Coronavirus 1) Postcode lottery for life‑saving vaccination

“Almost one in four people in England live in an area with no vaccination centre, according to analysis that reveals a postcode lottery for those seeking the life-saving jab. Last night Matt Hancock, the health secretary, was asked to explain why 13 million people live in a constituency with no hospital, GP practice or community building for administering vaccines. Hancock has said life could return to normal after Easter, which would require about two million vaccinations a week. At present, only about 300,000 are being provided. Tomorrow the first doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will be administered, heralding what should be a surge in vaccination rates. However, there are growing fears that the NHS does not have sufficient staff numbers or facilities to deliver the jabs.” – Sunday Times

  • West Country to take overspill of patients from South East – Sunday Times
  • Pressure on London’s hospitals will soon extend across Britain, senior doctors warn – Sunday Telegraph
  • PM hails Oxford vaccine – Mail on Sunday
  • UK draws up plans to mix coronavirus vaccines – FT
  • Shadow culture secretary being treated in hospital for Covid – Observer
  • Liverpool’s acting mayor calls for national lockdown – Observer
  • Covidiot anti-vaxxers left medics close to tears outside hospital – Sun on Sunday

Coronavirus 2) ‘Cut the red tape and roll out vaccine quicker,’ Hancock orders

“Matt Hancock has ordered officials to slash red tape that is putting off retired doctors from signing up to help with the mass Covid inoculation programme ahead of the first jabs of the new British-made vaccine on Monday. The Telegraph disclosed last week that retired medics had been dissuaded from returning to the NHS front line by bureaucracy including a requirement to provide 21 different pieces of evidence to support their application. However, Mr Hancock, the Health Secretary has now told officials that he wants the process to be urgently streamlined. He has ordered a review and made it clear that he intends to cut any red tape to make it as streamlined as possible for retired GPs to help with administering Covid-19 jabs.” – Sunday Telegraph


Coronavirus 3) We must not furlough our children’s futures, Ofsted chief warns

“Children cannot be “furloughed” for months while the UK waits for Covid cases to subside, Ofsted’s chief inspector said in the face of attempts by unions to force the Government into keeping all schools closed. In a rebuff to those calling for schools to remain shut indefinitely, Amanda Spielman said children’s time out of the classroom should be kept to the “absolute minimum”. Her comments came as teaching unions joined forces to call for schools to stay closed to slow the spread of Covid as cases hit another record. Four national teaching unions called for all schools in England to close for two weeks amid concerns that the surge in the new strain of the virus poses a threat to teachers.” – Sunday Telegraph

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Coronavirus 4) Dominic Lawson: Harold Shipman’s ghost haunts the Covid debate

“Humour can make the most serious points. For example, last week the radio comedy producer Ed Morrish tweeted: “If you take away everyone with underlying conditions, Harold Shipman didn’t kill anyone.” This was Morrish’s comment on the latest attempt by the so-called lockdown sceptics to justify their view that Covid-19 is really no more of a worry than the flu, and should have been treated similarly by governments. Their two main arguments had been that there wouldn’t be a second wave (but that if there were, it should be dealt with by “taking it on the chin” with herd immunity via infection) and that there was no point in delaying the inevitable by suppressing the virus, as a vaccine would probably take a decade to arrive. Both these arguments have been comprehensively refuted”. – Sunday Times

PM’s reshuffle could be delayed until November

“Boris Johnson’s mooted Cabinet reshuffle may be pushed back to as late as November in a reprieve for ministers tipped for the sack. Key allies of the Prime Minister are urging him not to go ahead with the planned shake-up, which had previously been slated for next month. Instead, it is now being talked about for July or even November in the hope that the Covid-19 pandemic will have subsided by then. One ally said the benefits of Mr Johnson refreshing his top team would be “lost” during the virus crisis, which meant it could not happen until April at the earliest. However, with a new Queen’s Speech setting out a new legislative programme in May, along with “challenging” local elections that month, a reshuffle cannot happen until June or July at the earliest.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • Johnson would lose majority and seat in election tomorrow – poll – Observer
  • Tories have work to do to fix wobbling red wall, poll suggests – Sunday Times
  • Who is Allegra Stratton, the new face of the government? Sunday Times
  • Tory MP adds plantation to list of members’ interests – Observer
  • Is Johnson trying to push the House of Lords into extinction? – Sunday Times

Priti Patel: As a fully sovereign nation, Britain can look forward with optimism

“As we start the New Year as a fully sovereign nation, we will all reflect upon the year we have left behind and look to the year ahead with hope and optimism. A new British-produced vaccine against coronavirus is set to transform the way in which we live our lives, saving lives at home and across the globe and reinstating our influence as a global science power. Telegraph readers have stood by the Government in our determined quest to leave the EU and follow our own destiny in the world once again while upholding the will of the British people by taking back control of our money, our borders, our laws and our waters. The public have patiently endured more than four years of wrangling, rancour, division and perpetual debate.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • Brexit will make Britain a safer country to live in, says Patel – Sunday Telegraph
  • PM eyes lucrative 11-country Brexit megadeal – Sunday Express
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Starmer buddies up to Biden as Tories feel chill

“Sir Keir Starmer is set to beat Boris Johnson to the White House by sending one of his frontbench team to the inauguration of Joe Biden on January 20 just as relations between the Democrats and the Conservatives stumble. Last week Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic speaker of the House of Representatives, was kept waiting for more than 30 minutes on a call to Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, before he “stood her up”. A source close to Raab said the phone call was postponed to the next day because he had been embroiled in negotiations with Spain about post-Brexit arrangements for Gibraltar. However, the incident will have done nothing to smooth relations between Johnson and the incoming Biden administration.” – Sunday Times

And finally, Big Ben will not bong until 2022 after Covid delays restoration work

“Millions of Britons marked the welcome end of a Covid-ravaged 2020 by listening to the familiar bongs of Big Ben on television as midnight struck on New Year’s Eve. But that could be the last time Big Ben – which also rang to mark the end of the Brexit transition period – is heard for months after Parliament’s authorities said an £80 million refurbishment of the Elizabeth Tower, which houses the Great Bell, will not be completed until 2022 at the earliest. Big Ben was first silenced in August 2017 for a four-year refurbishment costing £29 million. The Commons said then that it would “resume regular time-keeping duties in the course of 2021”. However, costs have nearly trebled since then, and Parliament’s authorities say a 2021 completion date now seems unlikely and a revised date for the conservation project “is expected in the New Year”. – Sunday Telegraph