Brexit 1) Merkel and Macron in final bid for a deal

“Angela Merkel and President Macron closed ranks yesterday to confront Boris Johnson with a final offer on Brexit trade talks. The French and German leaders agreed to weaken European Union demands for a so-called level playing field, a Brussels diplomatic source said. Although more “conciliatory” than past positions taken by France, the new joint stance comes with a renewed warning that Mr Macron is ready to abandon talks to concentrate on preparing for a no-deal. Mr Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, will speak today after another two days of negotiations that both sides had billed as a final push.” – The Times

  • Food prices will rise if we don’t strike Brexit trade deal, says Eustice – The Times
  • Medicine supply could be cut to 60 per cent in event of no-deal Brexit, leaked document warns – Daily Telegraph
  • Macron shores up his position at home with hard stance on fishing – The Times
  • McCluskey sides with Starmer in call to back Brexit agreement… – The Times
  • … but Labour’s shadow home secretary won’t rule out abstention on any Brexit deal – Daily Telegraph
  • The three ‘landing zones’ where compromises could still be found – Daily Telegraph
  • What happens to travel when the Brexit transition period ends? – The Times

> Yesterday:

Brexit 2) Johnson presses ahead with Internal Market Bill today as ‘safety net’ if talks fail

“Boris Johnson will on Monday press ahead with new laws that will breach the terms of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement because Britain needs a “safety net” if trade talks fail. The Internal Market Bill, which ministers have admitted will breach international law in a “specific and limited way”, will be back before MPs after the Lords removed the offending clauses. Mr Johnson will re-insert the clauses, but will make it clear that “safety nets can be removed” if they are no longer needed. The EU has begun legal action against Britain over the Bill, having said it could not go ahead with a trade deal unless the controversial sections were removed. However, Mr Johnson will also publish new legislation that rips up part of the Withdrawal Agreement as early as Tuesday if a deal is not reached.” – The Times

  • MPs will vote on the House of Lords’ changes to the Internal Market Bill on Thursday, with their amendments set to be voted down – City A.M.

Pfizer’s Covid vaccine is ready to go into English care homes

“Care homes will get the coronavirus jab in a Christmas boost for the vaccine’s introduction as the medicines regulator laid out in detail for the first time how Britain was able to approve the jab faster than any other country. There had been concern that the Pfizer vaccine could not be reliably distributed owing to the low temperature at which it must be maintained, potentially meaning that care home residents unable to attend vaccine centres could not be protected. June Raine, head of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), said yesterday, however, that her staff had approved a method for splitting up the 975-dose shipments into smaller batches to be taken into homes.” – The Times

  • Four million doses of Pfizer Covid vaccine will arrive in UK this month, NHS leaders say – Daily Telegraph
  • Covid ID cards will be handed to every Brit after they get vaccinated – The Sun
  • Q&A: When will the first Coronavirus vaccine be administered? The Times
  • Everything you need to know as the roll-out begins – Daily Telegraph

Buckland announces first review of Human Rights Act in 20 years…

“Judges’ powers to block deportations of serious criminals could be limited as Justice Secretary Robert Buckland announces a review of the Human Rights Act. Mr Buckland said the review would look at several key areas – including whether judges have been ‘unduly drawn’ into Government policy and law. Another area of the review will establish whether judges’ interpretations of past legal decisions in European case law should be limited when looking at current cases. Critics have claimed focusing on old cases can lead to ‘gold-plating’ the country’s current human rights duties. A separate review of asylum will look at reducing the number of people using Article 3 of the Human Rights act – freedom from torture and inhuman or degrading treatment.” – Daily Mail

… as he writes “The Human Rights Act is not infallible”

“The concept of fundamental human rights is a profoundly British one. From the signing into law of the Bill of Rights in 1689, to the British lawyers who helped to write the European Convention on Human Rights, we have led the world on this issue for centuries. The protection of these basic but important rights has become a beacon for modern societies like ours, signifying a relationship between states and individuals that is built on mutual trust and respect. We should be proud that they have stood the test of time in our country. The evolution of our legal system has helped to protect them through the ages. Our organic constitution – made up of various pieces of legislation, common law and convention – prevents us from taking the ill-judged view that an effective legal framework can be captured by a moment in time. Instead we find strength in its adaptability.” – Daily Telegraph

More comment:

Johnson admits Britain has failed to stamp out knife crime 20 years after Damilola Taylor’s death

“BORIS Johnson has admitted successive governments have failed to learn the lessons from Damilola Taylor’s death. Today, the PM writes for The Sun to mark what would have been Damilola’s 31st birthday. And he has thrown his weight behind the campaign to etch December 7 into the calendar as a National Day Of Hope. Today is the culmination of the Hope 2020 campaign — which has pioneered efforts to offer more support and early intervention to help vulnerable youngsters, 20 years after the Nigeria-born schoolboy, ten, was stabbed to death in Peckham, South East London. Mr Johnson says London’s streets are still riven with knife crime, fuelled by gangs that “compel young boys and girls to carry drugs and risk their lives”.” – The Sun

  • Johnson – Let’s honour the memory of Damilola Taylor on what would have been his 31st birthday – The Sun

The Times picks up Rees-Mogg’s warning on ConHome against raising taxes

“Rishi Sunak will risk losing the general election for the Conservatives if he breaks a manifesto commitment by raising taxes, Jacob Rees-Mogg has suggested. The leader of the House of Commons cited the case of the former US president George Bush Sr to demonstrate that there were “consequences” to breaking a promise not to increase taxes. “‘Read my lips: no new taxes’ — George Bush Sr said this again, and again, and again,” Mr Rees-Mogg said, speaking on The Moggcast, his fortnightly podcast on the Conservativehome website. “And then when it came to the Gulf War and the economic downturn, he broke his promise and he lost the ensuing election.” – The Times

North experiencing unemployment levels not seen for 25 years, report finds

“Northerners are missing out on the chance of a “good life”, a new report has said as it found unemployment in the region was the highest it has been for a quarter of a century. The State Of The North 2020 study found that decent jobs, wages and opportunities were becoming increasingly unattainable across the area. The authors of the report – produced by the Institute of Public Policy North (IPPR North) think tank – said the North was experiencing levels of unemployment not seen for 25 years. The situation was especially concentrated in cities and coastal towns, with Blackpool, Middlesbrough and Hull, are currently under Tier 3 coronavirus restrictions, among the worst affected.” – Daily Telegraph

> Today:

Black Lives Matter goes beyond equality, says Eustice

“A cabinet minister has ignored majority opinion by describing Black Lives Matter as a “political movement” after footballers were booed for taking a knee at the weekend. George Eustice said that in his opinion the movement was “different to what most of us believe in which is standing up for racial equality”. The environment secretary later said it was right that racism in football was “called out” and that “if people choose to express their view in a particular way that should always be respected”. His implicit criticism of Black Lives Matter (BLM) follows controversy around fans of Millwall FC booing their own players for taking a knee on Saturday, as all elite teams have done since the police killing of George Floyd in the United States in May.” – The Times

News in brief: