Good morning. Boris Johnson faces two big, and largely unrelated decisions, today, and it’s not 100% clear which way they’re going to go. His administration has multiple flaws, but you can’t complain that it ever gets dull.
First, what is he going to do about the high-Covid areas of England where tighter restrictions need to be imposed (more or less everyone agrees) but local leaders won’t agree? This is mostly about Greater Manchester and Lancashire, and at the moment there’s deadlock. Here is our overnight story.
And, second, what is he going to do about the UK-EU trade talks? In September, Johnson said: “If we can’t agree by [15 October, the EU summit], then I do not see that there will be a free trade agreement between us, and we should both accept that and move on.” Well, that was yesterday, this is no deal, and yesterday EU leaders issued a statement that was relatively intransigent. Johnson has to decide whether to implement his threat from last month to walk away, or to keep talking.
One way or another, we will hear from him today. There will be a Downing Street lobby briefing. It is possible he may record a clip for broadcasters. Or we may even get a press conference. No 10 won’t say if one is being scheduled, but this morning Downing Street posted this on Twitter – normally a sign that a press conference is imminent.
Apart from all that, it is also a key day for Covid data. Here is the agenda.
9.30am: The ONS publishes reports on Covid mortality rates by ethnicity, and on the social impact of coronavirus.
12pm: The ONS publishes its weekly Covid infection survey – seen as one of the most reliable guides to the prevalence of the virus in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
12.15pm: Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, is due to hold her regular coronavirus briefing.
12.15pm: Mark Drakeford, the Welsh first minister, holds a coronavirus briefing.
Lunchtime: The government publishes its latest estimate for R, the reproduction number, and the Covid growth rate.
Politics Live has been doubling up as the UK coronavirus live blog for some time 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 Brexit, and if they seem more important or more interesting, they will take precedence.
Here is our global coronavirus live blog.
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