Coronavirus 1) Johnson to set out Christmas rules and the return of the tier system…

“Boris Johnson is to announce the return of Christmas shopping, gyms and outdoor sport across England as the government prepares to lift lockdown. The prime minister will set out details today of a three-tier system of restrictions to come into force on December 3. He is expected to say that non-essential retail sales can resume across England, enabling people to do their Christmas shopping even if they live in high-infection areas. Mr Johnson’s cabinet met last night to sign off the plans. In a victory for exercise enthusiasts, gyms are expected to reopen and outdoor sport will be allowed in all tiers. The 10pm curfew on restaurants and pubs is likely to change to 11pm.” – The Times

  • Families will be told they can meet up in “festive bubbles” for five days – The Sun
  • Pubs and restaurants hit by new Covid restrictions – so shops, churches and gyms can reopen – Daily Telegraph
  • Gove met leaders of the devolved administrations to organise a four-nation approach to Christmas – The Times
  • Parents urged not to pull children out of school ahead of holidays – Daily Telegraph
  • New lockdown tiers: What’s changed and what stays same under revamped Covid restrictions? – Daily Telegraph

> Today:

Coronavirus 2) … as he faces Tory rebellion over new restrictions

“Boris Johnson faces a fresh Tory rebellion over coronavirus after 70 backbenchers said they will oppose the new tiers unless they see proof they “save more lives than they cost”. The Covid Recovery Group wrote to the Prime Minister demanding a full cost-benefit analysis of restrictions that will replace the current lockdown on December 3, so that MPs can assess the non-Covid health costs of them as well as the “undoubted impact on livelihoods”. Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, indicated on Sunday that the Government will ignore the plea, meaning the rebels are likely to carry out their threat when the new tiers are put to a vote in Parliament next week.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Number of unemployed people in UK over 50 rises by third, figures suggest – The Guardian

Coronavirus 3) Iain Duncan Smith: Lockdown in all but name is bitter blow for business

The national lockdown may be ending next week, but the plan to introduce a toughened-up three-tier system to replace it does not sound like any meaningful let up in the devastating restrictions the country faces. Indeed, coming just before Christmas, it will be a hammer blow for shops and restaurants. With the economy already on the ropes, I fear it will force vast numbers of firms out of business and cast countless people out of work. And yet convincing evidence that these stringent restrictions should be implemented has not been produced. Many of us at Westminster have grave concerns about the quality of the advice being given to the Prime Minister, not least because of the seismic consequences of decisions made on the back of it.” – Daily Mail

Coronavirus 4) Oxford AstraZeneca Covid vaccine has 70 per cent efficacy, data reveals

“A coronavirus vaccine developed in the UK can prevent 70.4% of people from getting Covid-19, according to data. Oxford University and AstraZeneca have announced their jab is effective in preventing many people getting ill and it has been shown to work in different age groups, including the elderly. Sarah Gilbert, professor of vaccinology at the University of Oxford, said: “The announcement today takes us another step closer to the time when we can use vaccines to bring an end to the devastation caused by [Covid-19]. “We will continue to work to provide the detailed information to regulators. It has been a privilege to be part of this multi-national effort, which will reap benefits for the whole world.” Oxford University said interim analysis from its phase 3 vaccine trial showed that the 70% effectiveness came from combining two dose regimes. One was 90% effective, the other 62%.” – The Guardian

  • US, Germany and UK could start Covid vaccinations as early as December – The Guardian
  • G20 leaders pledge to distribute Covid vaccines fairly around world – The Guardian
  • Quarantine to be cut to five days for travellers returning to UK – The Times
  • Self-isolation to be scrapped for Covid case contacts – Daily Telegraph
  • Army poised as mass Covid tests go nationwide – The Times
  • NHS volunteers could be kept on as military-style reservists – The Times
  • Scientists split over Covid passports – The Times
  • Spain’s mass Covid-19 vaccination plan to start in January – The Times
  • Government paying £1m a day to store mountain of PPE – but NHS staff still short on supplies – Daily Telegraph
  • MPs call for an urgent review of ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ order in care homes – Daily Telegraph

Sunak pledges no return to austerity ahead of next week’s spending review…

“Rishi Sunak has insisted there will be no “return to austerity” as he prepares to announce up to £2 billion to build new prisons and schools, and recruit thousands of additional police officers. The Chancellor will confirm a number of multi-year settlements to deliver on Boris Johnson’s flagship manifesto pledges at Wednesday’s spending review, insisting that public services will remain “at the heart of our economic renewal”. He will unveil a £1.25 billion cash injection to help fix Britain’s struggling penal system, as part of a £4 billion settlement over four years intended to deliver 18,000 additional prison places.” – Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday:

… as unions threaten public sector strike over pay freeze for millions

“Unions have warned ministers that freezing pay for four million workers risks a public sector strike, in a further sign of the backlash against plans to repair the damage that the pandemic has done to the nation’s finances. Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC, said that proposals for a public sector pay freeze were “morally obscene” and refused to rule out industrial action. “There’s still time for the government to step back and I would encourage them to think again,” she said.” – The Times

> Today:

Johnson prepares significant Brexit intervention as negotiators begin the ‘final push’…

“Boris Johnson is preparing to make a significant intervention in the Brexit trade talks this week as negotiators begin the “final push” before a deadline in eight days’ time. The Prime Minister is expected to speak to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in an attempt to clear away the final barriers to a deal which both sides now believe is well within reach. Agreements on fishing and state aid remain the two stumbling blocks, and EU leaders have set a deadline of Tuesday next week for all remaining disagreements to be resolved.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Britain opposes EU’s bid for renegotiation in 2030 – The Times

… as he tells the Cabinet he won’t accept bullying

“Boris Johnson spoke out against bullying yesterday during a cabinet meeting and referred to Winston Churchill’s wife imploring him to be kind. The prime minister last week overruled Sir Alex Allan, his adviser on ethics, as he cleared Priti Patel, the home secretary, of breaching the ministerial code. Sir Alex found Ms Patel had “unintentionally” bullied civil servants but Mr Johnson argued that the cases were not clear. Sir Alex subsequently resigned. Mr Johnson told cabinet he would not accept bullying and referred to Clementine Churchill, who in 1940 wrote to her husband after one of his friends had complained of his “rough, sarcastic and overbearing manner”.” – The Times

Rail nationalisation goes full steam ahead

“The effective renationalisation of the railways has been accelerated after ministers put the industry’s future in the hands of Network Rail and a group of government officials, leaving private sector train operators by the wayside. Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, has asked Andrew Haines, the Network Rail chief, to spearhead a 30-year strategy for the railway called the “The Whole Industry Strategic Plan” (WISP), according to leaked internal documents seen by The Telegraph. Handing the publicly-funded organisation control of the project will exacerbate fears that the private sector has been left almost powerless to influence major reform on the railways.” – Daily Telegraph

Tree planting falls despite green pledge for millions more

“Tree planting in England has fallen this year despite the government’s repeated promises to increase it to help tackle climate change. About 1.3 million trees covering a total of 763 hectares were planted with government support in England in the six months from April to September, down from 1.8 million on 1,045 hectares in the same period last year, according to Forestry Commission data. The Conservative manifesto promised to plant 30,000 hectares of trees a year in the UK by 2025 and Boris Johnson repeated that pledge in his ten-point plan for addressing climate change, published on Wednesday.” – The Times

Labour exodus in protest at suspension of Corbyn

“Labour has lost members at a rate of nearly 250 a day since Sir Keir Starmer was elected last spring, with supporters of Jeremy Corbyn leading an exodus from the party. Membership fell by just under 57,000 people, or 10 per cent, between April and November, according to official figures from its internal elections. It is the first time that party figures have shown Labour’s membership falling below half a million since 2016, when Mr Corbyn’s leadership prompted a surge of new members. The departure of Mr Corbyn’s supporters is believed to have hastened in recent weeks as dozens said on social media that they were quitting after he was suspended over antisemitism.” – The Times

News in brief: