UK coronavirus live: Christmas household mixing could lead to tens of thousands more cases, expert warns

Good morning. The chancellor, Rishi Sunak, is expected to announce a renewed squeeze on public sector pay in next week’s government spending review in response to the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

Government sources said an announcement would be in the mini-budget on Wednesday, as part of plans for a Whitehall savings drive to tackle record levels of government borrowing incurred during the crisis.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show public sector debt reached a record high of £2.08tn at the end of October after government borrowing hit £22.3bn.

But the fresh round of pay restraints for public servants – many of whom have been at the forefront of the government’s response to the pandemic – is likely to contrast sharply with Boris Johnson’s £16.5bn boost for defence spending.

The prime minister is also expected to announce his decision later on the findings of a Cabinet Office inquiry into the conduct of Priti Patel. It comes after informed sources told the Guardian the inquiry had found evidence she broke the ministerial code.

Pressure on Johnson to sack the home secretary is growing as a result of claims of bullying and harassment from civil servants in three separate government departments. Patel has denied the allegations.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast this morning, the health secretary, Matt Hancock, said he felt “very proud” to serve in a cabinet with Patel. He added:

I think she’s doing an excellent job and is an excellent home secretary and really delivering on things that matter to people.

In all the dealings I’ve ever had with her she’s been nothing but courteous.

BBC Breakfast

“I feel very proud to serve in a cabinet with Priti Patel”
Health Secretary, Matt Hancock talks to #BBCBreakfast about a report, which BBC sources say, claims the Home Secretary broke rules on ministers’ behaviour.

November 20, 2020

But shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said suggestions the prime minister would not sack Patel showed “all the hallmarks of a prime ministerial cover-up”. He also urged the government to publish the findings.

Here is the agenda for the day:

9.30am ONS publishes its weekly survey of the social impacts of Covid-19.

12pm ONS publishes weekly Covid-19 infection survey.

The latest R-rate is expected in the early afternoon.

12.15pm Nicola Sturgeon leads Scotland’s coronavirus briefing.

A Downing Street press conference is expected in the afternoon.

6pm Level 4 restrictions come into force in 11 council areas in Scotland.

Please feel free to get in touch throughout the day on Twitter (@amyrwalker).


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