Brexit 1) Deal on the line over French fishing as talks head for weekend showdown

“Brexit talks are heading for a showdown between Boris Johnson and Emmanuel Macron this weekend with the prospect of an EU deal now dependent on French access to fish in British waters. The two leaders are at odds over the right to fish in British waters with senior Downing Street sources unsure as to whether the French president might “torpedo” the proposed Brexit deal at the last possible moment. They fear he may be tempted to scupper a compromise fishing deal ahead of the French presidential election in 2022. There had been growing hopes that a deal was about to be agreed but the British delegation was taken aback after the EU made a series of “destabilising” last-minute new demands on fishing and other issues. “Our hopes of any movement on Friday are pretty much gone now,” said one UK source, with Monday now set as the unofficial deadline for a deal by Downing Street.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Agreement ‘blown off course’ by Barnier’s last-minute demands – The Times


  • Johnson set to secure critical agreement with Switzerland – Daily Express
  • Three-year deployment to UN mission seen as post-Brexit solidarity with French forces – FT

>Yesterday: John Healey MP in Comment: Ministers have a democratic duty to explain the role of British combat troops in Mali

Brexit 2) Starmer risks frontbench rebellion over vote

“Sir Keir Starmer faces the prospect of significant unrest over his plans for Labour to vote in favour of a Brexit deal. At least one shadow cabinet member and several shadow ministers will consider resigning if Labour backs a government free trade agreement with the EU. Sir Keir is leaning heavily towards whipping in favour of a deal if ministers strike one but his top team is divided on the merits of such a move. Up to a dozen shadow cabinet ministers believe the party should abstain and wash its hands of the consequences of a hard Brexit. Anneliese Dodds, the shadow chancellor, is thought to be among those in favour of abstaining. She is a former MEP who represents the pro-Remain seat of Oxford East. Emily Thornberry, shadow international trade secretary, David Lammy, shadow justice secretary, Bridget Phillipson, shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, Marsha de Cordova, shadow equalities secretary, and Ian Murray, shadow Scotland secretary, have reservations about backing the deal.” – The Times

  • Public want EU deal, London mayor’s office tells local Labour MPs – The Guardian


  • Unite fails to donate to Labour since his election as leader – Daily Telegraph

James Forsyth: A Brexit deal is looking likely by Monday

“What makes the situation even more problematic is that these countries want to maintain their fishing fleets, so the idea of paying people to transition out of the industry is not a runner. Ironically, in the event of no-deal, there would be no EU access to British territorial waters at all. The problem is these countries tend to think that if squeezed hard enough the British will move, or that no access and blaming the British is more appealing that dipping their hands in the fish guts of a compromise. One of the things that makes fishing so difficult an issue is that it is one of, if not, Britain’s strongest cards. The EU knows that and so has tried to neutralise it. The initial suggestion was for a 50-year transition for fishing, which would have been longer than our EU membership. Only a week ago the EU was suggesting that a deal would see it relinquish less than 20 per cent of what it catches in our waters.” – The Times

  • Johnson must give up on fishing – Simon Jenkins, The Guardian

Supply fears hit coronavirus vaccine amid warning over initial 800,000 doses

“NHS front-line staff will no longer be prioritised for the coronavirus vaccine, amid confusion over the number of doses that will arrive by the end of the year. Chris Hopson, the chief executive of NHS Providers, said that an initial 800,000 doses “could be the only batch we receive for some time”. This is despite the UK originally expecting 10 million shots by the end of the year, and the chief commercial officer of the vaccine creator BioNTech Sean Marett saying on Wednesday that the UK was likely to get at least five million doses by the New Year. NHS staff were to be first in line for the jabs after it was deemed too difficult to get the vaccine to care homes, which were originally at the top of a priority list set out by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).” – Daily Telegraph

  • Too early to know if UK Covid revaccination scheme needed, warns Van-Tam – The Guardian
  • Jabs won’t free you from self-isolation, says Government – Daily Telegraph
  • Care home residents could get jab in days – Daily Mail


  • Regulator stands by Covid jab approval after top doctor says UK ‘not as careful’ as US – The Times
  • Fauci apologises for implied criticism of speedy UK vaccine approval – The Guardian
  • How Britain won the vaccine race – Daily Mail


  • Sturgeon ‘relaunches’ coronavirus campaign amid weak public understanding – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Henry Hill’s Red, White, and Blue column: Another week that shows unionists need new weapons against Sturgeon’s revenant SNP

‘High-value’ executives entering England to get quarantine waiver

“Senior company executives and City of London dealmakers returning to England after business trips abroad will from Saturday be exempt from quarantining, the government has announced. Overseas executives will also be among the “high-value business travellers” able to enter the country without self-isolating, under plans set out by transport secretary Grant Shapps on Thursday. Other new categories of traveller excluded from the usual 14-day coronavirus quarantine include professionals in the performing arts, TV production staff, journalists and recently signed elite sportspeople. The list of those exempt from the quarantine requirement was previously limited to only a handful of essential workers such as seasonal fruit pickers, the armed forces and technical staff working for utility companies.” – FT

  • Relaxed rules for key travellers ‘will help the economy’ – The Times
  • Drivers face £60 fines for travelling from Tier 3 to Wales or back – The Sun


  • Johnson hints at tax cuts to boost Covid-hit UK business – FT

Patel’s fury at stars’ ‘insult to Windrush victims’

