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The Papers: Christmas ‘is back on’ and defence ‘spending spree’

The Papers: Christmas 'is back on' and defence 'spending spree' thumbnail

By BBC NewsStaffPublishedduration15 minutes agoimage captionMany of Thursday’s front pages lead on plans to ease coronavirus restrictions for Christmas. The Daily Telegraph says ministers are considering allowing three households to meet to allow relatives to spend five days together over the festive season. However, the newspaper says, this will come at a cost, with health…

By BBC News


image captionMany of Thursday’s front pages lead on plans to ease coronavirus restrictions for Christmas. The Daily Telegraph says ministers are considering allowing three households to meet to allow relatives to spend five days together over the festive season. However, the newspaper says, this will come at a cost, with health officials warning that every day of freedom will cost five days in tighter restrictions. Meanwhile, it features a photograph the Duke of Cambridge on the front page, saying he has welcomed an independent inquiry into the 1995 BBC Panorama interview with his mother, Diana.
image caption“Christmas is back on!” says the Daily Mail. The newspaper says the plan for the festive season could see four households being allowed to mix and form a “bubble” – with another month of lockdown to pay for it. Covid restrictions could be relaxed for up to five days, it adds.
image captionThe i says this window of freedom could start on Christmas Eve – meaning a locked down new year. It quotes Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon as saying people are more likely to break the rules if they are not allowed to celebrate.
image caption“The cost of Christmas,” is the Daily Mirror’s headline. The newspaper says five days of extreme lockdown equates to one day of fun. Experts are warning that partying will lead to new crackdowns if infections soar, it adds.
image captionThe Times reports that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to reveal a four-year funding settlement for the Ministry of Defence worth an additional £16.5bn. It says this is the largest investment in the military since the Cold War. There are also plans for a new space command and artificial intelligence agency, the newspaper adds. Elsewhere, the Times says a coronavirus vaccine that stops 95% of infections could be ready “in weeks”.
image captionThe Guardian also leads on the £16.5bn funding boost for UK defence. The newspaper says the news has come only days after it emerged that the overseas aid budget is to be cut by billions. It quotes the prime minister as saying he decided to boost defence spending “in the teeth of the pandemic” because “the defence of the realm must come first”.
image captionThe Metro reports that an NHS consultant had premature twins while in a coronavirus coma. Perpetual Uke says it is a “miracle” they are both safe and well after they were welcomed into the world at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital in April at just 26 weeks. They had been due in mid-July.
image captionThe Daily Express says Britain’s coronavirus vaccine roll-out scheme is “edging closer” after the vaccine produced by US firm Pfizer and German partner BioNTech passed safety tests and is effective among the elderly. The newspaper says the UK’s main vaccine, made by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca, is also set to unveil successful early trial results on Thursday. It is a “double dose of good news”, the Express says.
image captionThe Financial Times says Chancellor Rishi Sunak is preparing to publish what allies describe as a “scary” economic outlook in next week’s spending review. The newspaper reports it will contain the largest downgrade in economic performance and the public finances since World War Two.
image captionThe Daily Star reports on concern over PPE contracts, after a report by a spending watchdog found suppliers with links to Conservative MPs were given priority.

Several of Thursday’s newspapers lead with the government’s pledge to boost defence spending.

Both the Times and the Daily Telegraph note Boris Johnson’s promise to end what he called Britain’s “era of retreat” – but the papers disagree on their figures, with the Times calling it a £16bn spree, while the Telegraph says it’s a “war chest” of £24bn.

The Times highlights plans for a new space command capable of launching its first rocket by 2022 – and what it calls a “long delayed” national cyberforce capable of protecting UK computer systems and also attacking others.

The Telegraph says Mr Johnson’s stated aim “to stand by our allies” appeared to be “for the ears of the president-elect Joe Biden”.

The Guardian contrasts the extra resources going to the armed forces with plans to heavily cut the foreign aid budget.

It also points out the announcement comes weeks after ministers resisted funding free school meals in England during school holidays.

The paper quotes insiders as saying the defence spending package was put together “at breakneck speed”.

It believes that Downing Street is seeking to “reassert control” after what it calls last week’s “meltdown” that saw the departure of Dominic Cummings and Lee Cain.

There’s a wider view of government spending in the Financial Times, which concludes that the coronavirus pandemic has left Chancellor Rishi Sunak facing the “worst hit” to public finances since World War Two.

His allies have told the paper Mr Sunak will publish a “scary” outlook for the economy in next week’s spending review.

The FT says the forecasts suggest the economy will still be suffering the effects of the virus restrictions by the time of the next general election in 2024.

The Sun leads with the row over the BBC’s interview with Princess Diana 25 years ago, saying that Prince William has “sensationally intervened”.

It reports he has “broken with precedent” to welcome the corporation’s independent investigation into how the princess was persuaded to take part.

The Daily Mail has a picture of the interviewer Martin Bashir who it claims has been “out and about” despite the BBC stating he has been too ill to answer questions.

image captionPrincess Diana was interviewed for BBC Panorama 25 years ago

The Home Office teams set up to address the Windrush scandal are at the centre of racism and discrimination claims according to the Guardian.

It says the most senior black official in the group resigned, describing the compensation scheme as “systematically racist” and “unfit for purpose”.

A Home Office spokesman told the paper it took all allegations of racism seriously, but rejected the claim the Windrush scheme did not support victims.

Hopes are growing for a family Christmas according to the i.

But it warns a five-day window for festive gatherings could be followed 25 days of January lockdown.

The Daily Express also has what it calls some “extra cheer” with news of two Covid vaccines producing “exciting” results.

In addition to Pfizer’s vaccine passing safety checks, it expects the Oxford University treatment to unveil successful early trial results today.

And the Metro carries a picture of a proud and smiling NHS consultant, Perpetual Uke, with the twin babies she had while in a coma with coronavirus.

The simple headline is: “My Covid Miracles.”

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