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Johnson pledges £16bn military spending spree

“Boris Johnson has pledged to end Britain’s “era of retreat” with the largest investment in the military since the Cold War and plans for a new space command and artificial intelligence agency. The prime minister will reveal a four-year funding settlement for the Ministry of Defence today, worth an additional £16.5 billion. This is aimed at transforming the armed forces and bolstering global influence. It will address a shortfall of up to £13 billion in the military’s existing ten-year equipment plan, while funding investment in a series of novel technologies and initiatives. A long-delayed national cyberforce will be established alongside the new space command, which will be capable of launching its first rocket by 2022. The cyberforce, a joint unit between the MoD and GCHQ, will help to protect Britons at home from cyberattack but will also deploy offensive capabilities against adversaries.” – The Times

  • Extra £24bn to end ‘era of retreat’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Government to set up Britain’s Space Command, with first rocket planned to launch in 2022 – The Sun
  • How UK defence budget could be spent – The Guardian

>Yesterday: David Davis MP in Comment: Much of Cummings’ critique was right – so don’t throw all his ideas out with him

Green plan ‘far cry’ from hitting UK’s net zero targets

“The UK prime minister’s new 10-point plan for a green recovery is a “far cry” from what is needed to get the country on track for net zero emissions by 2050, according to climate experts. The ten points put forward on Wednesday — which include a ban on the sale of new petrol or diesel vehicles after 2030 — are the boldest signal yet of the government’s climate plan, but stop short of laying out a strategy for how to strip all emissions out of the economy. Ed Miliband, shadow business secretary, said the funding “does not remotely meet the scale of what is needed” to tackle the climate emergency. Germany has a €40bn climate plan, while France has determined that €30bn of its budget will have a positive environmental impact. At least two-thirds of the UK headline figure of £12bn in funding is recycled announcements, with just £3bn being new commitments.” – FT

  • Green revolution will be a challenge and it won’t come cheap – The Times

>Today: ToryDiary: The wind of Biden’s change is blowing through Johnson’s Government

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard: This ‘green industrial revolution’ is our path to economic and political revival

“The world is in the midst of an arms race in green technology. Any large industrial state that fails to grasp the nettle on electrification and hydrogen will be left behind. America and Europe are both about to launch muscular eco-industrial strategies. China is hellbent on dominance of renewables and green hi-tech, not to save the planet but to achieve economic supremacy. We have moved a long way from the era when renewables were the preserve of ecological Leftists. It is why Tesla is now worth more than the European car industry, and why Denmark’s wind pioneer Orsted may soon be Europe’s most valuable energy company. Big Money is pulling forward the trend direction of the 2020s, and writing off lost causes. If it is true that Dominic Cummings mocked the Prime Minister’s “green industrial revolution” as soft economics and southern virtue-signalling, with little appeal to hard-headed Northerners, it is a relief that Downing Street is now free of his council.” – Daily Telegraph

  • The Prime Minister needs more than one reset – Robert Shrimsley, FT
  • Petrol cars ban has torpedoed hopes of a green agenda that can win over the Red Wall – Patrick O’Flynn, Daily Telegraph
  • The green plan looks good, but the Government must live up to its promises – Rebecca Newsom, The Guardian
  • Rushed electric car revolution will backfire disastrously on Boris – Allister Heath, Daily Telegraph

Editorial:

  • Plan for a more healthy environment is ambitious but viable – The Times
  • Britain plants a political flag – FT

>Today: Ben Houchen in Comment: My advice to the Prime Minister. Go green for more jobs in the Red Wall – and double down on levelling up

Johnson proud of work to secure masks despite ‘cronyism’ claims…

“Boris Johnson has defended the government’s handling of PPE contracts in the face of claims that ministers paid more to a single middleman than it cost to provide free school meals to English children over half-term. The prime minister said he was “very proud” of the government’s efforts to secure millions of facemasks, gowns and other protective clothing for frontline NHS workers during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic. He faced criticism from the Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, following a report by the National Audit Office that revealed the government had set up a VIP fast-track for PPE contracts recommended by MPs, peers and ministers. At the same time it emerged that a Spanish businessman who acted as a go-between on contracts to provide gowns, masks and other protective equipment for NHS workers was paid £21 million in taxpayers’ money. At prime minister’s questions, Sir Keir pressed Mr Johnson on whether millions of pounds spent on PPE had been squandered.” – The Times

  • PPE suppliers with political ties given ‘high-priority’ status, report reveals – The Guardian
  • Prime Minister ‘refuses to apologise’ for £18billion ‘cash for cronies’ scandal – Daily Mail

More:

  • Disaster planning committee formed after failures in UK’s Covid response – Daily Telegraph
  • Scientists advising the Government on pandemic lockdown ‘relied on Wikipedia’ – The Sun

Comment:

  • Virus spending spree is a new sleaze scandal – Iain Martin, The Times

>Today: Garvan Walshe’s column: Gloomy Sturgeon projects competence. The Government doesn’t – and the Union may be the price it pays.

