POLITICO London Playbook: Send for Dido — Manston pickle — Landing zone revealed – POLITICO

Good Tuesday morning.

DRIVING THE DAY

SEND FOR DIDO: Boris Johnson is contemplating a plan to roll out mass testing for lorry drivers to unlock journey to the Continent, Playbook hears, as talks between the British and French governments to finish the blockade proceed this morning. French President Emmanuel Macron made the request for testing of arrivals yesterday and Playbook is instructed U.Okay. ministers and officers are actually trying on the thought, with Dido Harding’s new National Institute for Health Protection taking cost of the operation. That means the staff behind the “world-beating” Test and Trace program might be accountable for the race in opposition to the clock to verify items can get out and in of Britain. What might presumably go incorrect?

MANSTON PICKLE: The Telegraph’s Charles Hymas and Lucy Fisher hear comparable and splash the story this morning, quoting a authorities supply who says: “We are doing the work to get testing capacity and the infrastructure down to Kent in case we need it.” But Playbook is instructed there are severe considerations amongst Whitehall officers that the proposal is in any respect viable. Plans are being drawn up to make use of Manston airfield in Kent as a testing website for lorry drivers, although officers are apprehensive it might take days earlier than it’s arrange and requiring each driver to clear a take a look at will hardly forestall a large backlog of lorries. The Telegraph says 6,000 checks per day could be wanted.

GETTING AHEAD OF THE NEWS: Labour’s personal super-forecasters have clearly labored out the place that is going … Shadow Cabinet Office Minister Rachel Reeves is touring the studios proper now calling on the federal government to ship spare capability within the testing system to, you guessed it, the ports.

TAKING BACK CONTROL LATEST: Johnson introduced at yesterday night’s press convention that he had simply had a “very good” name with Macron and that “we both understand each other’s positions and want to resolve these problems as fast as possible.” Privately, British officers are hoping France will drop its demand for mass testing, although it’s clear Macron holds the playing cards right here and his determination to go nuclear and ban freight caught the U.Okay. authorities utterly without warning.

OOH LA LA: All day yesterday ministers and authorities aides complained to Playbook that the embargo was actually motivated by Brexit. In his colourful write-through, the Times‘ Steve Swinford says Downing Street was “incandescent” when France introduced the ban on Sunday evening, and is “convinced that the Elysée was trying to leverage the new strain of the coronavirus to apply pressure in Brexit negotiations.” But a Whitehall official tells Playbook that would go the opposite approach: “If ever we needed a reason to show why we’re leaving the EU, the French trying to take food off our shelves for Christmas out of spite should do it.” A minister places the sensation in some sections of presidency extra plainly: “Macron is a ****.” Excuse their, er, French.

LANGOUSTINE FOR LUNCH? There had been hopes the U.Okay. and France would be capable of agree on a plan to get issues shifting final evening. That didn’t occur, and the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg says there’ll doubtless be “no decision on reopening the French border until lunchtime” at the moment. The Times‘ Graeme Paton quotes French embassy officers saying there may very well be a “secured reopening” at the moment as a part of an EU-wide response to the disaster, however says that even when an answer is discovered, the backlog means the chaos will final till Christmas Eve.

WHAT WOULD PRITI DO? Home Secretary Priti Patel is correct now on the morning broadcast spherical for the federal government, the place she’ll be fielding questions on the entire above. Though you must surprise, for all of the anger on the French authorities — justified or not — if the shoe have been on the opposite foot and it was France on the epicenter of a brand new pressure of the virus, would Patel not have taken a equally hardline place on closing the border? As of this morning, greater than 40 nations have banned Britons from getting into.

WHAT THE HAULIER TALKING ABOUT? The PM and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps acquired themselves right into a stats row final evening after claiming the variety of lorries queueing on the M20 had fallen from some 500 to 170. In precise reality, in keeping with a Highways England assertion despatched out at near 11 p.m., the true quantity is greater than 900. ITV’s Joel Hills gloriously quotes “sources close to Port of Dover and Eurotunnel” who have been apparently baffled by the claims on the presser. Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary Jim McMahon goes laborious: “It is obvious that Boris Johnson both hadn’t bothered to seek out out what the state of affairs was in Kent earlier than at the moment’s press convention or was attempting to cowl it up.”

ON THE GROUND: “Tensions erupted in Dover yesterday as lorries packed its streets and furious drivers blasted horns and drove in tight circles outside the port entrance in protest,” the Times‘ Charlie Parker reviews from the scene. He quotes one trucker who “swore and shook his fists at marshals” shouting: “What is that this? Let us by way of. This isn’t regular.” Playbook needs Matt Chorley all the very best in his new profession.

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LOCKDOWN 3: The different huge coronavirus information of the day is the fallout from feedback by the federal government’s Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance eventually evening’s presser suggesting Tier 4 restrictions will quickly be wanted throughout different components of the nation. What authorities officers didn’t wish to be drawn on final evening is that Vallance’s remarks successfully amounted to him calling for a 3rd nationwide lockdown. Make no mistake, it’s fairly apparent there’ll now be a clamor from some authorities scientists and components of the media for most, if not the entire nation to enter Tier 4. It’ll be value seeing if Labour chief Keir Starmer calls for it as effectively.

HAPPY NEW TIER: Looking at a number of the numbers in at the moment’s papers, it’s not laborious to see why. In one of many strongest information strains of the day, the Mail’s Jason Groves says Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty has instructed the PM that “the number of patients in hospital with COVID is on course to match the April peak by New Year’s Eve — and will continue increasing in January.” Groves says Downing Street is attempting to minimize the prospect of one other full shutdown, however the paper reckons England is “on notice” for that to occur.

IN THE MEANTIME: Anyone from Tier 4 areas getting into Greater Manchester or the West Midlands and Wales is being urged to self-isolate by native public well being officers (although not likely by central authorities). Sky’s Clare Sibthorpe has a write-up. Asked about this new recommendation yesterday, Vallance praised the regional officers for doing a “fantastic job,” making his emotions fairly clear.

HISTORY REPEATS: One distinguished Tory asks Playbook: “If the new strain is already in Tier 3 areas and the scientific advice is that Tier 3 is not enough to suppress it, we are going to have to come up with a damn good reason why we aren’t putting them in Tier 4 right away.” They went on: “Let’s hope in two weeks we’re not asking once again why didn’t we do it sooner.”

WHEN DID THEY KNOW? Swinford reveals an inside evaluation in early December that recommended “there will be nearly 700,000 cases a week by mid to late February — more than three times the present level — with 20,000 hospital admissions and 5,000 deaths.” This projection was *earlier than* the brand new pressure of the virus was taken under consideration, and earlier than the choice to cancel Christmas. Swinford reviews the extent of the risk from the brand new pressure solely grew to become obvious in a gathering final Friday, quoting a supply saying: “Everyone was blindsided. I don’t think anyone in the room expected it to be quite so bad.”

IMPORTANT CLARIFICATION: This will get into the questions which were requested by half of Twitter: Could the federal government have acted on the brand new pressure sooner, at the same time as early as September? And is Downing Street utilizing the brand new pressure as cowl for not appearing faster to counter the third wave? On the primary query, this thread from Catherine Moore, marketing consultant scientific scientist at Public Health Wales, is effectively value your time. She explains: “The U.K. variant was NOT first identified in September. Once a new variant is found, we look backwards to try and determine when it first emerged. The earliest sample found positive for the variant in this lookback was collected in September.” She goes on: “To clarify further, variants are found all the time. Significance of those variants takes time to establish. Just because a sequence was submitted to a repository doesn’t mean it’s identified as being anything important.” So in different phrases, no.

DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE: On the second query, a authorities supply tells Playbook the concept they’re overhyping the brand new pressure is a “ridiculous conspiracy theory,” noting that it could imply all the federal government’s scientific advisers — who’ve hardly all been cheerleaders for its total coverage — are complicit. They say that is “frankly offensive.” Whether issues have been dangerous sufficient earlier than the brand new pressure was recognized to have locked down sooner and wider is a query that can little doubt be requested one other day.

YESTERDAY’S UK STATS: Cases at 33,364, ⬆️ 55 p.c on final Monday. Hospital admissions at 2,034, ⬆️ 18 p.c on final Monday. Deaths at 215, ⬆️ 8 p.c on final Monday.

BREXIT ENDGAME

LANDING ZONE REVEALED: Today’s papers report {that a} breakthrough could eventually be approaching the essential fisheries sticking level, all following a completely must-read POLITICO article by former Brexit SpAd Raoul Ruparel yesterday that outlined a possible touchdown zone. Ruparel stays extraordinarily well-connected in authorities and has kind for accurately predicting how Brexit offers will be accomplished. Officially the British negotiating staff is saying the 2 sides are nonetheless “miles apart,” though U.Okay. and EU sources inform Playbook Ruparel’s article is broadly the place the talks have headed. Here’s how he reckons a compromise will be reached on the three major variations on fish, in time to forestall no deal …

OBSTACLE 1: The size of the transition from the present EU quota shares in U.Okay. waters to the brand new post-Brexit quota shares. The U.Okay. has needed it to be three years, the EU has been asking for seven. Ruparel suggests 5 years as a “fair compromise.” Bloomberg’s Ian Wishart and Alberto Nardelli report that on Monday the U.Okay. made a brand new “last-ditch” supply on fish which included a proposal for, that’s proper, a five-year transition.

OBSTACLE 2: How a lot the EU quota share must be decreased by. The U.Okay. has demanded a 60 p.c minimize within the share of fish caught by EU vessels in U.Okay. waters, the EU has sought a 25 p.c minimize. Ruparel suggests a compromise at 35 p.c on the finish of the five-year transition. Sure sufficient, the Times‘ Bruno Waterfield reviews the brand new U.Okay. proposal would let the EU hold “about two-thirds” of the worth of the fish it at the moment catches in British waters. Bloomberg says the identical. Playbook hears the compromise might in truth be wherever between 30 p.c and 35 p.c.

OBSTACLE 3: Ruparel says the “hardest difference to bridge” is how the EU will get to retaliate if the U.Okay. decides to alter its quota share in future. He suggests an “independent arbitration panel” that might decide the price of any U.Okay. motion to the EU and resolve which cross-retaliation tariffs the EU might levy on different sectors of the British economic system. The U.Okay. has beforehand indicated it could not settle for any cross-retaliation in sectors exterior fisheries, so this could be a big concession. Bloomberg says “talks could still collapse over a major disagreement about how far one side can retaliate if the other breaks the rules.”

PRESSURE ON MACRON: This would all recommend the U.Okay. aspect is doing all the pieces it may possibly to safe what’s a fairly large compromise with the EU on fish. There are hopes the transfer yesterday can even put stress on Macron to step again from the brink. As the Bloomberg article notes, “they are now haggling over as little as 33 million euros of fish annually.” It is value noting that it isn’t simply Johnson who’s underneath stress to succeed in a deal — Macron will discover himself at odds with a lot of Europe if he blows all of it up over the value of an uninspiring French midfielder.

COULD THE TRANSITION BE EXTENDED? That’s the query requested by, amongst others, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Alas (because the PM may put it), the Institute for Government’s Maddy Thimont Jack explains why the reply is principally no. “Even if smart lawyers in Brussels find a way forward, with ten days until the end of the transition period there is probably no time to agree the terms (including financial contributions) of such an extension,” she writes.

NEXT DEADLINE: The FT’s George Parker and Seb Payne cite authorities insiders who say December 30 is now the “most likely” date for any deal to undergo parliament. Though at this level, who’d imagine any timeline both aspect places on the market?

TODAY IN WESTMINSTER

PARLIAMENT: In recess.

ON THAT NOTE: Playbook hears Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle desires extra distant participation for MPs if parliament will get recalled, and is asking the federal government to implement it. The basic view within the speaker’s workplace is that it’s mad for individuals to be touring out and in of Westminster whereas it’s in Tier 4. Which looks as if a place many will share.

TIMING: The enterprise, power and industrial technique committee has an oral proof session on “The impact of border delays on U.K. business and security of supply” at 2 p.m.

CRG LATEST: The Tory backbench COVID Recovery Group is asking for parliament to sit down once more to debate the newest COVID restrictions — its Chairman Mark Harper tweeted: “Parliament must be recalled to debate these issues and maintain Ministers to account on behalf of our constituents.” Tory MPs William Wragg and Tim Loughton again the decision.

SPONSOR SHARMA: Playbook hears Business Secretary Alok Sharma had one other trade name yesterday, the place companies identified that different nations have set out a long-term “route map” with an in depth timeline for how they count on the economic system to return out of COVID restrictions, permitting companies to plan. Those on the decision urged Sharma to be the “sponsor” for the U.Okay. authorities doing the identical. Good luck.

HAT-TRICK HERO: Ministers worry that in the event that they’re pressured into a 3rd U-turn by Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford — on the present plan to take away the £20 every week Universal Credit uplift in April — then it’ll price the Treasury £6 billion. The Times‘ Rachel Sylvester has the story.

LABOUR VS. SUNAK: You can count on Labour to as soon as once more focus its assaults on Chancellor Rishi Sunak within the coming weeks, after his Eat Out to Help Out scheme and behind-the-scenes combat in opposition to more durable COVID restrictions didn’t seem to age so effectively. A Labour official tells Playbook: “Hospitality and retail have been closed for Christmas and chaos at the border is threatening supply chains. Meanwhile, infections are spiking again. And yet we haven’t heard a peep from the chancellor. He hasn’t started his holidays early has he?”

WELL? Nope, say Sunak allies: “By approach of reminder for Her Majesty’s Opposition, the CX some months in the past now put in place important levers of assist accessible for companies which might be legally mandated to shut together with extra beneficiant enterprise grants in addition to loans, VAT cuts, the prolonged furlough scheme and mortgage cost and lease holidays. Yesterday the chancellor was visiting a hospital to listen to how issues have been and to thank the workers for all their laborious work, and he went to an area vaccine hub to see the rollout of the vaccine occurring in earnest.”

SEND FOR REINFORCEMENTS: Boris Johnson has rehired journalist Ross Kempsell to his No. 10 staff, a Downing Street supply tells Playbook. A scoop-getting reporter and News U.Okay. favourite, Kempsell leaves Times Radio, the place he was particular correspondent. He beforehand labored for the PM within the No. 10 Policy Unit underneath head of coverage Munira Mirza and was within the small staff that wrote the 2019 Tory manifesto. Kempsell was additionally just lately made a senior fellow on the Policy Exchange assume tank. He will work throughout CCHQ and Downing Street. What a time to begin …

BEYOND THE M25

FLY NI: A Great Britain-Northern Ireland journey ban was voted down by the Stormont govt final evening, after Sinn Féin proposed banning individuals from crossing over because of the new COVID pressure. Sinn Féin and the SDLP voted in favor however the different three events voted in opposition to, the BBC’s Jayne McCormack reviews.

STORY OF THE YEAR CONTENDER: If you didn’t see it yesterday, spend a couple of minutes studying the unimaginable story of how poisoned Russian opposition chief Alexei Navalny prank-called an FSB officer who then confessed to the plot to kill him. Bellingcat has the main points. The transcript is so good.

BIDEN VS. BRUSSELS: Here’s U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan warning the EU about its plans for an funding pact with China. “The Biden-Harris administration would welcome early consultations with our European partners on our common concerns about China’s economic practices,” Sullivan stated in a single day.

ALL CLEAR: And right here’s a pic of Biden getting his vaccine.

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MEDIA ROUND

Home Secretary Priti Patel broadcast spherical: Sky (7.05 a.m.) … BBC Breakfast (7.30 a.m.) … LBC (7.50 a.m.) … Today program (8.10 a.m.) … Good Morning Britain (8.30 a.m.) … ITV clip (8.45 a.m.).

Shadow Cabinet Office Minister Rachel Reeves broadcast spherical: LBC (7.05 a.m.) … 5 Live (7.20 a.m.) … Good Morning Britain (7.35 a.m.) … SpeakRadio (7.50 a.m.) … Sky News (8.05 a.m.) … Times Radio (8.20 a.m.) … ITV News (8.40 a.m.).

Also on Times Radio Breakfast: CEO of the Port of Dover Doug Bannister and Eurotunnel’s Director of Public Affairs John Keefe (7 a.m.) … Children’s Commissioner for England and Wales Anne Longfield (7.35 a.m.) … Chair of the DCMS choose committee Julian Knight (7.25 a.m.) … Professor of Sociology and NERVTAG member Robert Dingwall (8.35 a.m.).

TODAY’S FRONT PAGES

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

Daily Express: Mutant virus skyrockets … now Tier 4 to unfold.

Daily Mail: We’re all heading for Tier 4.

Daily Mirror: Mutant virus is already spreading throughout U.Okay.

Daily Star: Just who the hell stockpiles LETTUCE?

Financial Times: Markets fall as extra nations be part of UK journey ban over Covid variant.

i: UK sealed off from the world.

Metro: Jingle hell.

POLITICO UK: Boris Johnson chases sunlit uplands as coronavirus storm rages.

The Daily Telegraph: Johnson plans mass testing of lorry drivers to reopen ports.

The Guardian: Impose nationwide lockdown or threat ‘human disaster’ scientists inform PM.

The Independent: UK remoted as greater than 40 nations plan journey ban.

The Sun: Sprout of order.

The Times: Mutant virus is ‘all over the place.’

LONDON CALLING

Westminster climate: Cloud and a few rain☁️🌧️. Highs of 13C. Getting chillier.

Congrats to: The BBC’s new Chief Political Correspondent Adam Fleming.

Birthdays: Government Whip Rebecca Harris … Former Economic Secretary to the Treasury Simon Kirby … Lord Justice of Appeal Gary Hickinbottom … … Former Daily Mirror Editor Mike Molloy, who turns 80 … Politeia U.Okay. Director Jonathan Isaby.

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

**Jack Blanchard is again with POLITICO’s Westminster Insider podcast. Our latest podcast will raise the curtain on how Westminster actually works, providing in-depth perception into the political points which generally solely get broad-brush remedy within the wider media. Listen to the teaser. Sign up for the e-mail alert.**

based mostly on website supplies www.politico.eu

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