Brexit

With the latest lockdown announced last evening, the Telegraph reports the prospect of Brexit talks stalling.

Brexit negotiators fear the crunch trade talks could be scuppered by rising Covid-19 cases.
Amid soaring levels of coronavirus infections in Brussels, where detailed talks are taking place this weekend, officials are concerned that the negotiations could collapse if any senior figures test positive for the disease, leading to key negotiators having to isolate.
The talks are now centred on draft legal texts of a post-Brexit trade agreement. Officials believe that the negotiations are now at a stage that is too complex to be effectively conducted by video conference – with less than two weeks thought to be remaining to agree a deal.

And the Guardian claims a deal has already been struck.

A business-led campaign to widen a “thin” Brexit deal struck between Britain and the European Union will begin immediately in the new year, it has emerged, amid concerns about the long-term effects on the UK’s economy.
In an interview with the ObserverCarolyn Fairbairn, the outgoing director general of the CBI, said that securing a basic deal with the EU should be seen as a “starting point” for a deeper relationship. She warned of a serious effect on Britain’s large services sector, including financial and legal services, as well as engineering.
UK government officials remain locked in talks with their Brussels counterparts this weekend, just a fortnight before the deadline identified as the last point at which a deal can be agreed. The main stumbling blocks remain fishing rights and “level playing field” conditions related to state aid.

Fisheries

The problems over fisheries has been laid at the door of the former Prime Minister, says the Express.

THE BREXIT fisheries row was a completely avoidable crisis, an MP has claimed, laying the blame solely on Theresa May and David Davis.
Negotiations on a post-Brexit trade deal with the EU had looked to be on the verge of collapse earlier this month when Boris Johnson threatened to pull out of negotiations with just weeks to go before the transition period deadline on December 31. Both sides have now resumed talks, with the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator first travelling to London for crunch meetings with UK counterpart Lord Frost, before negotiations quickly moved to Brussels on Thursday, as hopes rise a trade deal can be agreed in time. However, Brexit negotiations have been dogged by bitter rows over both sides’ stubborn positions on a number of red lines, with fisheries arguably being the biggest stumbling block.

Labour Party

The schism in the party seems to be growing, reports the Telegraph.

A hard left activist group led by John McDonnell has urged Corbynistas to stay and ‘fight back’ following the damning conclusions in an anti-semitism inquiry.
The Labour Representation Committee has called on “rank and file” Labour Party members to “protest… in the strongest terms” and use “all channels available” to reinstate Jeremy Corbyn, its former leader.
The group, whose president is Mr McDonnell, the former shadow chancellor, described the decision to withdraw the whip from the Islington North MP as an “attack” on the “entire party membership”.

And there is still talk of a new party being formed, says the Mail.

Jeremy Corbyn‘s hard-Left followers have vowed to set up a new breakaway party after the former leader’s suspension by Sir Keir Starmer over his handling of the antisemitism row.
The call for an ‘Old Labour’ party was made by Chris Williamson, a former frontbencher who was himself suspended from the party for saying Labour had been ‘too apologetic’ over the problem.
Mr Williamson told Russia Today that the Labour Party was ‘dead as a vehicle for socialism, as a vehicle for progressive change in this country, as a vehicle for ethical foreign policy’.
He also branded Sir Keir ‘a joke’ and claimed there was ‘no point in flogging a dead horse – the Labour Party’s dead’.
Speaking in the wake of Mr Corbyn’s shock suspension, the former MP called for either ‘a breakaway Labour Party’ or a ‘new grassroots movement’.

The Sun reports the prospect of a cut in the party’s funding as a result of the suspension of the former leader.

