Coronavirus 1) Manchester forced into highest level of Covid lockdown…

“Boris Johnson imposed tougher coronavirus restrictions on Greater Manchester last night and attempted to use a £60 million rescue package to make its mayor fall into line. Mr Johnson pulled the plug on talks with Andy Burnham over the scale of the funding despite the two sides being separated by only £5 million. Mr Burnham had wanted £65 million to support businesses. The prime minister then put the region’s three million people into the highest tier of the Covid-19 alert system and refused at a press conference to guarantee the original £60 million package in an apparent attempt to punish Mr Burnham. Although Downing Street said later that it remained on the table, Matt Hancock, the health secretary, made it conditional on “further discussions” with local leaders.” – The Times

  • Deal or no deal, Andy Burnham has set a precedent for the regions – The Times
  • How the Greater Manchester lockdown talks collapsed over just £5m – Daily Telegraph
  • Cummings’ trip to Durham undermined government, says Sedwill – BBC

Coronavirus 2) …as Northern cities are told they could be next

“Northern cities have been put on notice that more could follow Manchester into tough Covid restrictions by the weekend as Boris Johnson suggested that full-scale regional lockdowns may be close. Greater Manchester will be put into Tier 3 from midnight on Thursday against the will of its leaders after they failed to agree a financial deal with ministers. It comes after 11 days of wrangling that have threatened to derail the Government’s three-tier system and pitted Tory MPs in the North against the Prime Minister. South Yorkshire’s leaders are expected to agree to be placed into Tier 3 on Wednesday, with West Yorkshire, the North-East, Teesside and Nottingham also in discussions with the Government.” – Daily Telegraph

Coronavirus 3) Gove pledges to reset relations with devolved capitals

“Boris Johnson’s government is to seek to patch up its working relationship with the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland after a bruising period in which they have clashed over the handling of the coronavirus crisis. Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister, told the Financial Times that a review of intergovernmental structures would be accelerated in order to put relations between London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast on a “firmer basis”. Other steps will include more regular meetings of UK ministers with their counterparts from the devolved administrations, with all sides able to place items on the agenda. This has been a key demand from the Welsh administration in particular.” – FT

Coronavirus 4) Michael Deacon – An enraged Andy Burnham, a rueful Boris Johnson… and a day of total Covid chaos

“It was an afternoon of bewilderment, outcry and chaos. No one seemed to know for certain how much money the Prime Minister was going to give Greater Manchester. So reporters tried to ask the Prime Minister himself. Unfortunately, however, he didn’t seem to know either. It began like this. The Government was about to place Greater Manchester in Tier Three, which would mean damaging restrictions on local businesses. To support those businesses and their staff, Andy Burnham, the local mayor, had demanded £90m, but was willing to accept what he called “a bare minimum” of £65m. The Government was offering £60m. Not a huge gap.” – Daily Telegraph


Coronavirus 5) Sunak and Johnson at odds over spending

“Rishi Sunak is battling with Boris Johnson to delay tens of billions of pounds of infrastructure and military spending that he believes coronavirus-ravaged public finances can no longer afford. The chancellor is pressing for a pared-back spending round next month that will give most Whitehall departments just one year’s cash for day-to-day spending. Mr Sunak also wants to scale down plans to spend the bulk of £100 billion in capital projects promised by Mr Johnson in the Conservative manifesto over the next three years. That has plunged into doubt whether the promised military and diplomatic overhaul will be unveiled next month at the conclusion of the so-called integrated review.” – The Times

  • Sunak is working on package to help companies stuck in Tier Two coronavirus lockdown, says Treasury staff – Daily Mail

Coronavirus 6) Van-Tam rejects a nationwide coronavirus circuit-break in boost for PM

“A national circuit-breaker lockdown would be “difficult to justify” for low infection areas, the deputy chief medical officer for England said. Jonathan Van-Tam offered a boost to Boris Johnson’s regional strategy when he became the first government scientific adviser to speak against a fortnight half-term lockdown, which was proposed by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies. “A national lockdown at the moment would be inappropriate for communities in Cornwall and East Anglia,” he said at a Downing Street press conference yesterday. “The epidemiology is so varied across England that I think it would be very difficult to justify for some communities.”” – The Times

