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Liz Gerard’s Notebook

It’s been another tumultuous year for news. Month in, month out, editors were spoilt for choice for what to put on their front pages. So, what did our tabloids lead on? Liz Gerard looks back over the tabloid year…

By Liz Gerard

Liz Gerard’s Notebook

The Year in Tabloid

Happy new year! Welcome to 2023, where good times are coming. At least, as far as the Sunday Express is concerned, with its “message of hope” from Rishi Sunak, who has a masterplan to kickstart Britain’s recovery. The first of many. So many that perhaps we should call him Baldrick. Not my idea – the Daily Star got there first when the Prime Minister unveiled the five pledges on which he wants voters to judge him at the election next year.

How has that gone? Has the press been keeping tabs on his progress? Indeed, have the tabs been pressing him to keep those promises? Or have there been more important things going on? As Christmas approaches, let’s take a look at the gifts that have kept on giving in the shape of front-page lead headlines and pictures for our popular newspapers over the past twelve months – and at a few surprise packages that turned up in their Amazon vans.

Not everyone was eager to share all of these goodies with their readers. Can you guess which Secret Santa passed on which parcel – and which hid the most embarrassing offerings under something more brightly wrapped, behind the tree or out of mind in the garage (aka, on the inside pages)?


Harry is a pain in the backside. He says he wants his brother and father back, but has written an autobiography that has left his relationship with William hanging by a thread – the gloves are orf. He is casting Camilla as the wicked stepmother and facing global fury over his Taliban kill claims. Andrew is trying to overturn the £12m settlement with the woman who accused him of sexual abuse. Kate, looking sombre, is keeping calm and carrying on.

The prime minister reveals his cunning plan, five pledges to fix Britain: to halve inflation, grow the economy, reduce debt, cut hospital waiting times and stop the boats. He later says a bonfire of EU laws WILL boost growth, while Jeremy Hunt is planning “perks” that WILL help millions work again. The head of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine says 500 people a week are dying because of A&E delays. The ONS finds that one in four people seeking a GP appointment in December couldn’t get one. The health secretary tells nurses and doctors striking for more pay to work harder. Sunak is at war with civil servants over his plans for migrants, asylum seekers are sneaking into the UK to murder people, and a woman says she was sexually assaulted during a riot at a migrant detention centre. It’s official that we’ve turned the corner in the fight against inflation. But we’ve really hit the skids because people can’t afford bog rolls.

In other news, a Metropolitan Police constable admits nearly 50 sex offences, including 24 rapes, prompting the question, “How many more monsters in uniform?” A woman is savaged to death by a pack of seven dogs she was paid to walk. Ken Bruce quits Radio 2 in the latest example of BBC incompetence – on the same day that pranksters superimpose a porn movie soundtrack on to a Match of the Day broadcast. Sex-mad Spanish squeakers are invading and producing mega-mice immune to pesticides. Eggheads say they can cure baldness after finding a “caveman” gene that helps hair grow.

Gina Lollobrigida dies aged 95. Ciao bella!

Besides keeping calm, Can-do Kate visits a food bank, is excited to help give children a better start in life, and paints the town red as she shows how she is very well-suited to be their champion.


Food prices rise by a “staggering” 16.7%. Supermarkets start rationing fruit and veg. The environment secretary says people should eat turnips and those dependent on food banks should work more hours or upskill to boost their incomes. The care crisis deepens leaving elderly at risk. Millions face maximum council tax hikes. A general warns the Chancellor that the forces are too broken to defend Britain. But – and “don’t jump for joy just yet” - the slump will end next year. Meanwhile, Sunak is launching crackdowns on the asylum backlog and on £40m migrant lawyers. There’s going to be a new law to stop school strike mayhem. He has also negotiated a new Brexit deal that will allow Britain to take back control.

In other news, up to 100,000 are feared dead after an earthquake in Turkey and Syria. A Sun appeal to help victims raises £1m in a week. Here in Britain, the Beast from the East returns to make it Arctic Brass Monkeys. Nicola Sturgeon quits. An internal investigation is told that Dominic Raab bullied staff like an abusive husband, leaving some suicidal. A millionaire Tory MP is accused of modern slavery. A little girl is killed at home by the family dog. In a woke world gone mad, Roald Dahl’s books are edited (to the dismay of Queen Camilla) and now even God is gender neutral.

Theories abound as to the fate of Nicola Bulley, who went missing while walking her dog near the river Wyre in January. The police think she fell in the water in a tragic accident, but the family don’t believe this. Amateur sleuths – in person and on TikTok – and “professional” divers pile in. There’s a riddle of two men. A stained glove is found. The police reveal “her turmoil”. Suella Braverman expresses concern about the handling of the case. Nicola’s body is found after three weeks. She had fallen in.

John Motson, the voice of football, the Sheepskin GOAT, dies.

Flirty Kate has a touching moment with her prince as her black opera gloves – worn with a white gown – steal the Baftas show. She also hugs an old teacher and cheers England’s rugby players to victory over Wales. But, flippin’ heck, she can’t toss a pancake.


Rishi’s deal is going to bring a Brexit boost to the UK – or not. Boris says it will NOT take back control. Sunak insists, however, that he WILL stop the boats. And that will win him the election. He’s going to slam the brakes on the abuse of human rights laws. People who cross the Channel illegally will face a life ban. And he’s scored a victory by signing a £478m deal with France to fix boats crisis. Asylum seekers will be housed on barges – floating hotels. Suella says those who don’t back the new laws are betraying Britain. She visits Rwanda and inspects accommodation for people who will be sent there. Euro judges are about to cave in to allow deportations. The first flights will take off in the summer. Gary Lineker likens some of Braverman’s language to that from 1930s Germany. He is playing the BBC for fools. Suella blasts him. Is he about to get the boot? He is suspended from hosting Match of the Day. The whole of the BBC’s sporting line-up refuse to appear in sympathy. An agreement is reached to bring him back. This is a slap in the face of licence-fee payers and the last nail in the TV licence coffin.

Jeremy Hunt delivers a “carrot and stick” budget to tempt people back to work. There’ll be “pots for the rich” with the lifting of the limit people can save for their pensions. Drivers say “tanks a lot” for the freezing of fuel duty.

Sue Gray, the civil servant who led an investigation into lockdown breaches in Downing Street, is to become Keir Starmer’s chief of staff. Is this proof that Partygate was a Labour plot? A Commons privileges committee report says it should have been obvious to Boris Johnson that rules were being broken – “Pinocchio is a fibber” – but he says he has been vindicated – “Not a shred of evidence I misled MPs”. Appearing before the Commons standards committee, he says he acted in good faith – “I’m a liar, not a moron” – but what’s the point? “Harman’s face was thunder. Boris was as agile as a cat. Pure box office, but after four nit-picking hours had a single mind been changed?” Meanwhile he has submitted a hundred names for his resignation honours, including a knighthood for his father.

In other news, Kyle Walker has 90 minutes of shame: boozing, grabbing, flashing, kissing, grinding, swaying. And why is another Prem star STILL playing after rape and assault claims? Children are being put at risk by schools’ gender ideology. Everyone mourns Paul O’Grady/Lily Savage.

It’s Frogxit as the Sussexes are given notice to quit Frogmore cottage near Windsor. Just as Harry pops over from America to attend the High Court, where he is suing the Daily Mail group. As far as our tabloids are concerned, the main element of this story is that his dad won’t have time to see him while he’s here. Which obviously isn’t worth the front. French pension protests mean the King’s state visit is postponed. The Princess of Wheels puts her husband in a spin. There’s no camouflaging her style now she’s Colonel Kate.


Woke politics is putting women at risk. The PM says grooming gangs must not be let off the hook because of cultural sensitivities. At last! A leader who knows what a woman is. He will protect safe spaces that are being put under threat by gender extremists. Suella says police must stop dancing with eco-warriors and start catching criminals. No more PC PCs. And we’ve had enough of the extremists with their vile plot to spook the King’s horses, the posh yobs of Just Stop Oil, the vegan mob plotting to sabotage the Grand National. When WILL someone get a grip on the eco-fanatics?

There is fury when a Bank of England chief says we need to accept we are poorer. For we have many reasons to be cheerful. Britain has avoided a recession and, At last! the PM has struck a blockbuster trade deal with Pacific nations that will turbocharge Brexit Britain. The economy is already on the mend. Even so, Sunak is being blasted for “own goal” over tourist tax. There are fears of chaos if doctors and nurses strike at the same time. Vindictive, spoilsport rail strikers are planning to disrupt big sporting fixtures. Terror suspects are arriving on Channel boats and unelected Lords are plotting to block Rwanda flights law.

In other news, Donald Trump becomes the first American leader to face criminal charges, which include paying hush money to a former porn star. Dominic Raab resigns after being found guilty of bullying – “forced out for wanting best for Britain”. Is this the day Britain became ungovernable? And guess who doesn’t have to worry about energy bills? Suella Braverman is said to have claimed £25,000 for her London home while living rent-free with her parents. Boris Johnson meanwhile has had an Easter break in a £4,000-a-night Caribbean villa owned by a distant cousin who helped him to secure an £800,000 loan. The BBC chairman Richard Sharp was also involved in the loan arrangement, but didn’t mention that during his appointment process. He quits. Gary Lineker has views about this. Tory MPs say the BBC must act to silence him.

It’s full steam ahead for the coronation. We’re all going to get the chance to swear an oath of allegiance to the King. Harry’s coming, but blink and you’ll miss him. The security bill is soaring. Charles is at odds with the Church over diversity.

Meanwhile, a new royal book bombshell discloses that a walkabout with H&M after the Queen’s death was one of the hardest things Kate has ever had to do.

Smiley Kate has also learnt the ropes at an abseiling centre, worn a blue outfit to take cheeky Louis to church and giggled as a baby snatched her handbag. What a trouper.


It’s his day of destiny. Happy and glorious. We’re so proud of Pa/Grandpa, our noble king. Yes, the coronation is here, with His ‘n’ hers crowns. But first a man is held in shotgun cartridges drama at Palace, China insults Britain by sending a hardliner in place of its president, and there’s a security crackdown on protesters. Harry turns up, but flies back to America after the formal stuff to celebrate Archie’s birthday. He is not around for the court case in which he is contesting the withdrawal of police protection when he is in this country, even though he is willing to cover the cost. We are not guns for hire, the police tell the court.

Elsewhere in Westminster, the cost of living crisis means Rishi is down to his last £529,000,000. But he’s confident he’ll be PM for years. He vows not to budge on the small boats. He gets it! The people want migration down. The Archbishop of Canterbury is wrong to criticise his new laws and European courts mustn’t stand in his way. Suella agrees. We can cut migration and thrive. Kemi says Brexit will be a roaring success and we’ve sealed a car deal worth billions. Suella asks civil servants if she can dodge a speeding fine.

In other news, Trump the sex attacker is ordered to pay $5m damages to a woman for assault. Is this the end of his new bid to be president? Police search a reservoir for Madeleine McCann. It’s half-term, so there’s travel chaos. There’s an invasion of fat rats gorging on discarded fast food and targeting homes. Just Stop Oil protesters throw some orange powder around at the Chelsea flower Show and Animal Rising activists take lambs from their mothers on the Sandringham estate. Will ANYONE stop these eco clowns? And there’s fury that Labour has taken £1.5m from someone who also backs JSO.

This Morning hosts Holly and Phil are barely speaking. He goes public on the rift. He’s fighting for his job. He steps down. And then it turns out he’s had an affair with a runner on the programme, who had been only 15 when they met – and lied about it. Already reeling from his brother’s imprisonment for sex offences earlier in the month, he can’t go on. He’s completely broken. No one says anything illegal has happened.

Tina Turner dies. She was simply the best.

Besides going to the pub before the coronation, honest Kate admits she’s still learning how to be a princess. A vision in blue, she steals the show playing the piano at Eurovision. My Fair Kate with her parasol is the Ascot favourite and Her Hi-di-Highness wears a yellow jacket.


Hurrah! Harry puts a sock in it! No more whingeing Netflix documentaries, moaning memoirs or Oprah interviews from the self-pitying Sussexes. That period of their life is over. There is nothing left to say. Harry flies into London for his latest court case in which he will give evidence against the Daily and Sunday Mirror and the People. Apart from what he says about James Hewitt and that two-faced shit Burrell, there’s nothing to see here. After all, there’s a game-changer drug to slim down Britain and calls for rugby league’s Kevin Sinfield to be knighted. But once he’s been in the witness box? Oh, how he must have longed for the schmaltzy embrace of Oprah.

The covid inquiry is about to start public hearings. The judge wants to see politicians’ WhatsApp messages. Politicians want to decide what they’ll share. They are at war. So are Sunak and Johnson. The judge wins.

“Shamed and deluded” Johnson resigns as an MP after being shown an advance copy of a report that concludes he misled Parliament. Forced out by a witch hunt. Forced out by a kangaroo court. Boris loyalist Nigel Adams resigns and Nadine Dorries says she will but doesn’t. The report is published. It’s official! Pinocchio IS an absolute lying wazzock. It’s the most spiteful stitch-up in the history of politics. But look over here! Boris: the new column the whole world is talking about. And the first hosepipe ban is here already. A new video shows staff dancing at a Christmas party at Tory HQ. Two people there feature in Johnson’s honours list. It’s the guilty party. Matt Hancock tells the covid inquiry he is profoundly sorry about all the people who died, but it wasn’t his fault. Families turn their back on him. Sorry is not enough.

Fishy Rishi gets his chopper out again for a 70-mile trip from London to Dover to make a speech about migrants. He WILL do whatever it takes to stop the boats. More barges will deter crossings. Lords must not dare to block immigration bill. Sunak also has a radical plan to fix NHS once and for all.

In other news, Nicola Sturgeon is arrested – Nic nicked. An eco plot to ruin the Derby is exposed. We see the biggest house price fall in 14 years. A British billionaire is among five people aboard a submersible that goes missing looking for the Titanic. There is a race against time to save them. People are praying for a miracle. A rescue robot is their last chance. But the Titanic claims five more victims. The Wagner group of mercenaries march on Moscow and threaten a coup against Putin, then back down. Their leader is advised Best stay away from open windows. The suspect in the Madeleine McCann case makes a chilling confession. The Duchess of York has a breast cancer operation.

Sporty Kate has a nice try at playing rugby and shows she is born to serve playing tennis against Roger Federer.


Rishi Sunak is urged to put the brakes on damaging 2030 petrol car ban. The heatwave from hell is raging in Europe. It’s burning up. An eco plot aims to paralyse the capital and there’s proof politicians are out of touch on electric cars. The Conservatives lose two by-elections with swings of more than 20,000 votes [this is background information, the defeats don’t make any front pages] but just cling on to Boris Johnson’s Uxbridge seat, where plans to extend London’s ultra-low emissions zone are unpopular. Rishi Sunak retreats from green policies to woo voters as British holidaymakers run for their lives from wildfires on Rhodes. It’s time for Keir to get off the fence on Ulez. It’s time to stand up for the motorist.

Nigel Farage has said his Coutts account was closed because of his political profile. Now banks face probe into chilling account closures. The BBC reports that NatWest (which owns Coutts) shut the account because Farage didn’t have enough money. The bank concedes politics did come into it. Apology (of sorts) from Coutts… silence from the BBC. The head of NatWest admits she was source of BBC story. How can she keep her job? [She didn’t.] Woke banks are a risk to national security. The chancellor promises new law to curb banks that shut down your account. The PM promises to shut woke banks.

In other promises, Sunak vows to curb rip-off degrees and bring in the toughest ever laws to send a clear message to migrants. He will increase visa fees and use the money to fund public sector pay rises. He will throw the book at corrupt migration lawyers charging up to £10,000 for fake asylum claims. Meanwhile, the Rwanda scheme was foiled by £1.5m of YOUR money. The Lords must NOT defy the will of the people. The Army is under fire over delays in housing migrants.

A top BBC star is in sex pics probe. He has sent photographs of himself in his pants to a teenager. He has been suspended. He makes panicked calls to youngster. He sent menacing messages to second youngster. The BBC is in crisis. The BBC has called in the police. Everyone knows who he is. Now his wife says it’s Huw. He’s in hospital. No one says anything illegal has happened.

Rape charges against footballer Mason Greenwood are dropped, as are charges against Ryan Giggs for coercive behaviour, both after the complainants declined to proceed. Giggs says he wants his career back. Manchester United want to give Greenwood his career back, but there’s a backlash after a tape of him with his girlfriend circulates on social media. Manchester City’s Benjamin Mendy is cleared of rape after two trials, but this isn’t splashworthy. The Lionesses want us to roar them on at the women’s world cup. It’s out of order and just not cricket when the Aussies sneakily stump Jonny Bairstow and England lose the second Ashes Test.

In other news, there is a £12trn Brexit trade boost. Boozed up hornets are on the rampage. A little girl dies when a car is driven into a school tea party. Harry’s hacking claim against the Sun is thrown out by court – “blow as only part of case can go ahead”. The Prince of Wheels rides an e-scooter. Oh, and there’s a Chinese spy working as a researcher in Parliament.

It’s a brolly good show that Kate can hold an umbrella at Wimbledon, where she’s belle of the SW19 balls at the court of King Roger, comforts tearful losing tennis star and hails the new King Carlos. And here she is wearing a necklace in tribute to the late Queen and teaching Louis how to do a royal wave.


Harry is snubbed for Queen memorial. Andrew is back in the fold. The royals are paying an anniversary tribute to the late Queen, 11 months after her death.

The Tories are furious. Lawyers are blocking plans to house migrants on barge. Starmer’s cronies are sabotaging asylum laws. There are fears of a surge in small boats. We’ll quit rights treaty if Rwanda flights are blocked again. The vast spend of £4bn on asylum is unacceptable. We’ve struck a landmark deal (with Turkey) in war on people smugglers. There’s a remote island plan for migrants. But a deadly bug on the barge means asylum-seekers have to be moved off. At least six drown in the Channel. Was French patrol boat to blame? For pity’s sake, stop the boats! Dear France…for £480m can you actually stop the boats? The boats crisis is EU revenge for Brexit.

But (another) landmark deal is proof Brexit voices of doom are wrong. Brexit boost is bringing business back to Britain. The PM says our Brexit freedoms allow us to ditch EU rules and build more homes.

In other news, Greenpeace activists wrap Sunak’s family home in black cloth. How on earth could this be allowed to happen? Nadine Dorries resigns as MP for Mid-Bedfordshire, 81 days after saying she would, with a stinging letter saying party infighting will gift the keys of No 10 to Starmer. We’ve seen the biggest house price fall in 14 years (again?), but a rise is on the way. The prime minister says striking doctors are to blame for the record hospital waiting lists – “Yeah, right”. The NHS is trying to erase women. Neonatal nurse Lucy Letby is convicted of murdering seven babies. They had TEN chances to stop her. She refuses to attend court for sentencing. It’s the final act of cowardice. But Rishi promises a law to force killers to face justice.

It’s summer so there’s air chaos. Harry Kane may or may not move to Munich. The Lionesses reach the world cup semi final. They’re the history girls. Dare we dream? They waltz past the Matildas. Bring on Spain. Lioness we can. No, they can’t. But we still think the world of them.

There’s a gems heist at the British museum. Russian spies are arrested in suburbia. The Wagner warlord Yevgeny Prigozhin dies in a plane crash – “What rotten luck!”. It’s “Putin’s revenge”, but the Russian president sends a message of sympathy – “So sorry I killed him”. Another day, another dog attack, this time a girl aged five is lucky to survive after being savaged in the street. It’s a killer dogs crisis. A poll shows 74% want action on danger dogs.

Sinead O’Connor and Michael Parkinson die. Nothing compared to her. He was the greatest.

The Princess of Wales appears to be on holiday.


What a mess. Thousands of children can’t go back to school because buildings are falling down. Can’t the Tories get anything right? Why did it take five years to shut unsafe schools? Now concrete ticking time bomb hits hospitals. Minister’s TV blunder says it all about Tory chaos.

The chancellor says he’s halved inflation, but a million on sickness benefits will have to find a job. Rishi Sunak promises he will NOT axe the triple lock on pensions and he will make Britain the best place in the world to do business. He also promises to ban XL bully dogs after a man is mauled to death. And to spare families the ruinous cost of net zero. He’s hit the brakes on petrol ban. Finally! Common sense on net zero. Is this the moment Rishi turned the tide? Labour’s 20mph limit is beyond insane. The war on drivers is over.

But, the boats? Rishi’s warned it’s make or break. The French clearly need to be doing more. Woke judges are under attack. Suella slams Labour’s EU migrant plan as a dirty deal. She says migrants are NOT refugees and urges reform of absurd asylum system.

In other news, a terror suspect escapes from jail and is recaptured. A teenage girl is stabbed to death on her way to school. A teenage boy chops down the 300-year-old oak tree at Sycamore Gap on Hadrian’s Wall. The Maddie case is falling apart. September 9 is the hottest day of the year so far and – after the horrid Asian hornets, jellyfish, daddy longlegs and false black widow spiders – here come the red fire ants. Russell Brand is accused of rape and grooming, allegations he denies. The Beeb is probing “demon” Brand. How many more? Bosses ignored vile antics, this is the “BBC’s shame over flasher Brand”.

A year after she died, the Queen is still dead. Here’s a picture because she’s still in all our hearts. Harry snubs Charles and declines to spend the anniversary at Balmoral. The royals snub Harry on his birthday. But Harry and Meghan wow the Invictus crowds (blimey! How did that one sneak through?).

Kate falls victim to the mummy trampoline curse and hurts her fingers. Ouch! But she wins battle of the heir-dos (against Meghan, of course).


After a spellbinding wig-lifter of a conference speech by Suella, Sunak promises to tear up the rule book on 30 years of broken politics. Rishi’s radical policy blitz to fix Britain is a game changer. This was the day he gave Tories a reason to believe he CAN save Britain from Keir’s wokery. He is also promising a £1bn lifeline for derelict high streets, while the chancellor vows to turn the screw on the workshy. But the decision to kill off HS2 is a train wreck. And we’ve really hit the skids (again) because stores are putting security tags on loo rolls to deter shoplifters.

Hamas massacres 1,400 people at a kibbutz and takes hundreds of hostages. This is a human shield horror. Hell on earth. But, for some, not as important as David Walliams suing Britain’s Got Talent or Labour’s pre-conference promises on the economy. Israel retaliates, killing thousands of Palestinians and devastating Gaza in its mission to annihilate Hamas. It is a bloodbath. Hamas’s murder of babies is pure evil and the worst depravity, a holocaust pure and simple. The King can call Hamas terrorists, why not the BBC? People protesting about the Israeli response are ghouls glorifying terrorism. Sunak says we stand by Israel always and tells police to get a grip on anti-Israel hate.

In other news, Holly and Phil heal their rift after a man is accused of hiring a hitman to kidnap and murder her. Freddie Flintoff gets a £9m payoff from the BBC over a Top Gear accident last year that left him with severe facial injuries. The show is axed. Captain Tom’s daughter admits making £800,000 from his book sales. A Tory MP is arrested for alleged rape. Labour wins the Mid-Bedfordshire by-election. Bedbugs arrive from France. The covid inquiry hears that the government’s response to the pandemic was a tragic joke.

World Cup hero Bobby Charlton and everyone’s friend Matthew Perry die.

Lucky mascot Kate helps England rugby heroes over the line by standing and clapping. And she reinvents the twinset for 2023 in a stylish £110 knitted top from Sezane with a £135 matching skirt and beige suede heels. (A twin set involves a jumper and cardigan, not a skirt and top.)


The covid inquiry hears that Boris Johnson was obsessed with the old accepting their fate; they were going to die soon anyway. Dominic Cummings and Lee Cain describe a dysfunctional administration and the inquiry hears that Rishi Sunak, then chancellor, “thought we should just let people die” rather than go into a second lockdown. It’s time for the Star to make a front-page apology to the nation: “We may have given the impression that Boris Johnson and Co were useless, moronic, inept, pointless and pathetic clowns who were all out for themselves. It turns out they're much, much, much worse than that.” But it is Cummings who feels the heat, squirming as he is accused of poisoning the pandemic response with toxic briefings against colleagues. An orgy of narcissism at the heart of government is revealed. And so is Johnson’s question, “Will a hairdryer up the nose kill the virus?”

Sunak is promising, “We can and will cut taxes” in advance of the Autumn Statement, so rather than fixate on the past, let’s hail “the return of tax-cutting Tories”. Jeremy Hunt describes his statement as “stick and carrot”, the biggest tax cuts since the 1980s are coupled with moves to force people back to work. The triple lock is protected. It’s new year’s wahey! But do they take us all for fools? Households are going to be £1,900 poorer. Make it stop!

People protesting against Israeli airstrikes in Gaza are denounced by the home secretary as hate marchers. They must not be allowed to desecrate our national day of remembrance. The Met should ask for the Armistice Day rally to be banned. Rishi says it’s on their heads if things go wrong. Let’s pray there isn’t a riot. Braverman accuses police of bias in a newspaper article published without Downing Street approval. Her future hangs in the balance. Supporters say Come for Suella, come for us all. Right-wing counter-marchers run amok trying to reach the Cenotaph, the main demonstration stays away from the area and is largely peaceful. The next day’s headlines are “Gove is jostled and abused by pro-Palestinian hate mob” and “Sack her now”.

Suella comes out fighting but Sunak does sack her and there is “shock and awe” as David Cameron returns as foreign secretary. It’s Rishi’s big throw of the dice. We had a deal and you broke it, Suella tells PM in a vitriolic resignation letter. War is declared as she accuses him of betraying the nation on immigration. He fights back saying he WILL deport migrants. He “gets punchy” and vows to take on anyone who stands in his way. Net migration hits a record. Failure to halt it is a slap in the face for the public, says Suella. Stop small boats or we’re sunk, Tory MPs tell Sunak.

Boris and Carrie Johnson join another march in London, “No war cries, no angry chants, just solidarity with UK’s fearful Jews”. There will be less approval next month for thousands who skip school to march in solidarity with Palestinians. Meanwhile, a truce in the Middle East sees the release of some Hamas hostages and Palestinian prisoners.

In other news, Brexit trade freedom is a boost for UK economy. Nigel Farage goes into the jungle but is excused some wiggety bug eating. Walliams settles his BGT claim for £1m. Nadine Dorries publishes a book claiming a ruthless Tory clique secretly makes and breaks prime ministers and that the party covered up for a serial rapist MP. There’s another book out, too. About Harry and Meghan. There’s a cruel attack on Kate. It’s poisonous. It names the “royal racists”. The royals are united against mischief-making smears. And only a few days earlier, Harry had a chat with his dad. So sad.

Terry Venables, El Tel, the great showman, dies.

That new royal book suggests Kate is workshy and there’s a frosty silence between her and Meghan. But she’s had a busy month. Camo Kate has had a go at piloting a drone. She has worn black to show her respects to the fallen and stolen the show in a white gown at a state dinner. And she has worn a red dress that shows off her stunning, sculpted legs. “Even her kneecaps are lovely”.


Don’t believe the doubters, the Rwanda deal is on. And what’s more, tougher laws WILL slash migration by 300,000. There’s no reason to revolt over Rwanda, but the immigration minister quits. It’s time to stop playing games over this. There’s a last-ditch bid to win over rebels. Phew! It’s victory for the PM as mutiny fades away – for now.

It’s PMs month at the covid inquiry. First Boris Johnson, with a nose winding round the page, swears to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. He expresses regret, but the dead can’t hear his apologies. Then Sunak can’t recall quite a lot of things, but his evidence doesn’t trouble the front pages because the Tories are imploding over Rwanda. It’s lame duck for Christmas. Another former PM is also causing trouble – this time for Starmer, who says Thatcher didn’t get everything wrong.

The BBC is still upsetting people. It’s being warned over the biggest licence fee increase in 40 years (though it’s less than it was promised). It is being ordered to release secret Diana emails. And its Match of the Day host should put a sock in it. Again. Twice – for having opinions on Rwanda and Grant Shapps.

In other news, it’s justice for James as child killer Jon Venables’ application to be released on licence is refused. Gaynor Lord, 55, leaves work uncharacteristically early and is tracked across Norwich by CCTV before disappearing. Her body is found in the river a week later. Teenager Alex Batty is picked up by a lorry driver in Toulouse, six years after vanishing while on holiday in Spain with his mother, and is flown home to be reunited with his grandmother in Oldham. Esther Rantzen, who has stage four lung cancer, reignites her assisted dying campaign by saying she has joined Dignitas. A pair of teenagers, said to have been obsessed with torture, are convicted of killing 16-year-old Brianna Ghey in a park ambush. In death, Brianna manages something she was never likely to do in life – secure front-page compassion for a trans person. Although in some eyes she couldn’t match a minor daytime TV star being accused of domestic abuse. He is, of course, a BBC presenter. Good splash, but wasn’t there room for both?

The bells are ringing out for Shane – MacGowan – who has died, aged 65.

That book is still upsetting people. But the royal family is united. The King will never give up on Harry. But nor will he be emotionally blackmailed by his younger son. Hollywood declares the Sussexes the year’s biggest losers. Really? The High Court gives Harry an early Christmas present in the form of £140,000 damages from the Mirror for hacking, blagging and other illegal information gathering. The judge throws out more than half of his claims, but still finds that executives, including editor Piers Morgan, were aware of the hacking, which went on even as Leveson was sitting. He also rules that the Mirror was not responsible for all the unlawful activity directed at the Duke and therefore caused only a small part of everything he suffered. In other words, this was the tip of a press iceberg.

So it makes a big splash on the tabloid front pages? You’re joking, of course. It might do for the Guardian, but not the tabloids. There are all those Christmas TV mags to puff and a scurry of squirrels to look at over there – like the inside story of the Queen of Mean’s romance with Queen Camilla’s ex, A Question of Sport being axed, and shops cutting prices for last-minute shoppers. After all, no one is interested in that whiny prince and his dreadful wife. That’s why they’ve been the focus of 67 out of 127 royal splashes so far this year. There have been lots of pictures, too. But there the Sussexes run a distant second to Kate’s 98 appearances so far. I’d bet the house on her hitting her century by Christmas Day.

This month, besides taking part in a glorious show of royal unity – One four all, all four one – Kate has been a show-stopper in blue at the Royal Variety Performance, had a white Christmas at a magical royal carol service, was defiantly joyous on her casual-look Christmas card and marshalled her children sorting toys as part of the royal elf service.

Front page of the year

There have been quite a few dramatic, clever and unusual front pages. The royal family, with the Coronation and the Harry rows, have inspired plenty of arresting covers. Designers pulled out the stops for the Gaza war, the Titanic sub rescue attempt, the wildfires on Rhodes, the hunt for Nicola Bulley. And there have been forceful pages that have been text-heavy. There have been at least a dozen excellent front pages on immigration and the political fallout from the Rwanda scheme.

Out of everything, though, there were two pages that jumped out at me as I went through the whole year’s output in one sweep. Neither of which, surprisingly, was a one-subject poster. The first was the Mail’s stunning take on the felling of the Sycamore Gap oak tree. If only they’d had the courage not to dilute the impact with that Sarah Vine puff. But my favourite (and this is a personal, subjective and not at all scientific choice), for sheer “you couldn’t make it up” bonkersness, is the Daily Star.

Happy Christmas everyone. May the news gods look kindly on us all in 2024.

Liz Gerard’s Notebook is a fortnightly column published in the InPubWeekly newsletter. To be added to the mailing list, enter your email address here.