Newslinks for Saturday 17th October 2020


Brexit 1) UK breaks off trade talks with the EU

“Boris Johnson on Friday broke off trade talks with the EU, bringing to a crisis point months of negotiations and throwing down the gauntlet to Brussels to adopt “a fundamental change of approach”. Downing Street told Michel Barnier, EU trade negotiator, not to come to London for further talks next week unless he was ready to make a new offer that respected the UK as “an independent country”. The UK prime minister’s threat to end the transition period on January 1 without a trade deal was seen by some as a theatrical gesture, a necessary moment of “crisis” before both sides finally made concessions to reach a deal. But it created alarm among British businesses, already facing grave difficulties because of coronavirus and now facing the prospect of tariffs on trade with the EU that would be crippling for some sectors.” – Financial Times

  • Keep talking – Leader, The Times
  • We must be willing to walk away – Leader, The Sun
  • What will it mean for Scotland? – The Scotsman

>Yesterday: WATCH: Johnson 1) Brexit. “We should get ready for January 1 with arrangements that are more like Australia’s”

Brexit 2) Jackson: Ignore the theatre. We will still get a Canada-style deal

“For all the angry talk from Macron and the oratorical flourishes from our own PM, a deal is coming down the track. No Deal is a risk and the EU have finally acknowledged that and comprehend the idea of Mutually Assured Destruction. It will be Canadian style deal and it will come down to concessions by the UK on state aid and dispute resolution and by the EU on eschewing so called “dynamic alignment” of rules and recognising the UK as an independent maritime nation which will of its own volition share its fish stocks.   All else is theatre and artifice. It was ever thus.” – Stewart Jackson, Daily Telegraph

  • This bust up will probably be followed by an agreement – Daily Mail
  • A Canada deal and the withdrawal agreement are incompatible with each other – Nigel Farage, Daily Express
  • The PM is right to take a tough line – Ross Clark, The Sun
  • Tough talk may not be all it seems – Anand Menon, The Guardian

Coronavirus 1) Johnson threatens to force Tier 3 restrictions on Greater Manchester

“Boris Johnson has attempted to strong-arm Greater Manchester into accepting tougher Covid restrictions without providing extra money to protect businesses, by claiming that every day of delay would mean “more people will die”. In a Downing Street press conference, the prime minister reiterated his threat to impose the tier 3 lockdown if an agreement could not be reached this weekend – and dismissed the idea of a short national “circuit break” to help bring down infection rates. But Johnson appeared to be at odds once again with his chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, who confirmed that government experts had pressed for a short nationwide shutdown – and said this measure would work any time.” – The Guardian

  • Teaching unions back calls for a “circuit breaker” – Daily Mail
  • Council leaders “ready to meet” – BBC
  • Sunak resists northern leaders’ demands on wage subsidy – Financial Times
  • PM appears confused over single parent rules – BBC
  • Wales presses ahead with “unenforceable” travel ban – Daily Mail
  • Fear is replacing reason – John  Humphrys, Daily Mail
  • It’s time for some leadership – Leader, Daily Telegraph
  • UK credit rating downgraded by Moody’s – The Guardian

>Today: ToryDiary: The Peter Pan-demic

>Yesterday: WATCH: Johnson 2) Covid. “If agreement cannot be reached, I will need to intervene to…save the lives of Manchester’s residents.

Coronavirus 2) “A million tests a day” by Christmas

“Britain will be carrying out a million coronavirus tests a day by Christmas, scientists have predicted. The forecast came after ministers spent more than £500 million in the past fortnight on new laboratory-based testing machines that will more than triple the government’s present capacity of about 300,000 tests a day. In addition schoolchildren will be offered weekly coronavirus screening as early as next week after government scientists approved a new rapid test using a saliva swab. It is being likened to a pregnancy test in that it can give results in as little as 15 minutes without needing to be sent to a laboratory.” – The Times

  • Target of 500,000 Covid tests a day by end of month “will be missed” – Daily Telegraph
  • Government’s confidence in its scientific advisers has fallen – The Times
  • Herd immunity could now be our least bad option – Juliet Samuel, Daily Telegraph
  • Flu vaccination plans for children in chaos after school closures in Northern Ireland – Belfast Telegraph

Coronavirus 3) Duncan Smith: London deserves a great statesman in charge. Instead it has Khan

“London is one of the great cities of the world…You would assume that such a great city would be led by a great public figure, of stature and of note. Someone who demonstrated by their leadership how a complex and diverse city could thrive. In short, the sort of power figure who would even, in certain circumstances, be treated as an equal by world leaders. Yet here in London we have Sadiq Khan, a man whose irrelevance is only matched by his incompetence when called upon to make decisions. His latest betrayal of our nation’s capital has come with his demand that London be placed into tier 2 restrictions at a time when most of his fellow mayors were desperately begging the UK Government not to raise restrictions. He is either oblivious to or simply does not care about the devastating effect these policies will have on London, the powerhouse of the UK economy.” – Iain Duncan Smith, Daily Telegraph

  • Khan resists congestion zone extension to secure TfL rescue – Financial Times

Osborne “lined up” for next BBC Chairman

“Former Chancellor George Osborne is being lined up as the next BBC chairman, one of the most prestigious jobs in British broadcasting, after the Government increased the salary for the role, The Telegraph can reveal. Ministers increased the chairman’s pay to £160,000 a year for the part-time role to encourage a wider range of candidates when the job advert was posted online this week. Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, is understood to be very keen to appoint a Conservative to the role to counter a perceived left-wing bias at the corporation. The Telegraph understands Mr Osborne, who edited the Evening Standard newspaper until June this year after quitting as a Conservative MP in 2017, is being urged to stand by senior figures.” – Daily Telegraph

Tory MPs quit Twitter after abuse and threats

“Tory MPs who seized traditional Labour seats have been sent hate mail telling them they should be “poisoned with ricin” or “taken outside and shot”. At least five MPs elected to former Labour constituencies, many in the so-called Red Wall, have quit Twitter over the level of abuse. They have urged the public to call out the behaviour on social media. The appeals come as figures obtained by The Times using Freedom of Information legislation show that the number of malicious communications reported by MPs to the police has trebled in the past two years…Siobhan Baillie, the MP for Stroud, has said that she was targeted with “abusive emails, calls and social media posts” while on maternity leave. Dehenna Davison, the MP for Bishop Auckland, has tweeted about the abuse she received in the street.” – The Times

>Yesterday: Dehenna Davison on Comment: To hold former Red Wall seats such as mine, we must grasp what older voters believe and want

Corbynite MPs set up breakaway policy group

“A group of Labour MPs have established their own policy research operation amid growing left-wing opposition to the leadership of Sir Keir Starmer. In a break with colleagues from the mainstream of the party, several allies of Jeremy Corbyn are using parliamentary office expenses to fund the Socialist Parliamentary Research Group (SPRG). The pooled research and writing service has inspired comparisons with the European Research Group that supported generations of Conservative Brexiteers in their guerrilla campaign to shift the Tory position on Europe and eventually brought about the ousting of Theresa May as prime minister.” – The Times

  • Labour demands free school meals during the holidays – BBC

New Zealand heads to the polls

“Millions in New Zealand are heading to the polls in the country’s general elections. The vote was originally due to be in September, but was postponed by a month after a renewed Covid-19 outbreak. Opinion polls put Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on course to win a second term, boosted by her successful handling of the coronavirus pandemic. But the big question now is whether she will win a parliamentary majority, which would be unprecedented.” – BBC

Parris: We should tell the truth about the British Empire

“My mind is settling into a realisation that what matters is the truth. “Identity historians” no less than jingo historians may raise or topple statues or call for “cancelling” the past but these are gestures, self-glorifying, self-indulgent; and the past cannot be cancelled. It’s what’s true: not “my” truth or “your” truth but the truth. And of some of it we should be ashamed, and of some, proud. Because we too will be judged. “How did Britain turn a blind eye to the brutalities of their prisons?” people will ask, incredulous as Jack Straw or Priti Patel are “cancelled” from the syllabus. “How could they have squabbled about fishing quotas, when their oceans were dying?” The pride, the shame, the sheer incredulity we feel about our predecessors, our successors will one day feel about us. And so they should.” – Matthew Parris, The Times

Moore: Trump is horrible. But I would vote for him.

“If I could vote in this election, I suppose I would go for Mr Trump. In his nominations for the Supreme Court, he has chosen well-qualified, thoughtful judges who respect the words of the constitution rather than reinventing it for political purposes. He is nobody’s poodle and is untamed by the elites which have failed his country. Mr Biden, though he would be a nicer next-door neighbour, is that generation’s last, tottering, second-rate representative. Yet I feel so pessimistic about either man that I am positively glad to have no role in deciding. How did America get into this mess, and how can it get out of it? At present, the system seems to stop anyone with good answers even trying for either nomination.” – Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph

  • Voter registration figures are a hazard for Biden – The Times
  • Elect Biden to save the Republican party – Christine Todd Whitman, Financial Times
  • One person hoping Donald Trump wins: Boris Johnson – Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian

News in brief

  • Johnson isn’t bluffing about a no-deal Brexit – Nick Tyrone, The Spectator
  • Batting for Biden: the BBC and the US election – Robin Aitken, The Critic
  • How the EU sought to make us dependent – John Redwood
  • Will this new ‘lockdown’ make any difference? – Tom Chivers, Unherd
  • Why Hong Kong Americans are voting for Trump – Gisella Tan, Independent



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