BBC News

Newspaper headlines: New vaccine 'hope' and lockdown 'looms over Christmas'

By BBC News
Staff

Published
image copyrightGetty Images

The news about a second, effective coronavirus vaccine is widely reported.

The Guardian claims the government "scrambled" to secure five million doses of Moderna's jab within four hours of the announcement that it was almost 95% effective "amid fears that Britain had missed out".

The Metro warns that the UK is at the "back of the queue" after "dozens of countries ordered hundreds of millions of doses in deals going back to the summer".

The Independent website says Britain's supplies are unlikely to be available before the spring - meaning our immediate hope for vaccination "rests in the hands of Pfizer and the candidate being developed by Oxford University".

With the headline "lockdown looms over Christmas", the Telegraph says Health Secretary Matt Hancock has admitted that the current restrictions in England could last beyond the start of next month.

The paper also features a warning by Dr Susan Hopkins, chief medical advisor to NHS testing, who said a "strengthened" tier system would be needed even if the lockdown ended as scheduled on 2 December.

The Mail is more optimistic and claims victory in its campaign to allow care home residents to be hugged by their families over the festive season, after Mr Hancock said the testing of visitors would be rolled out nationwide within weeks.

But the Mirror says care home bosses are demanding extra funding to avoid a repeat of PPE and Test and Trace failures - warning it is "dangerous" to raise expectations without policies in place.

image copyrightScience Photo Library
image captionThe Mail reports that care home visitors are to be tested for Covid-19

The Times claims to have learned that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is considering a temporary cut to Britain's aid spending - from 0.7% of GDP to 0.5% - to help repair what it calls "the nation's Covid-ravaged public finances".

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is said to be pressing for the move to be announced in next week's comprehensive spending review, with his allies arguing that cutting the aid budget is a political necessity at a time when domestic spending will be limited.

According to the paper, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is opposed to any cut, warning it would have a detrimental impact on Britain's global standing.

Concerns about coronavirus safety in government are highlighted by the Guardian - as Mr Johnson and a number of other Conservative MPs continue to self-isolate after attending an event at Downing Street alongside a colleague who later tested positive.

It reports the "serious doubts" expressed by a union representing civil servants over the competency levels of ministers to follow safety measures, but points out that maintaining space from others within No 10 is hampered by the building's narrow "rat runs" and "pinch points".

The Mirror complains that the prime minister "has built a career on flouting rules" and insists that we must all obey the social distancing guidelines to slow the spread of the virus.

The Sun says it can reveal that Britain's chief Brexit negotiator, Lord Frost, has told Mr Johnson to expect a trade deal with the EU "early next week".

The paper's leader column urges the prime minister to "stand firm" in what it calls "these pivotal final days". It warns "a sell-out is the certain road to rapid political ruin".

"No deal is the harder road", it admits, "but the only one for which Mr Johnson has a mandate if Brussels remains intransigent".

According to the Mail, there are "serious flaws" in the government's plan to accelerate the switch to electric cars - after Freedom of Information requests revealed 84% of councils have no on-street charging points.

The paper's editorial questions whether Boris Johnson seriously believes that millions of people are preoccupied by what it calls the "fashionable green causes" close to the heart of his fiancée and warns that the support of former Labour "red wall" voters could be lost, if the prime minister "embraces ardent environmentalism at the expense of levelling up".

image copyrightEPA
image captionThe Sun reports that footballer Marcus Rashford is launching a book club

After inspiring what the Sun calls "a double government U-turn on free school meals", Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford has told the paper he's launching a book club to encourage more young children to read.

He says his family didn't have the budget to buy books when he was growing up, meaning he was 17 before he began reading for pleasure - and he wants all children to enjoy the escapism books can provide, not just those who can afford it.

The Sun says the club will work with charities to provide free books to children from vulnerable and under-privileged backgrounds when it launches next year.

Finally, the Times says the creator of "The Crown" has defended writing fictional scenes in the latest series of the historical drama, after royal commentators accused it of "wild crude distortions".

Peter Morgan is quoted as saying he "really believed" he had represented the views of Lord Mountbatten when he "made up" details of the final conversations between Prince Charles and his great uncle.

But the Guardian columnist, Simon Jenkins, is not persuaded, insisting: "There cannot be one truth for historians and journalists, and another truth called artistic licence."