Good morning. Yesterday, during his marathon Commons statement, Boris Johnson appeared to make a significant promise to Scotland; he suggested that the Treasury would fund a furlough scheme for Scotland after November if it needed one because it was back in lockdown, even if England by then wasn’t. Johnson’s words weren’t 100% clear, but in the Scottish media (see here, or here, or here) they were taken as a firm statement of intent.

But this morning (and not for the first time) a Johnson promise is starting to look rather hollow. Robert Jenrick, the communities secretary, was doing the morning broadcast round for No 10 and, when asked if the PM’s comment meant that Scotland would be able to run its own furlough scheme beyond November if it needed to, he just said that furlough would continue as a UK-wide scheme until 2 December, and that what happened after that would be a decision for the chancellor.

On Sky News Kay Burley pressed Jenrick four times on this. But he kept giving the same answer (or non-answer).

Kay Burley
(@KayBurley)

Can the government guarantee that furlough would be extended if Scotland goes into its own lockdown after 2 December?@RobertJenrick says that decision would be up to the Chancellor. RH#KayBurley pic.twitter.com/A1v7t4PamW

November 3, 2020

Until now the furlough scheme has operated as a UK-wide scheme. But Scotland is now on a different lockdown cycle to England – Nicola Sturgeon introduced her own version of a firebreak on Friday 9 October, almost a month before the English lockdown is starting – and the Scottish government wants to know that it will be able to access the furlough scheme if it needs another lockdown later. Sturgeon has also been more cautious about opening up the economy than Johnson, at one point in the autumn suggesting she would have made restrictions even tougher if she could finance better support for workers (ie, a furlough scheme).

After Jenrick’s interview Sturgeon posted this on Twitter.

Nicola Sturgeon
(@NicolaSturgeon)

We need clarity on this urgently today. I’m sorry to say that @scotgov has no more detail now than we did before PM statement yesterday. Woolly words don’t pay people’s wages. #furlough https://t.co/pw5sWe1RDX

November 3, 2020

We will hear more later, because there is a UQ covering this in the Commons.

Here is the agenda for the day.

9.30am: The ONS publishes its weekly death figures for England and Wales.

12pm: Downing Street is due to hold its daily lobby briefing.

12.15pm: Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, is expected to hold her regular coronavirus briefing.

12.15pm: Dr Andrew Goodall, chief executive of NHS Wales, gives a briefing on the coronavirus situation in Wales.

12.30pm: A Treasury minister responds to a Labour urgent question about economic support for workers and businesses during lockdown.

2.30pm: Prof Chris Whitty, the government’s chief medical adviser, and Sir Patrick Vallance, its chief scientific adviser, give evidence go the Commons science committee as part of its inquiry into “UK science, research and technology capability and influence in global disease outbreaks”.

5pm: Dido Harding, head of NHS test and trace, speaks to the CBI conference.

Politics Live is now doubling up as the UK coronavirus live blog and, given the way the Covid crisis eclipses everything, this will continue for the foreseeable future. But we will be covering non-Covid political stories too, and when they seem more important or more interesting, they will take precedence.

Here is our global coronavirus live blog.

I try to monitor the comments below the line (BTL) but it is impossible to read them all. If you have a direct question, do include “Andrew” in it somewhere and I’m more likely to find it. I do try to answer questions, and if they are of general interest, I will post the question and reply above the line (ATL), although I can’t promise to do this for everyone.

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