Newslinks for Saturday 31st October 2020

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Newslinks for Saturday 31st October 2020


Coronavirus 1) National lockdown “under consideration”

“Boris Johnson is considering the imposition of new national lockdown restrictions from next week amid concerns that hospitals across the country are being overwhelmed. The prime minister met Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister, and Matt Hancock, the health secretary, to discuss “alarming” new NHS data yesterday. He is expected to hold a press conference on Monday to announce the new measures, under which everything could be closed except essential shops and “educational settings”, including nurseries, schools and universities. The new restrictions could be introduced on Wednesday and remain in place until December 1.” – The Times

  • Pubs and restaurants face being shut for weeks – The Sun
  • Royal Family banned from singing national anthem at Remembrance Day – Daily Express
  • It could “destroy hospitality and the high street” – Daily Telegraph
  • Deaths could peak just before Christmas – The Times
  • Data exceed ‘worst-case’ scenario – Financial Times
  • Mayhem as thousands flee Paris – The Times
  • Welsh minister’s business loan claim nonsense, says Treasury – BBC
  • Almost three in four people are more concerned about the impact of lockdown restrictions than catching coronavirus – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: Nick Fletcher on Comment: Ministers must do more to strike the right balance between health and happiness

Coronavirus 2) R rate falls, but is still above 1

“The UK’s coronavirus R rate has dropped for the second week in a row – but remains above 1 across the country, it emerged today. The current R value – the number of people an infected person will pass Covid-19 on to – is now estimated to be between 1.1 and 1.3. The estimate from Sage is lower than the R rate prediction from Imperial College London scientists, who yesterday published the latest data from their REACT study. Their findings – based on tests from 85,000 people – suggest the UK’s R rate is 1.6, with most of the South nearing 2, while London is almost at 3.” – The Sun

  • Covid cases are not spiralling out of control, says King’s College – Daily Telegraph
  • Glimmer of hope as infections in hotpots fall – Daily Mail

Coronavirus 3) Alternative plan would be Tier 4 restrictions

“Johnson is likely to summon ministers from his Cabinet coronavirus subcommittee over the next 48 hours and could hold a full meeting on Sunday if he decides he needs to act as soon as Monday. The alternative to a national lockdown would be a fourth tier of restrictions on top of the existing three tier system, but government scientists now believe even Tier 3 is not enough to stop the spread of infections…Discussions are ongoing about whether the harsher restrictions would be referred to as Tier 4 or Tier 3 plus.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Ministers threw fortunes at protective clothing – much of which was overpriced or can never be used – Daily Mail
  • We must keep our heads and accept Covid is here for the long term – Camilla Cavendish, Financial Times
  • Three facts No 10’s experts got wrong – Dr Mike Yeadon, Daily Mail
  • A second national lockdown would be catastrophic – Leader, The Sun
  • A contagion of hatred and hysteria – Professor Sunetra Gupta, Daily Mail
  • UK should follow European neighbours’ lockdown approach – Leader, Financial Times

PM and Chancellor clash over defence spending

“Boris Johnson has told Rishi Sunak that he wants a £15 billion multi-year settlement for defence in a clash over the scale of spending to strengthen Britain’s place on the world stage after Brexit. The prime minister met the chancellor on Tuesday to discuss the issue and has demanded he guarantee defence spending until 2025 to underpin a defence and security review. Mr Sunak wants a one-year settlement for defence worth £1.9 billion as part of the spending review.” – The Times

Johnson and Symonds in joint TV appearance to praise NHS

“Boris Johnson and his fiancée Carrie Symonds will praise NHS medics for delivering their son Wilfred and for saving the Prime Minister’s life as he fought coronavirus. In their first joint television appearance, a recording for the Pride of Britain awards, they will thank frontline workers for their ‘courage and dedication’ during the pandemic in a broadcast on Sunday. The couple nominated nurses Jenny McGee and Luis Pitarma, two nurses who cared for Mr Johnson at St Thomas’ Hospital in April, and the maternity team who delivered Wilfred later the same month. Ms Symonds’ £30,000 emerald engagement ring matches her green dress in the broadcast filmed at Chequers earlier this week.” – Daily Mail

Jenrick pledges to protect women’s lavatories

“Ministers will today unveil plans to boost the number of female-only toilets to protect women from the surge in mixed-sex bogs. Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick will launch a review to guarantee all publicly accessible toilets have female-only cubicles to prevent women having to queue ages for the loo. Evidence shows increasing numbers of publicly accessible toilets are being converted into ‘gender neutral facilities’ – causing problems for women and the elderly in particular.” – The Sun

Labour 1) Corbynite MPs “may resign the Whip”

