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Antiviral Covid pill to be available “before Christmas”

“The first at-home treatment for Covid is to be offered to patients by Christmas as ministers roll out the antiviral pill to help protect the most vulnerable from the omicron variant. Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, is preparing to announce the start of a national pilot of Lagevrio, also known as Molnupiravir – the “game-changing” pill that Britain became the first country to license last month. Under the plans, the NHS is expected to deliver courses of the tablet to clinically vulnerable and immunosuppressed patients within as little as 48 hours of them testing positive for Covid. Hospital and GP leaders have been told the health service will be setting up a series of Covid medicines delivery units to help get the drug to patients as quickly as possible once they test positive.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • Will Christmas be cancelled again? – Tim Shipman, Sunday Times
  • Holidaymakers face return of pre-departure Covid tests to curb omicron spread – Sunday Telegraph
  • Africa has Covid vaccines at last; now it needs help to use them – Tony Blair, Sunday Times
  • From nativity plays to sports days, pandemic pupils are missing out on school rites of passage – Sunday Times
  • The unvaccinated must be persuaded to do what is right – Leader, Sunday Times
  • The British are losing something very special with these new rules  – Graham Brady, Sunday Express
  • Two hippopotamuses have tested positive – Mail on Sunday

Bid to end visa fee for UK’s foreign-born veterans

“Two MPs are trying to force the government to waive visa fees for foreign citizens who served in the military and want to remain in the UK. Visas for foreigners who served in UK armed forces currently cost £2,389. Labour’s Dan Jarvis and Conservative Johnny Mercer, both Army veterans, put forward an amendment to the Immigration and Borders Bill to scrap the fees for those with five years’ service. They said ministers must look after those who loyally serve the nation…The government has promised to address the issue and launched a consultation earlier this year.” – BBC

  • No 10 braced for a row over amnesty for Irish terrorists – Mail on Sunday

>Yesterday: Richard Risby on Comment: Why it’s time for new geostrategic thinking

Public spending 1) ‘Star chamber’ to wage war on Whitehall waste

“Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak are to launch a war on waste, forming a “star chamber” to hold Cabinet ministers to account over government spending. In a move designed to put pressure on ministers to achieve value for money for billions of pounds of spending on public services, the Prime Minister and the Chancellor will hold monthly meetings with secretaries of state to ensure that they are getting “the best out of the system”. Sources said the meetings would be “data-driven” and include the setting of specific targets to measure the success of the most expensive public services and infrastructure projects.” – Sunday Telegraph

Public spending 2) Tory MPs vow to ‘defund cancel culture’

“A blitz on millions of pounds of ‘woke’ public spending will be launched this week as Tory MPs join a campaign to ‘defund the cancel culture’. The MPs will put Ministers on the spot over why nearly £13 million of public cash has been awarded to organisations said to be linked to politically correct, so-called woke projects in recent years. They will fire off a blizzard of Commons questions demanding justifications for nearly 30 individual grants since 2018. The move emerged as the powerful Common Sense Group of Tory MPs and peers announced it was coming out in support of a new ‘Britain Uncancelled’ campaign.” – Mail on Sunday

  • British values are besieged by a cabal of militant agitators well funded by the taxpayer – John Hayes, Mail on Sunday
  • ‘Genderbread Person’ training for civil servants branded ‘unscientific nonsense’ – Sunday Times
  • The people of Sheffield can see that changing street names is both a senseless and a pointless endeavour – Sunday Telegraph
  • Bexley by-election shows the political plates are shifting – Richard Tice, Sunday Express

Gove considering penalties for cladding companies

“Michael Gove is considering penalising companies linked to the Grenfell Tower tragedy as leaked government documents reveal they have made pre-tax profits of at least £6.7 billion in the four years since a fire ripped through the block of flats, killing 72 people. The housing secretary has commissioned his officials to draw up a “detailed survey” of the profits made by the firms involved in the cladding scandal as he explores options for how to “hold these companies to account”. Leaked documents from his department, seen by The Sunday Times, reveal that Gove is preparing to target more than a dozen firms given “core participant” status in the Grenfell inquiry.” – Sunday Times

  • Levelling up blueprint delayed until next year amid ‘row’ over shortage of ‘cost-effective ideas’ – Mail on Sunday

Fear that legislation to outlaw gay conversion therapy could see clinicians ‘threatened with prison and professional ruin’

“Boris Johnson is facing a Conservative revolt over a “rushed” legal change that senior Tories fear will lead to the prosecution of parents and teachers for helping children who say they are transgender. MPs and ministers are concerned about proposals to outlaw conversations about the “gender identity” of children, under pressure from Stonewall, the equality charity. The plans are seen as a little known extension of the Government’s plans to outlaw gay conversion therapy, which are not seen as controversial and were first promised by the Conservatives in 2018.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • The Government’s plan to ban conversion therapy must be properly scrutinised – Leader, Sunday Telegraph

Davis warns asylum plan could “create a British Guantánamo Bay”

“A former Conservative cabinet minister has warned that the Home Office’s controversial borders bill risks creating a “British Guantanamo Bay”. David Davis, who served as Brexit secretary from 2016 to 2018, said that the home secretary’s plans to send asylum seekers to another country while their claims are processed may create a facility as notorious as the US detention camp in Cuba. Guantanamo Bay has been described as a “stain on the human rights record” of the US and the “gulag of our times” with detainees making repeated allegations of torture, sexual degradation and religious persecution.” – The Observer

  • Patel’s plan to offshore refugees is costly, wrong and doomed to fail – David Davis, The Observer

PM orders national inquiry into boy’s death

“Boris Johnson has ordered a wide-ranging investigation of the murder of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes in the hope of preventing such a tragedy from happening again. The inquiry will involve police, schools, social services and probation watchdogs and is designed to “learn lessons” from the six-year-old’s death. Arthur’s stepmother, Emma Tustin, was jailed for 29 years for murder and child cruelty on Friday. His father, Thomas Hughes, was sentenced to 21 years for manslaughter.” – Sunday Times

Tackling drug abuse to be “at the heart” of law and order strategy

“Boris Johnson will unleash an all-out war on drugs this week in a massive drive to clean up Britain’s crime-plagued streets. The PM is targeting dealers, addicts and casual users who he believes are the root cause of half of all burglaries and violent robberies.  He will unveil a ten-year plan to halt the “pernicious” trade by cutting off supply chains and slashing demand. In the biggest anti-drugs blitz in a generation, he will invest millions in rehab for desperate addicts, coupled with harsher penalties for pushers and recreational buyers. In an exclusive interview with The Sun on Sunday, Mr Johnson says politicians have dithered over the scourge for too long — sometimes because they once dabbled in drugs themselves.” – The Sun on Sunday

  • Passports will be seized from middle-class cocaine users – The Sun on Sunday
  •  It’s time for Conservatives to show they are the party of law and order – Leader, The Sun on Sunday
  • Sniffer dogs could prowl corridors of power amid claims drug abuse is rife – Sunday Times
  • If voters start grumbling it’s time to play the old party favourites: crime and immigration – Charlotte Ivers, Sunday Times

Relations between Rayner and Starmer “turn icier than ever”

“Labour has suspended Angela Rayner’s head of communications in an escalation of hostilities between her and Sir Keir Starmer. Jack McKenna, who manages the deputy leader’s relations with the media and writes her speeches, learnt of the action last night. He has been placed under investigation on suspicion of a personal data breach involving another Labour staff member. The party has said that the inquiry does not amount to a presumption of guilt.” – Sunday Times

Only five per cent of voters believe politicians work for the public good

“Trust in politicians to act in the national interest rather than for themselves has fallen dramatically since Boris Johnson became prime minister, according to figures contained in a disturbing new study into the state of British democracy. The polling data from YouGov for the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) shows a particularly sharp fall in trust in the few weeks since the Owen Paterson scandal triggered a rash of Tory sleaze scandals. In 2014, when David Cameron was prime minister, 48% of voters believed politicians were “out merely for themselves” as opposed to their country or party. This had increased to 57% by May 2021 after nearly two years of Johnson in No 10, and leapt to 63% last week in the wake of the Paterson affair. In the same poll, just 5% of voters thought politicians were in the job primarily for the good of their country.” – The Observer

>Today: ToryDiary: Our survey. Expectation of a Conservative-led Government after the next election is at its lowest this year.

Biden and Putin to hold call amid Ukraine invasion fears

“US President Joe Biden and Russia’s Vladimir Putin will speak via video call on Tuesday, the White House says, amid mounting tensions over Ukraine. It comes after Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US had evidence that Russia had made plans for a “large scale” attack on Ukraine. But he added it was unclear if Mr Putin had made a final decision to invade. Russia has denied any such intention, and accused Ukraine of executing its own troop build-up.” – BBC

  • Democrats start to make their excuses as mid-term mauling looms for Biden – Sunday Times
  • I savoured every day of Trump’s presidency and I’m getting out of Biden’s ‘Dullsville’ just in time – Jon Sopel, Mail on Sunday

Hodges: Macron does not want to end the Channel crossings crisis

“The truth is the UK and France could conclude an agreement by 5pm this evening to prevent further loss of life. That they won’t is nothing to do with Brexit, and everything to do with Emmanuel Macron and the EU’s desire to weaponise Brexit, and be seen to be teaching the British people a damn good lesson for having the temerity to vote for it. In October, there was uproar after a leaked letter from French Prime Minister Jean Castex to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen stated: ‘It is important to make it clear to European public opinion that respect for commitment is non-negotiable and that leaving the Union does more harm than staying there.’ Castex’s defenders claimed his words had been mistranslated. They weren’t. The EU needs Brexit to be a failure.” – Dan Hodges, Mail on Sunday

  • French politicians use the sort of language that one might expect from a tinpot dictatorship – Robert Tombs, Sunday Telegraph
  • Valerie Pecresse – France’s ‘Iron Lady’ – chosen to take on Macron – Sunday Telegraph
  • EU blasted over ‘nutty’ Northern Ireland trade rules by a former Irish ambassador – Sunday Express
  • Why do migrants come to the UK? Asylum seekers say they are after ‘a better life’, not free healthcare or handouts – Sunday Times

News in brief

  • The SNP’s mountain of mendacity – John Lloyd, The Spectator
  • If the Chancellor really wants to be a low tax Chancellor he needs to reverse the  tax rises he plans before they bite next year – John Redwood
  • The by-election dog didn’t bark – Harry Phibbs, CapX
  • The King James Bible. Avoid all imitations – Peter Mullen, Conservative Woman
  • Sunak insults our intelligence by attempting to style himself as a ‘low-tax Tory’ – John Rentoul, Independent