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Brexit 1) Johnson in last ditch push for Brexit deal

“A trade agreement with the European Union will be possible only if Boris Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen can find a new political will to break the deadlock in talks tonight, Downing Street has warned. The prime minister is to meet the president of the European Commission for dinner in Brussels in an attempt to salvage trade negotiations before an EU summit tomorrow. Mr Johnson dropped his threat to break international law and renege on key parts of the withdrawal agreement after a deal with the EU on the Northern Ireland protocol. The move will be seen as an act of good faith that will remove one of the obstacles in the path to a deal.” – The Times

  • Cash fires warning shot across Downing Street’s bows as the Government agrees to EU officials being permanently stationed in Northern Ireland  – Daily Telegraph
  • European politicians mock Britain’s celebration of being first nation to roll out Covid vaccine – Daily Telegraph
  • Sunak is unlikely to produce an emergency Budget if there is a No Deal Brexit – Daily Mail
>Today:

Brexit 2) UK drops plans to “break international law” as Northern Ireland deal is reached

“The government is dropping controversial plans to break international law in relation to Brexit, following a behind-the-scenes deal between the UK and the EU, it has announced. But EU diplomatic sources warned that while the U-turn was a “reset moment” for relations with the UK, it was not a gamechanger for trade talks, which remain deadlocked. On Tuesday, the government said it would abandon all the Brexit clauses relating to Northern Ireland in the internal market and finance bills following in exchange for promises by the EU to minimise checks and controls due to be imposed on food and medicines going into Northern Ireland from Great Britain from 1 January.” – The Guardian

Brexit 3) Britain to cut tariffs on US to win reprieve for Scotch

“Britain will suspend European tariffs on American products — from tractors and tobacco to fruit juice and fish — in an attempt to persuade the White House to shelve steep duties on whisky. Liz Truss, the trade secretary, hailed the UK’s standing as an “independent trading nation” last night as she revealed plans to break away from the European Union’s move to impose levies worth billions of dollars on the United States. Ms Truss claimed that the post-Brexit move would demonstrate that Whitehall was serious about concluding the world’s largest corporate trade dispute — between the aviation giants Airbus and Boeing — which has ensnared Washington and Brussels for almost two decades.” – The Times

Brexit 4) Finkelstein – Brexiteers need to make their minds up

“Like a dog, Brexit is for life, not just for Christmas. When I woke up on the morning after the referendum, I realised two things. The first was that this wasn’t going to go away. We were going to have to live with the consequences if not for ever, then for many years to come. I knew we weren’t going to stop Brexit going ahead, nor did I think we should. I had too much respect for my fellow citizens, their arguments and for the importance of loser’s consent in a democracy. Nevertheless, I thought (and still think) that by voting for Brexit we made a profound mistake. Which brings me to my other realisation. I didn’t want to live through the next decades feeling as if I wanted my country to fail, because its every stumble would vindicate my judgment on Brexit. However serious the error, we would all have to make the best of it.” – The Times

Brexit 5) No-deal ‘nightmare scenario’ squad sets up at No 10

“Boris Johnson has set up a secretive unit in Downing Street to co-ordinate the government’s response to the “nightmare scenario” of a no-deal Brexit added to a surge in Covid-19 cases and extreme winter weather. The winter control and co-ordination cell, based in No 10, will provide daily confidential briefings to the prime minister on emerging threats. It is part of a wider government contingency operation, known in Whitehall as D20, designed to anticipate and respond to disruption over winter. “We’re trying to anticipate what happens if you have no-deal gridlock in Kent, combined with flooding and a massive spike in Covid cases,” a Whitehall source said.” – The Times

  • Perfect storm of Covid chaos and Brexit stockpiling batters the UK’s port system – Daily Telegraph

UK to get one million more Covid vaccines within a week

“GPs will start within days to book appointments for coronavirus vaccines before the arrival in Britain next week of more than a million more doses of the Pfizer jab. As thousands of Britons became the first people in the world yesterday to be inoculated against the disease outside of a trial, it emerged that two more consignments of the injection would be delivered next week and the week after, following the initial 800,000 doses. With the NHS now due to have four million doses before Christmas, it will be able to start the next phase of vaccine delivery, with an estimated 280 GP immunisation centres expected to begin operation next week.” – The Times

  • Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine shows sign of giving herd immunity The Times
  • London veering towards Tier 3 with worst Covid rate in UK – The Times
  • Schools can close early to give staff a ‘proper break’ – The Times
  • We may be wearing masks for a year, despite the V-Day ‘watershed moment’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Tax property and pensions 1pc to raise £260bn, commission tells Government – Daily Telegraph
  • Covid-driven recession likely to push 2m UK families into poverty – The Guardian
  • UK extends ban on evicting commercial tenants – FT
>Today:
>Yesterday:

English teenagers slide down the global rankings for science

“A series of breakthroughs may have put science in the spotlight this year, but English teenagers have fallen down the global rankings in the subject. While younger children have done better than in 2015, older pupils have done far worse, according to a study that is published every four years…Nick Gibb, the schools minister, said: “This country’s continuing strong performance in maths, including the significant improvement among Year 5 pupils, is testament to the hard work of teachers and a reflection of the reforms we have put in place to raise standards.” But more needed to be done to “improve the quality of science teaching and [increase] the number of young people studying science subjects”, Mr Gibb added.” – The Times

Military cuts of £1bn over next year, with Navy Reservists suspended for first time

“The military is to make £1 billion in cuts over the next year, with Navy Reservists suspended for the first time as part of sweeping savings to the Armed Forces. Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary, has signed off on the Royal Naval Reservists being stood down until April next year in a bid to save £7.5 million. It is understood that all drill nights, training weekends and two-week training activities for the 2,700 reservists enlisted will be “paused”, although they will remain at “high readiness if needed”. The 150 naval reservists currently mobilised, as well as the 300 on the full-time reserve service, will be expected to continue as normal.” – Daily Telegraph

Climate plan could leave owners with £8,000 bill for greener homes

“Homeowners face a bill of up to £8,000 to eliminate emissions from heating under proposals from the government’s climate change advisers to phase out fossil fuel boilers. The climate change committee (CCC) calls today for sales of new oil-fired boilers to be phased out by 2028, and gas boilers by 2033, and for a huge programme of home insulation to help achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. It also wants Britons to eat significantly less meat to help reduce emissions from cattle and sheep, with consumption falling by 9 per cent by 2025, 20 per cent by 2030 and 35 per cent by 2050. Dairy consumption should also fall by a fifth over the coming decade.” – The Times

>Yesterday:

Ministers ban under 18s from playing the National Lottery

“MPs today demanded ministers take action to stop social media influencers encouraging children and young people to gamble. The Government has launched a major review of the UK’s gambling laws as ministers also announced the minimum age for playing the National Lottery will rise to 18 from next October. The review will aim to better protect young people and the vulnerable from problem gambling and will examine whether there is a need for tougher measures on stake and spend limits. The review was launched by Sport Minister Nigel Huddleston who immediately faced calls from MPs to go further and faster. Labour MP Chris Elmore asked Mr Huddleston what action the Government is planning to take to crackdown on social media influencers promoting gambling to young people online.” – Daily Mail

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