‘Normal life by spring’ claim after trial vaccine stops nine in ten infections

“Britain should be heading back to normal by the spring, scientists said yesterday, after the announcement of a vaccine that is 90 per cent effective in stopping the coronavirus. Jonathan Van-Tam, the deputy chief medical officer for England, said that the “huge milestone” meant this wave of infection could be the last that Britain endured. He said he was hopeful that the first Britons could be injected with the Pfizer and Biontech vaccine before Christmas. Britain has bought 40 million doses in advance, enough to inoculate 20 million people, and the NHS is preparing to start with the most vulnerable.” – The Times

  • Vaccine breakthrough ‘a great day for humanity’ – Daily Telegraph
  • New vaccine is ‘huge milestone’, says deputy medical chief – The Times
  • Most vulnerable at front of queue for jab – The Times
  • Rail timetables to be cut as commuters stay away – The Times
  • UK vaccine tsar to step down at end of year – FT
Virus testing
  • NHS and council virus screening in days with instant tests – The Times
  • Hopes of quarantine-free travel after city-wide trial, says Shapps – The Times
  • Mass testing to help students get home for Xmas – Daily Telegraph
  • Test and Trace chief’s husband instructed to self-isolate – Daily Telegraph

UK set ‘to cut self-isolation to 10 days’ after Cummings and Whitty row

“The Covid self-isolation period is expected to be cut from two weeks to 10 days after a row involving Prof Chris Whitty and Dominic Cummings, who had been pushing for a more drastic change, the Guardian understands. The reduced quarantine time is to be made possible by increasing the use of rapid tests – for which the UK government has paid more than £500m, despite the fact that some are not designed to test people without symptoms. It comes amid growing concerns about compliance, with only 11% of people abiding fully by the current two-week self-isolation rule, according to research by King’s College London in September.” – The Guardian

  • Cummings ‘foiled’ over shorter self-isolation – The Times

Sunak courts Tory rebels in north with promise of post-pandemic cash

“Ministers stand ready to pump new infrastructure investment into the north to help the region to recover from the economic shock of the coronavirus pandemic, Rishi Sunak told Conservative MPs last night. Addressing northern backbenchers, the chancellor appeared to throw his weight behind calls for a special package of financial support for northern businesses and funding for large-scale building projects. However, in a sign of rising tensions over whether the Treasury should tax or cut its way out of the crisis amid spiralling government debt, Mr Sunak warned the Northern Research Group (NRG) of Tory MPs that they would soon face the question of how to pay for the pandemic.” – The Times



Ex-Prime Ministers lobbied Johnson months ago over testing, Osborne claims

“Four former prime ministers urged Boris Johnson in the summer to throw the “full weight of the British state” behind coronavirus testing, George Osborne has revealed. The former chancellor told Times Radio that David Cameron, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Sir John Major had written jointly urging Mr Johnson to make mass testing his priority to help allow normal life to resume. Baroness Harding of Winscombe, head of NHS Test and Trace, is expected to face questions from MPs today on her plans for mass testing, as well as demands to hand responsibility for contact tracing to local councils.” – The Times

Government suffers heavy Lords defeat as senior Tories attack Brexit bill

Boris Johnson has set himself on collision course with US president-elect Joe Biden after he vowed to overturn a massive defeat in the House of Lords and press ahead with a Brexit bill that breaks international law. Peers voted by 433 to 165 on Monday night to remove clauses in the internal market bill that would allow ministers to overrule parts of the EU withdrawal agreement. It was one of the heaviest government defeats in the upper house in recent years. But Mr Johnson immediately signalled he would press ahead with the legislation and overturn the Lords decision when the bill returns to the House of Commons in December — unless the UK agrees a free trade deal with the EU in the meantime.” – FT

  • PM to press on with bill despite Lords defeat – The Guardian
  • Johnson ‘considers amendments’ to Brexit bill – Daily Telegraph
  • Former PM joins condemnation of bill – The Times
  • And suggests two-vote independence referendum – Daily Telegraph
  • Plus, Major says Britain no longer a great power – Daily Mail

Johnson creates new office to boost foreign investment

“Boris Johnson has created a cross-government group to attract foreign investment in strategic projects as Downing Street works to bolster the UK’s post-Brexit appeal. The Office for Investment will involve public and private sector experts whose job it will be to “unlock” complex schemes seen as crucial for wider government objectives such as infrastructure development and renewable energy. Economists are concerned that the end of the Brexit transition period at the end of the year will hit the level of overseas investment coming into the UK. They fear foreign-owned UK-based manufacturers and service companies may reduce investment here after losing access to key markets in the EU.” – FT


Dowden: It’s time to ask big questions about the future of the BBC

“When people around the world think of Britain, they think of the Royal family, and the Premier League. And they think of the BBC. From the moment its first radio transmitter crackled into life a century ago, our oldest broadcaster has been a steadfast national institution, a champion of British values across the globe. But 100 years on, it’s time to ask what we want from the BBC of the future. The pandemic has illustrated what the BBC does best. It has helped us educate our children, and been a trusted source of information on the virus.” – Daily Telegraph

  • BBC and C4 face ‘profound questions’ in digital age – Daily Telegraph

Trump fires defence chief as he fights to overturn election result

“President Trump dismissed his defence secretary yesterday in a show of business as usual at the White House while his team planned campaign-style rallies as part of his rearguard action against the US election results. Mr Trump, 74, announced that “Mark Esper has been terminated” and named Christopher Miller, 55, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, as his acting replacement. Washington wondered which senior official would be next to be sacked. Mr Trump has speculated about firing Christopher Wray, the FBI director, whom he criticised for not taking action against Joe Biden or his son Hunter over suspicions of corruption in Ukraine, and has also been critical of William Barr, the attorney-general.” – The Times

  • Supporters melt away but Giuliani stays loyal to President – The Times
  • No 10 ‘not concerned’ if PM not top of Biden’s call list – Daily Telegraph
  • US attorney general orders probe into election – The Sun
  • Women poised to take top jobs in Biden’s cabinet – The Times
News in Brief