POLITICO London Playbook: Darkest before the dawn — Transition period ends — What to expect at the border – POLITICO

Good Thursday morning. This is Charlie Cooper, protecting for Alex till the finish of the week.


DARKEST BEFORE THE DAWN: As of 11 p.m. tonight, Brexit, the difficulty that completely absorbed British politics for 4 years, will now not be simply an concept, however a lived actuality for tons of of thousands and thousands of individuals. But who might have predicted a 12 months in the past that the finish of the transition period — the second Brexit bought actual — wouldn’t even be dominating the entrance pages on the final day of 2020? The U.Okay.’s exit from the European Union — historic as it’s — appears a small matter as compared to the terrible price in lives, livelihoods and psychological well being this nation and the entire world has paid this 12 months. Yesterday, the U.Okay. recorded 981 deaths. The first days of 2021 are going to be very powerful certainly. But this week’s different huge information, that the Oxford vaccine is prepared to go, affords actual hope for the new 12 months. The Mirror’s entrance web page says it’s “always darkest before the dawn” — and that’s just about the place we’re at as 2020 attracts to an in depth.

Vaccine fast-track: Yesterday’s regulatory approval of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine leads most papers this morning (the Sun relegates Brexit getting “done” to an “in other news” aspect bar). The Times zones in on Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s suggestion in the House of Commons yesterday that the authorities needs to be vaccinating folks at a charge of two million per week — a tempo AstraZeneca Chief Executive Pascal Soriot stated in interviews could be doable “very rapidly.”

New plan: Hancock advised MPs yesterday the U.Okay. already has 530,000 doses prepared to go on Monday (out of 100 million doses on order) and stated the NHS “can deliver” at a charge of two million per week “if we can get the manufacturing up to that speed.” The vaccine program will now concentrate on getting a primary dose to as many individuals as doable, as shortly as doable, with proof suggesting one jab delivers vital safety, with second doses not following till 12 weeks later. POLITICO’s Ashleigh Furlong explains the strategy. Labour will in the present day push for the 2-million-per-week determine to turn into a correct authorities goal.

NYE attraction: Hancock, writing on this morning’s Telegraph, echoes Boris Johnson’s press convention pledge that issues might be wanting a lot brighter by Easter, saying “the end of this pandemic is in sight.” He provides: “We must keep our resolve, and approach tonight with the same resolve that we’ve shown throughout 2020, thinking of our loved ones and the NHS, who deserve our thanks, gratitude and support for their dedication this year. We have high confidence that we can get closer to normal by spring, and that next year we can gather, hug, and see our loved ones once more.”

Bleak finish to 2020: But before that prospect comes into sight, there are some extremely tough days forward. Significantly, England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jenny Harries advised yesterday’s press convention the dreadful hospitalization figures we’ve seen in current days don’t but replicate the affect of family mixing over Christmas. In different phrases, with 22,713 COVID sufferers already in England’s hospitals as of yesterday morning, it’s nonetheless getting worse.

On the frontline: The Independent’s Shaun Lintern has important reporting on the state of issues on the NHS frontline in London and the South East together with on the “surge” and “super-surge” plans, together with makeshift intensive care items, that can possible be wanted. Lintern stories NHS England will in the present day announce plans to open the London Nightingale discipline hospital at the ExCeL convention heart in January, “initially with around 60 beds for patients who are almost ready to leave hospital.” Kat Lay in the Times stories the North East and North Central London Adult Critical Care Network, which covers 17 hospitals in the capital and in Essex, is “beyond full and needs help,” in accordance to a be aware circulated to senior employees.

TIERS TIGHTEN UP: The different huge announcement from yesterday’s information twister was that 20 million or so extra folks will enter the hardest Tier 4 restrictions, with Greater Manchester, North East England and enormous elements of the Midlands now successfully locked down. The full checklist of which areas in England are wherein tier could be discovered right here — solely the Scilly Isles are in Tier 1, there aren’t any areas in Tier 2, and 78 % of England is now below Tier 4. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are already below their hardest ranges of restriction.

To go nationwide or not to go nationwide? Johnson stated at yesterday’s press convention that the authorities had regarded “intensively” at merely implementing one other nationwide lockdown however opted to stick with the tiers given it’s nonetheless “a bit of an open question” what affect regional Tier 4 restrictions can have. But he added: “We’re going to maintain reviewing this for all elements of the nation.” With such intense stress on the NHS, it might solely be a matter of time before but extra restrictions are wanted.

(Not) again to faculty: Education Secretary Williamson has the morning broadcast spherical for the authorities to clarify the newest faculty reopening plan, plus how testing in faculties might be arrange in the meantime.

Patchwork plan: The Guardian‘s Heather Stewart and Josh Halliday report the “patchwork” association for the return to lecture rooms is the results of Cabinet division between these in search of to be extra cautious like Hancock and Michael Gove, and Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, who needed to maintain faculties open if at all doable.

The upshot is … Secondary faculties might be closed to all however the youngsters of key employees and susceptible youngsters subsequent week, before Years 11 and 13 return on January 11. Other secondary pupils gained’t return to lecture rooms until January 18. Primary faculties will open on Monday, besides in council areas in London and the South East named on this doc, put out by the division for training final night time. This clearly doesn’t embrace all Tier 4 areas — however the checklist of locations the place further faculty closures apply might be reviewed on January 18. Keeping up at the again of the class? Labour in the meantime isn’t pleased with the last-minute nature of all this, significantly the main faculty closures, which it estimates will have an effect on half 1,000,000 youngsters in London alone.

**A message from Barclays: “We are expanding, we are looking at new opportunities every single day. We will use the support of Barclays to get us through this.” Charisse Smith, founding father of CMe Media, on the constructive prospects for her enterprise after securing a CBILS mortgage with Barclays throughout lockdown. Learn extra at #BackingtheUK**


IT’S OFFICIAL: Speaker of the House of Commons Lindsay Hoyle advised MPs at 25 minutes previous midnight that royal assent had been granted to the European Union (Future Relationship) Act. Here’s the historic second (h/t the Mail’s John Stevens.) And right here’s the similar notification in the Lords in order for you the full set. POLITICO’s Cristina Gallardo has the write-up of yesterday’s parliamentary motion, together with Theresa May’s soundbite-friendly evisceration of her successor’s work: “We have a deal in commerce which advantages the EU however not a deal in providers which might have benefited the U.Okay.”

PM’s message: Johnson sees issues barely in another way, naturally, and issued an announcement simply before midnight welcoming the invoice’s passage by way of each homes of parliament. “The destiny of this great country now resides firmly in our hands,” he said. “We take on this duty with a sense of purpose and with the interests of the British public at the heart of everything we do. 11 p.m. on the 31st December marks a new beginning in our country’s history and a new relationship with the EU as their biggest ally. This moment is finally upon us and now is the time to seize it.”

How the PM might be spending the day: Given there’s rather a lot else on, he’ll be working from No. 10 and can mark the second the transition period ends in Downing Street along with his household.

The Labour rise up: In the finish, 37 Labour MPs defied Keir Starmer’s name for the occasion to again the deal, with 36 abstaining on the vote and only one — Streatham MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy — voting towards, stories Ben Glaze in the Mirror. Three frontbenchers — Shadow Cabinet Office Minister Helen Hayes, PPS to the shadow DWP and Scotland groups Tonia Antoniazzi and opposition Whip Florence Eshalomi — joined the rebels and resigned. Labour officers had been final night time downplaying the scale of the rise up, mentioning the quantity abstaining was decrease than the variety of Tories who voted towards current COVID restrictions. One Jeremy Corbyn, unbiased MP for Islington North, additionally abstained.

DISUNITED KINGDOM: The Scottish parliament, in the meantime, handed a movement yesterday condemning the deal, whereas in the Northern Ireland Assembly an SDLP movement rejecting Brexit consistent with Northern Ireland’s vote to Remain in 2016 handed 47 to 38. In the Welsh Senedd, the deal was merely “noted.”

Now learn this: Tony Blair’s former chief of employees Jonathan Powell has written for POLITICO on 5 the reason why, in his view, the EU bought precisely what it needed from the Brexit negotiations. “I have spent the last 40 years involved in international negotiations of one sort or another, and I have never seen a British government perform worse than they did in the four years of negotiations that concluded with the Christmas Eve Brexit agreement,” Powell writes. “Leaving aside the rights and wrongs of Brexit, purely in terms of negotiating technique, it is an object lesson in how not to do it.” Discuss.


BREXIT GETS REAL: The Brexit commerce deal may need eradicated tariffs, however 11 p.m. tonight nonetheless marks the second the U.Okay. leaves the single market and customs union, which implies customs and different checks on items crossing the border from that second on.

What can we expect? No one is aware of for positive as a result of, nicely, we’ve by no means performed this before. But somebody with a greater concept than most is Alex Veitch, normal supervisor for public coverage at business group Logistics UK.

Day 1: It could also be that the full affect of the new controls isn’t seen in the first few days, Veitch stated. “We’ve got a weekend coming up and it may be quiet but we would expect full movement of goods to ramp up again from Monday onwards, in the normal scheme of things,” he stated. Another issue that may not imply there’s a “big bang” second on January 1 is that many companies might play wait and see. Veitch stated he was listening to that “some large businesses are pausing their shipments over the next week or two, to see what happens. It may be that disruption is reasonably low in January. However, that’s an optimistic scenario.”

Why would possibly delays construct up? Essentially, hauliers not having obtained the right paperwork from their freight prospects after which arriving on the EU aspect with out what they want to get by way of. “If the exporter doesn’t provide the paperwork to the driver, the truck cannot proceed through the border or the truck may even get across to France and be sent back,” Veitch stated. “That’s bad for everybody, particularly the driver who has to go through the whole thing again just to get home.” Add to that the present COVID testing necessities and Veitch anticipates there’ll “no doubt” be at least “some degree of disruption in January.”

Are companies prepared? “We are concerned that not enough exporters to the EU are ready. The latest figures we had this month indicated that about 50 percent of larger exporting businesses have said they’re ready,” stated Veitch. That might have modified since Logistics UK’s survey was carried out, he added, nevertheless it gained’t be 100%.

Has the authorities performed sufficient? Veitch acknowledged the authorities has, for a while, made clear to companies what might be required. However, a few of the programs, together with the on-line questionnaire for drivers to take to test they’ve bought the proper paperwork (catchily often known as “Check an HGV is ready to cross the border”) solely went reside two weeks in the past, Veitch stated, whereas the on-line “Haulier’s Handbook” and bodily info websites had been solely up and working in current weeks. It’s left many hauliers, a whole lot of whom are usually not native English audio system, with little or no time to set up what’s required of them, Veitch stated. “There’s been very little time for our EU haulier partners to read and understand what they need to do when they’re coming back from the U.K. into the EU.”

How dangerous would possibly it get? The excellent news: “We do not expect things to be as bad as they were last week with the complete closure of the border [because of the new coronavirus variant],” Veitch stated. “That was as bad as things can possibly get. There will be continual movement of trucks through Eurotunnel and through Dover, the most busy Roll-on/Roll-off routes. The question is how quick that flow will be.”

The dangerous information: Business readiness is a priority and there’s an extra “worry” Veitch stated, that some companies would possibly assume that the reality a deal was struck final week means they don’t want to put together anymore. (Logistics UK’s survey of companies was carried out before the deal was performed so didn’t cowl this.) Veitch stated he was “optimistic rather than confident” that any disruption might be resolved swiftly, however finally the variety of transferring elements makes it onerous to predict. “This is about thousands of businesses doing what they need to do correctly.”

The backside line: If there are hold-ups requiring lorry drivers to look forward to extended intervals on the roadside or at holding facilities, Veitch needs to see no repeat of scenes final week. “Frankly it was a national embarrassment that we saw charities and individual businesses stepping in to give drivers hot food,” he stated. “That must be handled better if there are delays. Hopefully we won’t have that level of disruption, but if there are such that require long stints in a stationary truck, we have to have toilets and hot food provided [by the government]. The risk is, if you don’t look after the people, fewer of them will want to drive to the U.K. to deliver their goods.”

**A message from Barclays: Our groups are working to assist companies in communities throughout the U.Okay. to adapt and get by way of the pandemic. Learn extra at #BackingtheUK**


PARLIAMENT: Not sitting in the present day. MPs gained’t be returning till January 11 after final night time backing authorities plans to lengthen the Christmas recess by an additional week. (h/t the Mail’s John Stevens and PARLYApp.)

NEW YEARS HONORS: Damehoods and knighthoods and different gongs had been introduced in a single day. Politicians receiving honors embrace former Attorney General Geoffrey Cox, who will get a knighthood; Labour’s Angela Eagle, who receives a damehood; and former Labour MP Tom Clarke, who can be knighted.

BORIS & JOE: My POLITICO colleague Ryan Heath spoke to greater than a dozen serving and former officers on either side of the Atlantic for this must-read piece about how U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s relationship with Boris Johnson will play out. The reply: No one ought to maintain their breath for a bromance. Johnson’s Brexit challenge, his gamble on Donald Trump and his controversial feedback about former President Barack Obama all foster a skepticism amongst Democrats that might be tough to overcome. Indeed, it seems that — other than that first telephone name between the PM and the president-elect — the U.Okay. has been struggling to attain out to Team Biden.

The upshot: Ryan’s essential take is {that a} U.Okay. commerce take care of Washington isn’t possible to occur in 2021, with Camp Biden conserving a firewall between local weather, COVID and protection on the one hand, and the U.Okay. dream of a commerce deal on the different. “While they’re not punishing the U.K. per se, there’s certainly no bartering or favors going on either,” Ryan emails to clarify. “I’d say the best-case scenario for a deal is 2022,” stated Lewis Lukens, who served as U.S. deputy ambassador to the U.Okay. below Presidents Trump and Obama. James Clapper, director of National Intelligence below Obama, stated serving to post-Brexit Britain “doesn’t appear to me to be real high on [the Biden transition team] priority list right now.” Read the entire factor.

CABINET END-OF-YEAR REVIEWS: Your Playbook writer has performed a bumper retrospective of how 2020 went for members of Boris Johnson’s Cabinet (spoiler: largely dangerous) — and what prospects every may need in a doable new 12 months reshuffle. Read it right here.

**Jack Blanchard is again with POLITICO’s Westminster Insider podcast. In this new podcast, Blanchard will meet with – and shine a light-weight on – the politicians, specialists and advisers who really drive decision-making in U.Okay. politics and coverage. Listen to the teaser. Sign up for the e-mail alert.**


Education Secretary Gavin Williamson broadcast spherical: BBC Breakfast (7.30 a.m.) … LBC (7.50 a.m.) … Today program (8.10 a.m.).

Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth broadcast spherical: ITV Good Morning Britain (6.50 a.m.) … Times Radio (7.15 a.m.) … Sky News (7.30 a.m.) … DiscussRadio (7.50 a.m.) … BBC Radio 5 Live (8.10 a.m.) … LBC (8.35 a.m.) … ITV (9 a.m.).

Also on Times Radio Breakfast: Dean of the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine Alison Pittard (7.05 a.m.) … BMA Chairman Chaand Nagpaul (7.45 a.m.) … Defense Secretary Ben Wallace (8.35 a.m.) … Independent Social Democrat peer and former SDP chief David Owen (9.05 a.m.).

Also on Andrew Castle at Breakfast (LBC, 7 a.m.) Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh and Conservative MP Bim Afolami … President of the Royal College of Physicians Andrew Goddard (7.20 a.m.) … President of the National Association of Head Teachers Ruth Davies (9.05 a.m.) … JCVI Deputy Chair Anthony Harnden (9.20 a.m.).

Also on BBC Breakfast: Newcastle City Council Leader Nick Forbes and Conservative MP and Chair of the training choose committee Robert Halfon (7.10 a.m.).


(Click on the publication’s title to see its entrance web page.)

Daily Express: Grim…however gentle at the finish of the tunnel.

Daily Mail: Two large leaps to freedom.

Daily Mirror: It’s at all times darkest before the dawn.

Daily Star: C Minus.

Financial Times: Virus surge paints image however jab hailed as ‘game changer.’

Guardian: Schools chaos as 21M extra folks face hardest curbs.

i: Vaccines for all.

POLITICO UK: UK Cabinet: 2020 winners and losers.

The Daily Telegraph: Race to roll out Oxford jab to stave off full lockdown.

The Independent: NHS at breaking level.

The Sun: One large hope for mankind.

The Times: Jabs imply freedom ‘by Easter.’


Westminster climate: A brilliant, chilly New Year’s Eve. Highs of three°C. ☁️🌤️🌤️

Birthdays: Former Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond … Home Office Minister Kevin Foster … Scarborough and Whitby MP Robert Goodwill … Sleaford and North Kykeham MP Caroline Johnson … Former Belfast South MP Emma Little-Pengelly … Former Equality and Human Rights Commission Chairman Trevor Phillips … POLITICO’s Jillian Deutsch.

PLAYBOOK COULDN’T HAPPEN WITHOUT: My editor Zoya Sheftalovich, reporter Andrew McDonald and producer Fiona Lally.

primarily based on website supplies www.politico.eu

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