Biden leads closest contest for 20 years with Republican legal challenges looming…

“Joe Biden is on the cusp of the presidency in the closely fought US election with Donald Trump requiring a late swing in the handful of key states still counting to stay in the White House after prematurely claiming victory. Mr Biden, who yesterday evening picked up two of the crucial Midwest states that brought Mr Trump victory in 2016, said that he believed he had won before retiring for the night to await final tallies today. “I’m not here to declare that we’ve won but I am here to report that when the count is finished we believe we will be the winners,” he said. He had urged his supporters to “keep the faith” and wait patiently for the highest percentage turnout in 120 years to be counted, while Mr Trump baselessly alleged “major fraud on our nation” and threatened to go to the Supreme Court.” – The Times

  • Democrat boosted by Wisconsin and Michigan wins as count drags on – FT
  • How he won back blue-collar workers in the crucial Rust Belt states – Daily Telegraph
  • Trump files new lawsuits in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Georgia – Daily Mail
  • Johnson refuses to comment on US election result – The Sun
  • Protesters take to streets across US as ballots tallied – The Guardian


…but Democrats are now ‘plotting to oust Pelosi as Speaker’ after their House majority shrunk

“House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is facing tough questions about her ability to win enough votes to retain her leadership, after Democrats shrunk their House majority and moderates in the party plotted to back a challenger. Democrats went into Tuesday night expecting to pad their majority in the House by marching deeper into President Donald Trump’s 2016 win territory, but instead Republicans made gains. Already, two centrist Democrats in the House say they are contacting colleagues to round up support for House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries, a top Pelosi lieutenant, for Speaker in the next Congress, according to The Hill. Several moderate House Dems only won tough re-elections after vowing not to back Pelosi for another term as Speaker – and they view Jeffries as a potential establishment leader who could garner support from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s powerful ‘squad’ of progressives.” – Daily Mail

  • Dreams of controlling both houses are fading away… – The Times
  • …which scuppers any chance of packing Supreme Court – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: Ben Roback’s column: America’s election results – and the Blue Wave That Never Was. Biden will be constrained if he wins.

Dominic Sandbrook: Outrageous. Boorish. Yet Trump never lost the support of millions of Americans.

“Surrounded by the travelling circus that is the Trump family, he proclaimed himself the winner, insisted that ‘sad people’ were trying to steal the election through ‘fraud’, and demanded that Midwestern states such as Michigan and Pennsylvania simply stop counting and crown him the victor. Even Republican politicians winced. On one U.S. network, I watched the ultra-conservative former senator Rick Santorum shake his head in pained disbelief. But that is Donald Trump, and always has been — outrageous, often boorish and, for some, shamelessly indifferent to the norms and decencies of a democratic society. And yet, as the election has shown, he is also an astonishingly resilient politician, who has never lost the support of millions of ordinary Americans, and should never be written off. The tone was set not just at the very end — if this is indeed the end — but at the very beginning.” – Daily Mail

  • The President may lose, but this is no endorsment of Biden or the woke left – Dan Wootton, The Sun
  • This election proves that the polling industry is a racket – Freddy Gray, Daily Telegraph

Lockdown 1) MPs vote to pass four-week lockdown in England

“Boris Johnson’s government on Wednesday pushed through legislation to introduce a four-week national lockdown in England, despite resistance from more than 30 Conservative MPs who voted against the measures. Under new regulations set to come into effect on Thursday and last until at least December 2, residents in England will be banned from mixing between households and encouraged to work from home where possible.  Non-essential shops will be forced to close along with pubs, bars and restaurants, with exceptions made for takeaways and food deliveries. But unlike the first nationwide lockdown, schools and universities will remain open. The prime minister’s announcement on Saturday was met with disapproval from a large number of Conservative MPs, with the atmosphere among cabinet ministers described as “apoplectic” ahead of Wednesday’s vote.” – FT

  • May leads critics as dozens of Tories vote against lockdown – The Times
  • Lockdown should be extended towards Christmas if the r rate is still above 1, Starmer warns – The Sun


  • Britain records 492 Covid-19 deaths in highest daily toll since May – Daily Mail
  • ‘Tory-linked’ firm involved in testing failure given new £347m Covid contract – The Guardian
  • Cameron criticises ‘politics riven’ World Health Organisation – Daily Telegraph
  • NHS returns to highest emergency level as Covid cases surge – FT
  • Oxford jab results ‘within weeks’ but only four million available – The Times

>Today: ToryDiary: “These measures may be a short-term strategy, but they cannot be a long-term one”


Lockdown 2) Patel tells the police to ramp up enforcement of Covid rules

“Priti Patel has told the police to ramp up enforcement of Covid rules on the eve of England’s second national lockdown. The Home Secretary said she had equipped police forces with the extra powers and funding they need – and she now expects them to come down hard on those who flout the rules. And today the chief constables of five forces in North West England clubbed together vowing tougher enforcement than the first lockdown. In a chilling warning ahead of the start of England’s 28-day lockdown at midnight, they said rule-breakers will “face the consequences of greater levels of enforcement”. The senior officers wrote an open letter to the region’s 7.3 million residents saying they will “collectively target” the minority who break the rules by holding large gatherings, music events, parties and those who break self-isolation.” – The Sun

  • Police warn public to expect tougher crackdown – The Guardian
  • Home Secretary says cops won’t break up Christmas Day family gatherings – The Sun
  • Tubes, trains and roads are rammed on first day of four-week national shutdown – Daily Mail


Lockdown 3) Sunak ‘to give furlough cash to firms still shut after lockdown’

“Rishi Sunak is expected to announce today that businesses forced to close because of coronavirus restrictions will be able to claim 80 per cent of staff wages if they have to remain shut after the national lockdown comes to an end. The chancellor is expected to guarantee furlough cash for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland if the devolved administrations choose to implement their own lockdowns. Part of the package will comprise a significant expansion of the furlough scheme in England after the nationwide lockdown comes to an end on December 2. Under the government’s tiered approach to lockdown, workers in areas subject to the most stringent measures — known as Tier 3 — receive 67 per cent of their normal salary up to a maximum of £2,100 a month.” – The Times

  • Chancellor faces political hazards as Labour ramps up criticism – FT


  • Travel bosses urge Raab to lift the travel ban on ‘low-risk’ foreign holidays after lockdown – Daily Mail
  • Bank of England launches £150bn stimulus to boost consumer spending – FT
  • Trade body warns billions in Christmas sales at risk, leading potentially to more job losses – The Guardian
  • Sturgeon lets slip Scotland is already overspending money allocated by Westminster – Daily Express


  • England underestimates the costs of lockdown at its peril – Jonathan Sumption, The Guardian

>Today: Joe Shalam in Comment: We can’t let an unemployment crisis become a debt crisis

EU diplomats warn no-deal Brexit ‘was still a serious risk’

“There are still “wide divergences” on  “core issues” of the Brexit trade negotiations, David Frost said on Wednesday night after two weeks of intensive talks with the EU. “We continue to work to find solutions that fully respect UK sovereignty,” the UK’s chief negotiator said. A no trade deal Brexit was still a serious risk, EU diplomats warned, before accusing British negotiators of failing to “engage sufficiently” on the three most divisive issues. Running down the clock would not force concessions from Brussels, they said, after it became clear there was no breakthrough on fishing,  the level playing field guarantees and the deal’s enforcement. Michel Barnier told EU ambassadors in Brussels that some progress had been made, but the two sides were still divided over the long-standing sticking points.” – Daily Telegraph

  • British brinkmanship could scupper Brexit trade deal, says Barnier – The Times

>Yesterday: Theresa Villiers MP in Comment: Ministers need to ensure Britain’s trade partners meet our agricultural standards

SNP plot to defy Boris and ‘refuse’ PM’s Scottish independence veto

“The SNP is set to discuss a new motion which could see the party defy Boris Johnson and “not accept a Westminster veto” on holding a second independence referendum vote. A motion seen by ahead of the SNP conference describes the party’s commitment to creating an independent Scotland via IndyRef2 if it achieves a majority in Holyrood in the 2021 election. It states, if a majority was obtained, there would be “no justification whatsoever for the Westminster government to seek to veto that democratic choice nor should we accept such a veto”. The motion has been cleared for debate at the conference in three weeks to try to clarify the position in the event the SNP secure a majority but Boris Johnson refuses a new Section 30 order request, the powers required to hold a referendum… It comes after a strategy known as “Plan B” was turned down from being debated at the SNP conference.” – Daily Express

Austria’s leader warns ‘political Islam is dangerous for the European way of life’

“Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has urged the European Union to respond to ‘political Islam’ and called for an end to the ‘misunderstood tolerance’ in the wake of the terrorist attack in Vienna which left four people dead. Mr Kurz called on countries across Europe to ‘focus much more strongly on the problem of political Islam in the future’ and said its ideologies were ‘dangerous’ for European freedoms and values. His office said on Wednesday he had been in touch with French President Emmanuel Macron to discuss joint initiatives in the fight against terrorism. Speaking to Germany’s Die Welt the Chancellor said: ‘I hope we will see an end to this misunderstood tolerance and that all countries in Europe will finally realise how dangerous the ideology of political Islam is for our freedom and the European way of life.’ His comments come after it was revealed the Vienna gunman Kujtim Fejzulai, 20, had been jailed in April 2019 because he wanted to travel to Syria to join ISIS but was later granted early release in December under juvenile law.” – Daily Mail

News in Brief:

  • How Trump confounded his critics – Freddy Gray, The Spectator
  • Even by their standards, the NEU’s campaign to shut schools is shocking – Fiona Bulmer, CapX
  • The trouble with ‘Covid denialism’ – Saloni Dattani and Matthew Lesh, UnHerd
  • Are we entering an age of post-humourism? – James Jeffrey, The Critic