image captionSome of Saturday’s papers lead with growing tensions between Westminster and regional governments over coronavirus restrictions. The Guardian says Boris Johnson has attempted to “strongarm” leaders in Greater Manchester into accepting restrictions without providing additional money to businesses. It comes after the PM held a Downing Street press conference during which he reiterated his threat to impose tier three lockdown – the highest one – if an agreement cannot be reached soon. Mr Johnson has dismissed suggestions of a national “circuit break” – apparently at odds with his chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance.
image captionThe UK is “closer to new lockdown”, the i weekend reports, with Mr Johnson expected by ministers and advisers to be “bounced” into tougher restrictions. It comes as new virus cases rise 62% in a week, with sharp increases in the North West and North East of England, Yorkshire and Humber. Meanwhile, Chancellor Rishi Sunak is being “pressured” by Tory MPs to introduce new financial support for the hardest hit areas, the paper adds.
image captionThe Times reports that one million coronavirus tests a day will be carried out by Christmas, citing predictions from scientists. Schoolchildren will be offered weekly Covid-19 screening as early as next week, the paper adds, with results being given in as little as 15 minutes. The government has spent more than £500 million in the past two weeks on new testing machines that will triple the present capacity of 300,000 tests a day, the paper says.
image captionThe National Education Union, Britain’s biggest teachers’ union, has called for secondary schools and colleges to be closed for two weeks – rather than the traditional one – over the upcoming half term, the Daily Telegraph reports. Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the union, said: “Taking action now can avoid more disruption later.”
image caption“No deal and no clue” is the headline on the front page of the Daily Mirror as the paper reports on the PM’s comments that Brexit trade talks are over. The paper quotes an industry chief as saying: “We’re heading into dangerous territory.”
image captionThe FT Weekend also leads with the PM breaking off Brexit trade talks with the European Union. It’s a move that’s caused disquiet among businesses that face the prospect of tariffs on trade with the EU at a time when they are struggling to survive the economic impact of the pandemic. Michael Gove has said beef and lamb producers could face tariffs of up to 100% and carmakers would face export duties of 10%, the paper adds.
image captionThe Daily Express highlights the PM’s optimism that Britain will “prosper mightily” outside the EU as an independent trading nation.
image captionElsewhere, drivers will be fined £200 and incur six penalty points for just touching their mobile phones while at the wheel, the Daily Mail reports. Currently, drivers can be prosecuted only if they use hand-held devices to call or text. But this will be extended from next year to include touching phones for any reason, including scrolling through a music playlist or taking pictures. Using phones for satnav will be allowed, but only if hands-free, the paper adds.
image captionAnd “cheeky monkeys” is emblazoned on the front page of the Daily Star, with a report that Russians are pumping out fake news on social media claiming a Covid-19 vaccine being developed in Britain will turn people into apes.