Thursday morning news briefing: ‘Three households’ for Christmas

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Three households could be allowed at Christmas

Families could be allowed to meet at least two other households to celebrate Christmas. Under plans being considered by the Government, relatives would be allowed to spend several days together and it would mean families would not have to "choose between grandparents". Ministers in Westminster and the devolved governments are in talks about easing restrictions over the festive period and giving families up to five days of "freedom". Churches are also likely to be allowed to run Christmas Day services. Health Editor Laura Donnelly explains the options being considered. Michael Deacon fears ministers can "dangle Christmas like a carrot" and "use it to make us behave, and keep following their rules". Read all we know about the likely Christmas rules.

Meanwhile, GCHQ has set up a unit in Downing Street to provide Boris Johnson with "real-time" intelligence to combat the "emerging and changing threat" posed by Covid-19. Chief Reporter Robert Mendick can disclose that the agency has deployed its experts to work inside the Cabinet Office to sift through huge amounts of "big data". Analysts have been given access to mobile phone data to track the public’s movements. Their reports on compliance are passed to the Prime Minister, who is still self-isolating in Downing Street after coming into contact with an MP with Covid. Matt makes a self-isolation gag in today’s cartoon.

Armed Forces given £24bn war chest to ‘end retreat’

Boris Johnson has promised an "end to the era of retreat" for the Armed Forces with a £24 billion spending increase that marks the biggest financial boost since the Cold War. The Prime Minister pledged to restore the Royal Navy to its position as Europe’s most powerful maritime force and will invest heavily in drones, cyber warfare and space. With increasing threats from China and Russia, Mr Johnson said Britain must "stand alongside our allies" – a phrase that appeared to be for the ears of Joe Biden, the US president-elect. Con Coughlin says Mr Biden’s administration appears keen to reverse many of the key policies that have defined Donald Trump’s role as a world leader.

William welcomes BBC inquiry into Diana interview

The Duke of Cambridge has intervened in the row over Martin Bashir’s interview with his mother, Diana, that has plunged the BBC into crisis. Prince William became the first member of the Royal family to comment on claims that Mr Bashir tricked the Princess of Wales into the interview with Panorama in 1995. He said the independent inquiry set up by the BBC was "a step in the right direction" and should "establish the truth". Read more of his statement issued by Kensington Palace last night.

At a glance: More coronavirus headlines

  • Vaccine | Oxford jab’s strong immune response in older adults
  • Sage | Advisers used Wikipedia entries to model first lockdown
  • Exams | Students to be told in advance of topics in 2021
  • NYC | Schools closed again as coronavirus cases surge
  • Australia | A ban on exercise, huge fines – and only 22 cases

Also in the news: Today’s other headlines

Brexit | Negotiating teams are in the "final push" for a trade agreement with Britain, Michel Barnier told a meeting of EU Commissioners. Senior diplomats warned EU governments would demand the European Commission launch emergency no-deal plans if a trade accord was not struck by tomorrow, when the EU’s chief negotiator reports to 27 member states’ ambassadors. James Crisp reports from Brussels.  

  • ‘Holy Grail’ | Human ageing process biologically reversed
  • Green plan | Car scrappage scheme ‘essential’ before ban
  • Labour | Starmer faces fury of the Left over Corbyn
  • Bobby Brown Jr dies | Singer’s son found dead aged 28
  • Art row | Gauguin’s ‘smutty’ book is stolen property, say family

Around the world: Water cannon at Berlin protest

A protester clutches a crucifix as she tries to escape the blast from a police water cannon to disperse crowds demonstrating against measures imposed by the German government to limit the spread of coronavirus. Justin Huggler has more from Berlin and view today’s world gallery.

A Covid protest close to the Reichstag building in Berlin


Comment and analysis

  • Allister Heath | Electric car revolution will backfire disastrously
  • Ambrose Evans-Pritchard | Green policy is our path to revival
  • Ross Clark | Don’t expect December’s lockdown to be any better
  • Reader letters | Politicians have left small businesses in limbo
  • Douglas Murray | Nobel Peace Prize has become an ignoble joke

You Are Not Alone: Getting you through lockdown

  • The loneliness diaries | 2020’s real tragedy and the devastating effects on us all
  • Forgotten faux pas | The Queen and Prince Andrew – what The Crown gets wrong
  • Win £10,000 | Play the Telegraph’s Fantasy Fund Manager stock-picking game
  • Business and money briefing

    Tax review | Business owners and entrepreneurs are racing to sell their companies ahead of a feared hike in capital gains tax. The head of stockbroker FinnCap said anxious bosses were rushing to find a buyer so they were not stung with a much higher tax bill.  

    • M&C Saatchi | ‘Three amigos’ lost in boardroom overhaul
    • Investment tip | Time to dip a toe into ‘value’ trust markets
    • Alex cartoon | See our cartoonist’s latest work on world of finance

    Sport briefing

    Rescue fund | A £300 million coronavirus bail-out for sport will be announced by the Government today in an attempt to stop clubs and entire competitions going bust. It can be revealed that rugby union, rugby league, racing, basketball, netball and women’s football are among 11 sports that will receive a combination of grants and loans.  

    • England 4 Iceland 0 | Foden’s redemption with two goals
    • Tipping point | What must happen in football’s dementia crisis
    • ‘Dark arts’ of the scrum | Experts on what really happens

    Tonight’s dinner

    Potato, garlic and rocket soup with chilli oil | A hearty yet light soup by Diana Henry with year-round appeal. View the recipe. For more ideas, try our Cookbook newsletter.

    And finally… for this morning’s downtime

    Inside Amazon’s newest UK warehouse | Between November and December, Amazon could rake in £6billion in sales in the UK – so how has it prepared its sites? Hannah Boland goes behind the scenes as the e-commerce giant gears up for a blow-out Christmas.

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