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Frost ‘raises prospect of EU court compromise’

“Britain could compromise over the European Court of Justice’s role in Northern Ireland after Lord Frost suggested he would enter negotiations with Brussels without “red lines”. In a bid to finally break the deadlock over the Northern Ireland Protocol, the EU yesterday proposed to slash red tape and cut the majority of checks on British goods crossing into Northern Ireland. Maros Sefcovic, the European Commission vice president, also announced in Brussels that it would ease food standard rules and change its laws to ensure that British medicines can still be sent to Northern Ireland. Under its proposals, checks on food and plant products would be reduced by up to 80 per cent, a looming ban on British chilled meats would end, and customs paperwork would be cut in half.” – Daily Telegraph

  • ‘No single market without ECJ!’, EU ambassador says – Daily Express
  • EU’s four-pronged plan to reform arrangements – Daily Telegraph
  • Cummings says UK always intended to ditch Protocol – The Guardian

More:

  • Brussels and London remain far apart on key aspects of trading arrangements – FT
  • EU offers to scrap 80% per cent of food checks but prepares for Johnson to reject deal – The Guardian
  • ‘Overhyped’ EU plan on Brexit protocol includes ‘very vague’ customs proposals – Daily Express

>Today: David Lidington in Comment: There is a deal to done on the Northern Ireland Protocol to suit all sides. Here it is.

>Yesterday: Daniel Hannan’s column: Lord Frost’s speech yesterday exposed the staggering petulance of Britain’s Euro-zealots

Dowden: there’s no need to panic buy toys and presents

“Brits should buy toys and presents “as normally” insisted ministers today as they try to calm fears of Christmas supply chaos. Tory chairman Oliver Dowden said he’s “confident” people will be able to get festive goodies and there’s no need to rush out to the shops. His remarks come after bottlenecks at the major port of Felixstowe prompted worries about a shortage of goods like electronics. Ministers have been warned large cargo ships are being turned away an that could lead to gaps on the shelves in the run up to Christmas. The major Suffolk port handles almost 40% of containers coming in and out of the UK, many from big manufacturing nations in the Far East. Pressed on the problem today, Mr Dowden acknowledged it’s “a difficult, worrying time” for Brits who will be “concerned” by the reports.” – The Sun

  • Christmas sales brought forward by month in bid to avoid empty shelves – Daily Telegraph
  • Port disruption spreads, casting shadow over Christmas – FT

More:

  • Four more energy companies ‘could go bust this week – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: Emily Carver’s column: Our nation’s biggest shortage may not be HGV drivers or turkeys, but optimism

Pension savers face risk of higher fees as Sunak seeks billions for ‘levelling up’

“Ministers are looking to relax rules shielding tens of millions of UK retirement savers from high charges as they step up efforts to funnel pension fund cash into the government’s “levelling up” agenda. Officials are working on proposals to dilute the 0.75 per cent ceiling on annual management fees, which was put in place in 2016 to protect workers auto-enrolled into workplace pensions from having their savings eroded by high charges. Chancellor Rishi Sunak is looking at ways to tap billions of pounds of pension fund cash to invest in long-term projects, including infrastructure schemes, renewable energy projects and innovative tech firms, to help deliver on UK prime minister Boris Johnson’s pledge to spread economic growth across the UK. Many of these assets are held in funds managed by private equity and venture capital firms, however, which commonly levy performance fees linked to certain thresholds on annual returns.” – FT

  • Government urged to introduce death duties on pension pots – Daily Telegraph

More:

  • Chancellor ‘wants to cut electric car grants under Treasury cost-saving plans’ – Daily Mail
  • Sunak urged to cut business rates to unlock billions in investment – The Guardian

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: A Government which bans greenfield housing developments deserves to lose

Lorry driver crisis could worsen amid threat of new DVLA strike

“The critical shortage of HGV drivers is set to get worse, with union members set to vote on further strike action at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency. The Road Haulage Association warned on Wednesday night that the possible industrial action “could not come at a worse time” and would aggravate the driver shortage that has led to empty supermarket shelves and a fuel crisis. The DVLA said any strike action would hold “millions of drivers to ransom”. The Government agency is currently working through a backlog of a reported 50,000 vocational driving licences stretching back more than two months. But the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) at the DVLA’s offices in Swansea will vote in the coming weeks on further industrial action over fears that 2,500 staff working in its offices are at risk of Covid.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Leading transport firm quits the Road Haulage Association as row over driver crisis dramatically escalates – Daily Mail
  • Only 20 HGV licences granted for EU workers to help shift Britain’s huge cargo backlog – The Sun

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Polls are likely a poor guide to wise policy on letting asylum seekers work

GPs to get £250m boost if they see more patients face-to-face

“GPs in England will be handed £250m to improve their services but only if they increase the number of patients being seen face-to-face under a new government and NHS action plan. The move follows an increasingly heated public war of words between GPs and health secretary, Sajid Javid, who has told family doctors to ramp up in-person consultations. Under the “blueprint” GP practices in England will be able to share in a new £250m “winter access fund” to hire more staff, such as locum GPs, physiotherapists and podiatrists. However, the money will be conditional on increasing the number of patients who get an in-person appointment. In future, GPs must ask patients if they want to come into the surgery to be seen or are happy to talk to a doctor or practice nurse on the telephone or by videocall instead and arrange a face-to-face consultation if that is what the patient wants.” – The Guardian

  • League tables and ‘hit squads’ for those that fail – Daily Mail
  • Pharmacists to get more power – Daily Mail

More:

  • Brits stuck at airport as NHS app goes down – The Sun

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

University transgender bullying row intensifies as Labour MP criticises vice-chancellor

“A Labour shadow minister has accused the Sussex University vice-chancellor of failing to stand up for transgender students, as the party wades into the feminist academic row. Earlier this week, Professor Kathleen Stock, who is at the centre of a furore over her views on gender identity, accused the lecturers’ union of “effectively ending” her career after the union called on her university to offer “unequivocal support” to trans students. The philosophy professor has faced calls from students to be removed from her post amid accusations of “transphobia”. Last week, students erected posters around campus, calling on the university to fire her. Taiwo Owatemi MP, the shadow minister for women and equalities, praised the lecturers’ union for making a “strong and principled” request for the university to adhere to its own trans equality statement. But she added that this commitment was “sadly absent” from a statement made by Prof Adam Tickell, the vice-chancellor, on the treatment of Prof Stock.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Thornberry lashes out at Truss for ‘photo ops’ – Daily Express

(Ex-)Labour MP could be jailed after conviction for harassing partner’s ex-girlfriend

“Claudia Webbe, the former Labour MP, has been warned she faces a possible prison sentence after being convicted of harassment over a series of threatening phone calls she made to a former girlfriend of her partner. Jeremy Corbyn described the politician as a person of good character who was committed to the “administration of justice” in a character reference read out in court on Wednesday. Webbe, who now sits as an independent for Leicester East, was found guilty of the charge after a court heard how she had threatened Michelle Merritt with acid and told her she would send naked pictures of her to her daughters… Webbe, who received character references from Mr Corbyn, the former Labour leader, and fellow MP Dianne Abbott, had claimed her phone calls had merely been intended to warn Ms Merritt not to break Covid rules by meeting her boyfriend during lockdown.” – Daily Telegraph

News in Brief:

  • What’s the Government’s end-game for Ulster? – Henry Hill, CapX
  • The problem with Frost’s speech – Owen Polley, The Critic
  • Why are couples putting the planet ahead of parenthood? – Madeleine Kearns, The Spectator
  • Would you sell a kidney to be famous? – Mary Harrington, UnHerd