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Pincer move on Johnson 1) Labour presses for a national shutdown and more restrictions…

“Keir Starmer knew he would shatter any semblance of political consensus in the UK over the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic when he called a press conference in London on Tuesday evening. Britain’s leader of the opposition had for months broadly backed the government’s approach to tackling the crisis while finding plenty to fault with actual delivery. Sir Keir on Tuesday made an unambiguous call for a different approach: a two-week national lockdown dubbed a “circuit breaker” to halt the surge in infections. It was not an impulsive decision. A Covid-19 subcommittee of Labour’s shadow cabinet, featuring seven of the party’s most senior MPs, was already leaning towards the idea of a circuit breaker when it met on Saturday morning.” – FT

  • Manchester mayor threatens to sue the Prime Minister if he tries to force city into Tier 3 – The Sun
  • Khan and ministers discuss restrictions on socialising indoors – FT
  • UK doctors and health experts back Covid-19 ‘circuit breaker’ – The Guardian

Home Nations:

  • Wales says it will ban people from Covid hotspots in England travelling across the border – Daily Mail
  • Sturgeon examining Wales-style cross-border travel ban – Daily Telegraph
  • Northern Ireland unveils new curbs as Covid tests political consensus – FT

>Today: Meghan Gallacher in Local Government: The shambolic new restrictions in Scotland are a blow to the hospitality sector

>Yesterday:

Pincer move on Johnson 2) …while Sunak leads the resistance to it…

“Rishi Sunak warned against “rushing to another lockdown” and made clear his opposition to a national “circuit-breaker” as he said the country faced an “economic emergency”. Ministers are braced for the announcement of a two-week lockdown – which they expect to be made a week on Friday if coronavirus infections continue to rise – after Boris Johnson told MPs: “I rule nothing out.” But the Chancellor described a temporary national lockdown as “a blunt instrument” on Wednesday, saying it would “cause needless damage to parts of our country where virus rates are low”. Mr Johnson is understood to be studying plans for a region-by-region “circuit-breaker” in England, beginning in the last week of the month, but the Prime Minister wants to give the new three-tier system a chance to bring infection rates down before making a final decision.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Doubts over UK’s Covid test ambitions after trial scaled back – The Guardian
  • Quarantine for people returning to the UK is set be slashed to seven days – Daily Mail

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

>Yesterday: MPs Etc.: The forty-two Conservative MPs who voted against the Government on the 10pm curfew

Pincer move on Johnson 3) …and the Prime Minister himself looks for a way out

“London is on the brink of a local lockdown that would bring another nine million people under tough restrictions on socialising and travelling. Sadiq Khan, the mayor, briefed the capital’s health chiefs about the move into the “high” Tier 2 coronavirus category after a meeting of the Joint Biosecurity Centre yesterday and an announcement could come as soon as tomorrow. The meeting, chaired by Matt Hancock, the health secretary, and Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer for England, also recommended that most of the northwest and northeast and large parts of Yorkshire and the Midlands be placed in the “very high” Tier 3. Boris Johnson is working on plans to adopt a version of a “circuit-breaker” full lockdown timed to coincide with English schools’ half-term, which for most begins on October 26.” – The Times

  • Johnson’s virus strategy threatened by regional revolt – FT
  • NHS staff in northern England ‘exhausted’ amid second wave fears – The Guardian
  • Track and trace consultants are paid £7,360 a day – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Sweden. Once the outlier. But a new localised approach brings it closer to other countries.

Allister Heath: A vicious cycle of lockdowns would condemn Britain to terminal decline

“Once one accepts the logic of shutting down society each time Covid reaches a certain prevalence, a third and perhaps even fourth lockdown become inevitable before the winter is up. It would lead to the most expensive game of whack-a-mole ever played. A vicious circle of stop-go lockdowns would be a catastrophic indictment of Government policy, an admission of total defeat, a victory of fear and emotion over reason, an appalling signal that Britain has now become so culturally dysfunctional, so decadent as to be utterly incapable of any rational cost-benefit analysis. We would no longer be a free society tolerating an exceptional, temporary shutdown to allow our scandalously unprepared establishment to learn to manage a terrible situation. Instead, we would have transitioned to a world of permanent emergency, a wartime society whereby individual rights and lives were permanently suppressed for an ill-defined, ever-shifting “national interest”.” – Daily Telegraph

  • How is ‘petulant, shockingly ignorant’ Hancock still in a job? – Professor Angus Dalgleish, Daily Mail

>Yesterday:

Germany warn France to back down on demands to fish UK waters

“Germany warned France last night to back down on demands to fish UK waters or “get nothing” in a major Brexit split. British negotiators agreed to carry on talking despite Boris Johnson’s trade deal deadline set for today as the EU big beasts began to fracture on avoiding No Deal. Emmanual Macron was warned by German government figures that his hardline fishing demand risks talks collapsing and leaving the whole EU empty-handed. Berlin warned the French President that the entire bloc will see its boats shut out of UK waters and their quotas cut to “zero” if he doesn’t compromise. A source close to Angela Merkel sounded the alarm ahead of EU leaders gathering in Brussels today for a crucial showdown on the state of the talks. A German government source said: “Everybody knows if there’s No Deal then the EU quota in British waters will be zero. Now it’s 100.”” – The Sun

  • Give Brexit trade talks time, Lord Frost advises – The Times
  • European businesses urge UK trade deal to avoid ‘brutal split’ – FT
  • Sturgeon could force Boris into ‘last-minute surrender to EU demands’ – Daily Express

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

Dowden: We cannot let TV licence fee dodging become acceptable

“The culture secretary has cast doubt on plans to decriminalise licence-fee evasion by warning that the government must not send the message that payment dodging is acceptable. Oliver Dowden admitted yesterday that there were “major challenges” in ending the prosecution of people who refused to buy a TV licence, as he formally launched the recruitment process for the next BBC chairman. Decriminalisation has been pushed by No 10 as a means to “whack” the corporation, cutting its revenues by an estimated £250 million a year. Replacing the criminal sanction with a civil penalty – removing the threat of jail for evaders – had been described as a “done deal” by government sources, but Mr Dowden indicated that he had reservations about the proposed reforms.” – The Times

SNP claims independence now Scots’ ‘settled will’

“Separating from the UK is now Scotland’s “settled will”, the SNP has claimed after an opinion poll showed support for independence has increased to a record 58 per cent. The Ipsos Mori survey for STV said only 42 per cent would reject separation in another referendum, compared to the 55 per cent who voted No in 2014. Almost two-thirds of Scots said the UK Government should allow another vote to be held within five years if the SNP wins a majority of seats in May’s Holyrood election. The poll also showed Ms Sturgeon is on course for a landslide victory, with support for the Nationalists at 58 per cent in the constituency vote and 47 per cent in the regional vote. The Scottish Conservatives polled only 19 per cent in each, while support for Labour slumped to a dismal 13 per cent, despite its recent up-tick in fortunes in England under Sir Keir Starmer’s leadership.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Support for Scottish independence surges to record high – The Sun
  • Johnson urged to stop ‘forgetting’ Scotland to save the Union – Daily Express
  • Union under strain amid border coronavirus restrictions – The Times

Starkey inquiry on hold after public backlash over free speech

“Scotland Yard has rowed back on its investigation into the historian David Starkey’s claims about slavery after a public backlash over free speech concerns. A senior officer is reviewing whether it was proportionate for police to pursue Dr Starkey and Darren Grimes, the conservative political activist who interviewed him. The pair were due to attend interviews under caution but they have been postponed. Both men were placed under investigation on September 25 for the public order offence of stirring up racial hatred after Dr Starkey, 75, said that slavery was not genocide because “otherwise there wouldn’t be so many damn blacks in Africa or in Britain”. Mr Grimes, 27, published their exchange on his YouTube channel. Dr Starkey was widely criticised and stripped of academic honours after the interview was broadcast while Mr Grimes, who came to prominence when he founded the youth-focused, pro-Brexit group BeLeave, apologised for failing to challenge him.” – The Times

  • Is following up his ‘public order offence’ really necessary? – Michael Deacon, Daily Telegraph

News in Brief:

  • The row over Covid recovery payments exposes EU hypocrisy over the rule of law – Kai Weiss, CapX
  • Get yourself to Sweden, while you still can – Matthew Parris, The Spectator
  • Ask why we are being once again deprived of freedom – Nicholas Gardner, 1828
  • Britain’s Brexit deadline abandoned – David Scullion, The Critic
  • Do men really hate women? – James Bloodworth, UnHerd

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