The new Tory rift over the North-South divide

“With Brexit all but done and the biggest Tory majority since the days of Margaret Thatcher, Boris Johnson should be the master of all he surveys… But nature abhors a vacuum, and the void that has been left by the civil war over Europe is rapidly being filled by a new internal schism: the North-South divide. Where Mrs May had the European Research Group of hardline Brexiteers gnawing away at her authority, Mr Johnson has the newly-launched Northern Research Group, becoming a magnet for backbench MPs with a gripe against him. Founded to represent the interests of MPs who took former “Red Wall” seats from Labour in 2019, its members are showing what is, for Number 10, a worrying lack of loyalty to the man whose popularity got them elected. With at least 55 adherents, the NRG has more than enough backing to overturn Mr Johnson’s Commons majority.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Prime Minister urged to deliver on his election pledge to help underperforming regions – FT
  • Many see MP’s letter expressing concerns over pledge to level up UK as a ‘blue wall’ rebellion – The Guardian
  • The north needs a way out of Covid lockdown, says Sunak – The Times


  • Johnson is no socialist, but his big spending will make Labour’s job harder – Tom Kibasi, The Guardian


  • These MPs fear the crisis will leave their constituents behind – The Times
  •  Johnson has a duty to see through his panic and recognise the grim impact of lockdown – The Sun

>Today: ToryDiary: Normal relations between the Conservative leader and Conservative MPs are breaking down

SAGE launches new push to put all of England ‘under Tier 3 lockdown by Christmas’

“All of England will need to be under severe Tier 3 Covid restrictions by mid-December, gloomy scientists have told ministers. It has dashed Boris Johnson’s hopes of a Christmas reprieve from lockdown rules. The Government’s Sage advisory body has warned that by the festive season, virus rates all over the country will soar past the levels seen in areas already put into the “very high” category. The Sun has learned that the ­latest government modelling overseen by chief scientist Sir Patrick Vallance shows more than 25,000 will be in hospital with the virus by the end of November — higher than the spring peak. That is also more than double the 9,199 who were battling the bug in hospital yesterday. The revelation came as the UK recorded its highest daily corona­virus death toll since May, with a further 367 fatalities and another 22,885 cases confirmed.” – The Sun

  • Dashboard designed to chart England’s Covid-19 response finds major gaps in data – The Guardian
  • Self-employed to lose thousands if emergency Covid help is axed – The Times
  • Sumption attacks government over coronavirus restrictions – FT


  • Welsh government issue list of approved ‘essential items’ – The Sun
  • Sturgeon faces backlash over Covid Levels system – Daily Express


  • Merkel plans ‘coronavirus lockdown-lite’ to protect German hospitals – The Times
  • French hospitals risk ‘saturation’ as Macron prepares to address the nation – Reuters

>Today: Daniel Hannan’s column: We need Ministers’ estimate of the cost of the lockdown to lives and livelihoods


Chancellor ‘set to keep £20 a week Universal Credit boost in place beyond next April’…

“Rishi Sunak is happy for the weekly £20 cash boost for Universal Credit claimants to stay in place beyond next April, The Sun has learnt. A source said he is “open to the idea” of extending the uplift, which was put in place last Spring to help Britain’s poorest families cope with the Covid crisis. They said the decision over whether to extend the extra weekly cash payment will depend on the state of the pandemic over the coming months. The extra cash costs the Treasury around £9billion a year. Ministers have so far refused to say whether the extra benefits will stay in place after the current financial year ends in April. It has been seen as a lifeline to Britain’s poorest families and adds an extra £1,040 to claimants’ income. A Treasury source told The Sun: “The Chancellor is open to the idea but it depends on where we are in spring next year in terms of the crisis.”” – The Sun

  • Labour criticises ‘class war’ attack ads aimed at Sunak – The Times
  • BBC in race row after Chancellor described as ‘what Prince Charles would look like in brownface’ – The Sun

…as food tsar ‘serves up £1bn meal plan’ to Johnson

“Boris Johnson’s food tsar said last night that the government had a “moral obligation” to stop disadvantaged children going hungry as he announced plans for a £1.2 billion programme to help those most in need. Henry Dimbleby, co-founder of the Leon restaurant chain and the government’s adviser on food strategy, has sent Downing Street a four-point plan to tackle child hunger and urged ministers to “set aside ideology”. The proposals include a holiday activity and food programme costing £500 million a year, a £100 million healthy food voucher scheme and a £670 million extension of the free school meals programme. Mr Dimbleby said in an interview with The Times that the government had “walked into a massive bear trap” over whether to provide free school meals during holidays and needed an “authentic and proportional” response.” – The Times

  • Sunak and Williamson in ‘furious’ row amid claims of ‘no funding requested’ for winter aid – The Sun
  • Treasury rejects claims it refused extra £150m for free school meals – The Guardian


Rafael Behr: Sunak’s ambition is about to clash with Johnson’s ego

“That is a foretaste of Tory civil strife to come. The party is ideologically unready for the long haul of government subsidy that decent pandemic management requires, and led by a man who is incapable of long-haul thinking about anything. MPs are doubly angry with Downing Street over the free school meal fiasco because it is a replay of the way the exact same issue was mishandled over the summer. A dangerous pattern has emerged. Johnson’s deficient attention span gets the government into trouble. The arrogant, pugnacious No 10 spin machine makes it worse, responding to criticism with denial and contempt. After a stubborn delay, the problem is patched with a clumsy U-turn. Any advantage from appearing to do the right thing is lost in the fog of incompetence.” – The Guardian

  • The conservative case against Rashford’s school meals plan – Jill Kirby, Daily Telegraph
  • Feed the children but help their parents too – James Kirkup, The Times

>Today: Ryan Bourne’s column: If you want to feed hungry children, don’t target food poverty. Aim to reduce poverty as a whole.

Johnson ‘faces Brexit bill defeat’ at pivotal moment

“Boris Johnson’s plan to flout international law over Brexit is set to be blocked by the House of Lords next month, throwing up an incendiary early test of relations with Joe Biden if he wins next week’s US election. Mr Biden has warned that Mr Johnson’s UK internal market bill would undermine the Northern Ireland peace process and that he would never sign a trade deal with the UK unless key clauses in the bill were removed. Members of parliament’s upper house are expected to oblige Mr Biden by voting overwhelmingly to throw out six clauses from the bill, which ministers have admitted will breach Britain’s withdrawal treaty, signed last year with the EU. The November 9 vote in the House of Lords will come less than a week after the US presidential election on November 3 and in the midst of what are likely to be the final stages of EU negotiations with the UK on a new trade deal.” – FT

  • Business leaders seek post-Brexit task force with Downing Street – FT
  • Management consultancy firms reap the rewards of Brexit bonanza – The Times
  • Deal within two weeks, predicts Irish minister, but ‘it won’t be easy’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Spain and Gibraltar seek last-minute Brexit deal – FT

Patel wants to give Britain’s ‘FBI’ new powers to tackle Russian and Chinese spies in UK

“Priti Patel wants to bring in new powers to tackle Russian and Chinese spies running amok in London. The Home Secretary wishes to move responsibility for counter-espionage from the Met to the National Crime Agency. Britain’s “FBI”, formed in 2013, has long been eyed for a major expansion in powers. It is the result of the NCA impressing multiple Home Secretaries with a string of high-profile successes. It is feared that tens of thousands of spies and assets from hostile states are operating in the UK at any time. The concern is that the Met are struggling to keep tabs on the growing underworld… The plan would likely cause a major row in law enforcement circles, but insiders insist it is at an “early stage”. Fighting spying on Britain’s streets could also set the NCA on a collision course with MI5, the intelligence agency that traditionally handles domestic threats.” – The Sun

Starmer ‘hits cyclist as he drives SUV to his tailor’

“Sir Keir Starmer has been in collision with a cyclist while driving an SUV to a private appointment with a tailor who caters to celebrities. Police are investigating the incident a short distance from the Labour leader’s home in Kentish Town, north London, just after midday on Sunday. The male cyclist was taken to hospital with an arm injury. Sir Keir, 58, is understood to have been driving to see Renzo Khan, whose clientele includes Jude Law, the Miliband brothers and the actress Billie Piper, for an adjustment to a suit. Mr Khan said: “He was supposed to come on Sunday, at 11 or 11.30am, but he had this accident and he cancelled and came on Monday instead.” Sources close to Sir Keir said that the appointment was flexible and that he was not running late. Sir Keir, the MP for Holborn & St Pancras and the former director of public prosecutions, issued a statement saying that he had spoken to an officer from the British Transport Police and waited for paramedics to arrive.” – The Times

  • Confusion as police say they have ‘no record’ of him speaking to an officer – Daily Telegraph

Democrats donate millions to unseat Graham and flip the Senate

“For those lining up to vote at the old library in downtown Charleston, the upcoming election is as much a referendum on Donald Trump’s most loyal lieutenant as it is on the president himself. Mr Trump may be top of the ticket but Lindsey Graham, Republican grandee and staunch Trump ally, is key to the party’s struggle to keep control of the Senate. The 65-year-old three-term incumbent senator is facing the toughest fight of his political life from Jaime Harrison, a rising Democrat star who has managed to break all fundraising records and galvanise anti-Trump anger across the country. “Graham and Trump are two sides of the same coin,” said 38-year-old designer Angela Morrison, thumping a red, white and blue “I voted” sticker on her chest outside the Charleston County Public Library. “A lot of people don’t like what they’ve seen, but a lot of South Carolinians are also scared of change.”” – Daily Telegraph

  • Rich Americans can afford to vote Biden but if you’re poor, it’ll be Trump – Steve Hilton, The Sun

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: The case for Trump turns out to be stronger than you may think

France encourages EU allies to take measures against Turkey after Erdogan’s boycott calls

“France encouraged EU allies to adopt measures against Turkey on Tuesday after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan questioned French President Emmanuel Macron’s mental health and called for a boycott of French goods. Earlier the same day, the EU Commission warned that Turkish membership of the bloc is further away than ever in light of Erdogan’s remarks. “France is united and Europe is united. At the next European Council, Europe will have to take decisions that will allow it to strengthen the power balance with Turkey to better defend its interests and European values,” Trade Minister Franck Riester told MPs, without specifying the measures that would be taken. Earlier on Tuesday, the European Commission warned that Erdogan’s comments make Turkey’s stalled bid to join the EU an even more distant prospect. “Calls for a boycott of products of any member state are contrary to the spirit of these obligations and will take Turkey even further away from the European Union,” a spokesman said.” – France 24

  • Britain has shamefully left it to France to confront the Turkish threat – Con Coughlin, Daily Telegraph

News in Brief:

  • Supermodel or superforecaster? Why Caprice should be on SAGE – Jonathan Kitson, CapX
  • Astropolitics is about to heat up – Tim Marshall, UnHerd
  • Why is the free school meals debate so toxic? – Mark Piggott, The Spectator
  • A “no deal” Brexit is not an “Australian deal” Brexit – Graham Stewart, The Critic
  • Salmond Affair may end up being added to Scottish history’s long list of inconclusive mysteries – Allan Massie, Reaction