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By ALEX WICKHAM
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Good Tuesday morning.
DRIVING THE DAY
NOT SO SUPER TUESDAY: Boris Johnson faces four major Commons votes on his “Plan B” coronavirus measures this evening that will lay bare the scale of Conservative MPs’ unhappiness with his leadership. Johnson is expected to face the largest rebellion of his premiership on a day that will set the tone for a very high stakes few months for British politics. Before tonight’s box office event gets underway in Westminster, attention is focused on the colossal booster rollout expansion that ramps up again this morning — as shock new figures estimate that Britain had a staggering 200,000 new infections on Monday. As the country stares down the Omicron “tidal wave,” today demonstrates a potentially very significant new dynamic. Johnson faced previous COVID waves from a politically commanding position. The difference this time is stark as the prime minister’s health policy and political position collide like never before.
Record-breaker: Health Secretary Sajid Javid dropped the bombshell that astonished both experts and observers Monday, telling the Commons “the U.K. Health Security Agency estimates that the current number of daily infections are around 200,000,” well above the 4,713 confirmed current Omicron cases. The remarkable figure makes the front page of most newspapers this morning. It is a lot to get your head around, so Playbook will try his best to unpack it.
Why is there a difference … between the official case number and the estimated infections? A health official explains to Playbook that confirmed cases always lag real-time infections because of the time between getting symptoms, getting tested and that test result being identified or genomically sequenced. So real-time infections are always higher than the official new daily case number, which lags a few days behind. In previous COVID waves, this discrepancy hasn’t been so noticeable. The higher transmissibility of Omicron means it is now more evident. Government insiders expect official case numbers to catch up with that 200,000 figure in the coming days, so long as the testing system holds up. Of course, with an estimated doubling time of every two days, by that point the real number of infections could be much higher again.
How much higher? This is the question concerning Downing Street and government scientists. At the weekend, modeling from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine that looked at multiple scenarios suggested an average peak of 500,000 infections a day. The Times’ Tom Whipple says the UKHSA’s 200,000 figure suggests “the LSHTM modelling over the weekend is overly optimistic in all scenarios.” Playbook can barely get his head round this but some in government believe that number could go as high as 1 million per day. This would have the potential to cause extreme pressure on the NHS.
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The great hope: Johnson might have cautioned people not to get their hopes up that the Omicron strain is milder, but privately the government is praying for that outcome. There have been suggestions in recent days from South Africa that case numbers might be leveling off without disastrous increases in hospitalizations and deaths. The Sunday Times’ data expert Tom Calver concludes: “The theory that Omicron causes milder symptoms is becoming very hard to ignore.” A U.K. government insider told Playbook that they need the severity and transmissibility of Omicron to land at a “sweet spot” that, even if it sees hundreds of thousands of infections a day, symptoms are usually mild enough that only a small and manageable number are hospitalized. The pretty frightening alternative is that if the sweet spot is missed even by a bit, that could overwhelm the NHS.
When will we know? It’s frustrating to hear, but the source stressed that at this point it is still too early to say with any certainty how it will play out. They suggested we may have more concrete data by the end of the week. They also accepted that modelers had been too pessimistic in the past and there’s a chance things would turn out better than currently thought.
What if the data is worse than expected? It won’t be lost on readers that 200,000 infections a day now, doubling every two days, means on current projections there will be millions of people across the country who have COVID over the Christmas and New Year period. The Sun’s Harry Cole reports that Whitehall officials have drawn up plans to restrict the number of people in pubs or shut down hospitality. A government source tells him: “You will be able to see your family at Christmas, but at this rate, you might not be able to do it in a pub. As for New Year’s Eve, that is a different story.”
Lockdown by stealth: The Times’ Oli Wright reveals furlough and state funding for businesses will be brought back if the government decides to impose harsher measures. With so many people isolating or canceling Christmas bookings as they prepare to see family members in the coming weeks, businesses operating without any new financial support are accusing the government of ordering a “lockdown by stealth.” The FT’s George Parker, Daniel Thomas, Jasmine Cameron-Chileshe and Seb Payne splash that story.
