Johnson’s re-set: Cabinet reshuffle and Downing Street shake-up on the cards

“In another attempt to get his premiership back on track, Johnson will set up a prime minister’s policy board, chaired by the MP and former think tank boss Neil O’Brien…

Under the prime minister’s plan to revive his reputation with his disenchanted MPs he will also:

  • Overhaul Tory campaign headquarters so it can better support the new intake of MPs, many of whom think they were ignored by No 10 while Cummings was at the helm
  • Hold more meetings with backbenchers and visit the Commons tea room more often
  • Send out senior aides, such as Stratton, to talk to Conservative MPs and listen to their concerns
  • Set up taskforces on issues such as levelling up and the Union to ensure that MPs can feed into policy in key areas.

Tomorrow Johnson will meet the Northern Research Group of MPs to hear their concerns.” – Sunday Times

The fall out from this week’s events – Tim Shipman’s write-up of Cummings’ departure:

“The crunch moment of a week that shook Boris Johnson’s premiership came on Wednesday evening as he was having conversations with the two most important women in his life — the Queen and his fiancée. At 6.30pm the prime minister was in his study with Lee Cain, his director of communications, discussing a plan to make him the Downing Street chief of staff. News of the appointment had broken the night before and had led to a backlash from ministers and MPs. At that moment a call came through from Buckingham Palace putting Johnson through for his weekly audience with the Queen, now a remote event because of the coronavirus.” – Sunday Times


  • Symonds used the No 11 flat “as a sort of private office”, claims source – Sunday Telegraph
  • No 10 braces for an ‘explosive stunt’ by Cummings – Daily Mail
  • The hatreds, tears and tantrums behind the ousting of Dominic Cummings revealed – and the ‘victory party’ thrown by Carrie Symonds to celebrate – Mail on Sunday
  • Allies of Cummings and Cain questioned Johnson’s ability to stay in Number 10 – Mail on Sunday
  • How battle for the job of defending Number 10 in daily TV press conferences sparked the feud between Lee Cain and Carrie Symonds – Mail on Sunday
  • Downing Street slams ‘vicious and cowardly’ attacks on Carrie Symonds – Sunday Telegraph
  • The Tories needed Dominic Cummings’s drive and discipline, even if they don’t admit it – Sunday Telegraph
  • ‘I’m a Johnson Tory and voted for Brexit’, insists Stratton – Sunday Telegraph


James Frayne: The Tories are abandoning the working classes

“Dominic Cummings’ departure marks the end of a radically successful experiment to turn the Tories into the party of the provincial English working classes. A year ago, the party campaigned heavily on a platform to improve the lives of ordinary people; now, hours after Cummings’ exit was confirmed, the party briefed a return to the preoccupations of metropolitan England. This weekend the party is administering welcome home kisses – on both cheeks, naturally – to affluent people in the big cities and turning their backs on the people of Derby, Mansfield, Walsall, Stoke and Durham. As far as most working-class people are concerned, the Tory party has long been led by posh people for posh people.” – Sunday Telegraph

Coronavirus 1) Ministers gave “£1.5bn of contracts to Tory-linked companies”

“As a former head of MI5, Lord Evans of Weardale spent a career defending British democracy against immediate threats. Last week he warned against a more insidious danger to public life. Evans was making a speech in his role as chairman of the committee on standards in public life — the anti-corruption watchdog — on whether the country was now in a “post-Nolan age”. That refers to Lord Nolan, first holder of the position, who was drafted in to clean up Westminster 25 years ago when it emerged that MPs had been bribed in cash to ask questions in parliament. The verdict given by Evans at a virtual conference was damning.” – Sunday Times

  • George Pascoe-Watson among lobbyists given secret access to Covid meetings – Sunday Times

Coronavirus 2) Johnson facing growing lockdown revolt among Tory MPs

“Boris Johnson is facing a growing revolt against lockdown restrictions, as more than 30 MPs who voted for the current measures joined a parliamentary group opposed to any extension of restrictions. The Covid Recovery Group, which launched on Wednesday to fight the imposition of a third national lockdown at the beginning of next month, has grown substantially and now numbers around 70 MPs.  The Telegraph can disclose that recruits include more than 30 lawmakers who supported the current lockdown, among them Damian Green, the former deputy prime minister, Tom Tugendhat, the senior backbencher, and many members of the Conservative Party’s 2019 intake of MPs.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • Nightingale hospitals are treating fewer than 30 patients and only one of the seven facilities across England is open – Mail on Sunday
  • Calls to the UK’s largest domestic abuse helpline are rising “week on week” – The Observer

