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America 1) Woman dies as Trump mob storms Senate

“Thousands of President Trump’s supporters stormed the US Capitol to bring a violent halt to the formal confirmation of his election defeat yesterday after he urged them to “take back the country”. The mob overran police who were unable to prevent an invasion of the Senate and drew their guns to defend the House of Representatives as Democrats and Republicans alike pulled on gas masks and sheltered under desks and staff hid in their offices. Shots were fired in the Capitol grounds and one woman, a Trump-supporting air force veteran, died after being struck in the neck. An explosive device was said to have been found. After several hours of mayhem Mr Trump released a short video to his followers. He said: “We love you. You’re very special. I know how you feel. But go home in peace.” Shortly after his account was suspended by Twitter because of “repeated and severe violations”.” – The Times

  • Pipe bombs, guns and Molotov cocktails are found – Daily Mail
  • Four killed – Daily Telegraph
  • Angry mobs of Trump supporters interrupt transfer of power – FT
  • Trump calls his Capitol mob ‘great patriots’ – Daily Mail

>Today: ToryDiary: Auto-rant, bullshit and self-pity. The conspiracists who stormed the senate. And their right-wing equivalents here.

America 2) Officials ‘discuss 25th amendment to remove President’ as Republicans turn backs on him

“A wave of top officials quit the White House on Wednesday, turning their backs on Donald Trump hours after the US Capitol was stormed by his supporters. Incited by the US president, violent protesters broke into the Capitol building in an attempt to overthrow the result of the November election. The US media reported that Mr Trump’s Cabinet secretaries were discussing invoking the 25th amendment to remove the president. The amendment theoretically allows for the removal of a president who is incapacitated or unwilling to perform their duties. Invoking it would require Vice President Mike Pence to lead the Cabinet in a vote on removing Mr Trump. CNN said that unnamed Republican leaders revealed that the 25th amendment had been discussed, saying they had described Trump as “out of control.” Seventeen Democratic congressmen signed a letter on Wednesday night calling on Mr Pence to enact the amendment and remove Mr Trump.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Pence, not Trump, called in the National Guard – Daily Mail
  • Western democracies stunned by images of unrest in Washington – FT
  • Facebook, Instagram and Twitter lock Trump’s accounts after praise for Capitol Hill rioters – Daily Telegraph

>Today:

America 3) Our republic is under attack, furious Biden tells the people

“The president-elect removed his black mask, put it neatly aside next to his microphone and apologised for the circumstances of his remarks. Then Joe Biden looked into the cameras and challenged the president whom he defeated at the ballot box in November to take immediate action to preserve America’s republic from the forces of chaos that he himself had unleashed. “All of you have been watching what I’ve been watching,” Mr Biden said, his voice freighted with anger and disgust. “At this hour our democracy is under unprecedented assault,” he went on, pausing frequently to allow the gravity of his words to register. Americans, he said, were witnessing “an assault on the rule of law like few times we have ever seen it”. The uprising “borders on sedition”, he declared… Mr Biden served as a United States senator for 36 years and then spent a further eight years as a regular visitor to the halls of Congress in his role as vice president between 2009 and 2017.” – The Times

  • Congress rejects first Republican objection to Democrat victory – FT
  • Patel calls on Trump supporters to ‘move on’ as she condemns ‘appalling’ violence – Daily Express

America 4) Daniel Finkelstein: Trump has disgraced tradition and that will be his lasting legacy

“Yesterday Donald Trump failed both the tests set by Washington. He has failed to relinquish office voluntarily and with grace. And he has encouraged violent resistance rather than sought to put it down. His video was too little too late. Just as Washington is remembered for his acts of leadership and left a legacy of a strong republic, Mr Trump will be remembered for his dereliction of duty and for the way he has weakened the republic he was supposed to serve… So it is not as if Donald Trump was facing provocation unique in American history or can claim as an excuse that the political temperature is higher now. Yet despite this, and through all this, presidents have seen their duty as Washington did: to hold power lightly and to surrender it gracefully when the time came, and to insist on adherence to law and the constitution. Donald Trump has disgraced that tradition and it will be his legacy.” – The Times

  • The Republicans are now the party of chaos – Tim Stanley, Daily Telegraph

Editorial:

  • Trump’s hopes of a legacy have ended after his MAGA thugs stormed the Capitol – The Sun

Lockdown restrictions pass after MPs vote overwhelmingly in favour

“MPs have overwhelmingly backed the latest lockdown measures as the UK’s Covid death rate reached levels not seen since the spring peak. With Labour supporting the lockdown, the vote in the recalled House of Commons passed comfortably by 524 votes to 16, giving the Government a majority of 508. Boris Johnson, however, did face rebellion within his ranks, with 12 Conservative MPs voting against the stay-at-home rules. They were joined by four DUP MPs opposing the regulations. Former Tory minister Sir Desmond Swayne branded lockdowns a “complete failure” while Sir Robert Syms said the measures, which are in place until March 31, were “essentially a blank cheque for three months to Public Health England to do what they wish”. The Prime Minister, addressing the Commons earlier on Wednesday, said the March deadline was “not because we expect the full national lockdown to continue until then but to allow a steady, controlled and evidence-led move down through the tiers on a regional basis”.” – Daily Telegraph

  • New regime could stay until April, warns Johnson – The Times
  • MPs demand new laws lifted after 13m vaccinated – The Sun
  • Met police take hard line on Covid rule breakers – The Times

Comment:

  • Students are yet again becoming forgotten victims of lockdown – Sabrina Miller, Daily Telegraph

>Today: MPs Etc.: The twelve Conservative MPs who voted against the third lockdown

>Yesterday:

Sunak unveils £4.6bn relief package for UK retail and hospitality sectors

“Firms in those sectors of the economy hardest hit by stringent new lockdown measures will receive grants of up to £9,000 in a £4.6bn Treasury package designed to keep them afloat to the spring. The chancellor, Rishi Sunak, said he expected 600,000 business properties in retail, leisure and hospitality to receive financial support from the government through a one-off grant. Acknowledging that the period ahead would be “difficult”, the chancellor said the government was bolstering its efforts to protect jobs and to prevent businesses from collapsing. In addition to grants worth £4bn, a further £594m will be made available to local councils to assist businesses impacted by the lockdown but not eligible for the new payments. As part of the package, the Scottish government will receive £375m, the Welsh government £227m and the Northern Ireland executive £127m.” – The Guardian

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Whatever happened to the Covid marshalls?

Wait for supplies forces GPs to delay vaccine clinics

“GPs have delayed vaccination clinics repeatedly because the delivery of supplies has been inconsistent. NHS England said that GP services would start using the Astrazeneca- Oxford vaccine today, but some said that access to the Pfizer jab was patchy. Millions of doses of the Oxford vaccine are awaiting final safety checks even though manufacturing was scaled up to “full pace” months ago. Public Health England (PHE) promised that it would start Sunday deliveries as soon as supplies allowed, after criticism of a six-day service. One in ten care home residents and one in seven care home workers have been vaccinated. They are the first of four priority groups of 13 million people that the NHS has said it will offer to inoculate by mid-February… Mohammed Jiva, a GP and chairman of Rochdale Health Alliance, said he had been told that “over 1,000” doses of the vaccine expected at Rochdale’s central vaccination site this weekend would not arrive.” – The Times

  • ‘Furious’ MPs and doctors urge Government to stop dithering and vaccinate around the clock – The Sun
  • GPs told to ‘stand down’ routine care and focus on Covid vaccinations – Daily Telegraph
  • Health leaders call for clarity on supplies – FT
  • We can speed up Covid vaccine push, say small chemists – The Times
  • Approval time for doses is cut from twenty days to to five – Daily Mail
  • Single-shot Janssen Covid vaccine could be approved ‘in weeks’ – Daily Telegraph

More:

  • Fears for NHS as excess deaths outstrip Covid fatalities – The Times
  • Roll-out advanced in Scotland thanks to Union, says Johnson – Daily Telegraph
  • Merkel mulls Russian answer to EU vaccine bottleneck – The Times

Comment:

  • Think Britain has vaccine problems? You should see the EU – Alexander von Schoenberg, Daily Mail
  • Censorship is not the way to beat antivaxers – David Aaronovitch, The Times
  • Putting young people first for the vaccine can slow the spread of Covid-19 – Angus Dalgleish, Daily Mail
  • It would be so callous to make the elderly who are most at risk wait for vaccination – Dr Martin Scurr, Daily Mail

Editorial:

  • The pressure is on the NHS to show it has the capacity to deliver 13 million vaccines – The Times

>Yesterday:

Teachers prepare to set own tests after GCSEs and A‑levels are cancelled

“Head teachers plan to set their own exams so pupils can get robust grades after this summer’s GCSE and A-levels were cancelled. Several private schools said that they would set mocks once pupils returned and some might sit International GCSEs, which have not been called off. Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, confirmed in the Commons yesterday that pupils in England would not sit GCSEs and A-level papers but did not say what would replace them. Schools are expected to make assessments that will have to be moderated in some way. Mr Williamson said there would be training and support for teachers to ensure consistency. Contingency plans were being “fine-tuned” with Ofqual, the exams regulator, which would consult widely next week, he said. Heads are making their own plans while waiting to find out what Ofqual will decide.” – The Times

  • School chaos deepens as Williamson fails to explain exam plan – The Guardian
  • Kids can go to school if they don’t have a laptop or can’t work at home, he says – The Sun
  • Parents are urged to report their child’s school to Ofsted if online lessons aren’t up to scratch – Daily Mail

>Today: John Bald in Local Government: We need vaccination for teachers if schools are to reopen safely

>Yesterday:

Sturgeon facing pressure to postpone Scottish election

“Nicola Sturgeon is under pressure to delay the Scottish election after Boris Johnson said polls in England due to take place on the same day in May are under review. Senior opposition figures said Ms Sturgeon, the First Minister, must agree to delay the Holyrood ballot if she extends Scotland’s “stay at home” lockdown beyond the end of this month. Scottish Parliament insiders told The Telegraph that arrangements could be put in place to allow Scots to cast their votes safely on May 6, but warned that campaigning in the midst of the new, more transmissible form of the virus would be almost impossible and engaging safely with the public difficult. It is thought a decision will have to be agreed by Ms Sturgeon and Holyrood’s opposition leaders by the end of this month, with only another six or seven weeks before the campaign is scheduled to start.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Devolving more powers to Scotland will only hasten the demise of the Union – Vernon Bogdanor, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Happy centenary, Northern Ireland. Let’s plan for a second one.

