BREAKING THIS MORNING: Just minutes in the past, the federal government introduced it has accepted the advice from the Medicines and Healthcare merchandise Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to authorize the Oxford University/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine for use. The authorities stated in its announcement that the inexperienced light “follows rigorous clinical trials and a thorough analysis of the data by experts at the MHRA, which has concluded that the vaccine has met its strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness.”
Good Wednesday morning. The Christmas dinner leftovers are in all probability all gone, the tree’s beginning to look a bit knackered, however Playbook trudges on to New Year. This is Charlie Cooper, with you for the final two days of 2020 (Boo! Hiss!) and the primary of what all of us hope will likely be a greater, brighter 2021.
DRIVING THE DAY
MORE TIER 4: Parliament is recalled for someday solely to deliver into legislation the post-Brexit commerce deal struck between the EU and the U.Ok. final week. It’s the primary time MPs have met on this date since 1912 — however the historic second is more likely to be overshadowed by the announcement of latest coronavirus restrictions for hundreds of thousands of individuals, amid a winter surge in instances that has put hospitals underneath ranges of stress that now exceed the April peak. Health Secretary Matt Hancock is anticipated to announce later at the moment that extra areas in England will enter the very best Tier 4 degree of restrictions.
Rising instances = additional motion: Hancock was, as of late final evening, additionally lined up for a broadcast spherical this morning to replace on the state of affairs in England’s hospitals and the federal government’s deliberate response. A well being official instructed Playbook final evening: “We face a tough state of affairs with instances persevering with to rise — and we are going to take the motion essential to cope with the unfold.”
What to count on: Hancock’s assertion on the tier selections is anticipated at round 3 p.m., shortly after the Commons finishes voting on the Brexit deal. Boris Johnson met ministers and high officers final evening to finalize plans. It’s not but confirmed which areas will likely be added to the Tier 4 record, however the Sun and Telegraph each report that two-thirds of England will possible be underneath the hardest restrictions following the announcement, whereas the i says it is going to be the “majority of England” (at present it’s about 40 %). “Given the alarming rise in case numbers, particularly of the new variant, there are likely to be more escalations into Tier 4,” a second authorities official confirmed final evening. A choice can be anticipated on faculties reopening, with TES yesterday reporting a possible plan for secondary faculty returns to be delayed by a minimum of one week.
On the frontline: There had been 21,787 COVID sufferers in hospitals in England as of Tuesday morning, in line with NHS England information. The peak in April was round 19,000. This is earlier than the surge in case numbers seen within the days since Christmas interprets into greater charges of significant sickness and hospitalizations per week down the road (following the grim sample we’ve seen all through the pandemic. The Times studies London handed its first-wave COVID mattress occupancy peak yesterday, with 5,371 inpatients now in contrast with 5,201 in its first peak. The Health Service Journal has seen inside information exhibiting intensive care unit occupancy in London and the south east on Monday evening was at “114 and 113 percent respectively” and “100 percent in the east of England.” The HSJ explains: “Being over 100 percent means they have had to substantially ‘surge’ their capacity — often requiring diluting staffing, and canceling other hospital services to redeploy staff.”
Which is why … Many Londoners obtained this textual content message final evening. (h/t the Indy’s Shaun Lintern, who additionally shared this photograph of ambulances stacked up outdoors the Royal London final evening; a scene replicated at many hospitals within the capital and past).
Yesterday’s UK stats: 53,135 new instances reported — one other new file ⬆️ 11,750 on the day prior to this and ⬆️ 16,331 on the earlier Tuesday … 414 deaths recorded ⬆️ 57 on the day prior to this and ⬇️ 277 on the earlier Tuesday.
More dangerous information: Health officers in Colorado have recorded the primary confirmed U.S. case of the extra contagious COVID variant that was first detected right here.
National lockdown name: While the federal government seems wedded to the tier system for now (though no announcement is at present anticipated at the moment on an additional (*4*);
The excellent news: Today’s AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine approval will unlock 100 million doses already ordered for the federal government’s accelerating immunization program, which has to date deployed the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. “The thing to remember is that the vaccine is being rolled out right now — the route out of this is here and by the spring we hope to have immunized the most vulnerable,” the federal government well being official stated.