…as Tory lockdown rebellion grows

“Boris Johnson was facing a growing Tory rebellion over lockdown last night, as MPs warned a relaxation of the rules could not be ‘just for Christmas’. The Prime Minister is due to announce plans next week for a fresh series of restrictions, which would come into force on December 2 when the national lockdown expires. But ministers are divided on how far to go in relaxing the restrictions amid fears that the virus could quickly spiral out of control again. Michael Gove and Health Secretary Matt Hancock are said to be pushing for just a limited easing of the rules, meaning most of the country would remain in virtual lockdown, with no indoor socialising allowed. One Whitehall source said Mr Gove, who is minister for the Cabinet Office, was trying to ‘rein everything in’. Another said he was pushing for the lockdown to be extended in the hope of avoiding the need for a third lockdown next year.” – Daily Mail

  • England told to expect tougher rules to allow festive gatherings – The Guardian

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: If anyone can make this new Conservative policy role work well, it’s O’Brien

Sunak faces worst hit to UK finances since Second World War

“Rishi Sunak is preparing to publish what allies describe as a “scary” outlook for the UK economy in next week’s spending review, containing the largest downgrade in economic performance and the public finances since the second world war. When the chancellor delivers his statement to the House of Commons next Wednesday, the spending plans will be based on forecasts showing the economy will still be suffering the effects of coronavirus by the likely time of the next election in 2024. The Office for Budget Responsibility, which independently produces the government’s forecasts, is on course to follow the Bank of England in predicting the UK economy will contract close to 11 per cent in 2020, the worst annual performance for more than 300 years. Boris Johnson is attempting to “reset” his government following the departure from Downing Street of Dominic Cummings and Lee Cain, two former aides, with a renewed focus on spending money on green projects and the north of England.” – FT

  • Small businesses urge Johnson to end lockdown on time as they face shutting for good – The Sun
  • OBR expected to forecast the pandemic will still be weighing on the economy in 2024 – Daily Mail
  • Taxpayers hit with £4bn bill to keep half-empty trains on rails – The Times
  • Whopping £300m bailout for struggling British sports to be unveiled by ministers today – The Sun

Editorial:

  • Pubs and shops need customers, not tax breaks – The Sun

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: The proposed foreign aid cut. Many Tories are against it. But Sunak has limited options as he tries to salvage the economy.

Corbyn undermined the party and can’t be Labour MP, says Starmer

“Sir Keir Starmer staked his leadership on keeping Jeremy Corbyn out of the parliamentary party last night as he accused his predecessor of having “undermined and set back” progress on antisemitism. Mr Corbyn was left in limbo after his successor blocked him from regaining the Labour whip, despite his readmission as a party member. Sir Keir now faces weeks of party warfare, with more than two dozen MPs calling on him to readmit Mr Corbyn and the former leader himself threatening legal action. However, Mr Corbyn may find himself out of pocket if he pursues action because he cannot legally draw on a £360,000 fund set up by supporters to defend him. He stated in his latest register of interests this month that he was “likely to benefit” from a crowdfund set up by supporters. It cannot be used to challenge his suspension because it was set up to help him defend himself against allegations of defamation. Supporters are being offered refunds.” – The Times

  • Predecessor considers legal challenge to force leader let him be a Labour MP again – The Sun

Comment:

  • Fiasco has shown that Starmer is not in control of the Labour Party – Juliet Samuel, Daily Telegraph
  • It’s the same nasty old Labour Party – Rod Liddle, The Sun
  • Labour is more divided than ever over Corbyn and antisemitism – Sienna Rodgers, The Guardian

Editorial:

  • Starmer has failed a basic test of leadership on antisemitism – The Times

>Yesterday: LeftWatch: Corbyn’s re-admission to the Labour Party shows the limits of Starmer’s power to change it

Brexit talks in ‘final push’ as EU capitals call for launch of no deal plans

“Brexit negotiating teams are in the “final push” for a trade agreement with Britain, Michel Barnier told a meeting of EU Commissioners in Brussels on Wednesday. Senior diplomats warned that EU governments would demand the European Commission launch emergency no deal plans if a trade accord was not struck by Friday. There was a risk that could poison the ongoing negotiations in Brussels, one senior diplomat said, but, with six weeks to go before the end of the year  the EU had no choice but to start work on its no deal safety net. The plans aim to mitigate the worst disruption to EU interests in sectors such as aviation and freight but fall far short of a “managed no deal”, which would involve consultation and consideration of British interests. The UK leaves the Brexit transition period, and the EU’s Single Market and Customs Union, on December 31. If an agreement is not ratified by then the UK and EU will trade on no deal WTO terms from January 1.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Supermarkets seek exemption on Northern Irish health checks – FT
  • Britain could seal trade deal with Australia by Christmas, says Abbott – The Sun

Comment:

  • Ending EU vanity projects allows us to put billions of pounds to work for the people of Wales – Simon Hart MP, Daily Telegraph

News in Brief:

  • Johnson can do more with his devolution diagnosis than just try to scrap it at once – Henry Hill, UnHerd
  • Forget wokery or class war, the Conservatives need to embrace conservatism – Harry Phibbs, CapX
  • Can the Prime Minister find his way again? – Katy Balls, The Spectator
  • Boris has his work cut out if he wants Britain to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050 – Joseph Rachman, Reaction
  • We need to protect the free speech of dissident doctors – The Covid Physician, The Critic

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