Johnson demands Channel migrant fix…

“Boris Johnson has ordered a cross-Whitehall review into the migrant crisis after being “exasperated” by his government’s failure to stem the numbers. The prime minister is concerned that there are still no viable policies to reduce the number of Channel crossings. Some 24,500 migrants have crossed in small boats this year, almost triple the number that arrived last year, and twice in the past fortnight more than 1,000 have crossed. Stephen Barclay, chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, has been drafted in to oversee Whitehall attempts to find solutions and ensure departments beyond the Home Office play their part. Tory MPs have warned Johnson that the migrant crisis risks becoming a big electoral issue, undermining the pledge to control Britain’s borders.” – The Times


  • Patel’s options for dealing with huge rise in Channel migrants – The Times
  • Those fleeing poverty take paths that are well travelled – The Times
  • Germany is last stop in rush to cross the Channel – The Times
  • How small boats have become big business for Calais people smugglers – The Times
  • Even Johnson loyalists ‘are worrying for him’ – The Times

… as Patel ‘plans Greek-style clampdown’

“Priti Patel is planning a Greek-style crackdown on migrants, with new restrictions on asylum seekers amid an escalating European crisis. Channel migrants held in new purpose-built reception centres will have to obey strict rules or risk losing their right to claim asylum. The Home Secretary plans to model the centres on the camps for asylum seekers being built by Greece, where migrants face routine checks on their movements along with curfews to prevent absconding. “If they breach the rules, it could affect their asylum claim,” said a UK government source. “You would be told that you would have to be in by this time. That’s fair rules for operating if you provide food and accommodation. The Greeks have things like timings.” Migrants could also be issued with “asylum apps” to track the progress of their applications on smartphones or computers in the centres.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Patel pledges spying laws to tackle Beijing – The Times

Liverpool bomber ‘reverted to Islam’ in months before attack

“The Liverpool hospital bomber had reverted to practising Islam in the months before his attack, investigators believe. One theory is that Emad Al Swealmeen, who had converted to Christianity after his arrival in Britain, was trying to atone for apostasy which is considered to be punishable by death by some Islamic scholars. Associates are believed to have told detectives that Al Swealmeen, 32, an Iraqi asylum seeker, had since returned to Islam, although sources said that was “not a motive for an attack”. Counterterrorism police are yet to find evidence of an ideology that motivated him. Al Swealmeen started to attend Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral in late 2015, after his first plea for asylum was rejected, and converted in March 2017.” – The Times

Media 1) Ex-Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre quits Ofcom race with blast at ‘the Blob’

“Paul Dacre has pulled out of the race to become the next chairman of the media regulator Ofcom with a stinging attack on senior civil servants. In a letter to The Times, Dacre said he had decided not to re-apply for the role despite Boris Johnson’s decision to run the appointment process again to give him a second chance. The former editor of the Daily Mail described his experience as an “infelicitous dalliance with the Blob” and claimed that senior Whitehall figures were determined to exclude anyone with right-of-centre “convictions” from being appointed to senior public sector roles. “To anyone from the private sector, who, God forbid, has convictions, and is thinking of applying for a public appointment, I say the following: the civil service will control (and leak) everything””. – The Times

  • Social media must prevent adults messaging children, Ofcom says – The Times

Media 2) The Times view on Paul Dacre and Ofcom: Hire Power

“Paul Dacre was always going to be a controversial candidate for the chairmanship of Ofcom. As a rampaging, populist editor of the Daily Mail for 26 years, he often took contentious stances, many of which outraged the establishment, none more so than when he labelled the Supreme Court “enemies of the people”. He railed consistently against a “bloated and amorphous” BBC, the institution whose regulation, were he to be appointed to the role, he would oversee. So it is hardly surprising that Mr Dacre’s candidacy, which Boris Johnson is said to favour, has proved divisive. This week Oliver Dowden, the culture secretary, said that the appointment process would have to be re-run with a new selection panel after learning that the previous panel had ruled Mr Dacre “unappointable”. This was after he was “marked down” for criticising the regulator for being too close to the BBC.” – The Times