“Priti Patel tonight accused Labour MPs and ‘do-gooding’ celebrities of insulting Windrush victims. She said it was ‘deeply offensive’ to liken those unjustly caught up in the scandal to Jamaican rapists, murderers and thugs who are trying to avoid being kicked out of Britain. ‘The Windrush scandal is a stain on our country’s history,’ said the Home Secretary… Under the Windrush scandal, which began to emerge in 2017, Caribbean migrants living legally in Britain were wrongly targeted by the Home Office for removal, even though they were entirely innocent. The scandal was invoked by Labour MPs and celebrities lobbying to stop the deportation of dozens of serious offenders. Supermodel Naomi Campbell, Line of Duty star Thandie Newton and James Bond actress Naomie Harris were among those to sign an open letter calling on the Government to delay this week’s removals to Jamaica. All the offenders were born on the island and none was a British citizen.” – Daily Mail

  • Murderers and rapists could be barred from claiming asylum – Daily Telegraph

>Today: ToryDiary: Truss tops our Cabinet League Table for the first time

Easier exams ‘will make grade inflation worse’, warn MPs

“Senior MPs have said the government plan for exams next year risks “baking in” grade inflation because of promises to match this year’s results. It came as Gavin Williamson admitted that it was a “mistake” to cancel GCSEs and A-levels this summer. In a statement in the House of Commons, the education secretary said the “fundamental problem” with this year’s exams was that “we tried to award grades without actually holding exams. We are not going to be repeating that same mistake again”. Far more pupils passed GCSEs and A-levels this year, with higher numbers getting top grades after school-based assessments were awarded. A controversial algorithm was initially used to moderate results but was dropped after some pupils did worse than expected. Next year, Mr Williamson has said, grade boundaries will be set low so that those taking the exams are not penalised compared with the 2020 cohort.” – The Times

  • GCSE and A-level exams 2021 to be graded more leniently next year to ‘boost fairness’ – The Sun


  • Inflating grades would be another betrayal of Generation Covid – Calvin Robinson, Daily Telegraph


  • Williamson is right to insist that GCSEs and A-levels take place next summer – The Times


Half of all cars must be electric by 2030 to reach climate goals

“Nearly half of all cars on the road will need to be electric in a decade to meet the “ambitious new target” unveiled by the Prime Minister of cutting greenhouse gases by at least 68 per cent. The target, which is an overall cut from 1990 levels, would be the fastest rate of emissions cuts of any major economy. It means a 50 per cent increase in the rate of decarbonisation, and will require widespread changes to the way we travel and heat our homes. Britain has already reduced emissions by 45 per cent since 1990 as it has phased out coal and developed its offshore wind sector. Electric cars will need to make up 46 per cent of the UK fleet by 2030, the Government’s climate change advisers said on Thursday as they endorsed the new measure as necessary to meet the legally binding commitment to get to net zero by 2050.” – Daily Telegraph

  • UK challenges other nations with emissions upgrade – FT
  • Prime Minister wants British emissions cuts to be the fastest in the world – Daily Mail

Redrawn constituency map ‘will give Tories a ten-seat advantage’

“Boris Johnson will fight the next election with an advantage of up to ten seats under a redrawn constituency map compiled from figures to be published next month. He is also set to lift the national campaign spending cap from £19.5 million to about £33 million — in line with inflation — in time for the next election. The boundaries for Westminster elections are long overdue an overhaul after two previous efforts to reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 600 were abandoned in 2013 and 2018. Although parliament has decided to stick with 650 MPs, a third attempt to equalise the UK’s constituencies so that each contains 73,000 voters with a permitted margin either side of five per cent is under way, with only island constituencies exempt.” – The Times

>Yesterday: James Blagden in Comment: The Government cannot assume its majority is safe. It must continue to win over “Contract Conservatives”.

Budget to upgrade Britain’s railways cut by £1bn

“The government has cut funding to upgrade Britain’s railway infrastructure by £1bn, raising questions over the future of projects ranging from electrification upgrades to station works. The rail enhancements budget covers a programme of investments to improve passenger and freight services over Britain’s largely Victorian-era railway system. The five-year budget, which runs to 2024, has been cut from £10.4bn to £9.4bn following last week’s government spending review, rail minister Chris Heaton-Harris confirmed in response to a parliamentary written question.  Schemes covered in the pipeline of projects include increasing capacity at Leeds station, a long-term fix to overcrowding at London’s Clapham Junction station and the electrification of lines linking Wigan and Bolton in north-west England.” – FT

  • Sunak’s cuts ‘risk plunging more than 3 million into poverty’ – The Guardian


  • Doubts over ‘botched’ population data used to justify housebuilding – The Times
  • Low-paid UK workers to be given freedom to take extra jobs – FT
  • Legal cases backlog saves dozens of courts from closure – The Times

>Today: John Macdonald in Local Government: High streets. The time has come for more freedom to turn retail into housing

>Yesterday: Esther McVey MP in Comment: We should honour our manifesto commitment to close the digital divide. Especially during this time of Covid.

News in Brief:

  • Binning the awful Fixed-term Parliaments Act is a victory for voters – Henry Hill, CapX
  • Is Farage’s Reform Party onto something? – Gavin Haynes, UnHerd
  • A separate channel dedicated to British sport could have saved the BBC – Lincoln Allison, The Critic
  • Why is Labour sticking up for foreign criminals? – Patrick O’Flynn, The Spectator