Good Tuesday morning. This is Emilio Casalicchio for the final time in 2020. Charlie Cooper can be clutching the reins from tomorrow and main you into the New Year. Have a great one.
DRIVING THE DAY
STUDENT POLITICS: Boris Johnson is as soon as extra embroiled in a row about college closures because the coronavirus outlook grows ever-more bleak. The prime minister is going through strain from one facet to maintain faculties open and keep away from additional injury to studying, and from the opposite facet to not reopen them straight after the Christmas break in a bid to chop COVID transmissions. The crunch assembly with Education Secretary Gavin Williamson on Monday reached no conclusion, with the federal government making clear afterward that the door is extensive open to preserving lecture rooms shuttered for one more month. “We need all pupils to return in January as college is the perfect place for his or her growth and psychological well being, however because the prime minister has mentioned, it’s proper that we observe the trail of the pandemic and preserve our strategy below fixed overview,” a spokesperson mentioned.
Hey, trainer, go away these youngsters at house: Numerous papers report that Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove are calling for faculties to be stored shut to scale back transmission, whereas Williamson and Johnson are mentioned to be on the opposite facet of the controversy. Numerous backbenchers are longing for faculties to return — to maintain schooling on observe and to keep away from mother and father having their potential to work disrupted — however not all. “Teachers and parents need a clear and definitive statement that schools will not be required to reopen in January until effective vaccination is made available to teaching staff,” Tory MP Roger Gale tweeted final night time.
Where’s Boris? Labour is asking on Johnson to make an announcement on faculties as quickly as doable. Shadow Education Secretary Kate Green is quoted within the Mail: “The country needs to hear from him today, alongside the chief medical officer and chief scientific adviser, about the evidence on the spread of the virus, how he plans to minimize disruption to education and a clear strategy for schools and colleges that commands the support of parents, pupils and staff.” Labour, nevertheless, has not come out with its personal most popular plan of action. The Mail chief column is (shock shock) within the anti-closure camp, imploring the PM to withstand “siren voices.”
Expert want checklist: Numerous papers reported in a single day on a London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine report circulating in Whitehall that argues faculties should be closed by way of January to comprise the third wave, alongside placing all of England into Tier 4 and boosting vaccinations to 2 million per week. The Telegraph has the fullest write-up. It follows the inside track from POLITICO‘s Alex Wickham that SAGE members concluded more durable measures, together with college closures, had been wanted.
Unions weigh in: The two largest unions, the NEU and the NASUWT, wrote to the PM on Monday calling for faculties to stay closed subsequent month till mass testing could be rolled out in full. The plan was for a staggered return that will enable academics to implement the brand new testing regime, however the undertaking seems to be doubtful. The Telegraph has extra. Overnight, the federal government introduced that U.Okay. army personnel will assist secondary faculties and schools roll out testing to college students and employees subsequent month.
IT ALL COMES AS: Cases throughout the U.Okay. proceed to soar. The variety of individuals being handled for the virus in hospital in England was introduced as 20,426 on Monday — greater than throughout the earlier peak within the first wave. The Independent’s high Health Correspondent Shaun Lintern is everywhere in the woes the NHS is going through because the COVID crunch looms. The Guardian additionally has a great on-the-ground piece as issues ramp up. “January and February are always the hardest months for the NHS,” a Whitehall official said last night. “This year it has COVID to deal with and is coming under a lot of strain. The more capacity taken up by COVID, the less capacity there is for our NHS to deal with other patient needs. The latest figures are a sad reminder of why we all need to do what we can to drive down infection rates.”
Yesterday’s UK stats: 41,385 new circumstances — a brand new report ⬆️ 10,884 on the day before today and ⬆️ 8,021 on the earlier Monday … 357 deaths, ⬆️ 41 on the day before today and ⬆️ 142 on the earlier Monday.
What concerning the Nightingales? The authorities is pushing again towards a Telegraph report (and a video from Nigel Farage pal Richard Tice with unhealthy sound) that counsel the Nightingale hospitals have been all-but forgotten, with gear faraway from the London ward. NHS England despatched out an edict to all of the pop-ups final week, ordering them to gear up for the rising surge. One NHS insider identified that any elimination of apparatus could possibly be as a result of altering medical want across the virus — similar to as a result of remedies cut back the necessity for mechanical air flow. Meanwhile, the hospitals don’t essentially want to soak up coronavirus sufferers. For instance, the Manchester Nightingale is getting used as a rehab heart for different circumstances, releasing up present hospitals to deal with COVID sufferers.
Showdown: The tier overview due on Wednesday would be the second of fact for the federal government on the third wave, with expectations that much more of the nation can be plunged into Tier 4 (or, heaven forbid, some type of Tier 5). But the method can be fraught with rigidity, seeing as MPs will get a three-hour Commons debate and a vote on new plans. If ministers push something that appears remotely like a nationwide lockdown, sparks are anticipated to fly.
**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**
MEANWHILE, IN BREXIT
BREXIT GREEN LIGHT: Conservative Euroskeptics within the European Research Group are making ready to declare their place on the Brexit deal Boris Johnson clinched final week. No one expects the ERG to return out towards the deal, however the second is one to mark nonetheless. Expect an announcement to seem this afternoon. Meanwhile, the invoice that MPs and friends can be voting on to rubber-stamp the deal can be printed on gov.uk sooner or later at present. That offers parliamentarians one sleep to test it over earlier than passing all its levels in 5 hours tomorrow. It actually isn’t any marvel MPs have been grumbling concerning the lack of time to scrutinize the settlement.
What tomorrow appears to be like like: MPs will sit from 9.30 a.m. and vote on a movement to permit debate on the invoice over video hyperlink (not often allowed for laws). Following the standard proceedings movement, the second studying and all additional levels of the invoice can be wrapped up within the Commons by 2.30 p.m. It will then transfer to the Lords, the place friends will do the identical. MPs must wait round within the night to vote on Lords amendments (if wanted) after which to be notified of Royal Assent. Playbook was first to report virtually two weeks in the past that the complete invoice course of could possibly be executed in a single day, and now right here we’re.
Labour pressures cont: An entire host of Labour figures, together with former Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, former Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw and former Shadow Business Secretary Clive Lewis, have gone public with their opposition over Keir Starmer’s choice to again the Brexit deal. In an announcement signed alongside senior activists, political figures and lecturers, the MPs mentioned Labour should not “fall into the trap of rallying around this rotten deal.” Jessica Elgot has a write-up within the Guardian. The argument from the Labour high brass is that the selection is binary between a skinny deal or no deal — though these making ready to insurgent reject that characterization.
The Noes: The DUP — which backed Brexit in 2016, bear in mind? — will vote towards the deal within the Commons on Wednesday in continued protest towards the Northern Ireland Protocol. “Our challenge going forward will be to press the government to get a better outcome in those areas where more work is needed,” DUP chief Arlene Foster mentioned in an announcement. The celebration insists its vote towards the deal doesn’t imply it helps a no-deal Brexit. The SDLP and Alliance events won’t again the deal both.
MEANWHILE, IN BRUSSELS: EU ambassadors will log off the provisional utility of the Brexit deal earlier than 3 p.m. Brussels time this afternoon. It comes after diplomats unanimously accepted the plan to implement the deal forward of a ratification vote within the European Parliament in early 2021.
BREXIT BEGINS: From at present, individuals who wish to ship a parcel from Great Britain to an EU nation might want to connect a customs declaration type to it, as a result of U.Okay. leaving the customs union. The Post Office mentioned round 45 % of the whole worldwide parcel visitors that goes by way of its hubs is destined for the EU. The i’s Nigel Morris has a write-up.
Banger wars: The U.Okay. managed to stop a ban on sausages being imported to Northern Ireland after the Brexit transition interval ends, however to not the Continent, the Mirror‘s Dan Bloom experiences. He writes that chilled meats can be “prohibited” from export to Europe below EU guidelines.
NOW READ THIS: In the long term, Britain can be compelled to rebuild its relationship with the Continent, and inevitably, the bridge (or tunnel) constructing will go by way of France, writes John Lichfield for POLITICO.
TODAY IN WESTMINSTER
LEVEL PEGGING: A December ballot of polls for the i newspaper (calculated by polling guru John Curtice) places the Conservatives and Labour neck and neck on 39 % as 2020 attracts to an in depth. Nigel Morris has the write-up.
FULLER RECESS: Conservative MPs will not be impressed concerning the authorities choice to increase the Christmas recess to January 11 as a substitute of January 4 as initially deliberate. Backbenchers have raised issues that MPs won’t be returning when faculties are (for now) anticipated to, and that parliament must be scrutinizing laws as a substitute of getting an additional break. The sense is it sends the incorrect message to the general public. The request is alleged to have come from Speaker Lindsay Hoyle, who’s nervous concerning the unfold of the brand new COVID pressure in parliament, in addition to the necessity for everybody, together with Commons employees, to have extra of a break. The authorities makes the choice on recess dates and is into the plan, so can not pin all of it on Hoyle.
Watch out for: MPs must vote on Wednesday to increase the recess — so those that are towards the thought may stage a rise up.
Meanwhile, within the Lords: Peers won’t be extending their recess and can sit from January 5 as deliberate, a authorities official confirmed final night time.
BIG BEN BONGS: The bells within the Elizabeth Tower are set to be examined this afternoon and night forward of the standard chiming for New Year’s Eve. The bell has been dormant whereas the tower undergoes building work, so the Commons authorities wish to test it’s all working earlier than the essential second. Those within the space ought to be capable of hear the bell chime between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. this afternoon; then once more tomorrow at midday, 10 p.m., 11 p.m. and midnight; and on December 31 at midday, 4 p.m., 9 p.m., 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. earlier than the ushering in of 2021 at midnight. So sure, Big Ben will bong for Brexit at 11 p.m. (in addition to at a load of different instances).
WHAT LABOUR’S TALKING ABOUT: The opposition needs ministers to do extra for companies within the “visitor economy” (accommodations, hospitality and excessive streets) which have suffered to the tune of £3 billion as a result of pandemic this winter, in response to Labour evaluation. The celebration mentioned the quantity spent by abroad guests to Britain plunged by 80 % in November and December. “Unless ministers change tack a winter wipe-out of those often vibrant companies is an actual risk,” Shadow Business Secretary Ed Miliband mentioned.
But as per: The authorities insists all companies which have sustained impression from the pandemic, whether or not reliant on international tourism or not, have entry to assist. “We announced specific help for sectors particularly impacted — including a VAT cut for hospitality, grants for closed businesses and the extension of furlough through to the end of April next year,” a Treasury official mentioned.
HUNTING FOR SOLUTIONS: Boris Johnson ought to use the nice will towards social care throughout the pandemic to elucidate why a brand new tax is likely to be wanted to fund it correctly, former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has steered. The well being choose committee chair and former Conservative management rival to the PM instructed the PA the U.Okay. may observe the German or Japanese mannequin, which sees individuals start to chip in to the system throughout their 40s, with their contribution growing as they become old. Appealing to Johnson’s ego, he added: “We were even more bankrupt as a country after the second world war and then we had the imagination and vision to set up the NHS, and I think this is another 1948 moment.”
One-two punch: Hunt additionally penned a Times article, through which he argued the U.Okay. is “beginning to look weak” over its failure to guard residents imprisoned in Iran — amongst them Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. “We must show the world that if you imprison a British citizen on trumped-up charges you will pay a very heavy price because Britain is a major player on the world stage and intends to remain one,” he wrote. “Allowing ourselves to be pushed around like this at the moment of post-Brexit renewal sends the opposite signal.”
RAIL NEWS: The division for transport and the Treasury are wrangling over plans for versatile season tickets, which might enable commuters to journey to work only a few instances per week, in response to Jonathan Reilly within the Sun. Why such a ticket doesn’t exist already is the true scandal.
**A message from Barclays: From Nottingham to Wigan, Runcorn to Swansea, we’re facilitating hundreds of loans to assist native companies by way of the pandemic. Learn extra at #BackingtheUK**
BEYOND THE M25
FROM BELFAST: Stormont can also be anticipated to be recalled on Wednesday to permit MLAs to vote on the Brexit deal. First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill agreed on Monday to write down to Assembly Speaker Alex Maskey to request the transfer. ITV has a write-up.
FROM XINJIANG: BuzzFeed News has concluded that China has constructed not less than 135 new amenities the place it might probably lock individuals up and drive them to work in factories. Many had been constructed within the final three years “in a rapid escalation of China’s campaign against Muslim minorities,” the location provides. Its full investigation, made up of presidency data, interviews, and a whole lot of satellite tv for pc pictures, is effectively price a glance.
MEANWHILE, IN BRUSSELS: “The EU and China are close to reaching a long-awaited business investment deal as Brussels seeks to level the playing field for European companies operating in the Chinese market,” the FT experiences. Brussels would possibly wish to have a learn of that BuzzFeed piece earlier than signing one thing. My Brussels Playbook colleague Florian Eder has extra on the considering in EU nationwide capitals in his e-newsletter this morning.
**Jack Blanchard is again with POLITICO’s Westminster Insider, POLITICO’s new weekly podcast on how Westminster actually works. Listen to the teaser. Sign up for the e-mail alert.**
KERRY’S WINTER PLAYLIST
MP FOR LPs: It’s that complicated nether-period between Christmas and New Year the place issues reluctantly go half again to regular forward of the total January reset. It’s a garbled temper of hard-to-place despondence — particularly this 12 months — that warrants illustration by way of the type of post-punk and moody electronica playlist solely Labour frontbencher Kerry McCarthy can muster. So right here’s her not-quite-Christmas and not-quite-New Year winter mixtape, with descriptions, particularly for Playbook. (Want it as a Spotify playlist? Here you go.)
Christmas with out the Creole — Irma Thomas: “Irma Thomas could sing anything, but this a lovely wistful song about it not being Christmas but ‘just another winter’s day’ without being able to go home and see your folks.”
Christmas Skies — Thin White Rope: “This is far from being my favorite Thin White Rope song (that would be Atomic Imagery) but while we’re still doing Christmas songs, I love Guy Kyser’s voice and this has the same plaintive vibe as the Irma Thomas song, ‘Singing songs for Christmas for the folks he left behind …’”
Berlin — A Certain Ratio: “Could easily have gone for something much earlier, but this is from their 2020 album, ACR Loco. Features Denise Johnson, who sadly died, very suddenly, in 2020.”
Atmosphere — Joy Division: “One year — 1980? — I got a Walkman for Christmas. I have vivid memories of my sister and I trudging through the snow to the nearby park, sharing the earphones, listening to Atmosphere. Jeremy Vine paid £7,000 at auction for the chimes supposedly used to create the swishy jingly bells sound, only to be told later they’d actually just used a tambourine.”
Hinterland — LoneLady: “Usually though, this time of year is pretty bleak and gray, and LoneLady’s music (another product of Manchester) reflects this. And something about the slightly monotonous beat too. She’s said to be into the Situationist idea of psychogeography, which figures (and is something you can see in Joy Division too).”
A Lucid Dream — Fontaines DC: “This is from their excellent second album, A Hero’s Death, and is mesmerizing. I don’t know what he’s on about with the ‘rain changed direction’ stuff, but looking out of the window right now, it definitely reflects the mood.”
Goldfinger — Ash: “Also about rain. Down in the basement, listening to loud music and getting drunk while the storm rages outside. Maybe something good is going to happen or maybe it’s just slipping away, but he’s kind of cocooned, with his records on and his bottle of wine, and just waiting …”
Something Must Break — Joy Division: “I make no excuse for more Joy Division. Back in 1981 when Still came out, a review said this track was inspired by Dostoevsky’s ‘Crime and Punishment.’ I got my nan to buy me it for Christmas and I buried myself in it between then and New Year. I literally walked around in a daze for a week or two afterwards. A book to read in the days when it gets dark in the middle of the afternoon.”
Empty Dancefloor — Soulwax: “’I can barely bear in mind the way it feels.’ Kind of sums up 2020. I watched an interview with them the opposite day, and one of many brothers says he doesn’t miss nightlife or individuals however he ‘misses the sensation of making people lose their minds,’ and that different individuals inform him they miss listening to music at quantity, which I completely get.”
Don’t Cling to Life — The Murder Capital: “On that depressing note … I do really miss live music and here’s another new band from Ireland that I’d like to see live next year. ‘Failing this let’s dance and cry, so we remember why we die.’ I read this as meaning make the most of things while you can, despite the title. Anyway, something to look forward to in 2021, I hope!”
Shadow Business Minister Lucy Powell broadcast spherical: Good Morning Britain (6.50 a.m.) … Times Radio (7.15 a.m.) … TalkRADIO (7.30 a.m.) … LBC Radio (7.50 a.m.) … Sky News (8.10 a.m.).
Also on Good Morning Britain (ITV): Education choose committee Chair Robert Halfon (8.30 a.m.).
Also on LBC Radio: SNP Westminster chief Ian Blackford (8.35 a.m.).
Also on TalkRADIO: DUP Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson (7.05 a.m.) … Vice President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine Adrian Boyle (7.20 a.m.) … Conservative MP John Redwood (8.05 a.m.) … Education choose committee Chair Robert Halfon (8.20 a.m.) … SNP Westminster deputy chief Kirsten Oswald (8.33 a.m.).
Also on Times Radio Breakfast present: Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation Danny Mortimer (7.05 a.m.) … Conservative MP Bob Neill (7.20 a.m.) … UK Theatre CEO Julian Bird (7.50 a.m.) … Robin Dyer, head of Ampleforth College (8.30 a.m.) … Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen (8.45 a.m.) … Anthony Seldon, former vice chancellor of Buckingham University (9.05 a.m.) … Labour MP Rupa Huq (9.45 a.m.).
Reviewing the papers tonight: BBC News (10.40 p.m. and 11.30 p.m.): Journalist Daisy McAndrew and Telegraph columnist Claire Cohen … Times Radio: Former Tory SpAd Mo Hussein.
TODAY’S FRONT PAGES
(Click on the publication’s identify to see its entrance web page.)
Daily Express: £900 billion.
Daily Mail: Don’t betray our kids.
Daily Mirror: Swamped.
Daily Star: Pole Dancers!
Financial Times: Boost for EU enterprise as Brussels nears funding take care of China.
HuffPost UK: Hospitals hit greater than throughout first wave.
POLITICO UK: Workers on the entrance strains of the green transition.
The Daily Telegraph: We should vaccinate 2 million per week.
The Guardian: COVID surge triggers cut up over college restart plan.
The Independent: Hospitals really feel pressure from report COVID strain.
The Sun: Spring it on!
The Times: PM below strain to delay college reopenings.
Westminster climate: ☁️☁️☁️Cloud so far as the attention can see. Highs of 5 levels C.
Congrats: Conservative MP Nicola Richards bought engaged over Christmas to associate Jonathan Smith. Here’s the Facebook announcement.
In memoriam: Former Northampton MP Brian Binley died on Christmas Day. The native Conservative Party introduced it on Twitter. The BBC has a write-up with tributes.
Birthdays: Rossendale and Darwen MP and former Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry … Former Belgian Ambassador to the U.Okay. Rudolf Huygelen … Former Northern Irish First Minister Peter Robinson … Former Guardian Editor-in-Chief Alan Rusbridger … BBC News Director of Current Affairs Fran Unsworth … Freelance political journalist Marie Le Conte.
Belated glad birthday to: Lib Dem Head of Digital Comms Alex Marshall, who turned 30 on Sunday.
Mea culpa: Playbook in some way managed to write down yesterday that Business Secretary Alok Sharma fed turkey to his canine Olly over Christmas … when the truth is his tweet clearly said Olly died two years in the past. Christmas can addle the mind typically. Sincere apologies.
PLAYBOOK COULDN’T HAPPEN WITHOUT: My editor Zoya Sheftalovich, analysis assistant Andrew McDonald and producer Miriam Webber.
based mostly on web site supplies www.politico.eu