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Truss: I will trigger Article 16 if the EU does not cooperate

“Liz Truss will insist on Sunday that Britain will overhaul the post-Brexit agreement over Northern Ireland unilaterally if she cannot reach a “negotiated solution” with the EU. Writing in The Telegraph in her first intervention as Boris Johnson’s new Brexit negotiator, the Foreign Secretary states that the Article 16 “safeguard clause” in the Northern Ireland Protocol was “explicitly designed … to ease acute problems because of the sensitivity of the issues at play” on the island of Ireland. The warning, which is likely to inflame tensions with Brussels, comes ahead of Ms Truss’s first face-to-face meeting with Maros Sefcovic, her EU counterpart, at Chevening, the Foreign Secretary’s country residence, on Thursday. In early November, Mr Sefcovic warned of “serious consequences” if the UK triggered Article 16, which allows either side to take unilateral “safeguard measures” if the protocol causes “serious economic, societal or environmental difficulties”.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • Read her Comment here for The Sunday Telegraph

Frost says PM is the ‘right leader but has the wrong people and policies’

“Boris Johnson must reset his Government along traditional Conservative lines if he is to avoid defeat at the next General Election, his former Cabinet Minister Lord Frost warns today. In his first interview since his sensational resignation as Brexit Minister last month, Lord Frost calls on Mr Johnson to revitalise the country with ‘free markets, free debate and low taxes’ and to ‘set the direction of travel’ to appeal to ordinary voters. He says that the course change is essential for the party ‘if we’re going to get out of this little trough and win the Election in a couple of years’ time’. Lord Frost quit the Government in December after becoming disillusioned with Mr Johnson over Covid restrictions, tax rises and ‘net zero’ green policies.” – Mail on Sunday

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Coronavirus 1) Unvaccinated NHS doctor challenges Javid over compulsory jabs

“An NHS doctor has challenged Sajid Javid over compulsory vaccines for healthcare workers, telling the health secretary: “I’ve not had a vaccination; I don’t want to have a vaccination.” The scene, which was caught by Sky News cameras, was first broadcast on Friday after Javid visited King’s College hospital in south London. It has been shared extensively on social media by both critics and supporters of vaccine mandates. The government has decided that all NHS staff in England who have direct contact with patients must have had their first dose of a Covid vaccine by 3 February or risk losing their job at the end of March. On Friday, trade union leaders urged the government to delay the new rule, or risk an exodus of thousands of healthcare workers.” – The Guardian

  • Britain faces surgeon shortage, as cancelled operations leave graduates under-qualified – Daily Telegraph

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  • It’s disappointing Novak Djokovic is fuelling scepticism about our vital vaccines we need to call out the dangerous nonsense pushed by anti-vaxxers, Sajid Javid – Mail on Sunday
  • It’s fun, I know, but baiting the unvaxed will not make them have the jab sooner, Rod Liddle – Sunday Times

Coronavirus 2) Universities have no excuse for not teaching face-to-face, says Zahawi

“The education secretary has warned universities they have no excuse for cancelling face-to-face teaching as it emerged that some of the country’s most eminent institutions are moving their lectures online. Nadhim Zahawi said he expected students paying £9,250 annual fees to be taught in person as he claimed Britain would have to live with the coronavirus for at least another five years. He said students should complain to the watchdog if they felt short-changed by universities moving to online lectures and tutorials. At Durham all teaching will move online in the first week of term. Queen’s University Belfast has told students that most lectures, seminars and tutorials are being moved online this month and King’s College London has advised that some timetabled on-campus teaching will move online from Wednesday.” – Sunday Times

Coronavirus 3) Tories pressure PM to create a freedom day after latest virus wave peaks

“Boris Johnson is under pressure to create a “Covid Freedom Day” after the latest wave of infections have peaked. Experts predict that hospital admissions will begin to fall in mid-January – just before the latest set of government restrictions are up for renewal. Tory MPs last night urged the PM to seize the moment to lift all curbs on public movement and re-open Britain for business. They argued that the extra cash generated could be used to cushion the blow of soaring energy bills for struggling families. Former government chief whip Mark Harper, who chairs the Covid Recovery Group of Tory MPs, said: “As we head into what will be a difficult few months for many, a great way to help people with the cost of living would be to get the economy motoring.” – The Sun

  • End of free lateral flow tests as country told to live with Covid – Sunday Times
  • Moderna is working on an annual ‘combination’ vaccine which could inoculate Britons against both Covid and flu as early as next year – Mail on Sunday
  • Omicron could be ‘first ray of light’ towards living with Covid – The Guardian
  • End mass jabs and live with Covid, says ex-head of vaccine taskforce – The Guardian

Daniel Hannan: Trump offers a grim warning about the West’s political future

“A year ago, it felt as if the sunshine was dispelling memories of a bad dream. Donald Trump’s malign grip on the Republican Party seemed to have been broken. In defeat, the president had revealed himself as what he was: an overgrown toddler whose fragile ego had imperilled American democracy. Throughout his life, Trump had displayed a pathological inability to accept defeat. Whenever anything went against him – a court judgment, an awards ceremony, a round of golf – he would allege malpractice and insist that he had won. That he should take the same attitude towards his country’s highest office was hardly a surprise: in 2020, as in 2016, he had declared before the first vote was cast that the only way he could lose would be through fraud. But whipping up his supporters to march on the Capitol when it was about to certify the result was a step too far for almost all Republican Congressmen.” – Daily Telegraph

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Home Secretary warns Lords not to block her

“Peers in the House of Lords must not water down new police powers because the country “owes it to victims” families’ to tackle the scourge of knife crime, Priti Patel has warned. The Home Secretary was speaking exclusively to the Sunday Express after a 13-year old and 24 year old were arrested on suspicion of stabbing a man to death in a west London street. Ms Patel insisted that powers contained in a new bill, including enhanced stop and search, would save lives and prevent “a vicious cycle of reoffending”. It was vital to “prevent future tragedies” she said. A record number of teenagers were killed on Britain’s streets last year with 30 teenagers and young men losing their lives in London alone. The latest incident saw Dariusz Wolosz, a 46-year-old from Poland, attacked and killed by a group of men near his home in West London last week.” – Daily Express

Gove puts building bosses on notice over cladding

“Michael Gove will announce action tomorrow on developers who have profited from building unsafe homes, warning: “We are coming for you.” The housing secretary has drafted in a team of forensic accountants who will track down those responsible for the scandal of Britain’s fire-risk homes. Operation Apex will unpick “corporate webs woven to evade responsibilities” to find the rogue developers, contractors and freeholders behind tower blocks with “life-critical” safety risks. The development comes almost five years after the Grenfell Tower fire killed 72 people in June 2017 and exposed a scandal that has trapped three million people in unsafe or unsellable homes. Tomorrow Gove will announce the government’s most comprehensive measures to solve the problem, which will ensure that leaseholders no longer have to pay to strip dangerous cladding from smaller blocks.” – Sunday Times

PM ‘to escape standards investigation’ over Downing Street flat makeover

“Boris Johnson has been told that he will be spared a potentially damaging investigation by the parliamentary standards commissioner over the redecoration of his Downing Street flat, The Telegraph understands. A Whitehall source said No 10 was informed last week that Kathryn Stone, who polices the conduct of MPs, had decided not to open a fresh inquiry following separate probes completed by the Electoral Commission and Lord Geidt, the independent adviser on ministers’ interests. Leading Tories, including senior ministers, had feared that an investigation by Ms Stone could result in Mr Johnson being suspended from the Commons if he was found guilty of a breach of the Commons code of conduct. Last month one strategist said that there was no “bigger threat on the horizon” for Mr Johnson, amid already widespread backbench discontent with his leadership.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • Did the Johnsons attend BYOB lockdown ‘booze-up’? – Sunday Times

Green payments for farmers could lead to ‘big increase’ in food prices

“An overhaul of payments for farmers designed to help Britain meet its net zero target could cause “a big increase” in food prices and even some shortages, according to an influential Commons committee. Government plans to replace EU agricultural subsidies with a scheme to reward farmers for protecting the environment are based on “blind optimism” and will leave Britain reliant on imports, the public accounts committee has concluded in a report. Writing in The Telegraph, Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, the committee’s Conservative deputy chairman, said the looming cost of living crisis, with families facing escalating energy bills, should serve as a “salutary warning” against becoming dependent on importing food from abroad. The claim came as Boris Johnson prepared to hold talks with Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, and Kwasi Kwarteng, the Business Secretary, this week to discuss options for helping families cope with a sharp increase in the cost of energy from April.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Eurozone inflation hits new record as energy and food prices soar – FT

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