“Labour MPs who support Jeremy Corbyn have discussed resigning from the parliamentary party and sitting as independents amid fears that Keir Starmer could lead a “mass purge” of the left, an ally of the former leader has warned. As senior party figures called for calm following Labour’s suspension of Corbyn on Thursday for saying the party’s antisemitism problem had been overstated, Ian Lavery said there are fears that the move was a “war cry” that could force some MPs to leave. Lavery, who chaired the party for three years until April, told the Guardian that many of Corbyn’s supporters, including MPs, fear the suspension is the beginning of a significant change in direction under Starmer.” – The Guardian

  • Corbyn builds up war chest for legal fight – The Times
  • A career in tatters but his influence endures – Rosa Prince, Daily Telegraph
  • Starmer told to show ‘backbone’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Labour takes five point poll lead – Daily Mail
  • McCluskey calls on members to stay in the Party – BBC

Labour 2) Duncan Smith: We have seen all this before

“I know it’s difficult if not impossible for anyone under the age of 50 to summon up any recollection of Militant, the precursor to Corbyn’s Momentum, but I have vivid personal recollections of their behaviour when I stood in 1987 in Bradford West. Pat Wall, a member of Militant and eventually one of three members of the group to be elected as Labour MPs, was standing in the neighbouring constituency of Bradford North. The election, as a result, was angry and confrontational. We had meetings disrupted as Militant activists spilled over into the seat I was contesting and the campaign culminated with a death threat.” – Iain Duncan Smith, Daily Telegraph

  • Wilderness awaits the splitters – Jack Straw, Daily Mail
  • Starmer richly deserves the trouble ahead – Juliet Samuel, Daily Telegraph
  • The response to the EHRC report shows infighting never stopped – Sienna Rodgers, The Guardian
  • This must turn into a Clause 4 moment – Leader, Daily Telegraph

Record number of early votes in US election

“Never in recent history have two presidential candidates campaigned for such a low proportion of votes in the closing days of a US election: 85 million early ballots have already been cast amid fears about the pandemic and the reliability of the postal service. Supporters of both President Trump and Joe Biden claim that the stampede to vote, which represents more than 60 per cent of the entire 2016 turnout of 136 million ballots, will benefit them. The total number of votes is expected to be higher this time.” – The Times

  • President “will expand its travel ban if re-elected” – Daily Telegraph
  • Rival criss cross midwestern states – BBC
  • Latin America fears tougher treatment under Biden – Financial Times
  • Trump has scored some foreign policy successes. But Biden is better suited to provide the leadership the free world needs – Leader, The Times
  • God help America – Henry Deedes, Daily Mail
  • Biden’s too old to be President, says his cousin in Surrey – The Times
  • Trump rally is like a Christmas panto – The Times

>Today: ToryDiary: Our survey: more than half of Tory members want Trump to win next week

SNP split over independence strategy

“An SNP MP has reacted angrily after his bid to introduce a “Plan B” strategy for securing independence was effectively blocked by his own party. Together with Inverclyde councillor Chris McEleny, Western Isles MP MP Angus MacNeil want the manifesto for next year’s Holyrood elections to include a pledge that a pro-independence majority would be taken as a mandate to start negotiations with Westminster for Scotland to leave the UK – effectively turning the election in a de facto referendum. The SNP’s annual conference in June was cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic – but with a virtual conference scheduled for the of next month, the pair were hoping to win support for the idea there.” – Daily Express

Parris: Britain has lost faith in its leaders

“Western attempts to contain this virus look like playing darts in the dark. We can’t see where we’re going, and know it, and for our leaders and some expert advisers to pretend otherwise invites contempt. If there’s any truth in the observation that electorates are growing tired, then it is the sweeping statements and cocksure reprimands we’re growing tired of. The most an honest prime minister or health secretary should say is: “Bear with us: this is a mess but we’re doing our best.” – Matthew Parris, The Times

Moore: We have a values war with China

“The struggle between the CCP and the West has been well characterised by the China expert, Charles Parton, as a “Values War”. President Xi goes on about “socialist core values”, all of them monolithically anti-democratic. We should counter these values with ours. The problem seems to be, however, that we don’t really know any more what our values might be. We remain wedded to the idea of democracy but, especially in Britain and America, see it merely as a forum in which contesting parties must give no quarter…. All the main democracies in the West look unhappy as they wrestle honourably, but not very competently, to balance our desire to live in freedom with the danger that, by doing so, we might cause others to die. Coronavirus could have been specifically designed to help the CCP’s aim of global dominance by 2050.” – Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph

News in brief

  • Is the UK heading for a second national lockdown? – Katy Balls, The Spectator
  • Why has the world abandoned France in its hour of need? – Anne-Elisabeth Moutet, CapX
  • The conservative case for Joe Biden – James Bickerton, The Article
  • Attack on press freedom is led by journalists themselves – Donald Forbes, Conservative Woman
  • Letter to the BBC – John Redwood





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