Johnson calls for business support over regulatory change

“Boris Johnson called on business leaders on Wednesday to get behind plans for regulatory and legislative reform in a move that could attract the attention of Brussels’ officials over the prospect of a rapid divergence from EU rules by the UK. In a call with 250 leading business figures, Britain’s prime minister sought to rally business support for his vision for the UK after Brexit, exhorting them to grasp the opportunities that came from leaving the EU. The call was also attended by chancellor Rishi Sunak, business secretary Alok Sharma and international trade secretary Liz Truss.  Mr Johnson asked business groups and top executives to come up with ideas about how to change regulations in the UK to support future economic growth, saying that he did not want his administration to be defined by Covid-19 and Brexit. The UK would need regulatory and legislative change, he said.” – FT

  • Kawczynski calls for the BBC to apologise for Dover ‘fearmongering’ – Daily Express
  • MPs told Brexit trader support service ‘not good enough’ – FT
  • Northern Ireland facing food supply disruption over Brexit, MPs told – The Guardian

China ‘misled world’ on Hong Kong security law, says Raab

“The British foreign secretary has accused China of deliberately misleading the world when it passed its new security law in Hong Kong last year in the wake of the latest crackdown on the opposition in the territory. Dominic Raab reiterated the UK’s offer to holders of British national (overseas) passports in the city to come and live in Britain, and said: “The mass arrest of politicians and activists in Hong Kong is a grievous attack on Hong Kong’s rights and freedoms as protected under the joint declaration,” which set out the terms of the return of the territory from the UK to China in 1997. “These arrests demonstrate that the Hong Kong and Chinese authorities deliberately misled the world about the true purpose of the national security law, which is being used to crush dissent and opposing political views. The UK will not turn our backs on the people of Hong Kong and will continue to offer British nationals (overseas) [citizens] the right to live and work in the UK.” As international criticism mounted, the last British governor of Hong Kong has told the EU not to go ahead with an economic deal with China.” – The Guardian

  • Beijing claims its ban on a WHO mission to find the origin of coronavirus is a ‘misunderstanding – Daily Mail

>Today: Luke de Pulford in Comment: The UK has failed to stand up to China – and Raab must ensure that it does

Treasury’s permanent secretary reappointment ‘signals end of mandarin purge’

“The Treasury’s permanent secretary has been reappointed for another five-year term, in a sign that Downing Street’s purge of mandarins has ended. Sir Tom Scholar, 52, has won admiration for his role in helping design the Chancellor’s emergency financial bailout packages in response to the coronavirus crisis over the past 10 months. The vote of confidence in the senior civil servant comes after he was billed as topping a Number 10 hit list of Whitehall figures at the beginning of last year. Ministers declined to comment on the reports at the time, and Rishi Sunak was said to have been dismissive of the idea Sir Tom was at risk. Other senior civil servants named as being in the firing line have since departed, including Sir Philip Rutnam who quit as permanent secretary at the Home Office and is suing for constructive dismissal. In total five permanent secretaries left the Government within six months, including Department for Education chief mandarin Jonathan Slater who was sacked over the exam results fiasco.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Cummings threatens to expose Remainer civil servants who tried to sabotage Brexit – Daily Express

Ministers plan an end to ‘feudal’ leasehold property laws

“Ministers have announced plans to prepare the housing market for a transition from leasehold to commonhold ownership in what would be a radical overhaul of the “feudal” property laws. A working group will be set up to prepare the market for the transition after the Law Commission urged MPs in July to adopt a fairer system. A fifth of flats and houses are governed by medieval leasehold law that allows landlords or freeholders to grant the buyer the right to live in a property for 99 to 999 years. The changes would make it easier and cheaper for leaseholders to buy the freehold of their property and take control of the costs by giving them the right to extend the lease to a maximum term of 990 years at zero ground rent. Leaseholders in houses have the right to extend the lease only once for 50 years and they must pay escalating ground rent… The government will establish a council made up of leaseholders, government officials and property industry professionals to prepare the market for the widespread take-up of commonhold.” – The Times

  • Go-ahead for new UK coal mine attracts ire of green campaigners – FT

Comment:

  • A building free-for-all would betray Grenfell – Sean O’Neill, The Times

Editorial:

  • Reforms to the system of leasehold are long overdue – The Times

News in Brief:

  • The weirding of America – Mary Harrington, UnHerd
  • A race against time: can the vaccine outpace the virus? – Richard Dobbs, The Spectator
  • A year of Black Wednesdays? – Steve Baker MP, The Critic
  • Johnson should bring in an Erasmus for the Home Nations – Henry Hill, CapX