Good morning. With ministers increasingly focused on what Covid rules will apply over Christmas, and to what extent families will be allowed to meet up, Gordon Brown, the former prime minister, has joined the debate, urging Boris Johnson to accept now England needs tighter rules now to allow restrictions to be relaxed over Christmas.
Brown told Sky News:
I found being prime minister you’ve got to be two steps ahead of events. You cannot be behind the curve. You’ve always got to be anticipating the next problem. And what he’s got to do, Boris Johnson, is say, ‘Look, if there is any doubt about whether we can lower the restrictions at Christmas, we’ve got to act now.’
And he told ITV’s Good Morning Britain.
Put in the measures now in the next few days that make it possible for us to make a reasoned decision about what we do in the Christmas week. I think you have to act now. Talking about what happens after Christmas is not as good as talking about what Boris Johnson could do today.
If he is worried that we can’t have a relaxation at Christmas, he needs to step up the measures now. Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Boris Johnson have to get together and find a basis on which we can have common rules so that people can, if it’s possible, travel to see their loved ones in different parts of the country.
Government scientific advisers have already said publicly that any relaxation of restrictions over Christmas will have to be offset by tighter rules at another point. But Brown seems to be advocating firmer rules now, or in early December, in the way that in Scotland Nicola Sturgeon has announced a near-lockdown for part of the country in part to create headroom for looser rules at Christmas.
Ministers are due to announce next week what will happen when the England-wide lockdown ends on 2 December and, when asked to confirm that what comes next will have to be stricter than what was in force before the lockdown started, they claim it is too early to make that decision. Brown is saying they should just get on with it.
Here is the agenda for the day.
9.30am: The ONS publishes its regular figures on Covid and the economy.
11am: NHS test and trace publishes its latest performance figures.
Around 12pm: Boris Johnson makes a statement to MPs announcing a four-year £16.5bn surge in defence spending.
12.20pm: Nicola Sturgeon takes first minster’s questions in the Scottish parliament.
Around 1.30pm: Nigel Huddleston, the sports minister, makes a statement to MPs about financial help for sports.
2pm: Public Health England publishes its weekly Covid surveillance report.
5pm: Downing Street is expected to hold a press conference.
Politics Live is now doubling up as the UK coronavirus live blog and, given the way the Covid crisis eclipses everything, this will continue for the foreseeable future. But we will be covering non-Covid political stories too, like the defence announcement, and when they seem more important or more interesting, they will take precedence.
Here is our global coronavirus live blog.
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