Jab stats coming: The government is not imminently expecting to impose any further restrictions and is still focusing on the booster campaign as the answer. There was optimism in No. 10 on Monday that Johnson’s Sunday night press conference had the desired effect of spurring greater uptake, as reports emerged of five-hour queues for third jabs on Monday. More than 110,000 people had booked a jab online by 9 a.m. By 8 p.m., 545,000 bookings had been made, according to NHS Chief Executive Amanda Pritchard. Government officials were bullish about how Monday went and expect today’s vaccine stats to see a significant rise.
Crisis footing: Pritchard sent an updated guidance letter to health directors across the country ordering vaccination centers to open for 12 hours a day, seven days a week. Hospital patients who can be discharged to care homes or their own homes should be to free up space, and hospitals and GPs have been told to delay non-urgent care and prioritize giving out boosters. The Guardian’s Rowena Mason, Denis Campbell and Andrew Gregory splash the story as the NHS goes on crisis footing. Johnson has written for the Sun once again calling on their “Jabs Army” to step up. The Mail and the Metro go for similar public service front pages.
Blame game latest: Pritchard might be toeing the line publicly, but privately NHS leaders are blasting Johnson’s target of a million jabs a day as unattainable. The Times’ Chris Smyth and Oli Wright quote senior NHS sources who say they can hit 5 million jabs a week, but not seven. One tells the paper the new target will be harder for the NHS to handle than the original coronavirus wave in March last year. Ministers “have a duty to set realistic expectations so they don’t set up the public services they lead to fail,” they said, comparing it to previous pledges about a “world-beating” testing system.
Talking of which: Lateral flow tests ran out on the government website on Monday as demand surged. Stocks are expected to be replenished this morning.
What could happen next? The British Medical Association’s Dr Farah Jameel told BBC Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis last night that ministers should scrap the 15 minutes people have to wait after having their jab to check for side affects, arguing this would massively increase turnover at vaccination centers. Playbook hears this change is likely to happen. The BMA also wants a return to masks in hospitality settings, limits on public gatherings and the 2-meter rule to be brought back. The Guardian has more.
Sending Chivers down your spine: Playbook would recommend this detailed piece on the state of play by UnHerd’s Tom Chivers, who argues — like the BMA — that boosters are not enough to beat Omicron. He writes: “It takes at least a week for boosters to have a significant effect on your immunity, and for some people more like two. Even if we started vaccinating a million people a day from tomorrow, the impact of that wouldn’t be felt until around Christmas. We’re not going to start vaccinating a million people tomorrow: we’ve been averaging 400,000 a day recently.” He concludes that only further restrictions would slow the spread enough to allow the boosters to take effect, arguing that a full lockdown would be overkill but that a “Rule of Six” style intervention would make a worthwhile difference. Playbook is told this reflects the thinking of some in government about where we could end up in a few weeks.
NEWS KLAXON: The Commons science and technology committee has a well-timed mega-session this morning on the current understanding of the Omicron variant. First up at 9.30 a.m., former Vaccine Taskforce Chair Kate Bingham will provide evidence on what we know of Omicron’s interaction with vaccines … Then South African Medical Association Chair Angelique Coetzee will talk about the situation there (10 a.m.) … The JCVI’s Wei Shen Lim (10.30 a.m.) and Moderna boss Paul Burton (11 a.m.) will provide more evidence on vaccines … and then the committee will finish by quizzing the U.K. Health Security Agency’s Chief Medical Adviser Susan Hopkins and stats boss Steven Riley (11.30 a.m.).
MEANWHILE, IN SCOTLAND: Nicola Sturgeon will address Holyrood this afternoon and then the nation at primetime this evening to set out Scotland’s next Omicron steps. The first minister is likely to impose new restrictions, a move Health Secretary Humza Yousaf did a bit more than hint at this time on Monday when he told the BBC it was “inevitable” further curbs would be required. Sturgeon will meet her Cabinet this morning to finalize any decisions — not on the table is schools, which the first minister said she would keep open as a priority. The Times’ Kieran Andrews has some good gear on what is being considered, reporting Sturgeon will tell households to limit mixing and consider social distancing, but likely won’t extend Scotland’s vaccine passport scheme. The first minister is up in Holyrood around 2 p.m.
And in Wales: Mark Drakeford confirmed Wales will follow Johnson and Sturgeon in committing to the target of offering all adults a booster jab by the end of the year. Welsh Health Minister Eluned Morgan has a press conference this morning with extra detail on the vaccine program, while Drakeford will confirm any changes to Wales’ current level of restrictions on Friday. The BBC has more.