Coronavirus 3) ‘Half a million victims of long Covid’ to be cared for in mini-hospitals

“The NHS is to set up more than 40 mini-hospitals to treat “long Covid” patients, amid concerns that up to 500,000 may be suffering lasting effects. The centres will offer care to those displaying persistent symptoms such as breathlessness, chronic fatigue, brain fog, anxiety and stress. Experts believe a significant proportion of patients cannot shake off some of the serious negative effects of the disease many months after falling ill. Sir Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said the health service needed to mobilise to help long Covid patients in the same way that it rapidly reorganised to deal with acute Covid-19 infections earlier this year.” Sunday Telegraph

  • Obesity scourge led to 50,000 Covid death toll, says England’s former health chief – Sunday Times


Coronavirus 4) Don’t put key workers at end of the Covid vaccine queue, warn UK unions

“Senior public health advisers and unions have warned that frontline workers could die unnecessarily from Covid-19 because they have not been prioritised in the government’s vaccine distribution plan. The Department of Health’s interim plan for delivering a new vaccine, which could be approved by the end of the year and rolled out in 2021, prioritises the elderly along with health and care workers but doesn’t include essential workers in the most dangerous roles. There was also anger that the government has yet to commit to vaccinate thousands of people who work in hospitals such as cleaners, porters, security guards and patient transport drivers.” – The Observer

  • Trademark filings offer tantalising glimpse of coronavirus vaccine’s name – Sunday Telegraph
  • Tens of millions of Covid vaccines will be ready by Christmas, professor reveals – The Sun
  • Who will get the Pfizer Covid vaccine first? – Sunday Times
  • The unspoken truth: Covid is a class issue – Sunday Times

Coronavirus 5) Supermarkets enjoy £1.9bn tax windfall

“Supermarkets are under growing pressure to hand back almost £1.9bn after sparking outrage by rewarding shareholders with hundreds of millions of pounds in payouts at the same time as claiming a huge government discount. The big four — Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons — and the discounters Aldi and Lidl will collectively save the huge sum due to the Treasury’s 12-month holiday on business rates, according to the advisory firm Altus. The tax break was designed in haste in March to help struggling high-street stores with the corporate equivalent of council tax.” – Sunday Times

Coronavirus 6) Families rebel against punitive care home Covid rules

“After 20 years as an A&E consultant, there is not much that fazes Angela McIntyre. Yet in September, standing in the car park of a care home, clasping gifts for her 92-year-old mother, she exploded with rage and swore at a member of staff. It had been seven months since she was last allowed to see mother. The outburst resulted in McIntyre, 60, being contacted by police, and led to a breakdown of relations with the care home in Worcestershire. “I had reached my limit,” she said. She has lost two stone and wakes at 5am every day since lockdown began because of the stress of being separated from her mother.” – Sunday Times

Planning algorithm to be overhauled by Government amid rebellion threat by Tory MPs

“Plans to unleash a new generation of homes across England using an “ill conceived” algorithm are being overhauled amid the threat of a seismic rebellion by Conservative MPs. The Sunday Telegraph understands that a formula used to produce targets for each area is being “rebalanced” to focus on building homes in urban areas, following a major backlash by senior Tories, including Theresa May. The move represents a significant climbdown by Boris Johnson and Robert Jenrick, the Housing Secretary.” – Sunday Telegraph

Brexit) PM says he will not cave in to EU pressure to open up four-fifths of UK waters in the final days of talks

“Boris Johnson has warned that he is not prepared to become “another Ted Heath” by selling out British fishermen as Brexit talks enter their final eight days. Sources close to the negotiations say the EU is insisting that Britain retains less than a fifth of UK fish stocks for its vessels after the transition phase ends on December 31, a figure described as “derisory” by government officials. Britain is demanding that more than half the fish in British waters be reserved for UK-based fishing vessels. But the EU’s current offer would allow only the repatriation of between 10% and 20% of stocks.” – Sunday Times

UK set to ban sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030

“The sale of new petrol and diesel cars will be banned within a decade, Boris Johnson is set to announce next week as part of a broader package of green initiatives. In February, Mr Johnson announced that the existing ban on selling new petrol or diesel cars would be brought forward from 2040 to 2035. Now the prime minister is expected to move the date forward to 2030 in an attempt to jump-start the market for electric cars in the UK and push Britain towards its climate goal, according to industry and Whitehall figures.” – FT

News in brief: