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Johnson backs off from vow to guard homes against care costs…

“Boris Johnson has watered down his pledge that no one would have to sell their home to pay for social care as he held out against a climbdown on its provision despite a Tory rebellion. Lord Lilley, the former cabinet minister, told Times Radio the government would “probably be defeated in the Lords” on cost-cutting measures that hit lower earners, forcing the plans back to the Commons after 19 Tories rebelled against them on Monday. Yesterday morning Johnson told his cabinet that the reforms would finally deal with catastrophic care costs and introduce a more generous means test, but he said the policy meant “no one will be forced to sell a home they or their spouse is living in”.” – The Times

Analysis:

  • Why Johnson is losing his hold over Tory MPs – The Times

… as he refuses calls for ‘inner cabinet’

“Boris Johnson rejected calls to consult an “inner cabinet” of senior ministers before making key decisions as he denied losing his grip on the government. The prime minister faced a backlash from senior aides and ministers yesterday after a chaotic speech to business leaders in which he praised the television cartoon character Peppa Pig, and a Tory rebellion over social care. Lord Hague of Richmond, a former Conservative Party leader, said in The Times that the prime minister should hold daily meetings with a small group of senior colleagues to help him make well-informed decisions. However, the prime minister rejected the suggestion and said he would use the entire cabinet to provide him with advice.” – The Times

  • ‘No10 fury over Chatty Pig leak’ – Daily Mail
  • “We will cut your taxes . . . soon”, says Johnson – The Sun
  • Johnson hosts party for Tory MPs as he seeks to win back support amid growing anger at Government – The i
  • Treasury frustration at PM grows amid calls for No 10 shake-up – The Guardian

Comment:

>Today:

Patients to travel for NHS treatment

“Patients facing long waits for treatment will be moved around the country to spare beds and follow-up appointments will be scrapped under NHS plans to deal with the post-pandemic backlog. Health chiefs have drawn up radical proposals to clear millions of people from waiting lists by freeing up doctors’ time and are set to present the blueprint to ministers within the next week. Boris Johnson is understood to be concerned that the mounting backlog is one of the main threats to his hope of re-election. Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, has also demanded improvements in exchange for billions of extra pounds being pumped in by a new tax. Sajid Javid, the health secretary, told NHS England to produce a plan for tackling the backlog by the end of the month, with Boston Consulting Group drafted in to help find efficiencies.” – The Times

Killers of emergency service workers will be given mandatory life sentences

“Offenders who kill emergency workers while committing a criminal act will be given mandatory life sentences after a two-year campaign by the widow of a police officer. PC Andrew Harper, 28, was dragged to his death while responding to a 999 call after his foot was caught in a tow rope attached to a car. His widow, Lissie, said that she was outraged when the three teenagers in the car were convicted of manslaughter but cleared of murder. The government has confirmed that Harper’s Law will go on to the statute book via an amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. It is likely to get royal assent and become law early next year.” – The Times

Raab: I want 999 staff to know we’ve got their backs… This is why I am introducing ‘Harper’s Law’

“PC Andrew Harper was just 28 years old and had been married for less than a month when he was killed in the line of duty as a Thames Valley Police officer in August 2019. As he tried to arrest suspects of a burglary, he got caught in a strap hanging from their car. At speeds of more than 40mph, they dragged PC Harper for a mile. He was pronounced dead at the scene, leaving heartbroken his wife Lissie, family and many friends. Three teenage males were convicted of manslaughter after the killing. Henry Long received a sentence of 16 years for taking PC Harper’s life, while Albert Bowers and Jessie Cole received 13 years each.” – Daily Mail

Vaccines 1) Kate Bingham says ministers may have acted in ‘bad faith’ by axing deal for Covid jabs from French company

“Ministers may have ‘acted in bad faith’ when they cancelled a deal for 100 million Covid-19 vaccines made by French firm Valneva, the former head of the vaccine taskforce said last night. Kate Bingham criticised the decision to pull out of the agreement with the pharmaceutical company before it had finished testing its jab. Dame Kate, who stood down from the taskforce at the end of last year, said: ‘The Government alleged a breach of contract, apparently as a means to avoid paying for the costs incurred up to that point. Some might consider this behaviour as acting in bad faith.’” – Daily Mail

Comment:

  • How we can stop The Blob: The vaccine tsar is right – our stultifying civil service has been holding Britain back for years, Duncan Simpson – Daily Mail

>Today:

Vaccines 2) EU Covid passes set to expire without boosters

“The EU is poised to update Covid passes with booster vaccine information including an “expiry date” on the present “green” status, which is based on two doses. The move means that Britons, especially those over 65, wanting to travel to Europe for their holidays will need proof of their booster jab as early as Easter next year. European Union ministers are today discussing Europe’s surge of infections and the need to urgently roll out booster vaccines, particularly among people older than 65, as the new priority in tackling the pandemic. On Thursday the European Commission is expected to come forward with proposals on expiring the present vaccine status on the Covid passes that are used in many EU countries to travel and enter bars and restaurants.” – The Times

Vaccine 3) AstraZeneca jab may give longer protection that is shielding UK from new Covid wave

“AstraZeneca may offer longer-lasting immunity than other vaccines, scientists have said amid claims that the jab has helped Britain avoid the latest Covid wave in Europe. Pascal Soriot, the chief executive of AstraZeneca, said the decision to give the Oxford vaccine to older people in Britain could be one of the reasons the UK was not seeing not “so many hospitalisations relative to Europe” despite a high number of cases. The Telegraph understands that the pharmaceutical company is preparing to release data showing that its jab offers long term T-cell immunity for older people even after antibodies wane. Mr Soriot said the immunity provided by T-cells may be “more durable”.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Covid vaccine that creates T-cells ‘gives better immune response than current jabs’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Coughs can spread Covid beyond two metres, Cambridge study finds – The Times

