UK’s Covid lockdowns – Daily Telegraph
  • Manchester leaders threaten to sue the Government – Daily Mail

Coronavirus 3) Jonathan Van-Tam: History will repeat if we do not act

“In our fight against Covid-19, we are at a tipping point similar to where we were in March; but we can prevent history repeating itself if we all act now. Data shows that an estimated 224,000 people have the virus. Hospital admissions are rising again, as are intensive-care admissions. Sadly, just as night follows day, increases in deaths will now follow on in the next few weeks. The R for the UK is between 1.2-1.5. Roughly this means that every one case generates more than one new case, through onward transmission — so the epidemic grows larger. Sage is clear that we need to act now. Winter in the NHS is always a difficult period. We are in the middle of a severe pandemic and the seasons are against us. We are running into a headwind.” – The Times

Coronavirus 4) Arts groups to receive cash lifeline from £257m bailout fund

“The government has claimed that 1,300 arts organisations are going to be saved by a £250 million bailout fund which it releases today. Theatres, arts venues and museums will be told this morning whether they were successful in claiming grants of up to £1m. The Old Vic theatre in Bristol, Wigmore Hall in London and the Birmingham Royal Ballet were among the small number of successful applicants announced by the government yesterday. The government said that the £257 million pot would “save 1,385 theatres, galleries, performance groups, arts organisations, museums and local venues facing the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and ensure they have a sustainable future”.” – The Times

Coronavirus 5) Councils to take greater role in contact tracing

“Councils are about to be given greater responsibility for contact tracing in an acknowledgement that local tracers have been far more effective than the national system. Robert Jenrick, the communities secretary, said that the government was going to be “making use of local councils to do contact tracing” because there was “clear evidence that local councils are good at that”. “People who know their own community, particularly harder to reach communities, are bound to be better than Whitehall or national contact tracers so we’re going to be supporting them to do that,” he told The Andrew Marr Show on BBC One.” – The Times

  • NHS axes 2,000 test and trace jobs – Daily Mail

Coronavirus 6) Iain Duncan Smith says Government should unleash £460m benefit reform in wake of Covid

Threat of no-deal Brexit grows as France digs in over fishing rights

“France has threatened a no-deal Brexit unless Britain backs down on fishing rights for French boats, fuelling fears that President Macron will threaten to block negotiations at a European Union summit this week. France, and other coastal states, face massive cuts to fishing quotas at the end of the Brexit transition period this year unless the government compromises. Annick Girardin, the French fishing minister, described British proposals to regain sovereignty over coastal waters and fisheries, under international law, as “unacceptable”. “Fishermen would rather have no agreement than a bad agreement,” she told Le Journal du Dimanche.” – The Times

  • Ministers blasted for using arcane Parliamentary rules to block MPs from voting on plan to prevent chlorinated chicken imports under a UK-US trade deal – Daily Mail
  • EU countries preparing for no-deal Brexit and potential ‘chaos’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Firms move €150bn of UK assets to France ahead of Brexit – Daily Telegraph
  • Uploading a photo outside EU could cost £30 if trade deals don’t extend free roaming – Daily Telegraph
Comment:
>Today:

The Times picks up ConHome’s story about Loughton and the Grimes case

“Scotland Yard’s criminal investigation of a conservative activist over his interview with the historian David Starkey is “sinister and foolish”, according to a former director of public prosecutions. Lord Macdonald of River Glaven said the Metropolitan Police’s pursuit of Darren Grimes, a pro-Brexit campaigner, was “deeply threatening of free speech”. Mr Grimes, 27, has said that police want to interview him under caution over a controversial interview uploaded to YouTube in the summer, in which Dr Starkey said that slavery could not have been genocide as there are “so many damn blacks” still around. Mr Grimes is facing investigation for an offence of stirring up racial hatred, which falls under the Public Order Act. The offence carries a maximum penalty of seven years in prison.” – The Times

  • Scotland Yard vows to continue its investigation – Daily Mail

RAF is forced to strip old jets for spare parts to keep the rest of the fleet in the air

“The RAF has been forced to strip parts from 17 fighter jets to keep the rest of the fleet operational. An official document released by the cash-strapped Ministry of Defence showed that British taxpayers paid £17.6 billion for 160 Typhoons. But new figures from this year show that the number of RAF Typhoons in service is only 139. Four of the aircraft were never in the fleet, with three used for development flying, meaning 17 Typhoons are being used as spares to keep others flying in a project the RAF calls ‘reduce to produce’ in a bid to save money. The cost of the aircraft that have been cannibalised is £1.1 billion.” – Daily Mail

British plan for nets to snag migrant boats

“Nets could be used to stop migrants in dinghies from crossing the Channel, according to a former Royal Marine appointed to halt such arrivals. Dan O’Mahoney, the Home Office’s clandestine channel threat commander, said authorities were close to being able to use nets as part of a “safe-return tactic” which would see migrants taken back to France on British vessels. The tactic was designed to make boats inoperable, Mr O’Mahoney said, but it was being held up by France’s refusal to accept intercepted migrants. In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, Mr O’Mahoney detailed a plan designed to stem the flow of migrants to the UK.” – The Times

Academics want say over university deals with hostile regimes

“Professors are demanding that university bosses consult them over deals with repressive regimes as they attempt to tackle threats to academic freedom on campuses. Academics across the country have drawn up a series of demands in response to concerns that university administrations have been ignoring foreign interference for years. Scholars at Edinburgh, Exeter, Goldsmiths, King’s College London, Lincoln, LSE, Oxford and the School of Advanced Study have formed the Academic Freedom and Internationalisation Working Group to address the issue.” – The Times

  • ‘No support’ for academics facing threats from authoritarian states – The Times

Honours system is being brought ‘into disrepute’, MPs warn

“Whitehall officials have no idea how many recipients of honours have paid vast sums for help to get their awards, a Daily Mail investigation reveals. The damning findings bring the entire honours system ‘into disrepute’, MPs have warned. Specialist firms boast they can improve your chances of getting an honour dramatically, charging clients up to £40,000 to deliver even knighthoods or damehoods. The awards for hundreds of those named in the delayed Queen’s Birthday Honours List on Saturday may be tainted by the involvement of the fixers. Applicants putting forward a candidate for an honour are required to tick a box on the entry form if one of the fixer firms has been used.” – Daily Mail

Smart traffic lights will turn green for cyclists

“Cyclists will be given priority at junctions for the first time under plans for a new generation of smart traffic lights. Technology is being tested and developed in three cities that will enable traffic lights to “see” approaching cyclists and change to green, allowing them to ride straight through. The system, which uses cameras and artificial intelligence (AI), is designed to make busy roads more cycle-friendly while reducing the likelihood of accidents. It also acknowledges the fact that some cyclists fail to stop at red lights, putting them at risk of being hit by a vehicle. The move is being made after a government report was published last week suggesting a boom in the number of people taking to their bikes in towns and cities across Britain during the coronavirus lockdown.” – The Times

News in brief:

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