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Coronavirus 1) Johnson faces Cabinet revolt over new rules

“Boris Johnson is facing his first major cabinet revolt, with senior ministers pledging to “resist” a “Plan C” of further Covid-19 restrictions, the Telegraph can disclose. A Cabinet source warned that, in the absence of data showing the impact of omicron on hospitalisation and death rates, a series of concerned members of Boris Johnson’s top team will block the “slippery slope” of further curbs. At least six cabinet members are understood to have concerns about the Government’s movement towards more draconian measures. The warning came as senior sources said that Downing Street had been “spooked” by data on the effectiveness of vaccines against the omicron variant prompting fears that Mr Johnson could back more stringent restrictions as soon as this week.” – The Sunday Telegraph

  • The 65 vaccine passport Tory rebels accusing the government of ‘jumping the gun’ as Johnson faces his ‘biggest rebellion’ yet – Daily Mail
  • May ‘plots revenge’ on the PM – Mail on Sunday
  • ‘Gove leads push for Covid Plan C’ – Mail on Sunday
  • ‘Johnson personally hosted a Christmas quiz at Downing Street last year’ – Daily Mail
  • Johnson’s blast at BBC over partygate: PM tells friends the ‘frivolous, vengeful, partisan’ Corporation has neglected its primary duty to focus on the Covid-19 booster jab rollout – Mail on Sunday
  • Labour races to nine-point lead in polls in wake of sleaze controversies at No 10 – The Guardian

Analysis:

  • Can plan B stop Omicron and how long will it last? – Sunday Times

Commentary:

>Yesterday:

Coronavirus 2) David Davis: Supercharging the booster rollout is the way back to normality… not knee-jerk restrictions

“A major test of any government is knowing when to act and when to hold your nerve. Sadly, that is a test the Government has just failed. By jumping to Plan B, and introducing a chaotic range of measures including mask-wearing, working from home and demands for vaccine certification, the Government is guilty of what can only be described as a knee-jerk reaction. One that may do enormous economic harm for little gain. I am deeply sceptical that these restrictions are needed. And so are many other Tory MPs. The record rebellion against the Government so far has been 55 MPs. It is very likely that number will be exceeded this week, leaving Boris depending on the Opposition to deliver his policy. Only last week, the Health Secretary stood before the Commons and said that he would not trigger further restrictions unless we saw a rise in hospitalisations.” – Mail on Sunday

Coronavirus 3) Boosters for over-30s as ‘race’ to limit omicron stepped up before Christmas

Covid booster jabs will be offered to 30-year-olds from Monday as the Government launches a desperate dash to jab “as many people as possible” before Christmas. In a massive push to protect millions more people in the face of the new omicron variant the NHS has announced the booster will be available to everyone aged 30 to 39 three months after their second dose. More age groups are expected to be included in the coming weeks, with ministers determined to “massively expedite” the booster roll out. The Telegraph understands that several billion more pounds is to be poured into expanding the roll-out. Data shows that a third jab gives up to 75 per cent protection against infection from omicron, as well as decreasing the chances of severe illness if infected.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • Social care levy could pay for endless booster programme – Sunday Times
  • South Africa’s Omicron outbreak slows as expert says population’s T-cell immunity against Covid has kept hospitalisations low and praises government for not locking down – Daily Mail

Coronavirus 4) NHS staff ready to give vaccines to children as young as five

“Healthcare staff have been told to start preparing for the mass vaccination of primary school children in anticipation of approval by regulators. Leaked documents from NHS England say parental consent will be needed for 5 to 11-year-olds and the environment must be “age appropriate”. Pressure is building on officials to make a quick decision amid spiralling infection rates and the rapid spread in Britain of Omicron, which is evading immunity better than other variants. Sage scientists have warned that children were key drivers of adult infections in the summer Covid wave. There have already been at least two confirmed Omicron outbreaks in English primary schools.” – The Sunday Times

Drip, drip of No 10 scandal gives Tories by-election jitters

“Outside an Oswestry pub called The Wilfred Owen, after the First World War poet who wrote of lost causes, a man laughs so hard his belly shakes when asked whether he will vote Conservative in next week’s by-election. “Not a chance — no way,” says David Griggs, 72, a retired headmaster and traditional Tory voter. “Sleaze scandals. Christmas parties in No 10. A clown for a prime minister. It’s a shambles. “They’ve done nothing for this place. The last MP [Owen Paterson, who quit over sleaze] was just in it for himself, wasn’t he? He represented himself — not his constituents. I’ll be voting for the Lib Dems.” It was 22 years ago and Johnson was making his first attempt to become an MP, in Clwyd South.” – Sunday Times

Ireland could be united within a decade, say voters in survey that reveals the majority think the North will quit the Union in a future poll

“Fears that Northern Ireland will eventually vote to quit the United Kingdom are laid bare in a poll published today. The survey, for pollster and Tory peer Lord Ashcroft, reveals that a clear majority would to opt to stay in the Union if a referendum were held now. However, just one in three Northern Irish voters believe that would be the outcome if a so-called ‘border poll’ is held in ten years’ time. And Lord Ashcroft warns that ‘in Northern Ireland, politics is played for the long term, and with that in mind few are resting easy on the Unionist side’. Based on interviews with 3,301 people, the poll records that if a vote were held tomorrow, most people would vote not to join the Republic by 54 per cent to 46 per cent (excluding ‘don’t knows’).” – Mail on Sunday

Comment:

UK and Jersey grant another 23 licences for French fishermen to trawl British waters in bid to ease post-Brexit tensions over fishing rights

“The UK and Jersey governments have issued another 23 licences to French fishing boats to trawl British waters in an apparent attempt to ease Brexit tensions. It comes a day after the December 10 deadline for the UK to grant licences to dozens of French fishing boats under a Brexit deal signed last year, with Paris threatening European legal action if no breakthrough emerged. The licences were agreed Friday night after British officials met European Union counterparts and followed what the spokesman called an ‘evidence-based approach’ ensuring vessels qualify to work in UK waters.The spokesperson added that the approach ‘provides stability and ensures the sustainability of our fisheries’, with the UK granting 18 licences and the Channel Island of Jersey five.” – Mail on Sunday

Kate Griffiths: ‘If I hadn’t gone public, I’d have been failing every victim of abuse who put their faith in me’

“Very few victims of domestic abuse will want to admit what has been happening to them – not even to their closest friends, let alone to the wider public. For a long time, the same was true for me. I remember this time last year quite vividly. Following an emotionally draining four-day fact-finding hearing, including a day and a half in the witness box, the family courts finally concluded the allegations against my abusive former husband, Andrew Griffiths, were proved. The relief I felt was indescribable. I’d protected my child from an abusive parent. But making the judgment public was out of the question.  I couldn’t imagine being seen as a victim of rape and domestic abuse. I went to jelly at the thought. How would I face anyone again with my head held high?” – Mail on Sunday

Hancock: the comeback tour

“On Wednesday, as the government reeled from the Allegra Stratton video, ministers began pulling out of media appearances. Sajid Javid, the health secretary, simply refused to do his morning studio round. But one Conservative MP was willing to sacrifice all dignity and defend Boris Johnson. Step forward, Matt Hancock. Another man, conscious that Johnson had described him as “totally f***ing hopeless” during the pandemic, might have taken revenge. Not Hancock. “What I know is that the prime minister has said no rules were broken,” he told ITV’s Good Morning Britain, with every evidence of sincerity. “If there was a party.” It’s been a mixed year for Hancock. On the plus side, Google has just named him as the most searched-for British politician of 2021.” – Sunday Times

Top academics at Durham University are accused of whipping up mob of left-wing students attempting to oust head of college for defending Rod Liddle speech furore

“Senior academics at Durham University were last night accused of whipping up a mob of Left-wing students attempting to oust the head of a college amid a free-speech row. Professor Tim Luckhurst, the principal of South College, was last week barred from public duties for five weeks and is being investigated after he criticised students who walked out when journalist Rod Liddle rose to speak at a formal dinner. The suspension of Prof Luckhurst, a former editor of The Scotsman, has raised new fears about the threat to free speech at UK universities posed by a minority of Left-wing activist students.” – Mail on Sunday

  • Ringleader of the student backlash against Rod Liddle’s speech at Durham University is a Jeremy Corbyn supporter who stood for the Labour Party – Mail on Sunday

Comment:

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