Media 3) People are afraid to say what they think for fear of being ‘cancelled’ and left wing activists have ‘hijacked’ social media says Dorries in first TV interview since becoming Culture Secretary

“Nadine Dorries has accused left-wing activists of ‘hijacking’ social media – adding that people are too scared to say what they think for fear of being ‘cancelled’. In her first TV interview since becoming Culture Secretary, the Liverpudlian MP criticised ‘cancel culture’ for frightening young people away from serious debate. She also said she does not plan ‘to charge out on a culture battle’ after being branded the ‘minister for culture wars’ by The Observer last month, a label she described as ‘what other people say about me, not what I say.’ The label stemmed from outspoken tweets by the politician, before she took up her new role, in which she blasted ‘left-wing snowflakes’ for ‘ruining comedy’ and accused the BBC of left-wing bias.” – Daily Mail

Charles Moore: The anti-sleaze backlash risks removing power from voters and handing it to ‘the Blob’

“On Tuesday, The Times published a letter from five former Cabinet secretaries – in other words, from all living people who have held the top job in the Civil Service. I think it was intended to resonate as we in the media dusted down old headlines about “sleaze”. The five were writing to support a new report by Lord Evans of Weardale’s committee on standards in public life. In particular, they backed the Evans recommendation that (in their words) “there is an urgent need to put the key standards bodies, in particular the Commissioner for Public Appointments and the Independent Adviser on Ministerial Interests, on to a statutory basis”. This would “ensure public confidence in the integrity of our public life”.” – Daily Telegraph

Coronavirus 1) Kids as young as five set to be offered Covid jabs within months under secret NHS plans

“KIDS as young as five are set to be offered Covid jabs within months under secret NHS plans. Leaked proposals show health bosses are preparing to vaccinate children aged between five and 11 next spring. Officials fear Covid will continue to rage until 2024 — making it necessary to immunise younger Brits. The US has already begun vaccinating kids as young as five, with Israel set to follow suit within days. Health bosses have been sworn to secrecy about the spring campaign, with officials concerned the move could spark a backlash from some parents. Before the rollout can go ahead, UK regulators must still green light it for use in under-12s. And experts on the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation must also approve use in those aged five to 11.” – The Sun

  • Vaccine booster jabs are key to keeping Britain safe from European Covid surge – The Times

Coronavirus 2) Europe’s Covid surge forces Austria to plan mandatory vaccination

“The surge in Covid cases across Europe is forcing governments to take drastic measures, with Austria on course to become the first country in the continent to make coronavirus vaccines mandatory in an effort to curb infections. Vaccines would be required for all Austrians from February 1, with the country also reimposing a strict lockdown. The plans are the most far-reaching of new measures taken by European nations to ease pressure on hospitals, with Belgium, Germany and Norway among the countries beefing up controls. The Austrian plans come as the EU’s medicines regulator said member states were cleared to use Merck’s antiviral pill to treat Covid-19.” – FT



Coronavirus 3) Two injured as Dutch police fire on anti-lockdown rioters

“At least two people were wounded last night when Dutch police in Rotterdam fired shots at rioters who set cars on fire and threw stones in protest against the latest Covid restrictions. The Netherlands re-imposed some lockdown measures last weekend for three weeks in an effort to slow a resurgence of the pandemic, but daily infections have remained at their highest levels since the start of the pandemic. Several hundred people had rallied in the Dutch city to vent their fury at government plans to restrict access to indoor venues to people who have a “corona pass” showing they have been vaccinated or already recovered from an infection. “We fired warning shots and there were also direct shots fired because the situation was life-threatening,” Patricia Wessels, a police spokeswoman, said.” – The Times

