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Lorry union threatens to hold Christmas hostage with strike

“Lorry drivers could “hold Christmas hostage” after union leaders warned that they may go on strike unless they were granted better pay and conditions. Unite, which represent 50,000 drivers for supermarkets and delivery companies, said that it wanted a “firm commitment” from the government for truck stops with lavatories and catering facilities as well as an end to temporary rules allowing drivers to work up to ten hours a day. They also want haulage companies to offer equal pay for long-serving drivers. New starters are now being offered salaries of up to £50,000 a year. Adrian Jones, national officer for road transport at the union, said: “Drivers have had enough. HGV drivers are the blood in the body of our economy. We will not hesitate to cut that supply off if the government and the employers refuse to do what is necessary.”” – The Times

  • DVLA staff to get payments worth £735 as government seeks to avoid strikes – The Guardian
  • Only 20 HGV licences granted for EU workers to help shift Britain’s huge cargo backlog – The Sun
  • UK to grant visas for 800 foreign butchers to prevent mass pig cull – FT

More:

  • Haulage group frozen out of Whitehall after being ‘hijacked by Remainers’ – Daily Telegraph

Health Secretary ‘sorry for Covid losses’ but says he has not read Commons report in detail

“The health secretary has said he is sorry for the losses that have occurred due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but fell short of apologising for the government’s decision to delay lockdown last March. Sajid Javid’s comments came in response to the publication on Tuesday of a damning health select committee report on lessons learned from the pandemic, which found the government’s management of the outbreak was one of the worst public health failures in British history. Asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme whether he regretted pressuring the government to prioritise the economy over introducing lockdown, Javid said: “I don’t think I got it wrong based on the information I had at the time, but … I was out of the government when decisions were made.”” – The Guardian

  • Emergency plans won’t be triggered despite rising cases, says Javid – The Sun
  • Almost two-thirds of voters want England to follow Scotland and Wales and bring in compulsory Covid passport rules – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: Bella Wallersteiner in Comment: The silent majority now wants a return to pre-pandemic normality

Spare GPs strain of seeing more patients, urges Hunt

“Jeremy Hunt, the former health secretary, has attacked plans to increase face-to-face appointments for GPs, saying they will put pressure on a “burnt-out workforce”. Under a £250 million package to improve access to doctors in England this winter, patients must be offered an in-person appointment unless there are “good clinical reasons” not to do so. The funding is dependent on surgeries hitting appointment targets. Those that fail to do so will be named and shamed and face financial penalties. Hunt, chairman of the Commons health committee, described the measures as “inadequate” and said they did not address the shortage of GPs. In a series of tweets, Hunt suggested an independent body be set up to advise the government on how many doctors it needs to train.” – The Times

  • GPs’ leader condemns ‘malicious criticism’ by politicians – The Guardian
  • Fury at ‘overpaid’ GPs for moaning about plans to name and shame surgeries – Daily Mail

More:

  • NHS buildings repair backlog soars to £9.2bn in England – FT

Comment:

  • Challenging GPs could only ever backfire – Madeline Grant, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Face-to-face with Javid

Javid slams Khan’s decision to cancel capital’s New Year’s Eve firework display

“Sajid Javid slammed London mayor Sadiq Khan today over his decision to cancel the capital’s annual new year firework display over Covid fears. The Tory Health Secretary said there was ‘no reason’ the annual New Year’s Eve pyrotechnic display above the Thames could not return this year, having also been axed in 2020. Labour mayor Mr Khan revealed this week that the 2021 display, which would have drawn hundreds of thousands of people to the riverside, had been called off, blaming Covid ‘uncertainty’… The annual event is usually attended by up to 100,000 people and broadcast across the world. City Hall said it has been cancelled this year due to ‘uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 pandemic’.” – Daily Mail

  • Night Tube to return from November – The Sun

More Labour:

  • Acid-threat MP should quit now, say constituents – The Times

>Today: James Hockney in Local Government: Labour’s war on the car in London is hurting the most vulnerable

