Wednesday evening news briefing: The Covid Christmas trade-off

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Scientist reveals the price of Covid Christmas freedom

The potential price of a family Christmas has been revealed. Every day of Christmas freedom will result in two extra days of tighter restrictions, health chiefs have warned. Dr Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser to NHS Test and Trace, told a Downing Street briefing that people "need to be very careful about the number of contacts that we have" in a bid to save Christmas. Dr Hopkins said that ministers are working on what the "new tiers" will be after the anticipated easing date for lockdown and on a plan for Christmas. Jamie Johnson has the details of her appearance. A group of senior MPs have told Boris Johnson that "freedom cannot just be for Christmas", urging him to develop a longer-term strategy to avoid living "under a cycle of lockdowns". Yolanthe Fawehinmi summarises the possibilities for what this year’s festivities could look like.

Meanwhile, the coronavirus vaccine from Pfizer – which is due to arrive in the UK before the end of the year – is 95pc effective and has passed its safety checks, according to further data from the firm. Crucially the drugmaker said efficacy of the vaccine developed with German partner BioNTech SE was consistent across age and ethnicity demographics, and that there were no major side effects, a sign that the immunisation could be employed broadly around the world. It comes as new research suggests immunity lasts at least eight months and may even last years.

Starmer refuses to reinstate Labour whip to Corbyn

Labour was plunged deeper into civil war on Wednesday after Sir Keir Starmer announced he would not return the whip to Jeremy Corbyn despite him being readmitted as a party member. Just hours after a panel of Labour’s ruling national executive committee lifted Mr Corbyn’s suspension, Sir Keir said he would not allow his predecessor to return to the Labour backbenches because he had "undermined" efforts to rebuild bridges with the Jewish community. The move was condemned as "plain wrong" by John McDonnell, the former shadow chancellor, who warned it would cause "more division and disunity in the party". Stephen Pollard analyses why Sir Keir has shown the very opposite of leadership.

Meghan admits giving personal details to book authors

The Duchess of Sussex has admitted giving personal information to the authors of Finding Freedom, a biography of her and Prince Harry, via a third party. In new court documents, part of her privacy claim against a British newspaper, the Duchess says she never spoke to the authors about the book but admits she does not know if the Kensington Palace communications team provided any information on her behalf. Meghan said she was concerned that "her father’s narrative", that she had abandoned him, might be repeated so she intervened and gave her own version of events to someone else. Victoria Ward has the latest.

At a glance: Latest coronavirus headlines

  • Harvey Weinstein | Disgraced producer displays Covid-19 symptoms
  • Black Cab graveyard | One in five taxis taken off the road due to crisis
  • Children impact | Lockdown meant they went ‘backwards’
  • Covid cases | France becomes first European country to pass 2m
  • ‘Circuit-breaker’ | Australian state announces six-day lockdown

Also in the news: Today’s other headlines

Electric cars | Many motorists will be chalking up the costs of an electric vehicle after the Government announced a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030. Olivia Rudgard analyses whether the proposed electric car revolution is green, convenient and affordable. The Government has been told it must do more to help drivers transition into electric vehicles including considering scrappage schemes. Read on for a summary of the costs of switching, and how the value of your current car is likely to be affected by the announcement. Duarte Dias drove an electric car for a week – he outlines what was good and what was bad.

  • Birmingham pub bombings | Police arrest 65-year-old man in Belfast
  • Return to the skies | Boeing 737 Max cleared to fly again
  • George Clooney | Actor reveals $14m cash gift to his 14 closest friends
  • Same-sex splits | Lesbians twice as likely to divorce as gay men
  • Rodent rampage | Town fears rat invasion after ban on poisoning

Around the world: NZ police launch hijab uniform

New Zealand’s police have introduced a hijab in their uniform for the first time in an effort to encourage more Muslim women to join. New recruit Zeena Ali worked with the force to design the head covering and is set to become the first officer to don it as part of her official uniform when she graduates. The 30-year-old joined the police after an Australian neo-Nazi killed 51 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March last year. See Ms Ali in the uniform.

Wednesday interview

‘I could have been a transgender plumber…’

 

Freddie Fox

Credit: Rii Schroer

Freddie Fox knows all about trying to flee the expectations of a famous surname. Who better to play Mark Thatcher in The Crown?

Read the full interview

Comment and analysis

  • Tom Harris | If Starmer’s Corbyn fight will destroy Labour, so be it
  • Vicky Parrott | 2030 is possible but I’m sick of cars being a scapegoat
  • Patrick O’Flynn | PM has torpedoed hopes of winning over Red Wall
  • Allison Pearson | The Crown’s cruelty in stirring up ancient enmities
  • Alice Vincent | Why Jesy Nelson’s Little Mix break is so traumatic

You Are Not Alone: Getting you through lockdown

  • Independent shops | ‘With tumbleweeds on my local high street – we’re fighting back’
  • Bambi meets Machiavelli | Why Emma Corrin’s Diana is the best portrayal of her ever
  • ‘He’s 6ft 4ins, does 100m in 10.5 and 19st’ | What it was really like to face Jonah Lomu
  • Business and money briefing

    RSA Insurance | The business behind insurer More Than is on the verge of being broken up after the board of the 300-year-old company recommended that shareholders accept a £7.2bn takeover. Details here.

    • Negative rates | Bank of England economist hails ‘significant benefits’
    • Investments to grow | Three stocks every 18-year-old should buy
    • On top of markets | Live stocks and shares updates 24 hours a day

    Sport briefing

    Dementia crisis | Former England captain Gary Lineker has called on all current and former professional players to back an end to heading during football training. It follows landmark research which showed ex-professionals are at a 350% increased risk of dying from a neurological disease and a landmark Telegraph interview with Sir Geoff Hurst.

    • 6-0 defeat | How Germany were torn apart by Spain
    • England vs Ireland | Telegraph writers select their XVs
    • Rugby’s tug-of-war | How rivals are draining England’s talent pool

    Tonight’s TV  

    The Good Lord Bird, Sky Atlantic, from 2am and 9pm | How you feel about this faithful adaptation of James McBride’s award-winning comic novel set just before the American Civil War will depend on your tolerance for the over-the-top and picaresque. Read more.

    And finally… for this evening’s downtime

    ‘How I built my property empire by 30’ | Most young people spend years saving for a property deposit, but very few decide to use their cash to build a rental property empire instead. Read how Lewis Frewin decided to use his £50,000 deposit to invest in the buy-to-let sector, swapping his first-time buyer dreams for lettings profits.

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