Analysis:

  • Will the UK go into another lockdown? – The Times

Take a lateral flow test when the risk of Covid is higher

“People should take lateral flow tests before visiting elderly relatives over the festive season or going to office Christmas parties — but they can stop twice-weekly swabs, guidance suggests. UK health chiefs say people should take a test “on days when you’re more likely to catch or spread Covid-19”. Examples include before mixing with people in crowded indoor places or before visiting someone to whom the virus is likely to pose a greater risk. However, they have withdrawn guidance that asymptomatic people should take lateral flow tests twice a week. Last year the government hoped mass population testing under “Operation Moonshot” would bring the pandemic under control and facilitate a return to normal life. Ministers now see the vaccination programme as the key.” – The Times

  • Schools impose Covid ‘circuit breakers’ that parents fear are precursor to full closures – Daily Telegraph

McVey: Anti-British woke brigade are hellbent on destroying our history

“ONE of the reasons I cherish life in Britain is because our country is inseparably associated with the values of freedom of expression, fairness, open-mindedness, mutual respect and the widest possible public debate. These British values guarantee our civic harmony and social cohesion. Yet there is an emerging anti-British, anti-free speech worldview being weaponised by a loud minority of political campaigners ‑ especially online and on university campuses ‑ impacting upon the everyday lives of millions of Brits. These political campaigners seek to divide, rather than unite the country, and they inflict their discriminatory opinions on the rest of us by trashing British heritage, toppling statues, flag shaming and seeking to silence those with whom they disagree.” – Daily Express

Cameron lobbied Tory associate at Lloyds Bank to rescue Greensill deal

“David Cameron lobbied Lloyds Banking Group to reverse a decision to cut ties with the ailing Greensill Capital, appealing to a board member whom he had ennobled while prime minister. Cameron lobbied Lloyds in January, according to people familiar with the matter, when he contacted Lord James Lupton, a director of the bank who had previously been a Conservative party treasurer, in a successful attempt to persuade the bank to continue doing business with Greensill. Lupton, Tory treasurer from 2013 to 2016, has donated more than £3m to the Conservative party and was appointed to the House of Lords in 2015, sparking accusations of cronyism against then-prime minister Cameron from rival politicians. Cameron earned millions of pounds as a boardroom adviser to Greensill, the supply-chain finance company whose unravelling earlier this year dragged the former prime minister into Westminster’s biggest lobbying scandal for a generation.” – FT

Comment:

  • It is time to restore trust in UK political standards – FT

Voluntary council scheme to look after unaccompanied migrant children is made mandatory

“Councils across England will have to take care of unaccompanied migrant children who arrive in the UK as the Home Office tries to stop local authorities in the south being overwhelmed. Kevin Foster, an immigration minister, has written to all 217 councils with children’s services, telling them of plans to “temporarily mandate the National Transfer Scheme” and giving them two weeks to say why they should not accept unaccompanied migrant children. Councils will be paid £143 per child per night. Roger Gough, leader of Kent county council, which has taken on 247 children this year, told Today on BBC Radio 4 that the move was “the right thing to do”. Of the 247 it had taken, 150 were transferred into other councils.” – The Times

Zahawi condemns teacher abuse on TikTok

“Teacher abuse on TikTok is abhorrent and deeply worrying, the education secretary has said in his first intervention on the issue. Head teachers have written to parents asking for their help in stopping the attacks, in which some teachers have been accused of paedophilia or subjected to homophobic remarks. TikTok has now set up a safety helpline in an attempt to stem the craze for posting videos that mocked or humiliated teachers on the social media site. Some videos were doctored after being lifted from school websites. The former national schools commissioner, Sir David Carter, has also voiced his concern in comments made to The Times.” – The Times

Cricket with Sunak bowls over donors at Tory winter ball

“By the standards of Conservative fundraisers it was a relatively quiet affair. Still, one donor did pay £35,000 to play cricket for an hour with Rishi Sunak. Welcome to the Conservative Party’s winter ball. About 500 guests dined on smoked trout and rare beef fillet in the Raphael Court at the Victoria and Albert Museum, where the Renaissance master’s cartoons depicting Saint Peter and Saint Paul hang. Cabinet ministers present on Monday night had more earthly concerns on their mind. After posing for the requisite selfies they were ordered back to the House of Commons to vote for the government’s cost-cutting plans on social care. Their input was crucial, with Boris Johnson’s majority being slashed from 77 to just 26.” – The Times

Sir David Amess funeral: Popes, prime ministers and public unite to farewell Parliament’s great collaborator

“Sir David Amess often joked that he had two masters: the Tory party and the Catholic church. As a self-confessed “pro lifer” and unashamed Thatcherite, the Southend West MP’s memorial service at Westminster Cathedral was always going to be a small and big “c” conservative affair. The full requiem mass, complete with a message from the Pope, a reading by a Republican US senator and an eulogy by Ann Widdecombe, could not fail to strike a traditionalist note. Yet like Sir David himself – an anti-abortionist who campaigned for women suffering from endometriosis – Tuesday’s stirring, hour-long ceremony was as multi-layered as celebrant Cardinal Vincent Nichols’ colourful robes punctuating the sea of black-clad mourners.” – Daily Telegraph

News in brief: