Brexit

The media are split over whether the talks will end in no deal or not.  The Telegraph is optimistic.

A Brexit deal could be agreed in as little as ten days, a senior MEP said, after Michel Barnier briefed the European Parliament on the UK-EU trade negotiations on Friday.
The EU’s chief negotiator told MEPs he expected trade talks to continue until the “last possible moment” after negotiations closed in London today.
It now appears certain that the unofficial deadline of Thursday’s EU summit, where the bloc’s 27 leaders were expected to give their political blessing to the deal, will be missed.
The European Parliament told Mr Barnier that the absolute latest they could get the negotiated deal was December 10, the first day of the next scheduled EU summit. Sources warned that the deal would have to be agreed before then to allow time for translation into the EU’s official languages and for related decisions in the council.

BBC News says talks are on the brink.

Trade talks between the UK and EU are reaching the “make or break” point, the two sides have said, with key points of difference proving hard to resolve.
EU sources said there had been less progress in recent days on outstanding sticking points than they had hoped for and the “moment of truth” was nearing.
UK sources said there were still “quite big gaps” between the sides.
Both sides doubted that a draft deal could now be reached in the coming days, as the EU had originally hoped.
The two sides are in a race against the clock to settle their future economic partnership in time for it to take effect on 1 January, when the UK will leave the EU’s single market and customs union.

The Express quotes EU mandarins who claim the departure of the PM’s chief of staff signals a potential climb-down in the talks.

SENIOR European politicians are convinced the departure of Dominic Cummings from Downing Street is a sign the UK is about to “U-turn” and offer a compromise in ongoing Brexit negotiations.
On Friday it was announced Mr Cummings, formerly the Prime Minister’s chief advisor, will stop working from Downing Street with immediate effect. According to the BBC he will continue to work from home until the new year.

That’s not going to happen, says the Express.

BORIS Johnson will not cave into Brussels despite the departure of his uncompromising Brexiteer aide Dominic Cummings, a Downing Street official has insisted.
The Prime Minister’s chief strategy adviser left Number 10 yesterday following a bitter power struggle. But they also insisted the announcement of the exit of Mr Cummings, who masterminded the Vote Leave campaign in the run up to the 2016 EU referendum, did not signify any softening in the British stance in the trade negotiations with the bloc. Some MEPs claimed the changes in Downing Street showed that the Prime Minister was poised to abandon key red lines on fishing and regulation to secure a trade deal with Brussels.
In response, the Prime Minister’s spokesman said: “That is simply false. The Government’s position in relation to the future trade agreement negotiations is unchanged.”

iNews also reports that Cummings’ departure will not cause a cave in by the PM.

Downing Street has dismissed claims that the departure of Dominic Cummings could pave the way to last minute British concessions in negotiations over a post-Brexit trade deal with the European Union.
With talks due to resume in Brussels on Monday after a “pause” this weekend, Boris Johnson’s official spokesman acknowledged that time was in “short supply” to resolve the differences between London and Brussels. But he insisted that suggestions that Britain would compromise over key sticking-points because of Mr Cummings’s exit were “simply false”.
He said: “The Government’s position in relation to the future trade agreement negotiations is unchanged.”

Fisheries

New fishing rules are being discussed, says the Express.

BRAND NEW Brexit fisheries concepts have been shared in the hope of breaking the bitter deadlock in the battle over access to Britain’s waters, it has emerged.
Officials from both sides outlined new plans on how to end the impasse, which still threatens to derail the trade and security talks between the UK and EU. Express.co.uk can reveal Michel Barnier, the bloc’s chief negotiator, will spend the weekend reviewing the latest offer by UK counterpart Lord Frost. But UK sources close to the talks have warned the gaps “remain as far apart as ever on the major issues”.
During a week of wrangling in London, negotiators analysed how they can merge two separate legal texts in the hope of reaching a fisheries agreement in the coming weeks.

EU

Do you remember the EU’s promise that ‘we’re not out to punish the UK for leaving’.  They’re still trying, says the Express.

BRUSSELS threat to the UK’s European energy access in the event of a no-deal Brexit have been rubbished by The National Grid and the Government’s energy department.
An EU source warned Britain could lose “top-up in access to our electricity markets” unless it compromises with Brussels in ongoing trade talks over fishing and state aid rules.
European officials close to the talks have warned Britain could lose energy supplies unless a deal is done, with the UK leaving the bloc by the end of the year.

The Express also claims Continental banks will suffer.

EUROPEAN Union banks will be the big losers if their access to vital City of London funds is restricted after Brexit, top lawyers have warned.
Fund managers and bankers face a new set of “cliff-edge” risks when Britain leaves its post-Brexit transition from the bloc at the end of the year. Nausicaa Delfas, the Financial Conduct Authority’s executive director of international, said UK firms would still be able to offer data transfer and other services to customers in the EU after January 1. But she warned: “We should not assume, even if a deal is agreed, that it will mitigate outstanding risks in financial services.”

Labour Party

Left-wingers are still flexing their muscles, says the Telegraph.

Sir Keir Starmer failed to loosen Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) from the grip of left-wingers on Friday night, following better-than-expected results for Momentum-backed candidates.
Five of the nine constituency representatives elected to the NEC were from the left of the party, with Laura Pidock, the former MP once pushed as a potential successor to Jeremy Corbyn, one of those to gain a seat.
Labour’s left-leaning “Grassroots Voice” group also secured the youth and disabled representative posts.
Momentum hailed the results as a “major victory for the left”.

The Express highlights the party leader’s fight.

SIR Keir Starmer is facing a huge fight to fend off a growing rebellion from the far-left in the Labour Party, with one expert warning the faction would rather see Jeremy Corbyn reinstated in a move that would “torpedo” its credibility, instead of improving their performance at the ballot box.
Mr Corbyn was humiliated after leading Labour to a crushing general election defeat and was replaced by Sir Keir in April, who vowed to reunite a party that had been ripped apart by vicious infighting. But at the end of last month, Labour was plunged into crisis when former leader Mr Corbyn was suspended after he said the extent of anti-Semitism in the party had been “dramatically overstated for political reasons”, in response to a report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

The Times reports the result of election to the party’s NEC.

Sir Keir Starmer consolidated his control over Labour last night after elections to the party’s ruling body.
Supporters of Jeremy Corbyn failed to overturn a moderate majority on the national executive committee (NEC) despite winning the most support from grassroots members.
Nine seats on Labour’s NEC were up for election in polls that opened in September and ran until Thursday.
Left-wing candidates sponsored by Momentum and other Corbynite groups won five seats to three for a joint Blairite and right-wing slate supportive of Sir Keir.

Cummings

The biggest story of the day is the departure of the PM’s top advisor.  The Mail reports the possibility that his fiancé was at the heart of the dismissal.

Dominic Cummings arrived home with a bottle of champagne last night after Boris Johnson ordered him to leave Downing Street for good.
After a week of turmoil, the Prime Minister told his most senior adviser to go with immediate effect in a bid to end the toxic rows at No 10.
Lee Cain, who announced his resignation as Mr Johnson’s director of communications on Wednesday after Carrie Symonds thwarted his promotion to chief of staff, was also sent home.
It was claimed last night that Mr Johnson had accused the pair of Vote Leave campaign veterans of briefing against his fiancée.
In a tense 45-minute meeting he is reported to have shown them incriminating text messages which had been forwarded to his fiancée. The explosive claims were denied by No10.

The Times calls it a clear-out.

Boris Johnson told his most senior aide to leave Downing Street with immediate effect last night as he began a clearout of the Brexiteers who have run his government since he became prime minister.
Dominic Cummings and Lee Cain, head of communications, were told by the prime minister to quit amid fears that they would “poison the well” if they were allowed to remain in post until the end of the year, as planned.
Their departures represent the conclusion of a vicious power struggle at the heart of government in which the two trusted aides were pitted against the prime minister’s fiancée, Carrie Symonds, who led moves to oust them.

Cummings made sure his departure was very public, says the Mirror.

Dominic Cummings tonight ostentatiously marched out of Downing Street with things in a cardboard box as sources claimed he had left “for good”.
The Prime Minister’s top advisor chose to walk out in front of the world’s media instead of using one of the many side entrances to No10 in what appeared to be a bizarre final stunt.
In comes after Mr Cummings’ top ally, Director of Communications Lee Cain, 38, announced he would quit in a factional warfare that has gripped No10 just as the UK hit 50,000 coronavirus deaths.

The ex UKIP leader has issued a warning, reports the Sun.

NIGEL Farage has warned Dominic Cummings’ Downing Street departure will force a “Brexit sell-out”.
The MP took to Twitter to issue a warning after Cummings was seen leaving Downing Street with a cardboard box following days of rows.
Mr Farage said: “It is well documented that I have never liked Dominic Cummings but he has backed Brexit.
“Seeing him leave Number 10 carrying a cardboard box tells me a Brexit sell-out is close.”

Lockdown

We oldies are being blamed for breaking lockdown regs, says the Telegraph.

Older people are more likely to be breaking lockdown rules than their younger counterparts, Government data has revealed, because they are striving to maintain the family unit.
According to the latest figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), 23 per cent of people aged 16 to 29 reported physical contact with at least one other person when socialising indoors in the past 24 hours, excluding those in their household or support bubble – a decrease from 32 per cent the week before.

In an exclusive report, the Mail claims hospital numbers are dropping.

The number of coronavirus patients being treated in hospitals in Liverpool fell by 15 per cent in the week before the second national lockdown, according to official NHS data that further calls into question whether the autumn shutdown was justified.
Number 10 caved into pressure and hit the lockdown panic button in England earlier this month, after its scientific advisers warned hospitals were on track to be completely overwhelmed with Covid-19 patients by the end of November.

The Sage doomsters are quoted in the Evening Standard.

Ending England’s lockdown next month and returning to three-tiered localised restrictions will see coronavirus infections rise again, the Government’s scientific advisors have warned.
Christmas hopes continue to hang in the balance, with the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) warning that Covid-19 infection rates will need to stay below one for “some time” before social distancing rules can be lifted.
A Sage document, dated November 4, said: “If England returns to the same application of the tiering system in place before November 5, then transmission will return to the same rate of increase as today.”

Other advisers have different ideas, reports the Times.

Scientific advisers to the government believe that the national lockdown should end in three weeks.
The rise in coronavirus cases is already flattening out, with the R rate — which measures how many other people the average person with the virus infects — between 1.0 and 1.2, meaning that the virus is spreading slowly, if at all. Government experts believe that in some areas of the country R is below one, meaning that the epidemic is shrinking. In the northwest, the official estimate is 0.9 to 1.1.

Vaccine

iNews says we shouldn’t rely on the jab.

The prospect of a Covid-19 vaccine risks offering the public “false assurances” over the immediate threat of the disease and may lead people to ignore current restrictions, a government scientific adviser has warned.
News earlier this week of an inoculation that is more than 90 per cent effective against the virus has been hailed as a “breakthrough” in the fight against the virus that could bring an end to the global pandemic as early as next year.
But experts have urged caution against complacency in the immediate fight against Covid with the hope of an effective jab for the disease just around the corner.

Yahoo News is more positive.

The scientist behind the Pfizer vaccine has said he believes the coronavirus jab will have a “dramatic effect” and bring the pandemic to an end.
Experts around the world have welcomed the “promising news” of the Pfizer vaccine which has been found to be more than 90 per cent effective at preventing the disease.
While the Covid-19 vaccine was funded by the American pharmaceutical giant, Pfizer, the science was primarily developed by BioNTech.

But the government’s plans to get it out to the population is in jeopardy says the Mail.

NHS England’s mass coronavirus vaccination plan is ‘impossible’ to deliver and gives ‘grossly unreasonable deadlines,’ doctors have warned.
Health chiefs hope to begin rolling out a Covid-19 jab in time for December 1 and are preparing more than 1,200 vaccination centres across the UK – most of which will be at large GP centres, it is hoped.
But groups who represent GPs say the current plans are ‘unprofessional’ and ‘devoid of realistic expectations’.
In a letter seen by health magazine, Pulse, the groups have also raised ‘deep concerns’ that the knock-on impact of the proposals could affect other services GP provide.

Christmas

A lot of us are wondering what the festive season will look like.  The Telegraph reports:

Christmas could still be saved, with Government scientists believing the coronavirus ‘R’ rate will soon be below one – allowing for “limited loosening” of social distancing rules over the festive period.
The latest estimate from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) suggests the reproduction number is now between one and 1.2, and may even be below one in some areas.
Surveillance figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) also show that the rate of increase is slowing, with cases rising just 5.7 per cent in the week to November 6, compared to around 30 per cent in October.

And Sky News claims care home residents may not be so isolated.

A new pilot is set to launch that will give family members the chance to visit loved ones in care homes over Christmas.
The scheme will take place in several homes in Hampshire, Cornwall and Devon from 16 November, in the hope it can be rolled out more widely before the festive period.
One family member or friend per resident will be offered regular testing – either the PCR home kits or a rapid lateral flow test at the care home – which is designed to be combined with PPE so that “meaningful visits” can be carried out without a screen.

NHS

Non-Covid deaths are soaring, says the Telegraph.

Britain has seen an extra 5,000 heart deaths since the first lockdown, experts warned as they urged the public not to stay away from Accident and Emergency departments this time.
The British Heart Foundation (BHF) said too many people were staying away from hospitals amid fear of putting pressure on the NHS or catching Covid. NHS figures for October show the total number of people attending A&E was a quarter lower than normal.
The BHF analysis revealed 4,622 “excess deaths” from heart and circulatory diseases from the start of lockdown to mid-October. Its experts urged anyone suffering heart problems not to delay seeking care.

The ‘service’ is demanding yet more money, says City AM.

NHS providers sent a letter to Rishi Sunak today demanding he increases investment in the NHS by £4bn, in light of the upcoming public spending review on 25 November.
The letter is co-signed by Chris Hopson and Saffron Cordery, respectively the Chief Executive and Deputy Chief Executive of NHS Providers, the membership organisation for the NHS hospital, mental health, community and ambulance services.
They urge the chancellor to stick his promise to the House of Commons that the NHS would get “whatever it needs, whatever it costs”.

Foreign aid

And there’s an interesting story in the Mail.

Rishi Sunak wants to shelve the foreign aid target as he struggles with the crisis in public finances, the Mail can reveal.
The Chancellor and the Prime Minister will meet next week to decide the fate of the country’s overseas handouts ahead of the Spending Review.
The UK is legally committed to spending 0.7 per cent of national income on aid, with the controversial bill surpassing £15 billion for the first time last year. Ministers could scrap the target altogether, decide not to meet it on a temporary basis, or rewrite the rules so more government spending is counted as aid.
Foreign aid and military spending are understood to be the last remaining issues to be resolved ahead of the announcement of the review on November 25.

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