“Tory MPs last night hit out at the British Medical Association for trying to bully ministers into bringing back tough Covid restrictions this winter. The doctors’ trade union has accused No 10 of being “wilfully negligent” by not immediately imposing Plan B — mandatory face masks, work from home orders and vaccine passports. It said the Government was “delaying too long”. But Conservative MPs said the BMA, which opposed reopening schools, was seizing on the first sign of trouble to reimpose limits on personal freedoms. BMA council chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: “The Westminster Government said it would enact Plan B to prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed. As doctors on the front line, we can categorically say that time is now.” But Tory MP Paul Bristow told the Sun: “Dr Chaand Nagpul has been wrong on just about everything and it’s time he stopped trying to bounce us into another lockdown.”” – The Sun
>Today: ToryDiary: Javid said there would be “no going back” on lockdowns. The Government’s Plan B makes it easier for him to stick to his word.
“Downing Street has slapped down Sajid Javid’s suggestion that MPs should wear face masks in the Commons, with Boris Johnson’s spokesman saying they are a “matter of personal judgment” for MPs. Mr Javid, the Health Secretary, told a press conference on Wednesday that politicians “have a role to play to set an example” to the public on mask-wearing in enclosed spaces. But both the Prime Minister’s spokesman and Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Commons Leader, insisted MPs could choose whether they wore coverings at work. Asked by Pete Wishart, his SNP counterpart, about the Health Secretary’s comments, Mr Rees-Mogg told the Commons: “There is no advice to wear face masks in workplaces. The advice on crowded spaces is with crowded spaces with people that you don’t know. We on this side know each other.”… Mr Johnson’s spokesman said he had not discussed mask wearing with the Prime Minister since Mr Javid’s remarks.” – Daily Telegraph
“Vaccine advisers are set to consider cutting the six-month wait for booster doses amid surging Covid infections across the country. Boris Johnson last night piled pressure on his scientific advisers to slash the waiting time from six months to five, which would make nearly 9million more Britons eligible for the jab. And today Professor Anthony Harnden, the deputy chair of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) which set the gap, said this was ‘something we will need to consider in due course’. Professor Harnden said although the current wait hit the ‘sweet spot’ for bolstering immunity, the country’s runaway infections were likely to shift the equation in favour of an earlier third dose. JCVI chiefs have already set a precedent for cutting the wait between doses, after they slashed the time from first to second jab from 12 weeks to eight in July following a surge in Covid cases.” – Daily Mail
“Boris Johnson would be prepared to accept a limited role for the European Court of Justice in a bid to unlock a deal with Brussels over the Northern Ireland protocol, government figures say. In public Johnson and Lord Frost, the Brexit minister, have insisted that the EU must agree to drop any role for the court. But senior figures have privately raised the prospect of a compromise that would allow a limited role for the ECJ in interpreting the application of EU law in Northern Ireland. Under the plan, disputes would go to an independent arbitration panel, with the ECJ asked to interpret narrow matters of EU law as a last resort if dispute resolution failed. Under the present agreement the EU commission rules on disputes and if the UK does not comply it refers the case directly to the court as an infringement. Lord Frost has called for a disputes panel to be set up and the hope is that it might be enough to get the deal over the line.” – The Times
>Yesterday: Henry Hill’s Red, White, and Blue column: The SNP wrong to claim the Belfast Agreement is a template for Scotland
“Rishi Sunak’s expected decision to renege on targets for research and development spending will be a “kick in the teeth”, science and industry leaders have warned, as a pre-Budget spending battle raged. Boris Johnson said in June he wanted to cement Britain’s position as a “science superpower”, a plan for the public sector to spend £22bn annually on R&D by 2024-5 was central to that objective. But people close to discussions said on Thursday that commitments in the forthcoming spending review, part of the chancellor’s Budget next week, would not meet the 2024-5 target. Scientific research organisations have warned that backtracking on the target date will jeopardise aims for the government’s levelling-up agenda, achieving net zero and will divert private investment needed to hit the broader target of overall R&D funding of 2.4 per cent of gross domestic product by 2027.” – FT
>Today: Tom Clougherty in Comment: Tax rises will trash the UK’s international competitiveness. But there is a better way.
“Schools must not teach children about ‘white privilege’ as if it were fact, the Education Secretary has said. Nadhim Zahawi warned it is a ‘contested view’ and teachers who promote it risk pushing ‘partisan’ politics on to pupils. His intervention comes in response to a report by the Commons education committee, which said teaching white privilege could be against the Equality Act. White privilege is understood as the everyday benefit white people enjoy over other ethnicities due to systemic racism. But the committee said telling children they are different because of their race is unlawful… He added that political issues on race should be taught ‘in a balanced and factual manner’. And he said schools have a ‘legal duty’ to maintain ‘political impartiality’ when covering ‘sensitive and complex issues’.” – Daily Mail
>Today: Matthew Lesh in Comment: Funding isn’t enough to boost education. The Government must be radical and promote microschools.
“Not a single Cabinet minister has said they have a heat pump in their home, despite the Government launching a drive to get the public to adopt them this week. The Daily Telegraph approached all 30 Cabinet ministers either directly or via their press aides over the last 48 hours to ask if they had a heat pump at home. Every one of the ministers either declined to comment, despite repeated requests, or admitted that they had not converted to using heat pumps at home. Therese Coffey, the Work and Pensions Secretary, told The Telegraph that while she did not have a heat pump she would one day be getting a hydrogen boiler. Alok Sharma, the Cop26 president, is said to be doing “renovations” to his home and “if he was due to get a new heating system he would”. Heat pumps are an eco-friendly way of heating the home, sucking in air to turn to heat, rather than using gas which is contributing to global warming.” – Daily Telegraph
>Today: Susan Hall in Local Government: The Mayor of London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone will punish those who have no alternative to car travel
>Yesterday: Profiles: Stanley Johnson. A serious environmentalist who, as COP26 looms, has at last made a convert of his son
“Foreign Secretary Liz Truss will unveil a slew of new tech deals with India as she visits the emerging superpower today. On a two day trip to Delhi and Mumbai she will announce a ten-year partnership to help lay the foundation for “a network of liberty” to tackle rogue states around the world. The new chief diplomat says the deal will strengthen Britain’s economic, technology and security links with India. PM Boris Johnson agreed the partnership remotely with Indian premiere Narendra Modi earlier this year. Ms Truss will ink an £11.5million deal to help India switch to green energy along with a £50million green tech fund from the Foreign Office when she meets officials at the iconic Red Fort in Delhi… While in Mumbai, where she will visit the UK Carrier Strike Group which has arrived at the Indian port on it’s tour of Asia and sit in the cockpit of an F35 fighter yet.” – The Sun
“A 25-year-old man appeared on Thursday before magistrates to face charges of murder and terror relating to other MPs following the death of veteran Conservative MP Sir David Amess in Essex last week. Ali Harbi Ali, from north London, appeared before Senior District Judge Paul Goldspring at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in central London, having been charged by police earlier with the murder of Amess and preparation of terrorist acts. The case has triggered significant debate both about MPs’ security and the effectiveness of efforts to combat radicalisation among some young Muslims. Ali, who wore a grey sweatshirt and sweatpants, spoke only to confirm his name, age and address at the short hearing. He entered no plea to the charges and will make another appearance at the Old Bailey on Friday.” – FT
>Yesterday: ToryDiary: TheyWorkForYou doesn’t just give an incomplete picture of MPs’ behaviour – it changes it. And not always for the better.