LABOUR risks losing £6million a year in funding as civil war erupts in the party over Jeremy Corbyn’s suspension.
Union donors hint they will stop paying if the former leader is thrown out.
They fired a warning shot at his successor Sir Keir Starmer yesterday amid fears he is about to launch a purge of the hard-Left.
Seven union leaders issued a joint statement expressing their “serious concerns” over the treatment of Mr Corbyn.
They urged the party to “repair the damage” and work with them on a “fairer, unifying way forward”. Mr Corbyn was suspended for playing down the findings of an inquiry into the party’s record on anti-Semitism on his watch.

Lockdown

The big news of the day is the announcement of a second lockdown.  The Telegraph reports:

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ordered a month-long  lockdown from Thursday after being told the NHS was on course to become overwhelmed within five weeks amid a national resurgence of Covid-19.
From midnight on Wednesday, people in England will be asked again to “stay at home“, with members of the public only allowed to leave their homes for a series of specified reasons, including education, exercise, “essential” shopping, and medical appointments.
Those who cannot work from home will be allowed to continue going to work, but Mr Johnson announced an extension of the furlough scheme until December, with the Government returning to covering up to 80 per cent of employees’ wages.
“Non-essential” shops will have to close, along with entertainment venues, gyms, hairdressers, pubs, bars and restaurants – although hospitality venues will still be able to provide takeaway and delivery services.

The Times reports fears for our NHS.

Boris Johnson announced a 27-day national lockdown for England last night amid fears that the NHS is at breaking point.
The prime minister said the “tougher national measures” were needed to prevent several thousand people dying each day with a mortality rate exceeding the peak of the first wave in the spring.
He said if parliament approved the measures on Wednesday, they would be introduced from just after midnight on Thursday and remain until at least December 2.
The announcement came as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the UK hit a grim milestone. More than a million have been diagnosed since March, including 21,915 yesterday.

The Sun reports another ‘could’.

BORIS Johnson told the nation to lockdown once more after being warned “several thousand deaths a day” could happen without action.
The PM last night ordered the country to “stay at home” for four weeks from Thursday in a fresh effort to “protect the NHS and save lives”.
It comes after advisers feared the rampaging virus could be twice as bad as the first wave, with “a peak of mortality far bigger than April”.
Mr Johnson revealed last night at a press conference that nearly everything will shut again for a MONTH in a huge U-turn – just four months after the end of the first UK-wide shutdown.
He gravely told the nation he had been forced to act to prevent thousands of deaths.

And the left-wing Guardian says the u-turn is ‘extraordinary’.

Boris Johnson performed an extraordinary U-turn on Saturday as he unveiled new month-long national lockdown measures across England, amid accusations that government indecision and delay will cost lives and livelihoods across the country.
With immediate warnings of the grave economic fallout and a mounting backlash among Tory MPs, the prime minister announced that a series of measures would come into force on Thursday to combat growing Covid infections. They will remain in place until 2 December.
Under the new measures non-essential shops and venues, as well as pubs and restaurants, will be closed. Schools, colleges and universities will remain open. The public will be told only to leave home for specific reasons, such as work if they cannot work from home, to shop for food and essentials, exercise, medical appointments or caring for the vulnerable.

The Mail claims the battle in Cabinet has been lost by the Chancellor

It was the moment when Rishi Sunak finally lost his battle with Matt Hancock and Michael Gove to avert a crippling second national lockdown.
The all-powerful Covid Quad committee, which has taken all the key strategic decisions during the pandemic, met in the Cabinet Office on Friday amid doomsday predictions from the Government’s SAGE committee of scientific advisers.
Yesterday, Johnson was forced to unveil the new lockdown  at a hurriedly-arranged press conference yesterday, after sources told the Daily Mail about the plans hours after the Quad committee meeting.
The measures come into force from midnight on Thursday morning until December 2, and close all but essential shops, restaurants, pubs, hairdressers and leisure centres.

But at least the furlough scheme will be extended, says Huffington Post.

Boris Johnson has said the furlough scheme, with 80% of lost wages paid, will be extended during the new month-long national lockdown for England.
The prime minister confirmed at a snap Downing Street press conference on Saturday that the second lockdown will begin on Thursday and last until December 2.
All pubs, restaurants, hospitality venues, non-essential retail and leisure facilities will close during that time, though manufacturing and construction can continue, and schools, colleges, universities and essential shops will stay open.
The government has confirmed that the emergency wages scheme will continue, with the cut-off set at 80%.
The prime minister apologised for the strain the lockdown would put on hard-pressed firms, still reeling from previous restrictions, adding: “I’m under no illusions about how difficult this will be for businesses which have already had to endure such hardship this year and I’m truly, truly sorry for that.

Education

Teachers fancy some more time off, reports the Mail.

Teaching unions are already calling for schools to shut in defiance of Boris Johnson’s insistence on Saturday that they will remain open during a new national lockdown.
The National Education Union’s joint general secretary Kevin Courtney called for schools to be included in new lockdown restrictions and said it would be a ‘mistake’ to allow them to remain open.
As for higher education, Jo Grady, the general secretary of the Universities and College Union (UCU) said it would be ‘incomprehensible’ to allow in-person teaching to continue.

Sky News also reports the teachers’ call.

A teaching union is calling for schools to be closed as part of England’s second lockdown, claiming they are a “major contributor to the spread of coronavirus”.
On Saturday, the prime minister said schools, colleges and universities will remain open between 5 November and 2 December when the rest of the country shuts down again.
But more than 70,000 teachers and support staff want schools to close – except for the children of key workers – according to the National Education Union (NEU).
General secretary Kevin Courtney said in a statement: “The government should include all schools in proposals for an immediate national lockdown and as a minimum be preparing for school rotas at the end of that period.

And the Times says next year’s exams could be in jeopardy.

Schools will be expected to stay open during the new lockdown, but the prospect of further disruption for pupils is expected to kill off government hopes that GCSEs and A-levels will go ahead next summer.
It comes as a teaching union called for schools and colleges to be shut during the four weeks of new restrictions in England.
Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union (NEU), said that it is “clear from Office for National Statistics data that schools are an engine for virus transmission”.
Contingency plans are being drawn up to replace GCSEs with mock exams early in the new year.

Testing

The army is to be brought in, says the Mail.

Boris Johnson will bring in the Army to help roll out ‘rapid turnaround tests’ which will see ‘whole cities’ able to tested for Covid within days.
The Prime Minister made the announcement at a Downing Street press conference this evening, as he plunged the nation back into a full lockdown until December 2.
Government scientific advisers have endorsed Mr Johnson’s £100billion Operation Moonshot, which would see 10 million people tested a day regardless of whether they have symptoms, in a paper submitted to Downing St last month.
Population-wide testing has the ability to slash Covid-19‘s reproduction rate in half, the experts said.

So there’ll be testing galore, says ITV News.

The Army has been drafted in to assist with the roll-out of “rapid turnaround” coronavirus testing, which Boris Johnson said could see “whole cities” tested for Covid-19.
The prime minister, who also said there’s a “realistic hope of a vaccine in the first quarter of next year”, revealed there is the “immediate prospect” of using millions of “rapid turnaround tests” which diagnose coronavirus in ten to 15 minutes.
He said a “steady but massive expansion” in the roll-out of the tests is planned for the “next few days and weeks”.
They could be applied in an “ever-growing number of situations”, he said, such as “helping women to have their partners with them in labour wards when they’re giving birth to testing whole towns and even whole cities”.

Scotland

Travel over the border may be curtailed, reports the Mail.

Nicola Sturgeon has told Scots not to travel to England unless it is for ‘essential purposes’.
The Scottish First Minister made the plea on Saturday as Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a second lockdown for England to curb the recent surge in coronavirus cases.
From Thursday, England will enter a second national lockdown expected to last until December 2. Under the new rules, all non-essential businesses will close however schools and universities will remain open.
Sturgeon has also said she and the Scottish Government will seek clarity over the furlough extension announced by Johnson.
She said such support would make an impact on decisions previously taken north of the border, however added the devolved administration ‘will take considered decisions based on what is right for Scotland’.

Vaccine

Will you be offered a vaccine?  The Mail reports on how scientists will decide who is saved and who is left to suffer.

Age, ethnicity and wealth could determine whether you get the coronavirus vaccine first under plans being considered by experts.
Scientists are looking at the prospect of using an algorithm developed by Oxford University academics to find out best who is most vulnerable to Covid.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which is responsible for shaping the UK’s vaccine strategy, has already produced an 11-tier priority list, according to the Telegraph.
This is largely based on age but also considers a number of factors such as where individuals work and medical history.

And a leak of confidential information has resulted in a resignation call, says the Times.

The head of Britain’s vaccine taskforce is facing calls to resign after disclosing “official sensitive” government documents to a $200-a-head conference in America last week.
Kate Bingham, a venture capitalist who is married to a Conservative minister, was appointed to the role by Boris Johnson in May despite having no vaccines expertise. She reports directly to him.
Last week Bingham, 55, spent an hour explaining the government’s strategy to a “premier webinar and networking event” for women in private equity hosted by a Massachusetts company.
According to a video of the event, she showed financiers a detailed list of vaccines which the UK government is closely monitoring and could later invest in.

Europe

The Continent has seen a rise in demonstrations against the regulations, reports the Mail.

Anti-lockdown demonstrations intensified around Europe on Saturday night as protesters in Rome hurled Molotov cocktails, bottles and rocks at police and there were also rising tensions in Barcelona and Dresden.
Early Saturday evening in Rome, a sit-in at the famed Campo dei Fiori ended in a clash with police as some in a crowd of a few hundred protesters began throwing bottles and firecrackers, before being dispersed by police with riot gear and truncheons.
Protesters also wielded banners, flares and the Italian flag before clashes with police saw one officer fall to the floor as others charged at demonstrators.

And in a non-Covid story, a priest has been gunned down in France, reports the Mail.

A Greek Orthodox priest is fighting for his life in hospital after being shot by an attacker carrying a sawn-off hunting rifle in the French city of Lyon.
Nikolaos Kakavelakis, a 45-year-old father of two, is in hospital with life-threatening injuries after being hit in the abdomen.
Authorities have arrested a suspect after locking down part of the city and launching a manhunt for the assailant amid fears of more attacks.
It came hours after French President Emmanuel Macron said it’s ‘our duty to protect our freedoms’ as furious protests continue to rage across the Muslim world against his comments over the Charlie Hebdo cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

Non-covid

Plans to treat non-Covid patients are being put into place, says the Times.

Inside the blue zone of Croydon University Hospital, in Thornton Heath, south London, a revolution is afoot.
After the first wave of the coronavirus crippled non-Covid care, staff tried to answer two big questions. How do you keep services running during a pandemic? And how do you protect patients and staff as rising numbers of people infected with Covid-19 are admitted?
In July, they came up with a solution: build a mini hospital inside the hospital. Three months later, the Croydon Elective Centre, in what was the hospital’s blue zone, means Croydon is running at 120% of pre-lockdown levels for routine procedures such as cancer, cardiac, and hip operations, making it among the top performers in the country.

House of Lords

Elsewhere, the Express reports the pressure to sack the Upper House.

BORIS JOHNSON is coming under huge pressure to shut down the “unelected” House of Lords, with furious critics labelling the upper chamber “unfit for purpose”.
Hundreds of peers could now have a huge influence on Boris Johnson’s Brexit plan with the European Union as they scrutinise the Government’s Internal Market Bill. The proposed legislation risks overriding key parts of the Withdrawal Agreement signed with Brussels last year and could subsequently break international law. Despite threats of legal action from the European Commission, the Prime Minister is refusing to stand down on the Internal Market Bill.

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