Coronavirus 4) Thousands of urgent operations are casualties of Covid pandemic

“Tens of thousands of operations in England have been cancelled in the pandemic, according to analysis that for the first time lays bare the scale of the crisis. Data obtained by The Times using freedom of information laws reveals 4,000 people missed out on urgent operations and at least 25,000 on planned operations since the NHS ceased formal publication of the figures. Charities said patients were being left distressed by last-minute cancellations that left them in pain and unsure when they would get treatment, and that some may even have died as a result. Data from 59 trusts — about 40 per cent of the total who usually report the data — reveals at least 579 urgent operations were cancelled in March 2020 as the NHS turned its focus to Covid-19. Official data from March 2019 records just 103 in the same trusts.” – The Times

Interview: ‘Without France the EU is dead’: Eric Zemmour wants to smash Emmanuel Macron – and Brussels too

“He arrives late, immaculate in a dark blue suit, besieged by his own social media teams, a member of his entourage stepping forward to straighten his already straight tie, this firebrand of French politics, this man they call “Z”, like the mask-wearing hero of old school TV shows. But unlike Zorro, Eric Zemmour, journalist turned star turned insurgent candidate for next year’s French presidential election, is only too pleased to reveal his true identity: as the saviour not of the damsel in distress, but of the nation, in what he frames as a clash of civilisations between France and Islam, the latter of which he fears will “brutally crush” his native land.  “It’s about life and death for France,” he says. “About a people being replaced by another people, another civilisation.”” – Daily Telegraph

  • Eric Zemmour, the polemicist shaking up French politics – FT


Blunt launches Westminster pressure group for cannabis despite growing lobbying concerns

“A senior Tory MP has launched a Westminster pressure group for medicinal cannabis despite growing concerns over parliamentary lobbying. Crispin Blunt held the first meeting of the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on Wednesday – the same day that MPs voted on plans to tackle Parliament sleaze. CBD, or cannabidiol, is a chemical in cannabis legally used to help treat pain. Mr Blunt, a former prisons minister, argues that a new body is needed because the CBD industry is being ‘strangled’ due to a legal grey area over how much THC – the psychoactive component of cannabis – can be included in products. The APPG on CBD is not yet registered with the parliamentary authorities. That means the public cannot discover who runs it, who funds it or what its full purposes may include.” – Daily Mail

I don’t feel guilty, says university strike leader Jo Grady as students face more disruption

“University strikes are becoming an annual event, the head of the trade union behind industrial action on campus has admitted. Dr Jo Grady said she did not feel guilty about walkouts that will cause disruption for students next month, with the threat of further action in the new year. She said strikes were effective and one of the only ways to “shift” universities on pay and pensions. Her comments were met with anger by Conservative MPs who claimed that the University and College Union was “addicted” to strikes and that students had suffered enough. Undergraduates paying £9,250 a year in fees only recently returned to campus after lockdown and tens of thousands of them will be caught up in the strikes. Michelle Donelan, the universities minister, said: “These comments are deeply alarming. Students have suffered during the pandemic and any further disruption caused to their learning is wholly unfair and completely unnecessary.”” – The Times


  • Professor Kathleen Stock and the toxic gender debate – The Times

Kyle Rittenhouse acquitted on all charges in Kenosha shootings

“A US jury has acquitted a teenager who killed two men during civil unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin last year, in a case that has sharply divided public opinion on the right and left. The jury handed down the verdict for Kyle Rittenhouse, 18, on the fourth day of deliberations. He was found not guilty on all five counts. After the jury’s verdict, Rittenhouse fell to the ground and then rose into the arms of one of his attorneys. Jurors had considered five charges against Rittenhouse, the most serious being intentional homicide, which carries a mandatory life sentence. He also was charged with first-degree reckless homicide, first-degree attempted homicide and first-degree reckless endangerment of public safety. The judge dismissed a firearms charge shortly before the trial ended.” – FT

News in brief: