Brexit 1) Brexiteers back deal as Boris Johnson hails ‘new chapter’ for Britain

“Boris Johnson won hardline Brexiteer support for his trade deal last night and will present it to parliament today as heralding a new relationship of sovereign equals between Britain and the European Union. The prime minister is to bring forward legislation on a free trade agreement that is expected to pass comfortably in an accelerated sitting of both houses of parliament. He will promise that Britain will be a “friendly neighbour — the best friend and ally the EU could have” and to work “hand-in-glove whenever our values and interests coincide”. Sir Keir Starmer has ordered Labour MPs to vote in favour of the bill, although about 20 are expected to rebel. The Scottish National Party, the Liberal Democrats and the Democratic Unionist Party will vote against.” – The Times

  • Businesses and hauliers not ready for Brexit red tape ‘mountain’ at ports – The Times
  • Warning of sweeping powers rushed through in Brexit treaty bill – The Times
  • Last-minute day trips give EU citizens the right to stay after Brexit – The Times
  • British sausages and chilled minced meat will be banned in the EU from Friday under post-Brexit rules – but frozen will still be allowed – Daily Mail
  • EU migrants who come to Britain will not be able to claim benefits for five years – Daily Mail

Brexit 2) Andrew Bridgen: I see no traps… that’s why I’ll seize our day of destiny

“The hour of freedom approaches. The moment of destiny is almost here. In just two days, Britain will once again take its place on the global stage as an independent nation. That inspirational reality was fulfilled last week by the impressive Brexit trade deal negotiated by the British Government and the EU, heralding a new era of free co-operation in place of the former dominance by Brussels. It was the cause of Euroscepticism that first led to my involvement in politics 20 years ago, when I joined the group Business For Sterling to campaign against Britain’s membership of the single currency, then an enthusiasm of Tony Blair’s. And as a member of the European Research Group (ERG) in Parliament – which consists of Eurosceptic MPs – I wouldn’t back anything undermining our independence.” – Daily Mail

Brexit 3) Starmer braced for rebellion as more than 20 Labour MPs set to vote against trade deal

“Sir Keir Starmer is braced for a rebellion on Wednesday as more than 20 Labour MPs are set to vote against the Brexit trade deal. Rupa Huq, Labour MP for Ealing Central and Acton, warned of the growing size of the rebellion after Sir Keir instructed his party to vote for the bill. When asked how many Labour rebels she believed were planning to defy the whip, Ms Huq said: “The number I’ve seen is 20, I’d have thought it could be more than that.” “I’ve seen 20 being said in the papers over the weekend, I’d say it’s more than that,” she told Times Radio. Ms Huq said it made “perfect sense” to abstain from voting for the deal as it “nodded it through” without having their “fingerprints” on it.  She conceded that the bill, with the majority of Labour’s backing, “will get through”.” – Daily Telegraph

Coronavirus 1) Oxford Covid vaccine approved by regulators as jab to be rolled out to millions next week

“OXFORD University’s coronavirus vaccine has been approved by regulators today – and the jab will be rolled out to millions of Brits from Monday. The news will bring much-needed hope as Covid cases surge, with thousands receiving treatment for the deadly bug in hospitals around the UK.” – The Sun

  • Vaccinate two million each week to protect NHS, say scientists – The Times
  • The world’s fastest Covid inoculation drive: Israel vaccinates half a million in nine days – Daily Telegraph
  • Spain will register citizens who refuse Covid-19 vaccine – The Times

Coronavirus 2) Millions to face Tier 4 curbs amid surge in cases

“Millions more people will be placed under stay-at-home orders today after a record high of more than 53,000 Covid cases were confirmed yesterday. Boris Johnson approved the placing of further swathes of the country into Tier 4 restrictions as the government became increasingly alarmed by the speed at which a new variant of the virus was spreading. Hospitals in London were running out of intensive care beds and drawing up plans to send Covid-19 patients to other parts of the country after doctors expressed fears about how the health service would cope in the coming weeks. Matt Hancock, the health secretary, will tell MPs today which extra areas will be placed in Tier 4 as NHS chiefs press the case for tougher restrictions.” – The Times

  • Two thirds of England face tougher curbs – The Sun
  • Bureaucracy stopping retired medics from returning to NHS front line to fight Covid – Daily Telegraph
  • Covid hospital patient numbers in England surpass April peak – FT
  • Hospitals running out of oxygen and could house Covid patients in tents, medics warn – Daily Telegraph
  • Patients turned away as hospital oxygen stretched beyond limits – The Times
  • Nightingale hospitals ready for action, NHS insists – The Times

Coronavirus 3) Secondary schools may stay shut as ministers look to expand Tier 4

“Secondary schools are on course not to open as planned next week as ministers prepare to push “far more areas” into a Tier 4 lockdown on Wednesday. Boris Johnson held a key Covid-O committee meeting that will pave the way for a major expansion of Tier 4 restrictions and for school reopenings to be delayed for at least a week. It came as Covid cases surged to a record daily high of 53,135, with 414 deaths, piling pressure on the Prime Minister for a full national lockdown to combat the spread of the new and highly infectious strain of the virus. Most Government scientists are now saying a national lockdown will be needed next month if schools are to reopen before the February half-term. Mr Johnson is expected to chair a meeting on Wednesday to decide whether delaying the opening of secondary schools to all pupils for just a week until January 18 will be sufficient to stem the virus.” – Daily Telegraph

  • How Covid lockdowns are wiping out the gains made by disadvantaged children – Daily Telegraph

Tories angered by plan to delay start of parliament

“The date for parliament’s return in the new year was thrown into question last night after the government was spooked by backbench anger. Government whips told MPs on Monday that the Christmas recess, which was due to end on January 5, would be extended for another week. The move prompted a backlash from Tory MPs, with backbenchers urging the government to allow the Commons to return next week as planned. One MP described the delay as “absurd” given it would mean the Commons and the Lords returning on different dates. The proposal was justified on the basis that it would help reduce the risk of MPs spreading coronavirus by returning to London from their constituencies after Christmas.” – The Times

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