YESTERDAY’S UK COVID STATS: 54,661 new cases, ⬆️ 5,807 on Sunday. In the last week there have been 363,682 new cases, ⬆️ 32,764 on the previous week … 38 deaths within 28 days of a positive test, ⬇️ 14 on Sunday. In the last week 831 deaths have been reported, ⬇️ 5 on the previous week. As of the latest data 7,372 COVID patients are in hospital.
OMICRON VARIANT: 4,713 cases detected in the U.K., ⬆️ 1,576.
BOOSTER STATS: A total 23,561,729 people or 41 percent of the population aged 12+ have received a booster/third dose, ⬆️ 397,532. 18 days to go until January.
FIGHT NIGHT: Reading the alarming numbers and projections above, it is clear that Downing Street, the NHS and the government’s experts are on a different planet to the Conservative backbenchers declaring war on masks and vaccine passports. Tonight Johnson faces four Commons votes on his Plan B measures starting at around 6.30 p.m. Multiple ministers and officials from across Whitehall on Monday bemoaned the hardline position of their own MPs, insisting that Plan B was the pro-freedom, pro-economy option — as the alternative was stronger lockdown-style measures. There is hope that Monday’s Omicron developments will convince some rebels to relent. Whatever the rights and wrongs, a rebellion on the scale threatened today would pose an existential threat to any prime minister’s authority.
The votes: There will be one on the new rules on mandatory mask wearing … one on daily testing for COVID contacts to avoid isolation … one on COVID certification, aka vaccine passports … and one on mandatory vaccinations for NHS staff.
New meaning of fully vaxxed: Tory MPs will queue up to complain about the government in the pre-vote debate. Expect much of the anger to focus on Sajid Javid’s confirmation on Monday that the vaccine passports will eventually require people to have had three jabs, so two won’t be enough to access venues. There will also be criticism of the £10,000 fines threatened for anyone who lied about their COVID status to get into an event. Lawyer and COVID regs expert Adam Wagner has the essential thread of what laws MPs are voting through at very short notice.
The key vote is on COVID certification … which Tory backbenchers absolutely hate (Marcus Fysh was criticized on Monday for likening the policy to Nazi Germany). The Spectator’s rolling list of rebels is currently at 79. The Sun’s Harry Cole reckons at least 80 Tories will vote against the PM. The Guardian’s Aubrey Allegretti says up to 100 could rebel. The BBC thinks it’ll be around 70. The Telegraph’s Lucy Fisher and Chris Hope say Tory whips are trying to do a deal that would let parliamentary private secretaries skip the vote rather than have to resign by voting against the government. Playbook would guesstimate that, depending on how many side deals the whips can agree, the rebellion could total anything from 50 to 90.
Reminder: Johnson’s working majority is 79. A rebellion that sees the PM lose his majority and rely on Labour votes to pass COVID restrictions obviously puts him in a politically perilous position.
Letter status: A no confidence vote in Johnson will be triggered if 54 Conservative MPs write to Graham Brady, the chair of the 1922 committee of backbenchers. It is notoriously difficult to know how many letters have already been sent in, as Brady famously tells no one, and — to put it politely — Tory MPs tend to talk a lot of nonsense on this subject. However, there are increasing jitters in government. The Sun’s Harry Cole says “thoughtful MPs” reckon about a dozen letters are in, and one says a flurry will follow if Cabinet Secretary Simon Case’s investigation into alleged rule breaches finds the PM lied about the No. 10 Christmas party. One source suggested to Playbook that they were concerned that problems on various fronts could see the letters creep up to a higher number than people realize. Last week, Conservative Home’s respected Editor Paul Goodman said a confidence vote in Johnson had become more likely than not.
Tribal politics: In the Times, Quentin Letts has a fun piece on the Tory tribes endangering the PM, from the “blue wallers” to the “loin clothed Zulus,” the “men in suits” and “May’s brigade.” As one Tory put it to Playbook last week about Downing Street: “They think we’re frothing nutjobs, we think they’re lying bedwetters.”
Where does this leave the PM? In one sense, the Plan B votes are futile because the government will win thanks to Labour’s backing. Opposition leader Keir Starmer said in his address to the nation last night: “We will always support measures designed to protect public health. That includes the measures in Plan B. We are a patriotic party. And it is our patriotic duty to vote for these measures to ensure that they go through.” But seeing a Johnson-Starmer tag team crashing Plan B through will likely only enrage Tory MPs further. The real danger comes if Johnson decides he needs stronger restrictions in the coming weeks. Starmer’s support may not be there forever, and even if it is, it could well be the case that 54 Tory MPs would rather send a letter to Graham Brady than face Plan C.
This raises a vital question of party vs. country: If Johnson and his scientific experts decide more measures are needed to combat Omicron, but implementing them risks triggering a no confidence vote, what does he do?
How bad could it get? In an excellent piece looking at the danger posed to Johnson, POLITICO’s Esther Webber reports that MPs on all sides of the Conservative Party have confirmed discussions over Johnson’s position are now taking place. One member who arrived in the Commons on the back of Johnson’s 2019 election win said: “It’s pretty grim. He needs to get a grip of the operation, and fast. If there were a decent challenger, I think things might have moved on even faster.” One May-era minister added: “More and more people are seeing through the emperor’s new clothes, and once you’ve seen that you can’t un-see it.”
Uh oh: Trade Minister Penny Mordaunt told Esther the government needs to “focus on the issues at hand” and “keep our eyes on the ball” in the fight against COVID-19. But she appeared to acknowledge that effort is now at risk, saying “we have to retain [public] trust and confidence, and we just need to think about that in everything that we do.”
Rebels touring media studios: Chris Loder (BBC Breakfast) … Tobias Ellwood (pretty much everywhere ) … Liam Fox (Times Radio) … Matt Vickers (talkRADIO).
**Bruno Le Maire, France’s minister of the economy, finance and the recovery will join the 7th edition of POLITICO Live’s Finance Summit for an exclusive interview in Paris and online. Discover the profile of our stellar line-up of speakers as they will tackle Europe’s recovery, green finance, fintech and much more.**
TODAY IN WESTMINSTER
HOUSE OF COMMONS: Sits from 11.30 a.m. with justice questions, followed by any UQs or statements … Alba MP Neale Hanvey has a ten minute rule motion proposing an extra winter payment toward the heating bills of pensioners and other vulnerable people … Followed by the main action of debate on the new COVID measures, with three separate votes expected … and then Labour’s Debbie Abrahams has an adjournment debate on Human Rights Day and a campaign against gender-based violence.
RABB REWRITES HUMAN RIGHTS: Another day, another ministry of justice grid announcement detonated by unforeseen other news — and it’s a big one. Justice Secretary Dominic Raab’s reforms of the Human Rights Act are published this morning, with the MoJ promising “more scope to decide how we interpret rulings from the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.” In practice that means the U.K. remains party to the ECHR but the Supreme Court has the final say. The government says this will lead to a “common-sense approach in vital areas such the U.K.’s ability to deport foreign criminals.” The BBC’s Dominic Casciani has a balanced write-up.
Culture war latest: The MoJ press release claims “Today’s move seeks to strengthen quintessentially British traditions such as freedom of speech,” which will set off another round of the culture war. A senior MoJ source tells the Guardian’s Haroon Siddique and Rajeev Syal that ministers feel free speech and democratic debate has been whittled away, “whether by wokery or political correctness.”
OPEN AND SHUT CASE: Cabinet Secretary Simon Case’s investigation into those No. 10 Christmas parties — actually being carried out by propriety czar Darren Tierney — is progressing speedily, Playbook is assured. ITV’s Paul Brand revealed last night that No. 10 staff had received an email telling them not to destroy any evidence.
YOU DARE CHALLENGE THE KING? Tory peer Patrick McLoughlin is to become the chairman of the Transport for the North body that advises ministers on the region’s rail, roads and buses, the Times’ Patrick Maguire and Gabriel Pogrund report. The move comes just weeks after Grant Shapps cut funding on the Northern Powerhouse Rail project. Greater Manchester mayor and self-described king of the North Andy Burnham said McLoughlin’s appointment was a “worrying” one designed to weaken the region politically, while others who spoke to the Times said it would represent another case of government cronyism.
