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Number Ten claims chances of a trade deal “no better than 50 per cent” as the talks enter their final week…

“The prime minister and Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, last night agreed to a “final throw of the dice” this week to salvage a deal. But a senior No 10 figure warned the chances of getting an agreement were now “no better than 50-50” after more than four years and five months of talks. The two leaders agreed that “no agreement is feasible” without movement on three key issues, admitting the talks were “totally stuck” on fishing quotas, regulations and governance. Thirteen cabinet ministers — including eight who opposed Brexit — confirmed that they would support no-deal if Johnson concludes that is necessary. “Just get it done,” said one who voted remain. “The PM should do what is best. He has total, 100% rock-solid cabinet support.” – Sunday Times

…As Frost blames Macron for swinging the negotiation back towards No Deal

“However, temperatures were rising. Emmanuel Macron, the French president, began ringing fellow EU leaders, accusing Barnier of “going soft” and urging that member states take a stand. That night, officials working for Frost and Barnier talked until 1.30am. “It ended up with people screaming at each other in the corridor,” a source said. On Thursday afternoon Barnier tabled legal text on the level playing field that, to Frost, took the talks back months. The UK was prepared to agree “non-regression” clauses saying Britain would not lower its standards on environmental laws and workers’ rights. The document that Barnier tabled would have forced Britain to move in tune with changes in EU rules.” – Sunday Times

  • The EU “is in two camps”. It’s France, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Italy and Spain v Germany, Ireland, Austria and some central and eastern European states – Sunday Times
  • No Deal fears of farmers, hauliers and manufacturers – Sunday Times
  • Riots in Paris – Mail on Sunday

> Today: ToryDiary – Is Macron really prepared to go for No Deal? And if so, is Merkel really willing to try and stop him?

Internal Market Bill Monday, Finance Bill Wednesday – with clauses that override the Withdrawal Agreement

In London, MPs will debate and vote on the controversial internal market bill on Monday . The government is then due on Wednesday to table the finance bill, containing new clauses that override the withdrawal agreement previously struck with the EU, a move that would effectively mark the end of talks. But there is an expectation among senior diplomats that agreement should be found before then, with EU leaders able as a result to sign off on a deal at a virtual summit of EU leaders on Thursday. The cautiously positive outlook in Brussels contrasts with the recent warnings from Downing Street that a deal is hanging in the balance.” – Observer

  • The ERG has”the fullest confidence in David Frost and the British negotiating team” – Sunday Telegraph

Meanwhile, Starmer’s own Brexit deal problems mount

“Several sources said Starmer was already set on backing a Brexit deal should it be agreed and return to the Commons for a vote. Some in his team believe the issue is too big for the party to abstain on, and fear opposing the deal would suggest they preferred a no-deal outcome. However, in a conference call with Labour’s affiliated union bosses on Friday, Starmer was urged by some to back away from a decision over the potential vote until the details of any agreement are published and properely analysed. With unease mounting among some MPs and peers, those opposed to supporting a deal are keen to reopen the option of abstaining in any vote.” – Observer

Rob Colvile: Whatever happens, the Brexiteers have won, as the UK and EU go their own ways

“Britain’s departure has, inevitably, given a fillip to a tighter-knit, more interventionist vision of the EU. But the organisation itself has not become any more functional. The biggest story in Brussels now is not actually Brexit, but an impasse over the EU budget in which the increasingly autocratic states of Hungary and Poland are simply refusing to play ball. Inevitably, if we were still in, the UK and its rebate would be dragged into the debate — if it hadn’t already been sacrificed on the altar of the coronavirus bailout. Otherwise, about the EU’s only notable policy innovation recently has been a suggestion that we should ban WhatsApp.” – Sunday Times

Vaccine 1) Inter-EU row over who gets it first

“Bitter infighting has broken out among EU states over the allocation of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine – with France and Germany accused of trying to out-muscle smaller countries in the battle for supplies. The EU’s determination to agree a block-wide vaccination programme across all 27 member states allowed the UK to win the race to first approve the vaccine. Diplomatic sources say the larger countries, such as France and Germany, were locked in negotiations with other member states about which EU citizens should be given priority – and whether the economic differences between them will make it impossible to roll it out simultaneously across countries.” – Mail on Sunday

Vaccine 2) Hancock says quicker end to restrictions now coming

“In an interview with The Telegraph, Matt Hancock said he “can’t wait to scrap this tiered system altogether” and for the country to “get back to living by mutual respect and personal responsibility, not laws set in Parliament”. It marks a change in rhetoric and tone from Mr Hancock, who until now has been seen in Whitehall as one of the strongest proponents of the strictest possible measures. Asked whether the start of administering the vaccine to Britons this week could bring about a quicker end to the restrictions in the first three months of next year, Mr Hancock said: “Yes it will.” – Sunday Telegraph

News:

Comment:

  • The Chancellor must help our struggling hospitality sector – Andy Street, Sun on Sunday
  • Lockdown and culture wars – Daniel Hannan, Sunday Telegraph
  • This vaccine needles the lockdown sceptics – Dominic Lawson, Sunday Times
  • Putin’s subversive campaign against Covid vaccines – Dan Hodges, Mail on Sunday
  • Ministers must stop coercing us – Jonathan Sumption, Sunday Times

> Yesterday: ToryDiary – Don’t stereotype anti-vaxxers. They might not be who you think.

Friends of ex-Minister arrested on suspicion of rape say: four months have passed – so either charge him or release him

“They say that more than four months on from his arrest, the ex-Minister should now be told whether the case will be dropped or whether he could still face charges. One said: ‘Surely the police will have reached a conclusion by now and can reveal the result of their inquiry?’ But the calls have sparked a fierce riposte from friends of his accuser, who insisted police were ‘still investigating’ and his allies ‘shouldn’t be trying to interfere’ with that task…After his arrest in August, the MP was released on police bail which was eventually lifted in mid-October although police insisted that he remained under investigation for assault, sexual assault and rape.” – Mail on Sunday

Other Conservative news:

  • Did Mercer break the Ministerial code? – Mail on Sunday
  • Sharma “can’t manage both BEIS and COP26?” – Sunday Telegraph
  • Barnardos hits back at Common Sense Group of Tory MPs over white privilege – Observer
  • Esther McVey hits back at Barnardos – Sunday Telegraph
  • Jenrick row “factor in Downing Street ethics adviser’s resignation” – Observer
  • I would have made a good Prime Minister – Amber Rudd interview, Sunday Times
  • Rudd and Morgan’s new jobs – Mail on Sunday

> Yesterday: Columnist David Gauke – How the Conservatives are morphing from a party of power to a party of protest

Labour Merseyside politcians calls on their party’s Mayor in Liverpool to step down over corruption claims

“Senior Labour politicians on Merseyside have called for Joe Anderson to step down as mayor of Liverpool after he was bailed by detectives investigating allegations of corrupt property deals. Anderson, 62, was questioned by officers on suspicion of bribery and intimidating witnesses as part of an 18-month corruption inquiry. He returned home yesterday morning where he was seen at his Victorian terrace house in the Old Swan area of the city. Local Labour politicians said it was “impossible” for Anderson to continue as mayor while police conducted inquiries.” – Sunday Times

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