What the papers say – December 18

England facing another lockdown and Brexit talks being bogged down dominate the papers, along with controversy surrounding a senior Conservative.

The Daily Mail says the country is on the verge of “the bleakest midwinter” due to the impending tightening of restrictions to fight the spread of Covid.

Southern hotspots in particular face the threat of a new lockdown, The Times reports, amid fears London commuters are driving up a new wave of infections.

The i says “millions more” will be “trapped” in the toughest tier restrictions in the south and the east of England.

And the Daily Mirror calls the coming shifts in pandemic-related measures “Tiers before bedlam”.

Meanwhile, Brexit trade talks have become bogged down again, this time in a dispute over state aid, according to the Financial Times.

The Daily Express says Boris Johnson and the EU remain “poles apart” in their negotiations.

And The Daily Telegraph says the Prime Minister has urged the EU to take the final steps on fishing and state aid to close the deal, while also reporting a third lockdown is looming for England after Christmas.

The Guardian leads on a shortage of hospital beds amid the pandemic, while also reporting Ms Truss, the women and equalities minister, has been caught up in a race and gender row.

The Independent reports on Ms Truss and her Thursday speech on equality, saying she has been “condemned for belittling racial injustice”.

Metro carries a story on the plight of health care workers amid the coronavirus crisis, with 39% of Britain’s nurses saying they had missed meals because they are so poorly paid.

The Sun splashes on Sir Paul McCartney’s plans to be vaccinated against Covid, riffing on a Beatles hit with a headline of “Get Vacc”.

And the Daily Star leads on a coming “hair crime apocalypse”, with reports the mullet is making a comeback.