Friday morning news briefing: Pushed towards national lockdown

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PM fights to save three-tier plan in face of pressure

Boris Johnson is embroiled in a standoff over plans for local lockdowns. Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham effectively held Number 10 to ransom by demanding more money in return for supporting a move into the top level of Covid restrictions. Government scientific advisers warned that a national “circuit breaker” may be necessary, believing that the tier system would ultimately fail. Fraser Nelson says Mr Johnson is sleepwalking into the national lockdown he claims to despise. Meanwhile, London mayor Sadiq Khan was accused of bouncing ministers into imposing draconian new restrictions on the capital that will have a devastating economic impact. Chief Reporter Robert Mendick watched him live up to his “Mr Misery” moniker as he read a statement in an icy monotone voice. For the latest rules in your area, use our postcode search tool. And console yourself with Matt‘s latest cartoon, in which he finds a silver lining to the household mixing ban.

Mr Johnson is expected to impose the highest level of restrictions on Greater Manchester today, with or without Mr Burnham’s consent, while Lancashire is said to be close to agreeing tier-three status. Chief Political Correspondent Christopher Hope has the inside story on how the battle to pressure the region into accepting restrictions became a political row about money. Ross Clark argues Mr Burnham’s opportunism makes Labour look ridiculous. This is how the UK lockdown map is changing.

EU drops promise of intensified trade talks

Britain’s chief Brexit negotiator said he was “disappointed” that European Union leaders dropped their commitment to intensified trade negotiations at a Brussels summit last night. Boris Johnson will make a statement today about whether he will carry out his threat to walk away from talks and prepare to trade on World Trade Organisation terms with the EU from January 1 after the transition period ends. James Crisp sums up the mood in Brussels after leaders discussed the Brexit negotiations in detail for two and a quarter hours. Meanwhile, Nicola Sturgeon is accused of trying to “shamelessly flog Scottish independence” to the EU after wooing the bloc in an article for a German newspaper.

Keyless car technology driving vehicle thefts

Drivers have been warned to keep their keyless car fobs in metal bags to stop thieves hijacking digital signals. Insurers said the method in which criminals relay signals from the devices is driving a rise in vehicle thefts. Stolen car claims have increased by 20 per cent in each of the last four years, with London seeing the biggest rise. Mason Boycott-Owen reports the best way to prevent theft is to keep the fob far away from the car – and, if possible, in a metal-lined Faraday bag to block digital signals.

At a glance: More coronavirus headlines

 Also in the news: Today’s other headlines

‘Worrisome’ discovery | Climate change wiped out early humans, a study has found, as scientists warn global warming could have a greater impact than previously thought. New research argues cousins of Homo sapiens failed to adapt to the cold tens of thousands of years ago – leaving them vulnerable to extinction when temperatures dropped below levels they were used to. Environment Correspondent Olivia Rudgard reports that scientists say the findings are “worrisome” for modern humans.  

Around the world: ‘Jacindamania’ survives Covid test

New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern is widely expected to win a second term at this weekend’s election, with polls showing her centre-Left Labour Party comfortably in front. She has been met with rapturous crowds during the final throes of the campaign, which focused on her personal popularity and handling of Covid-19. Read Charles Anderson‘s report from Wellington and view more world pictures of the day.