MORNING COFFEE READING: MPs and peers on the joint online safety bill committee have published their long-awaited 192-page report on the bill this morning, with a raft of recommendations for Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries to mull over. Among the committee’s asks are a call for including paid-for advertising in the scope of the bill, requiring platforms to publish data on their most viral content and adding cyber flashing — which is exactly what it sounds like — to the statute book. Annabelle Dickson has POLITICO Tech, Cybersecurity and Data Protection, Financial Services and Health Care Pros covered with the 10 big recommendations. Labour is criticizing the government this morning for breaking a promise to bring the bill before parliament by Christmas — Shadow Culture Secretary Lucy Powell will be talking about that and Labour’s thoughts on the committee recommendations in a media round.
MORDAUNT MOMENT: New Trade Minister Penny Mordaunt has a speech this evening on trade, diplomacy and defense at the Carter Center in Atlanta, starting around 5.30 p.m. U.K. time. In an interview with POLITICO’s Morning Trade UK ahead of the address, Mordaunt said the speech would explain “what an opportunity Brexit is for America and the rest of the world.” She had some strong words for the U.S. too, telling MTUK there was a “lack of energy” in White House efforts to work with Britain on a free trade deal or to solve a steel tariff dispute. Mordaunt will declare later: “Brexit is not a tragedy to be mourned by the international community, or an act of self harm or one that requires us to be punished.”
SACOOLAS SERVED: Anne Sacoolas will appear in court via video link in January over the death of Harry Dunn, the CPS announced on Monday. The case will be heard at Westminster Magistrates Court on January 18 — POLITICO’s Andrew McDonald has a write-up.
CANNED: Following reports in Monday’s papers that Boris Johnson was considering bringing veteran Tory strategist David Canzini into No. 1o, the FT’s Seb Payne says it’s not happening.
ALSO ON COMMITTEE CORRIDOR: The DCMS online harms subcommittee will look at what the U.K. can learn from Australia’s Online Safety Act (10 a.m.) … The environment, food and rural affairs committee will quiz Immigration Minister Kevin Foster on visa issues (10.30 a.m.) … The Lords communications committee will look at BBC impartiality with former top journos Roger Mosey, Sarah Sands and Richard Sambrook (2.15 p.m.) … Superstar astronaut Tim Peake makes an appearance at the defense committee’s inquiry on space defense (2.30 p.m.) … and Policing Minister Kit Malthouse will give his views on sentences of imprisonment for public protection at the justice committee (2.30 p.m.). Full committee list here.
LORDS: Sits from 2.30 p.m. with questions on tuna imports from the Maldives, vaccines donated to the rest of the world and the estimated 1.2 million women in England who missed breast screenings during the pandemic … Followed by consideration of Commons amendments to the Armed Forces Bill … After that peers will turn to the new COVID regulations … and then the report stage of the Advanced Research and Invention Agency Bill, which would create a new DARPA-style research agency.
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Justice Secretary Dominic Raab broadcast round: Times Radio (7.05 a.m.) … Sky News (7.15 a.m.) … BBC Breakfast (7.32 a.m.) … LBC (7.50 a.m.) … Times Radio (8.10 a.m.) … ITV GMB (8.25 a.m.) … talkRADIO (8.55 a.m.).
Shadow Culture Secretary Lucy Powell broadcast round: BBC Breakfast (6.48 a.m.) … talkRADIO (7.50 a.m.) … Sky News (8.05 a.m.) … LBC (8.20 a.m.) … BBC 5 Live (8.35 a.m.) … Times Radio (9.05 a.m.).
Also on the Today program: Defense committee Chairman Tobias Ellwood (7.30 a.m.) … Lib Dem leader Ed Davey (7.30 a.m.).
Also on BBC Breakfast: Tory MP Chris Loder (6.34 a.m.) … ASCL General Secretary Geoff Barton (7.12 a.m.).
Also on Good Morning Britain (ITV): Dunn family spokesperson Radd Seiger (6.15 a.m.) … Boris Johnson’s biographer Sonia Purnell (6.30 a.m.) … Royal College of GPs Chair Martin Marshall (7.20 a.m.).
Also on Sky News breakfast: Defense committee Chairman Tobias Ellwood (8.20 a.m.).
