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Rebellion 1) Covid tiers chaos threatens to ‘tear Johnson’s support apart’

“To borrow from Boris Johnson’s beloved cod Latin dictionary, he must have hoped the end of England’s national lockdown would also bring an end to his “mense horribilis”. Alas for the Prime Minister, his terrible month, in which he lost his most trusted aide, got worse on Thursday when the announcement of the tiers to follow the lockdown paved the way for a blistering row that threatens to tear apart his support inside the Conservative Party and across the country. From the Tory shires to “Red Wall” seats, the stench of a full-blown rebellion was in the air. Mr Johnson may yearn for a return to self-isolation. Harriet Baldwin, a former minister and member of the Covid Recovery Group, led the charge. She had done the maths and worked out that 23 million people including her own West Worcestershire constituents, who were in the more relaxed Tier 1 before the lockdown, will wake up on December 2 in Tier Two, ruling out any pre-Christmas household mixing indoors.” – Daily Telegraph

  • He may need the support of opposition MPs to get his coronavirus rules through the Commons – The Times
  • New rules leave 34 million ‘worse off than before lockdown’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Millions in tough Covid tiers until middle of January – The Times
  • Prime Minister promises your tiers are ‘not your destiny’ – The Sun
  • They are ‘a very serious infringement of fundamental human rights’, says Brady – Daily Telegraph

>Today: ToryDiary: The conditions under which Conservative MPs should back the tiering plan next week

>Yesterday:

Jeremy Warner: Britain’s inept handling of Covid demands root and branch reform

“Be that as it may, the pandemic has exposed myriad different failings and weaknesses both in our system of governance and in the provision of our public services. Nowhere is this more apparent than in healthcare, where decades of penny pinching and rationing of provision has created a capacity constraint that necessitates closing down much of the economy merely to prevent the system being overwhelmed. There could scarcely be a better example of false economy. As a nation, we need to be spending more on health and social care to provide the sort of service people increasingly demand and expect, perhaps 2 to 3 percentage points of GDP more. Institutional reform – allowing healthcare to be transformed from the producer-determined service it is today into the modern, consumer led business healthcare needs to be – would flow naturally from changing the funding model from general taxation to a system of hypothecated social insurance.  Public or private, in principle it makes no difference.” – Daily Telegraph

  • We must see the bigger picture and not rely solely on one body’s advice – Esther McVey MP, Daily Telegraph
  • Johnson’s tiers increase fears of rebellion – James Forsyth, The Times
  • Crude new tier system has only inflamed the lockdown revolt – Fraser Nelson, Daily Telegraph

Editorial:

  • Johnson must review inconsistent tier system or pubs and businesses will shut for good – The Sun
  • Only testing and vaccines still offer a way out – The Times

>Today: Iain Dale’s column: Yes to what’s in the new tiers. But No to who’s been put in them. Using county boundaries is barking mad.

Rebellion 2) Report casts doubt on UK pledge to prevent low-quality food imports

“Ministers’ pledges to preserve the UK’s food and farming standards after Brexit will not prevent the import of lower-standard products and could spell potential disaster for Britain’s farmers, a report has found. The government has repeatedly promised that a ban on chlorinated chicken and hormone-treated beef would remain in place after Brexit, and has made changes to the way future trade bills will be scrutinised. But ministers have refused to sign safeguards on imported food into law, despite pressure from consumers and civil society groups… Facing a potential second rebellion by its own MPs on the agriculture bill, the government agreed to strengthen the scrutiny of future trade bills with an expanded trade and agriculture commission (TAC), a statutory body with powers to advise on bills for the next three years.” – The Guardian

  • Red tape means Northern Ireland to miss out on 15 per cent of M&S food range – Daily Express

Comment:

  • UK’s trade deal with EU must live up to Brexit promises – Sammy Wilson MP, Politico

>Today: ToryDiary: Kate Hoey joins us for the next episode of ConservativeHome Live

>Yesterday: Stephen Booth’s column: Agreeing to disagree on the trickiest parts of the UK-EU deal may be the best way forward. For now.

Rebellion 3) Tories seek to block £4bn cut to foreign aid budget in Parliament

“Tory rebels have launched a major whipping operation in a bid to block a £4bn cut to foreign aid spending as the Government conceded it would need to pass legislation to force it through. A group of moderate MPs led by Andrew Mitchell, a former chief whip and international development secretary, are urging colleagues to vote down the reduction of the target when it is put to a vote in Parliament. It came as the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on Thursday refused to commit to a “sunset clause” in the legislation which would limit the cut to overseas aid spending to just one-year. Insisting that it was right that “every penny of public spending” was scrutinised during an “economic emergency”, Mr Raab said only that the commitment would be reinstated when “the fiscal situation allows.”” – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Raab – ‘We can’t for the moment meet our target of spending 0.7 per cent’ on aid

Sunak refuses to rule out raising income tax, VAT or national insurance

“Rishi Sunak, the UK’s chancellor, on Thursday refused to rule out raising income tax, value added tax or national insurance, as new forecasts revealed a borrowing hole of about £30bn at the next election. The “triple lock” against the rates of these taxes increasing was a central part of Boris Johnson’s manifesto at the December 2019 general election, and Mr Sunak was asked if that pledge still stood. Speaking on the BBC, he said the current level of spending was “unsustainable”. Asked if the tax lock still applied, he added: “I’m not going to be drawn on future fiscal policy.” On Sunday Mr Sunak gave the same answer to Sky’s Sophy Ridge. Mr Sunak on Wednesday dropped a Tory manifesto pledge on overseas aid spending, and Conservative MPs speculated that he might be about to reverse the flagship promise on taxes because of the Covid-19 crisis.” – FT

  • Tories may have to raise taxes to help repair coronavirus-ravaged finances, economists warn – The Times

Benefits:

  • Sunak urged to extend boost to welfare benefit – FT
  • Tens of thousands of families face benefits cap – The Guardian

Comment:

  • ‘Economic emergency’ adds pressure for a rethink on fiscal rules – Chris Giles, FT
  • Sunak can end Britain’s generational divide – Ed Conway, The Times

>Today: Local Government: “The Chancellor has passed the responsibility to us. Can’t complain.” Council leaders respond to the Spending Review.

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Sunak opts to suck it and see

Tech giants ‘must stop exploiting news’

“Facebook and Google will be compelled to give a “fair deal” to news outlets as pressure grows for them to start paying publishers for content. A statutory code of conduct is being written to prevent the digital platforms from taking advantage of consumers and other businesses in markets they dominate, ministers will announce today. The code will help to “rebalance the relationship” between news publishers and the social networks that feature their journalism, the government said. The Facebook-Google duopoly raked in 80 per cent of the £14 billion spent on digital advertising in the UK last year, eating into revenues that local and national news outlets need to fund original reporting. News publishers argue that they deserve to be paid for providing articles that appear in Facebook feeds and Google search results. The code of conduct will be introduced and enforced by a new digital markets unit within the Competition and Markets Authority.” – The Times

  • Public Health England paid £60,000 bonuses to top execs before bungling Covid – The Sun

Prime Minister appoints ex‑Treasury boss Rosenfield as his chief of staff

“Boris Johnson has appointed a former banker as his chief of staff after Dominic Cummings left Downing Street. Dan Rosenfield is described as a “clean skin” by insiders and begins working next month. It follows the high profile departure of Cummings, who was ousted from No10 after losing a bitter power struggle. The Vote Leave boss – who shot to political fame working on the Brexit campaign in 2016 – confirmed his departure after losing key ally, spin doctor Lee Cain. Cain had been the PM’s pick for chief of staff but the plan sparked a backlash from senior figures in Government – and even Mr Johnson’s partner Carrie Symonds is reported to have objected. The appointment of a politically neutral former banker and civil servant is in stark contrast to the abrasive Vote Leave figures Cain and Cummings.” – The Sun

  • Cummings ‘sidekick’ quits Downing Street – The Times

>Yesterday: MPs Etc.: Rosenfield is Johnson’s new Chief of Staff. That’s the admin sorted (we hope). But what about the politics?

Corbyn to start legal action over suspension of Labour whip

“Jeremy Corbyn is to start a formal legal claim against the Labour party for suspending the whip, in a case which allies of the former Labour leader say is intended to prove there was a deal with Keir Starmer’s office to readmit him to the party. The Guardian has seen evidence of exchanges between key members of Starmer’s office and Corbyn’s representatives, suggesting there were private meetings in the run-up to the party’s decision to lift his suspension from the party. Starmer subsequently ordered the Labour whip be withheld from Corbyn until he apologises and deletes comments made following the equalities watchdog investigation into antisemitism in the party. Corbyn’s lawyers lodged a pre-action disclosure application to the high court on Thursday night. “All of this will be in the public domain soon,” one source involved in the discussions said.” – The Guardian

Sturgeon hints at new Scottish independence vote next year

“Nicola Sturgeon has announced that she wants to hold a second Scottish independence referendum as soon as next year. The SNP leader said she anticipates that a vote will take place “in the earlier part” of the next Scottish parliament, which begins next year. Boris Johnson has said that he will refuse to transfer the power needed to hold another referendum to Holyrood. Some ministers, however, believe there will come a point when “no has to turn into yes” if the SNP secures a significant majority in the election in May. Ms Sturgeon told ITV Border: “I’ve not put a date on it yet. I have not ruled it out nor I have ruled it in. I think that is right, not least because of the challenge the country is facing coming out of and rebuilding from Covid. Scotland should have the opportunity to choose whether to become independent in the earlier, rather than the later, part of the next parliament.” Mike Russell, Scotland’s constitution secretary, said last week that the SNP’s ambition was to hold the vote in 2021.” – The Times

  • Welsh government cries foul on post-Brexit farm funding – FT

>Yesterday: Henry Hill’s Red, White, and Blue column: MSPs scent blood as the Scottish Government fights to thwart the Salmond inquiry

News in Brief:

  • How the UK can cut its aid budget and get better results – Brian Monteith, CapX
  • The radical Left is now extinct – Oliver Bateman and Malcom Kyeyune, UnHerd
  • Here comes President Joebama – Freddy Grey, The Spectator
  • Cable’s troubling views on China – Georgia L Gilholy, The Critic