ConHome’s campaign for Government lockdown assessments begins to pay off.  Sunak tasks Treasury civil servants with publishing economic dossier.

“Treasury officials have been tasked with publishing the economic cost of lockdown alongside daily Covid data, The Mail on Sunday can reveal. Rishi Sunak has asked civil servants to find ways to illustrate the ‘other trade-offs’ amid concerns over the deaths and harm caused by coronavirus restrictions. The Treasury’s own economic modelling, currently available only to Ministers, could be presented alongside the Covid statistics seen by the public. Officials have been examining the best way to use economic data to ‘contextualise’ the death and infection figures with which the public has been presented since the start of the pandemic.” – Mail on Sunday

Other Covid-19, shutdown and restrictions news:

  • Chaos in Wales over “non-essential items”: one store allows Christmas crackers and Halloween decorations to go on sale, but not socks and tights – Mail on Sunday
  • Army drafted into Tier Three areas – Sunday Telegraph
  • Jenkin says Dido Harding should quit – Observer
  • SAGE: only ten per cent last the full 14 days when told to self-isolate – Sun on Sunday
  • Isolation for test and trace could be halved – Sunday Telegraph
  • Vaccine for NHS workers by New Year claim – Mail on Sunday
  • Ferguson warns of Christmas killer season – Sun on Sunday
  • How the elderly paid the price of protecting the NHS from the virus – Sunday Times
  • Confrontational Mayor news: has Burnham row cooled Johnson’s appetite for more Mayors? – Mail on Sunday
  • Cooperative Labour Mayor news: Jarvis prepared to ask for more – Sun on Sunday
  • We must see no repeat of the guidance that abandoned older people to Covid – Sunday Times Editorial
  • Let’s have a graph of deaths caused by lockdowns – Sun on Sunday Editorial

Covid comment:

> Today: ToryDiary – Our campaign for Government assessments of lockdown effects on lives and livelihoods begins to pay off

> Yesterday:

Sunak rows and Tory splits 1) Chancellor digs in over free school meals…

“Amid growing concern in Tory ranks, Mr Sunak said he would not stump up the cash to feed 1.4million deprived kids outside term-time. Jittery backbench MPs began voicing worries as the Man United star’s campaign was backed by 100 councils, restaurants and more than 760,000 people who signed a petition. One senior Tory warned the row could soon become a “poll tax moment” for PM Boris Johnson, referring to the policy which led to Margaret Thatcher’s downfall. And a Cabinet minister said: “No 10 and Treasury policy advisers are standing firm. But they don’t have to go back to face angry voters in their constituencies every weekend.” – Sun on Sunday

Sunak rows and Tory splits 2) …As Tory MPs Bradley and Saxby & Halfon and Cartlidge divide over free school meals outside termtime

“Downing Street insisted yesterday that it would not back down over footballer Marcus Rashford’s campaign for free school meals – as Tory party rifts over the issue burst out into the open. Two Tory MPs were criticised for controversial remarks about the Manchester United player’s call for the meals to be funded over the school holidays until Easter 2021, with one suggesting that the money went to ‘crack dens and brothels’. The other implied hospitality firms which stepped in to offer free food did not need Government help…no 10 moved quickly to stress that an aide to Chancellor Rishi Sunak who promised a ‘detailed statement’ on the issue was speaking in a personal capacity and not signalling a U-turn” – Mail on Sunday

  • Bradley says free school meals cash in his constituency went to “crack dens and brothels” – Mail on Sunday
  • In Greater London, Conservative-controlled Hillingdon offers Rashford help. In the West Midlands, Street says free school meal decisions should be made “well in advance” – Observer
  • Children’s doctors attack Government over response to Rashford – Observer

Sunak rows and Tory splits 3) Sarah Vine: How could Number Ten turn free school meals into a dog’s dinner?

“This led to the deeply unedifying spectacle of MPs hurling insults at each other and the Tories being accused of saying that free school meals went to ‘crack dens and brothels’ (not what was said at all, but that was how Labour successfully spun it). And as if that wasn’t bad enough, local councils joined in – mostly Labour, but also some Tory ones – saying that if Ministers wouldn’t step in to feed hungry children, they would. At which point private businesses jumped on the bandwagon, also donating free food. The cherry on this omnishambles of a cake was McDonald’s pledging a million meals. When a fast-food chain makes you look like the bad guy, you know you’re in serious trouble.” – Mail on Sunday

Sunak rows and Tory splits 4) “Rift between Johnson and the Chancellor over defence spending”

“The prime minister is demanding that the chancellor guarantee defence spending for three years so he can launch a defence and security review next month. But after daily meetings between the two last week, Sunak is digging in, arguing that the uncertainty about Covid-19 and Brexit rules out a long-term plan. Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, is fighting for a budget increase so the armed forces can begin to make changes and keep the promise made in the Tory manifesto that defence spending would rise by 0.5% above inflation each year. Sunak is resisting this.” – Sunday Times

  • Sunak the winner: his supporters are “promising jobs in his soon-to-be Government to backbenchers” as his poll support soars – Mail on Sunday
  • Sunak the loser: he has messed on free school meals and on Manchester, and is losing the Cabinet war over lockdown – Dan Hodges, Mail on Sunday
  • Russian nuclear submarines “flood into North Atlantic” – Mail on Sunday