Also on Nick Ferrari at Breakfast (LBC): NHS Confederation Policy Director Layla McCay (7.05 a.m.) … Defense committee Chairman Tobias Ellwood (7.20 a.m.) … Labour peer Shami Chakrabarti (8.05 a.m.) … Former No. 10 director of legislative affairs Nikki da Costa (9.05 a.m.).
Also on Times Radio breakfast: Human rights barrister Martha Spurrier (7.45 a.m.) … SPI-B member Melinda Mills (8.07 a.m.) … Tory MP Liam Fox (8.15 a.m.) … Former leader of Manchester City Council Richard Leese (9.45 a.m.).
Julia Hartley-Brewer breakfast show (talkRADIO): Dunn family spokesperson Radd Seiger (7.33 a.m.) … Tory MP Matt Vickers (8.05 a.m.) … Former head of the civil contingencies Secretariat Mike Grannatt (8.20 a.m.) … Cancer Research U.K. head of public affairs Shaun Walsh (9.20 a.m.) … Defense committee Chairman Tobias Ellwood (9.33 a.m.).
Good Morning Scotland (BBC Radio Scotland): Psychology professor Nick Hopkins (7.05 a.m.) … NHS Grampian head of health intelligence Jillian Evans (8.05 a.m.).
The Briefing with Gloria de Piero (GB News): Tory MP Kevin Hollinrake (12.05 p.m.) … Shadow Culture Secretary Lucy Powell (12.20 p.m.) … Polling guru John Curtice (12.35 p.m.) … Shadow Immigration Minister Jack Dromey (12.45 p.m.).
Politics Live (BBC Two 12.15 p.m.): Defense committee Chairman Tobias Ellwood … SNP Westminster Deputy Leader Kirsten Oswald … The Spectator’s Fraser Nelson … Former Labour adviser Ayesha Hazarika.
Cross Question with Iain Dale (LBC 8 p.m.): Tory MP Duncan Baker … Labour MP Andy McDonald … Tory Councillor Claire Pearsall … Mental health counsellor Richard Sefton.
Reviewing the papers tonight: Sky News (10.30 p.m. and 11.30 p.m.): The Guardian’s Jessica Elgot and ConservativeHome’s Mark Wallace … Times Radio (10.30 p.m.): Former Labour MP Mary Creagh and CNN’s Luke McGee.
TODAY’S FRONT PAGES
(Click on the publication’s name to see its front page.)
Daily Express: Boris pleads with rebels — Back my ‘balanced’ measures.
Daily Mail: Boris — Now join my volunteer booster army.
Daily Mirror: Britain fights back.
Daily Star: We’re all rocket scientists now, Dave — Er, except for this lot.
Financial Times: Business accuses Johnson of bringing in ‘lockdown by stealth.’
HuffPost UK: PM refuses to rule out more restrictions.
i: Britain’s race to get boosted.
Metro: Sign up to Omi army.
POLITICO UK: Boris Johnson: Down but not out
PoliticsHome: Up to 100 Tory MPs could rebel against COVID certification with Commons vote.
The Daily Telegraph: NHS overwhelmed after millions answer call for jabs.
The Guardian: NHS put on crisis footing as Omicron variant surges.
The Independent: U.K. races to fight Omicron.
The Sun: Xmas jabs army — Camilla and PM call for 30k sign-ups.
The Times: We can’t hit booster jabs target, warn NHS bosses.
WESTMINSTER WEATHER: ☁️☁️☁️ Light winds and overcast. Highs of 12C.
FROM THE HANCOCK SLAYERS: The Sun’s Harry Cole has done an interview with Press Gazette, after he and the Sun team picked up scoop of the year at the media paper’s awards for revealing Matt Hancock’s lockdown-breaking smooch earlier this year. Cole said the response to the scoop from the government and ICO demonstrated a “systematic decay of freedom of press.”
BIRTHDAYS: Labour peer Tommy McAvoy … Tory peer Graham Kirkham … Tory peer Roger Swinfen Eady … U.K. Ambassador to Finland Theresa Bubbear … Facebook Oversight Board Co-Chair and former Danish PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt … Governor of Western Australia Kim Beazley … Former Holyrood Alex Salmond inquiry convenor Linda Fabiani … Historian Antony Beevor … and former FBI Director James Comey.
PLAYBOOK COULDN’T HAPPEN WITHOUT: My editor Zoya Sheftalovich, reporter Andrew McDonald producer Grace Stranger.
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