THE Tories quietly released several bad news stories yesterday as MPs got ready for the Christmas parliamentary recess.

With swathes of England now in Tier 3 Covid restrictions, a scathing New York Times investigation into pandemic spending, Brexit talks looking grim and relations between the UK Government and devolved parliaments worse than ever, it’s no surprise that the Tories were keen to avoid getting any more heat before the year is over.

These are six news stories the Tory Government sneaked out yesterday while hoping they wouldn’t make big news.

  • The Internal Market Bill is going ahead without consent from Wales and Scotland

The Government slipped out a written statement from Small Business Minister Paul Scully, confirming that they’d be pushing ahead with the controversial Internal Market Bill without consent from Holyrood or the Senedd.

Both the Welsh and Scottish parliaments voted not to give consent to the bill, which has been described as a major power grab and an attack on devolution.

This week SNP MP Drew Hendry was even suspended from the Commons for protesting the legislation.

READ MORE: SNP MP Drew Hendry suspended from Commons during Internal Market Bill debate

The Sewel Convention states that the UK Government will “not normally” legislate in devolved areas without consent from the respective administrations. But Scully insisted that the convention envisages situations where Westminster might have to legislate for the “whole country”.

In October MSPs voted not to consent to the Internal Market Bill by 90 to 28, with only Scottish Tories supporting the legislation.

MSPs agreed the bill “constrains the competence of the Scottish Parliament and breaches international law”.

  • Serco gave £5 million in bonuses to staff

The National:

The company heavily criticised for its failing English Test and Trace scheme decided to give 50,000 of its staff a cash boost after it made massive profits during the coronavirus crisis.

Serco also decided it will return £3 million in furlough payments to the UK Government as its trading profits looked to increase by about 35%.

The firm’s Test and Trace scheme has hardly been out of the headlines this year due to concerns over its effectiveness and staff involved reporting they barely contact anyone.

  • More Brexit chaos

The National:

Michael Gove yesterday admitted that the UK faces weeks of potential disruption in Kent when Brexit import checks start in less than two weeks.

This morning there were miles of queues along the M20 as companies rushed to stockpile before the end of the transition period – an exit with a trade deal is looking increasingly unlikely.

Gove said queues of up to 7000 lorries would be possible after the UK withdraws from the EU officially. This could mean delays of up to two days.

The National:

UK residents will no longer be entitled to free healthcare in the EU unless a deal can be agreed. The UK Government said it would pay for the treatments of people who need them routinely, but only for a year.

Brexit has long concerned people who need regular treatment, like those on dialysis or chemotherapy, as it could lead to massive price increases.

  • Furlough needs to be extended further

The National:

While the extension of furlough is good news for those who would otherwise face losing their jobs, the Chancellor’s decision to extend it shows the Government is not optimistic about where we’ll be Covid-wise for the next four months.

It was announced that Rishi Sunak will continue the scheme until the end of April, when it is hoped the strictest coronavirus rules may be eased.

However, scientific experts say restrictions will be in place for some time to come and it won’t be possible to lift them all at once.

  • Police will need to make cuts

The Home Office yesterday revealed its plans to fund policing – the Tories have long promised to recruit 20,000 new officers in England, about as many lost due to austerity.

However despite promises of more cash, the details show there will be cutbacks and fewer new officers than the Government pledged to bring on board.

The documents show there will be 6000 new officers brought on next year, adding to the 6000 recruited during 2020. According to police commissioners they had been promised 8000 each year and a final 6000 in 2022-23.

Kit Malthouse, the Police Minister, also revealed police forces need to make £120m “efficiency savings” or cuts.