But if you happen to learn one factor at the moment … Make it this piece within the Guardian by Samantha Batt-Rawden, president of the Doctors Association UK and an intensive care physician working within the south east of England, on what well being care workers are experiencing proper now. “Wards became temporary ICUs. Yet as quickly as we could free more beds, they were filled by those sick with the virus,” Batt-Rawden writes. “Teams scrambled to move ventilated patients by ambulance out of the south east to hospitals with any capacity left. Those hospitals are now full. By the week before Christmas there was simply no room left at the inn.” It’s a tough learn — and it’s arduous to see how additional motion from the federal government, past at the moment’s bulletins, isn’t going to be wanted ultimately.
**A message from Barclays: Our groups are working to assist companies in communities throughout the U.Ok. to adapt and get by the pandemic. Learn extra at #BackingtheUK**
MEANWHILE IN BREXIT
BREAK-NECK LEGISLATION: Otherwise, MPs have the small matter of fast-tracking the passage of the European Union (Future Relationship) Bill into laws to cope with. My POLITICO colleague Cristina Gallardo takes you thru what to anticipate. The prime minister will open the second studying debate within the Commons at 9.30 a.m., with closing remarks from Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove. Second studying and all additional levels of the invoice must be wrapped up by 2.30 p.m. The invoice then makes its technique to the House of Lords at about 3 p.m. “A total of 145 peers are down to speak during the second reading in the Lords, each being allowed to talk for about three minutes,” Cristina writes. “The final vote in the Lords could take place as late as 11 p.m., with royal assent scheduled for close to midnight.”
Coffee, your majesty? The queen will likely be “on standby at Windsor Castle,” the Daily Mail entrance says, able to log off shortly earlier than midnight. “She may have to stay up until the early hours if the debate in the Lords drags on,” writes Deputy Political Editor John Stevens.
Pen friends: The EU and the U.Ok. will each signal the treaty. European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel will put pen to paper first (after EU member nations agreed to its provisional utility from January 1 in writing yesterday). The doc will then be flown by RAF jet to London for Johnson’s signature, accompanied by U.Ok. and EU officers.
Boris phrases: Opening the talk at the moment, the prime minister will declare his deal marks “a new chapter in our national story.” According to strains from his speech briefed out final evening, he’ll add that the U.Ok. and the EU could have “nothing to fear if we sometimes choose to do things differently — and much to gain from the healthy stimulus of competition.” Brexiteers “never sought a rupture with our closest neighbors,” he’ll insist. “What we sought was not a rupture but a resolution, a resolution of the old and vexed question of Britain’s political relations with Europe.” We’ll see …
History lesson: The Hansard Society has a helpful information to what we will count on from proceedings at the moment. The final time a invoice was rushed by all its levels within the Commons and the Lords in a single day was the Northern Ireland (St Andrews Agreement) (No.2) Act 2007 — which solely ran to 2 clauses. This invoice is 80 pages lengthy and the accompanying explanatory notes run to a different 76 pages. In a punchy accompanying weblog, Brigid Fowler, senior researcher on the Hansard Society, describes the method as a “farce ” and “an abdication of Parliament’s constitutional responsibilities to deliver proper scrutiny of the executive and of the law.”
Good level: “As things stand, this one day will constitute Parliament’s only formal scrutiny, before it is ratified by the U.K. and enters into force, of a 1,246-page treaty that will govern in international law the U.K.’s relationship with its nearest neighbour and largest trading partner for years,” Fowler writes. It’s definitely a humorous technique to have a good time the Westminster parliament’s newly regained sovereignty.
For any MPs undecided: Hilary Benn’s future relationship with the EU committee has put collectively a report on the commerce deal at warp pace to feed into MPs’ decision-making at the moment, which ought to now be accessible right here.
First on the decision sheet … After Johnson’s assertion and Keir Starmer’s response: former PM Theresa May.
STARMER’S BREXIT CLOSURE: With the hardline Brexiteer ERG declaring yesterday that they’d again the deal, Labour is the one social gathering nonetheless anticipating a serious riot within the Commons. Former Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott grew to become the most recent high-profile backbencher to say she’ll be rejecting Keir Starmer’s name for the social gathering to again it, in line with the Sydney Morning Herald’s Latika Bourke. More Labour MPs are anticipated to affix the likes of John McDonnell, Ben Bradshaw and Clive Lewis (who signed a press release calling on Starmer to assume once more) in rejecting the deal, with estimates of the scale of the riot in morning papers starting from “around 20” to “dozens” (ie. nobody is aware of for certain). Starmer himself has an interview within the Guardian during which he states his case that the Leave/Remain arguments are “over” and that voting for the deal will enable “closure.”
Labour election literature 2024 preview: Starmer tells the paper’s Deputy Political Editor Jessica Elgot that he can’t see Europe or Brexit taking part in a serious half within the social gathering’s 2024 election marketing campaign. “We vote tomorrow within the mindset of the following common election in 2024,” he stated. “If we come into government in 2024 — and I hope we do — we will inherit this deal. The public in Britain would expect us to make this deal work.” While Labour will campaign on some specific issues, “there will not be an appetite for renegotiating the entire treaty,” he added. Meanwhile, the Trades Union Congress is at the moment launching a “10-point plan” to fill what it says are “gaps” within the deal. In specific, unions are calling for the federal government to deliver ahead its employment invoice to ensure staff’ rights and employment requirements stay as excessive or greater than the EU’s.
Other social gathering responses: The SNP, the Lib Dems, the DUP, Plaid Cymru, the SDLP, the Alliance Party and the Greens are are all voting towards.
What the general public assume: MPs ought to again the deal, say 55 % of the general public in line with this Opinium ballot of 1,200 U.Ok. adults for Guido. In a uncommon outbreak of Brexit unity, the ballot reveals massive majorities for MPs voting for the deal amongst Remain, Leave, Labour and Tory voters. It’s virtually as if individuals simply need this complete course of over and accomplished with. (Reckon there’s an election slogan in that …)
MEANWHILE IN GIBRALTAR: “Spain is ready to close the border with Gibraltar on December 31 if the British government does not agree to continued free movement of people,” Cristina Gallardo studies for POLITICO. “Although the U.K. and the EU have concluded a future relationship agreement, the future of Gibraltar is yet to be settled in parallel negotiations between London, Madrid and the Rock.”
TODAY IN WESTMINSTER
PARLIAMENT: Sits from 9.30 a.m.
Tomorrow’s different debate … Is more likely to be over how quickly the House of Commons returns as soon as it rises once more tonight. A enterprise assertion from Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg is anticipated throughout at the moment’s proceedings and whereas nothing is but confirmed, it’s extensively reported MPs’ Christmas recess will successfully be prolonged for per week, with the House not sitting once more till January 11, amid considerations in regards to the unfold of COVID. The Mail (not but on-line) studies Tory MPs eager to scrutinize the federal government’s plans for tighter restrictions are sad and will insurgent over any such plan.
FROM THE ARCHIVE: Great tales as all the time in newly launched paperwork from the National Archives. The BBC’s James Landale studies on papers that present how “the British government conspired with a newspaper in the late 1960s to suggest a Soviet spy had penetrated the highest echelons of the French state” in a bid to spare our personal blushes over a French journal’s plans to publish Cambridge spy Kim Philby’s memoirs. Meanwhile, the Daily Mail and others choose up on unearthed paperwork that present how a prank name from impressionist Rory Bremner saved John Major from a riot by Euroskeptics in 1993.
**A message from Barclays: From Luton to Newcastle, Ripon to Norwich, we’re facilitating hundreds of loans to assist native companies by the pandemic. Learn extra at #BackingtheUK**
WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR IN 2021
THE BIG ISSUES: No prizes for guessing what would be the greatest problem of 2021, or a minimum of its early months. But the pandemic has numerous completely different sides — and what with a brand new commerce cope with the EU to get used to; the U.Ok. taking over the presidency of the G7 and internet hosting COP26; May elections in Scotland and Wales plus native elections in England (together with the London mayoral poll), it’s going to be a big yr in loads of different methods too. Playbook requested House of Commons choose committee chairs what they assume would be the defining points on their patch within the new yr. We’ll be operating responses over the following few days, so if you happen to chair a choose committee and haven’t acquired yours in (or haven’t heard from us …) reply and tell us.
Science and know-how — Greg Clark: “We all hope that 2021 will be a year of relief and recovery from COVID. That depends on the rollout of vaccines and their effectiveness against a virus that is already changing. We will follow closely the science and the progress in arresting the spread of the virus, starting with our first session in January. We will also publish the first Lessons Learned report of the pandemic, the fruit of our joint inquiry with the health and social care committee.”
Defense — Tobias Ellwood: “The publication of the Integrated Review is anticipated over the following couple of months following a yr of delays. I’m hopeful that the assessment will supply much-needed course and technique. Once the assessment has been revealed, there may be then the difficulty of implementation, as saying is less complicated than doing — not least within the context of our relationship with the EU the place international coverage and arduous energy coordination weren’t lined … The U.Ok.’s presidency of the G7 provides a formidable alternative for us to re-engage with our allies, particularly the U.S. For too lengthy the West has failed to deal with the rising and sophisticated threats we now face, not least the growing geopolitical conflict with China. There is a chance for U.Ok. management on the worldwide stage which we should seize.”
Culture, media and sport — Julian Knight: “The Online Harms Bill will be one to keep an eye out for. This world-leading online safety regulation will give Ofcom power to issue penalties to social media companies who allow harm to perpetuate on their platforms. A key question parliament will be considering is how harms are defined. After a year of heavy losses in the creative industries, festivals and live events, can summer 2021 be saved? Crucial decisions will have to be made early in the year … Other things to watch will be: new BBC chair, the review of the Gambling Act 2005 and how we can return to pre-pandemic levels of sport.”
Work and pensions — Stephen Timms: “As 2021 begins, millions of people will be waiting anxiously to find out whether the government will cut £20 a week from Universal Credit and Working Tax Credits in April — or whether it will heed the calls from the work and pensions committee and many others to make the increase permanent. At the same time, DWP’s much-needed plans for employment support will be put to the test. The committee will be looking to see how well schemes like Kickstart and Restart are working — especially for disabled people, who have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic.”
Northern Ireland — Simon Hoare: “As Northern Ireland enters its centenary year, it is set to be directly impacted next year by Brexit decisions made in Brussels and Whitehall more than any other part of the U.K. It will become perhaps the key reaction chamber where, under the Northern Ireland Protocol, the EU regulations Northern Ireland will have to follow meet the U.K.’s newly independent trade policy and regulatory autonomy. Six-month and 12-month grace periods have been agreed between the U.K. and the EU to secure supplies to the region of food and medicines respectively from Britain. A lot of change in how business is done in Northern Ireland is coming following January. The litmus test for the Protocol will be whether and how much life in Northern Ireland changes and the next 12 months will be critical.”
More to observe …
And Playbook’s tip for 2021: The robots will take over. But it is going to be a blast.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock broadcast spherical: Times Radio Breakfast (7.20 a.m.) … BBC Breakfast (7.30 a.m.).
Also on Times Radio Breakfast: Former Chief Scientific Adviser David King (8.05 a.m.) … Shadow Cabinet Office Minister Rachel Reeves (8.15 a.m.) … Impressionist Rory Bremner (9.15 a.m.).
Andrew Castle at Breakfast (LBC): NHS Confederation Chief Executive Danny Mortimer (7.05 a.m.) … FT Chief Political Correspondent Jim Pickard (7.20 a.m.) … Conservative MP Liam Fox (8.05 a.m.) … Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Office Minister Rachel Reeves (8.35 a.m.).
BBC Breakfast: Shadow Cabinet Office Minister Rachel Reeves (7.20 a.m.) … SNP Westminster Leader Ian Blackford (8.30 a.m.).
BBC Good Morning Scotland: SNP Westminster Leader Ian Blackford (7.50 a.m.) … David Caesar, deputy chief medical officer for Scotland (8.06 a.m.) … Scotland Secretary Alister Jack (8.14 a.m.).
Reviewing the papers tonight: Sky News (10.30 p.m.): Journalist and creator Harriet Sergeant and journalist and creator Azadeh Moaveni.
TODAY’S FRONT PAGES
(Click on the publication’s identify to see its entrance web page.)
Daily Express: Boris: We’ve accomplished the unattainable.
Daily Mail: Boris: Let’s write new chapter for Britain.
Daily Mirror: Care houses’ jab SOS.
Daily Star: Whitemare!
Financial Times: Dash to lift money drives file $125bn charge haul for international banks.
Guardian: Hospitals face ‘horrendous decisions’ about who will get care.
i: Tougher lockdown in England.
POLITICO UK: In 2021, coronavirus will reshape digital guidelines.
The Daily Telegraph: We now open a brand new chapter in our story.
The Independent: Protest to drive motion on local weather change, urges Miliband.
The Sun: New tiers eve.
The Times: Millions to face harder curbs amid virus surge.
Westminster climate: Cold and cloudy with sunny spells potential within the late afternoon. Highs of 5C. ☁️☁️⛅
Get effectively quickly: Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins who was recognized with the coronavirus on Christmas Eve.
Birthdays: Bermondsey and Old Southwark MP Neil Coyle … Shadow Culture Minister Alison McGovern … Luton South MP Rachel Hopkins … Tory peer Archie Hamilton … DUP MLA Pam Cameron … U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
PLAYBOOK COULDN’T HAPPEN WITHOUT: My editor Zoya Sheftalovich, reporter Andrew McDonald and producer Miriam Webber.
primarily based on website supplies www.politico.eu