  • Failure to act on “circuit breaker” will cost billions, says Labour – The Guardian
  • Daily coronavirus deaths exceed 200 for the first time since June – The Times
  • Covid cases reported at nearly half of England’s secondary schools – The Times
  • Lung cancer referrals fall by three quarters – The Times
  • Spain prepares for state of emergency as Covid cases approved one million – The Times

Coronavirus 7) ‘No sign of second wave’ as ONS data shows normal level of deaths for time of year

“There is no sign of a second coronavirus wave, experts have said as new Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures showed that deaths are just 1.5 per cent above the five-year average and tracking on a normal trajectory for the time of year. Although Covid deaths rose to 438 for the week ending October 9 – an increase of 36 per cent from the previous week, when the figure stood at 321 – overall deaths rose just 143 above the five-year average.  There were also 19 fewer overall deaths than in the same week last year. Experts at Oxford University said the number would have to get to 1,200 deaths above the norm before it would usually be considered “excess” above the expected variation in the data.” – Daily Telegraph

British shipbuilding gets boost as new support ships to be built by UK-led teams

“UK shipbuilding has been boosted after the Defence Secretary announced that the three new support ships for Royal Navy aircraft carriers will be made by British-led teams. A competition to build the new £1.5 billion Fleet Solid Support vessels to support HMS Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales as part of the Carrier Strike Group, which will undertake its first operational deployment next year, will launch in spring 2021. While it will invite international companies to collaborate with UK firms, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) stressed that the successful manufacturing team must be led by a British company.” – Daily Telegraph

Brexit: Make the most of little time left to get a deal, Barnier tells UK

“Britain should make the most of the little time left to get a trade deal, Michel Barnier warned as he refused to meet the government’s condition for restarting talks. After a brief call with Lord Frost, the chief British negotiator, Mr Barnier failed to indicate “acceptance that movement needs to come from the EU side as well as the UK”, a requirement set by Downing Street on Monday. “My message: we should be making the most out of the little time left,” Mr Barnier tweeted after the call. “Our door remains open.” France also dismissed Downing Street’s demand as Clément Beaune, the French Europe minister, told MPs that there would be “no new approach” from the EU.” – The Times

  • ‘Brexit is like moving house’ Gove tells business in ‘disastrous’ conference call – Daily Telegraph

Teaching children that ‘white privilege’ is a fact is illegal, warns Badenoch

“Schools that teach children that white privilege is an uncontested fact are in breach of the law, the women and equalities minister has warned. Speaking in the Commons debate on Black History Month, Kemi Badenoch said that teaching pupils about ‘white privilege and their inherited racial guilt’ would see a ‘dangerous trend in race relations’. The Conservative MP warned that teaching partisan political views, such as defunding the police, without offering a balanced treatment of opposing opinions, would also be illegal. Her comments come as schools and universities across the UK are urged to ‘decolonise’ the curriculum and examine their courses in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests.” – Daily Mail

Government threatens to take direct control of Transport for London

“Ministers have threatened to take direct control of Transport for London unless mayor Sadiq Khan accepts a package of measures including higher council tax, a much larger congestion charge zone and higher tube and bus fares in return for rescue funding. The mayor is seeking a £4.9bn settlement for the next 18 months to bail out TfL whose passenger numbers and revenues have shrunk since Covid-19 restrictions were introduced in March. The government gave an initial six-month package worth £1.6bn to the transport authority in May. Last Friday the deadline for the increasingly acrimonious talks was pushed back by another two weeks and the board of TfL is holding a crunch meeting on Wednesday.” – FT

Creasy introduces Equal Pay Bill – which would give women ‘right to know’ what male colleagues earn

“Women in the workplace need to be given a ‘right to know’ what their male colleagues earn in order to challenge pay discrimination without having to go to an employment tribunal, a Labour MP has said. Introducing her Equal Pay (Information and Claims) Bill, Labour MP Stella Creasy said many companies operate a ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ policy when it comes to unequal pay, and she added that greater pay transparency would help to close the gender pay gap. The legislation has cross-party backing, with supporters including the Chair of the Women and Equalities Committee, Caroline Nokes; the Liberal Democrats’ Christine Jardine; the SNP’s Anne McLaughlin and Green Party MP Caroline Lucas.” – Daily Mail

News in brief: