Late push to keep families apart over Christmas
Is Christmas on the brink of being cancelled? Urgent talks are taking place between the leaders of the devolved administrations and Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove as calls mount to scrap plans for an easing of Covid restrictions. As the spread of coronavirus worsens (the UK reported another 506 Covid deaths in the last 24 hours), the Government is facing pressure over its festive rules. Downing Street conceded that the plans to allow three households to mix indoors between Dec 23-27 was “under constant review”. As the much-trumpeted Christmas guidelines (read them here) unravel, Associate Editor Camilla Tominey explains in the video above that over-promising and under-delivering is becoming something of a habit for Number 10. And Patrick O’Flynn argues No 10 should give us the exit plan instead of mutant scare stories.
Meanwhile, local leaders in Greenwich have backed down in a home-learning battle with the Government. Council leader Danny Thorpe said he had “no choice” but to ask schools to remain open until Christmas following threats of legal action. The local authority agreed to withdraw advice to schools in the south-east London borough to move to online learning for the last few days of term amid rising Covid rates. Use our postcode checker to search for confirmed cases in your area. It came as the Department for Education announced that every secondary school and college in England will be given access to rapid coronavirus tests from January.
Europe’s ultimatum may force PM into a no-deal
Boris Johnson told his Cabinet today that leaving the European Union without a free trade agreement still remains the “most likely outcome” as talks continue in Brussels. To understand why the level playing field battle is so elemental in Brexit talks, you also have to understand how far Europe’s demands for a ratchet clause go beyond any normal trade practice. Ambrose Evans-Pritchard says the EU assumes the UK must avoid no-deal – but such an outcome would be far from a catastrophe. The FTSE dipped today amid ongoing uncertainty. What does the rest of the world think about Brexit? It is fair to say there are mixed feelings.
Listen: Harry and Meghan introduce Spotify podcast
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have signed a lucrative deal with Spotify to produce and host podcasts. Listen to a trailer on the streaming platform as the couple introduce Archewell Audio, their new production company that will “spotlight diverse perspectives and voices”. Meanwhile, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have ventured into the world of theatre by narrating a video about their family pantomime trip.
At a glance: Latest coronavirus headlines
Also in the news: Today’s other headlines
Bid for release | Ghislaine Maxwell has claimed her husband is “suffering” without her in a request to be released from prison in time for Christmas. The British socialite, who has denied charges of helping associate Jeffrey Epstein recruit and groom underage girls to engage in illegal sexual acts in the mid-1990s, insists she does not pose a flight risk as she would never abandon her spouse. Josie Ensor reports from New York on Maxwell’s offer of £21million in a fresh application for bail.
Around the world: Chinese slave labour exposed
China is forcing hundreds of thousands of Uighurs and other minorities to pick cotton by hand in the western region of Xinjiang, a key source of the world’s cotton, according to a report. But, as Louise Watt reports, Beijing denies that Uighurs’ rights are abused and says they are being provided “vocational training” at “re-education centres”.
Tuesday interview: Exclusive – Brian Moore meets Eddie Jones
Eddie Jones hits back at the “boring” jibes and tells Brian Moore what England have learnt from their painful World Cup final defeat. Read the full interview.