Wednesday morning news briefing: The five days of Christmas

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Five days of Christmas with three households together

Britain is to be given a slice of freedom this Christmas. Families will be able to mix with two other households for five days over the festive season under a deal struck by the Government with the devolved nations. Prime Minister Boris Johnson had hoped to allow families to get together for a whole week, but slimmed down the plan following opposition from leaders in Scotland and Wales. A relaxation of Covid restrictions on household mixing from Dec 23 to 27 will allow three households to form a "bubble". But the deal will leave many families facing hard choices. Read the Christmas rules at a glance. And Rosa Silverman helps you navigate the moral maze of Christmas dilemmas.

This time next week, England’s national lockdown will have ended. In its place will be tough new tiers – and, with them, another potential backbench Conservative revolt. Instead of using an algorithm, officials will look at a balance of five criteria when deciding the regional tiers. This is the data that will determine your area’s new restrictions. But can the strengthened Tier 3 be as bad as Matt imagines in today’s cartoon?

Sunak will offer £4.3bn New Deal to a million jobless

Chancellor Rishi Sunak will today set out the budgets for Whitehall departments against the grim economic backdrop of the coronavirus crisis. He will unveil a £4.3 billion New Deal-style package to get one million people back into work, amid warnings that unemployment could continue rising until next summer, and promise that no one will be left "without hope or opportunity" after redundancies reached record levels. Read all we know about what to expect from the Comprehensive Spending Review. In her analysis, Camilla Tominey asks: Will Mr Sunak push back against the Tory party – or Boris Johnson? And Blower also looks at the Chancellor’s predicament in today’s political cartoon.

Suzanne Moore exclusive: ‘I was betrayed and bullied’

Columnist Suzanne Moore sensationally left her job at The Guardian last week after months of feeling hounded and bullied "for saying that women should not be silenced". In an exclusive interview, she reflects on some of the more absurd aspects of the row about transgender rights that has ended her time at the paper. Moore tells Margarette Driscoll how women have become victims of the Left’s cancel culture.

At a glance: More coronavirus headlines

  • Getaways | Christmas chaos looms for rail passengers
  • Travel | Ski holidays off until next year, says Emmanuel Macron
  • Vaccine | Bottlenecks jeopardise bid to produce millions of shots
  • Sniffles | Do not go to work with a runny nose, says Hancock
  • Carols | Allow us to sing in church, urges ex-archbishop

Also in the news: Today’s other headlines

Brexit | US President-elect Joe Biden has stressed the importance of keeping the Irish border open following Brexit. The US President-elect said he had discussed the matter with Boris Johnson and other European leaders. Meanwhile, Nick Allen has the inside story on how Donald Trump was nudged towards accepting the formal transition process.

  • SNP | Ian Blackford ‘stirs up hatred’ against English photographer
  • Labour | Keir Starmer faces Corbynite rebellion over Beckett role
  • Health | ‘Celtic gene’ revealed to increase risk of liver cancer
  • Scone for good? | That is just not cricket, say clubs
  • Review | Great British Bake Off final is closest-fought ever

Around the world: Mysterious monolith in desert

A metal monolith has been spotted in the heart of Utah’s red rock country by a biologist carrying out a count of bighorn sheep. The 12ft structure was firmly planted in the ground. Officials were dumbfounded.

Comment and analysis

  • Philip Johnston | Infrastructure cost a disease nobody can cure
  • Jeremy Warner | End of Trump, Covid and Brexit good for economy
  • Michael Deacon | A never-ending select committee with Hancock
  • Reader letters | Only escaping strictest tiers can win compliance
  • Allison Pearson | If Priti Patel is demoted, then so is democracy

You Are Not Alone: Getting you through lockdown

  • Keeping up with the D’Amelios | All in the family for TikTok’s teen superstar
  • Mulled wine and Puffa jackets | The lost art of the chalet girl
  • Lockdown slump | Will controlled breathing make me feel less stressed?
  • Business and money briefing

    ‘Captain Clipboard’ | Business leaders warned against a "heavy-handed" approach to "incredibly stringent" powers that will help local authorities tackle firms failing to make their premises Covid-secure. The beefed-up measures will allow councils to close premises for up to seven days.

    • Fantasy Fund Manager | Bag a bargain with these battered stocks
    • Investment tip | Two stocks knocked back by the vaccines
    • Alex cartoon | See our cartoonist’s latest work on world of finance

    Sport briefing

    Ticket fears | Football clubs are warned to prevent match-day tickets for the return of crowds to the Premier League ending up in the hands of the highest-paying supporters or sponsors. Members of the world’s richest league were told to devise a "fair" process for admitting up to 4,000 fans.

    • Man United 4 Istanbul Basaksehir 1 | Bruno is a big hit
    • Rugby Union | England expect dirty tricks on Saturday
    • Covid | Andy Murray backs compulsory player jabs

    Tonight’s dinner  

    Radicchio and red onions on white bean purée | It is truly amazing what Diana Henry can do with a couple of cans of beans. View the recipe. For more ideas, try our Cookbook newsletter.

    And finally… for this morning’s downtime

    Green Friday is the new Black Friday | A sustainable alternative aims to highlight conscious shopping this weekend. Krissy Turner meets the brands raising their prices instead of slashing them.

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