Sunak rows and Tory splits 5) Duncan Smith tears into the Treasury over Glen’s China speech

“Former Conservative Party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said: ‘We don’t want any more dependency on China, we want less. How can he [Glen] go and say this in the midst of the fact China has broken the Sino-British treaty on Hong Kong? Why is the Treasury still locked into the cultural cringe of aligning itself with an organisation like the 48 Group?’ Sir Iain added that Mr Glen’s speech ‘would have been written for him – that shows you exactly where the Treasury are. They are pro, pro, pro China. They are still in Project Kowtow’. Mr Glen was pictured at the event alongside Liu Xiaoming, the Chinese Ambassador, and Stephen Perry, chairman of the 48 Group.” – Mail on Sunday

Conservative MPs suffer threats and abuse after Rayner “scum” heckle

“Tory MPs have suffered “widespread abuse” after Labour’s deputy leader, Angela Rayner, referred to one as “scum” in a heated parliamentary debate, the party’s co-chairman has said. More than 100 Tory MPs have signed an open letter promoted by Amanda Milling MP urging the Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, to take action against all party members who perpetrate “unacceptable abuse online and offline”…The letter, signed by 112 MPs, says Rayner’s language led to the phrase “Tory scum” trending on Twitter, abusive phone calls and MPs’ offices being targeted. It added: “This has not only affected MPs but also their hard-working staff and supportive families, the vast majority of whom are not public figures.” Labour has been contacted for comment.” – Observer

Government reduces minimum salary for migrant settlement by almost 30 per cent

“The government has quietly reduced the £35,800 minimum salary for migrants to settle in the UK by almost 30%, it has emerged. Migrants on salaries of £20,480 but with enough points under Boris Johnson’s new Australian-style immigration system to qualify for jobs where there is a shortage of workers will also be entitled to settle after six years and become citizens. The rules, which come into force on 1 December, were published on Thursday by the Home Office, with the general threshold lowered to £25,600 as the government tacitly acknowledged the essential contribution that lower paid migrant workers make to the UK.” – Observer

  • I will keep out dangerous foreign criminals – Priti Patel, Sun on Sunday

Tory grassroots call for HS2 to be cancelled

“A report by the party’s official grassroots think tank highlights demands for the £100 billion scheme to be cancelled, with members calling for construction of the rail line to start from the northern end, rather than London, if the Government presses ahead. John Penrose, the former minister who chairs the Conservative Policy Forum (CPF) said there was a “strong vein of scepticism about whether infrastructure projects move fast enough … or offer good enough value”. He added that the “particularly strong” doubts about HS2 could partly be down to the prospect of rates of intercity and commuter travel being permanently affected by Covid-19 and the shift to working at home.” – Sunday Telegraph

Penrose says watchdogs need stronger powers to tackle social media giants

“John Penrose, who is leading a Treasury review of competition laws, said that new rules are needed to prevent huge online corporations strangling rivals and ramping up prices. ‘That’s going to require some new tools,’ he added. Mr Penrose’s comments came to light after the American government started legal action against Google in the US courts, piling pressure on British politicians and regulators to follow suit. Mr Penrose, a senior Conservative MP, was last month appointed by Chancellor Rishi Sunak to review UK laws that are supposed to prevent big business becoming monopolies able to dictate prices and smother rivals.” – Mail on Sunday

Gove and Ross crank up Government fightback against SNP and independence

“At least two full-time government press officers will be assigned to combat Scottish National Party publicity, and further special advisers are likely to be recruited. Gove and Douglas Ross, the new Scottish Tory leader, are also talking to party donors about building up the campaign before Holyrood elections next year. Ministers have been shocked by polling evidence that the UK government has had no credit for the coronavirus furlough scheme, which Scottish voters believe is a Scottish government programme. They are also concerned that most broadcast appearances by UK ministers are never seen by Scottish voters.” – Sunday Times

Other political news:

Patrick O’Flynn: At last, a politician prepared to speak the truth on race – Kemi Badenoch

The Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch, who is of Nigerian heritage, gave an inspiring address that took apart the grievance-mongering agenda of Black Lives Matter and their Leftist fellow travellers. And even though it was indeed largely ignored by TV news programmes – clearly, it can’t have suited their agendas – the modern phenomenon of social media has turned it into an internet sensation, viewed more than two million times…Like a batsman hitting every delivery straight off the middle, Ms Badenoch reduced the opposition rabble to rubble.”We should not apologise for the fact that British children primarily study the history of these islands,” she said. “To make race the defining principle of what is studied is not just misguided but actively opposed to the fundamental purpose of education.” – Sunday Express

  • Why do liberals have such low expectations of black people like me? – Bim Afolami, Mail on Sunday

Trump votes as polls shown Biden ahead

The 74-year-old, who has previously described postal voting as corrupt, went to Palm Beach County Main Library and left saying: ‘It was a very secure vote. Everything was perfect.’ However, he again lashed out at mail-in voting which he warned ‘could fall victim to fraud and cost me the election’, adding: ‘You cannot have security like this with mail-in votes.’ Just days after appearing to snatch her hand away from Mr Trump’s palm after the Presidential TV debate on Thursday, First Lady Melania was noticeably absent from the trip to Florida. Latest polls show Mr Biden, 77, ahead in the race for the White House. An Ipsos poll yesterday had Mr Biden in front by eight points.” – Mail on Sunday