Tuesday morning news briefing: Tories in revolt over PM’s Covid tiers

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MPs demand more details on Covid plan’s impact

The Prime Minister is braced for a damaging rebellion today. Boris Johnson’s plan to put England into a new tier system faces being severely undermined, with the Labour Party and scores of Tory MPs refusing to back it. His new coronavirus policy, which is expected to maintain tight curbs until the spring, is likely to be passed by a minority of MPs in a Commons vote tonight. As Political Editor Gordon Rayner explains, Mr Johnson’s authority on the policy will be hugely dented. It came as an official assessment of the impact of the new tiers was ridiculed by Conservative MPs as a "cut and paste" job strewn with errors. Last night, it was reported that a Whitehall dossier had been prepared giving "granular" detail on the impact of coronavirus on nearly 40 areas of the economy. Read what the published document does – and does not – say. Cartoonist Blower sums up Mr Johnson’s dilemma.

The tier system (read the full rules) replaces lockdown tomorrow and will leave 99pc of the country in the two highest levels. Ethnic groups will be given priority for rapid Covid-19 testing as part of plans to help areas move out of Tier 3. In Tier 2, if you wish to have an alcoholic drink in licensed premises, you are required to simultaneously consume a "substantial meal". After a Cabinet minister claimed a Scotch egg would count, Guy Kelly has been thinking creatively to identify six simple ways to justify spending hours eating – and drinking. And, on the first day of December, Matt takes festive inspiration for today’s cartoon.

Arcadia collapse threatens jobs and pensions

Thousands of pension scheme members at Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia retail empire have been plunged into uncertainty weeks before Christmas after the business became the biggest Covid casualty on the high street. Arcadia’s 444 UK stores – including Topshop, Topman, Dorothy Perkins and Evans outlets – will remain open after Deloitte’s appointment as administrator. Its 13,000 staff face the threat of mass job losses as insolvency experts race to find a buyer. Former Topshop brand director Jane Shepherdson writes for us about how everything changed when Sir Philip took over – and how the chain lost its way.

Pictured: Sailor clings to sinking boat for two days

A sailor was found clinging to his capsized boat after going missing for two days near Florida. Stuart Bee, 62, disappeared on Stingray, his 32ft motorboat, after setting out on Friday. He was eventually found on Sunday, 86 miles off shore, by the crew of a container ship. Photographs show Mr Bee holding on to the last remaining part of his vessel’s hull before what coast guard officials called an "incredible" rescue.

At a glance: More coronavirus headlines

  • F1 | Lewis Hamilton tests positive for coronavirus
  • Vaccine | GPs warn roll-out plan could bankrupt them
  • Off piste | Ski resorts may have to remain closed, says WHO
  • ‘Special way’ | Switzerland halves new infections without lockdown
  • North Korea | Kim Jong-un ‘given coronavirus vaccine by China’

Also in the news: Today’s other headlines

Reprieve – then murder charge | A convicted Jamaican criminal who successfully fought his deportation after being released from prison has been charged with murder. The man was removed from the flight after it is understood he claimed it was a breach of his rights. Charles Hymas reports that, within eight months, he was charged with the murder of a young man, attempted murder and the possession of a banned weapon.  

  • Bar to be raised | Asylum rights of appeal to be curbed
  • Queen’s war hero | Equerry in three-day battle with Taliban
  • ‘No reason to panic’ | Second mystery monolith found in Romania
  • ‘Beautiful, not natural’ | Clan chief’s £1m to rewild Skye estate
  • Helena Bonham Carter | ‘Warn viewers The Crown is fiction’

Around the world: Iran to intensify nuclear funding

Iran’s defence minister promised to double spending on the nuclear research organisation once headed by Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, during a fiery speech at the funeral for the assassinated scientist described as Iran’s nuclear weapons guru. Middle East Correspondent Campbell MacDiarmid has our report. View more striking world pictures.

Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was given a martyr's funeral yesterday  

Credit: EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Comment and analysis

  • William Hague | No deal far more likely than anyone will admit
  • Michael Deacon | Do ministers actually understand the tiers?
  • Matthew Lynn | Economics should drive distribution of a vaccine
  • Celia Walden | I hope courts get it right on puberty blockers
  • Reader letters | Eton’s hostility exposes its own closed mentality

You Are Not Alone: Getting you through lockdown

  • The Eton paradox | How Britain’s most elite school went woke
  • When Elvis saved US from polio | How celebrities can help conquer vaccine fears
  • The Undoing | Michael Hogan picks through the bones of tense TV finale
  • Business and money briefing

    Jab airlift | British Airways risks being a bit-part player in the race to distribute Covid vaccines compared to German and French airlines. Experts say Lufthansa and Air France KLM have bigger cargo operations, meaning they will play a leading role in moving the vaccine worldwide.  

    • Delaying tax returns | Self-employed face £130m in fines
    • Investment tip | Booming sector has not kept shares afloat
    • Alex cartoon | See our cartoonist’s latest work on world of finance

    Sport briefing

    Covid threat | Newcastle United’s match against Aston Villa on Friday is at risk of becoming the first Premier League game this season to be called off because of coronavirus. Newcastle’s training ground has been closed until tomorrow and its entire first team and staff have been ordered to isolate after an outbreak left a significant number infected.  

    • West Ham 2 Aston Villa 1 | ‘Equaliser’ ruled out for offside
    • FA Cup third round draw | Eighth-tier Marine to host Tottenham
    • Rugby Union | Grass-roots returns without scrum and maul

    Tonight’s dinner

    Mashed eggs on toast with anchovy and shallots | An easy and satisfying toast topper by Diana Henry for any time of day. View the recipe. For more ideas, try our Cookbook newsletter.

    And finally… for this morning’s downtime

    A few miles from London | Contrary to popular perception, Essex is an untamed place: rugged farmland, remote farmhouses, medieval villages and Norman churches. William Cook takes a long walk through England’s most misunderstood county.

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