Sunak warned pension fee cap plan more help to financiers than savers

“Rishi Sunak’s bid to increase investment into UK infrastructure and tech companies by shifting workers’ pension pots into higher-fee private equity funds risks benefiting financiers rather than savers or the wider economy, investors have warned. The chancellor is seeking to relax rules that stop workers auto-enrolled into workplace pensions from having their savings funnelled into expensive venture capital and buyout funds. These funds hold many of the assets targeted by Sunak but they typically charge more than the 0.75 per cent cap on annual management fees put in place in 2016 to protect savings from being eroded by high charges. Ministers argue diluting the cap would help towards the government’s goal of “levelling up” the UK economy, by freeing up more money to be invested in longer-term infrastructure assets, such as renewable energy projects, and innovative tech firms.” – FT

  • Chancellor considers lifting 0.75 per cent cap on pension fees – The Times

Mild winter could protect households from soaring energy bills, says Kwarteng

“Kwasi Kwarteng has told energy bosses that Britain’s mild winter could protect households from rising energy bills. The Business Secretary this week shared internal long-term forecasts, which showed that the Meteorological Office is expecting a wet and mild winter, with energy companies. The hope among his officials is that people will not have to turn up their heating and fears of a spike in bills will not come to pass. The energy price cap – which sets limits on what suppliers can charge customers on default tariffs – went up by £139 this month to push average bills up to £1,277. Analysts think it could go up by another £400 when it is next reviewed in April. At a meeting this week, energy companies asked Mr Kwarteng for any long-term data from the Met Office, which his department funds.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Johnson should admit he’s not in control – James Forsyth, The Times

>Today: Simon Fell MP in Comment: The Government must resist calls to change its policy on fracking

>Yesterday: Will Gardiner in Sponsored: The promise of Drax – a lower cost, Net Zero future to help level up the Humber

Carmakers will ditch petrol before ‘silly’ 2035 target, minister predicts

“Government plans to phase out new cars with internal combustion engines by 2035 “will look a bit silly” because manufacturers will make the transition faster than that, an environment minister has said. Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park, a close ally of Boris Johnson, said the government had been “amazingly wrong” about the cost of the transition to net-zero emissions and it would be much cheaper than expected, with the cost of electric cars, offshore wind and solar power all falling… The government has said that it will end the sale of new entirely petrol and diesel cars by 2030 and hybrid cars that have a battery as well as a combustion engine by 2035… He was responding to a question from Lord Lilley, the climate sceptic peer, who asked him if it would be “sensible for Britain to continue to spend trillions of pounds reducing its emissions to zero” when countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America “continue to put the growth of their economies ahead of the desire to reduce emissions”.” – The Times

  • Households pushed to scrap gas boilers with £5,000 grant – Daily Telegraph

More:

  • Xi expected to snub UK summit on climate crisis – The Times
  • Action is finally taken to jail Insulate Britain eco-zealots… – Daily Mail
  • …who suspend M25 protests until week of Cop26 – The Times

Comment:

  • Johnson’s eco-Micawberism will not pay the bills of net zero – Fraser Nelson, Daily Telegraph

Brussels urged to prepare contingency plan for UK trade war

“Leading EU member states are pressing Brussels to draw up tough retaliatory measures should the UK carry out its threat to suspend trading arrangements for Northern Ireland enshrined in the Brexit deal. Representatives of five member states on Monday met European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic, the EU Brexit negotiator, to demand he come up with contingency plans for a possible trade war, diplomats have told the Financial Times. France, Germany and the Netherlands, a traditional UK ally, were the most vocal, supported by Italy and Spain, the diplomats added. Among the options being discussed in EU capitals are curbing UK access to the bloc’s energy supplies, imposing tariffs on British exports, or in extreme circumstances terminating the trade agreement between the two sides.” – FT

  • Cautious welcome for EU’s Northern Ireland Brexit trade plan – The Times
  • Frost finds ‘key loophole in Brexit deal’ – Daily Express

Unionists:

  • DUP leader says any new agreement would need to deliver a ‘resolution on pet passports’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Johnson promised to tear up NI protocol, says Paisley – The Guardian

>Today: ToryDiary: The Northern Ireland Protocol. History suggests that there will be a deal.

>Yesterday:

News in Brief:

  • Frost is right, Burke was British – Henry Hill, UnHerd
  • Oblige sans noblesse – Henry Hill, The Critic
  • Britain’s North/South divide owes more to William the Conqueror than Thatcher – William Atkinson, CapX
  • John Lewis and the dreadful little emperors – Posie Parker, The Spectator