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7.30pm Columnist Bruce Anderson: There is only one important group of happy politicians in Europe – British Conservative MPs

Hammond Philip BBC News6.30pm WATCH: Philip Hammond: 13,500 military personnel will assist civilian security staff during the Olympic games

5pm Teatime newslinks featuring the Feltham and Heston by-election, Ed Miliband's personal qualities, and the latest from the Eurozone crisis

Cameron David DCLG3.45pm WATCH: David Cameron's full speech on troubled families

3pm MPsETC: Chris Grayling defends the Coalition's record on unemployment during Opposition day debate

2.30pm WATCH: Mike Weatherley MP says Mr Speaker refused to give him permission to wear an Iron Maiden t-shirt in the Commons

2.15pm ToryDiary: Britain's problem families meet Cameron's Big Society – in which his faith is unshaken

1.00pm Local government: 1,310 primary schools are failing

12.30pm LISTEN: Chris Grayling tells unemployed youngsters: "We're certainly not going to leave you sitting there on your own indefinitely"

Noon ConHomeUSA: Today's top Republican and American political news

BALLOT BOX 110.30am MPsETC: Feltham and Heston goes to the polls today

ToryDiary: If we want a low-turnover Commons, Adam Afriyie's IPSA reforms make sense

Also on ToryDiary: Prime Minister finds £448 million to counter the £9 billion problem of 120,000 highly dysfunctional families

Jill Kirby on our Columnists Page:  Cameron must follow Mary Portas's recommendations to save the high street

John Glen MP on Comment: Caring for our casualties

Local Government: South Oxfordshire to cut Council Tax by 2.5%

WATCH: Clash over Guardian Milly Dowler hacked phone claims

Cameron wins hero's reception at 1922 Committee.  And Sarkozy sneers at him as an "obstinate kid" (while Standard and Poor single out France for facing a two-notch credit rating downgrade…)

Cameron Union Flag + EU
"Nicolas Sarkozy dismissed David Cameron as ‘an obstinate kid’ yesterday over his refusal to sign the new EU treaty. The attack came on the day that Conservative backbenchers greeted Mr Cameron with two full minutes of cheering and banging on desks to hail his historic veto at last week’s Brussels summit. The Prime Minister told a meeting of the 1922 Committee that he was winning support for Britain’s position with other European leaders, following phone calls with Swedish premier Fredrik Reinfeldt and Irish prime minister Enda Kenny." – Daily Mail

Merkel says Britain is integral to the EU – Daily Express

Cameron warns of year ahead "tougher than the first two" under Margaret Thatcher in the early 80s – The Sun 

…As Prime Minister prepares to fight new IMF loan appeal…

"The new demand – equivalent to £1,200 for every household in the country – comes on top of the £15billion already pledged by UK taxpayers to ease eurozone debt. But angry MPs yesterday insisted the Government should not hand over “another penny” to the EU’s increasingly futile-looking attempt to save the euro. Tory Stewart Jackson said: “There is absolutely no support from hard-pressed UK taxpayers for our money to prop up this ­failing single currency." – Daily Express
http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/290014/We-must-pay-30bn-to-bail-out-the-euro

…And Richard Benyon prepares for battle over European fishing rules…

Richard Benyon"Britain is to push for a freeze on key European fishing rules designed to restore ailing cod stocks. Whitehall sources said that ministers would be using the “strongest possible terms” to fight measures set to reduce the number of days at sea that fisherman are permitted, after an outcry from Scottish trawlermen. At a key meeting of EU fishing ministers today, Britain will demand a pause to the scheme. However, ministers will not countenance pulling out of the so-called Cod Recovery Plan." – The Times (£)

Cameron's veto has left us more vulnerable on fishing, wails Salmond – Financial Times (£)

"EU 26 fight to stop pact unravelling" – Czech Republic, Hungary, Sweden, Denmark Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria are only provisionally signed up to last week's deal.  Enda Kenny warns that Ireland may need a referendum.  The Euro falls again.

Screen shot 2011-12-15 at 05.25.23"Although the "fiscal compact" to impose greater budgetary discipline on the eurozone was accepted in outline by all EU countries except Britain, four non-eurozone governments – the Swedes, Danes, Czechs and Hungarians – have since warned that they might not be able to go along with it. Tensions have also emerged in eurozone countries, including Germany, France, Italy, Ireland and the Netherlands. The uncertainty, coupled with investors' and pundits' doubts about the substance and legal basis of the agreement, unsettled financial markets yesterday. The euro fell to its lowest value against the dollar for 11 months." – The Independent 

Get me Dublin!  Get me Prague!  Get me Stockholm!  Cameron works the phones to fight back against Merkozy

"A Downing Street spokesman said: "The prime minister spoke to Taoiseach Kenny yesterday and prime minister Necas and prime minister Reinfeldt today, to agree the priorities for action to follow up the European Council." – The Guardian

Other Euro-crisis news and comment:

  • Coalition partners put a brave face on their battered relationship – The Independent
  • No 10 agreed to brief Clegg if UK faced going it alone – The Times (£)
  • "On the issue of determining our relationship with Europe, last week’s veto was not the end, but only the beginning," – David Davis, Daily Telegraph
  • France defends farmers: we must save the City – Camilla Cavendish, The Times (£)
  • How dare these bloated Eurocrats lecture anyone – Leo Mckinstry, Daily Express
  • Identity, not history, divides my two countries – Gisela Stuart MP, The Times (£)
  • Irish Finance Minister accused of scaremongering over EU referendum – Irish Times

> Yesterday's coverage on Conservative Home:

Careful, careful, Prime Minister: Don't nudge Miliband over the cliff…

Screen shot 2011-12-15 at 08.10.46

Cameron hangs, draws and quarters Miliband at PMQs:

  • "I have to hand it to Dave. At PMQs he was surrounded by trouble – and what happens? He wins. Not just by a little but by a lot." – Ann Treneman, The Times (£)
  • Cameron "tonked Miliband out of the Oval and over the gasometer" – Quentin Letts, Daily Mail
  • "Cameron said: "It's well known we don't agree on everything about Europe but…" Oh, the savouring of that moment, "It's not as if we're brothers." Labour choked. Tories sang an Ode to Joy." – Simon Carr, The Independent
  • Yesterday [Cameron] teased his victim cruelly. “[Miliband]  has united his party. Every single one of them has asked Santa for the same thing: a new leader for Christmas!” – Daily Telegraph
  • [Balls's] refrain gave the prime minister plenty of time to work up a cutting reply, one to slice Mr Balls's chutzpah as cleanly as a razor through an eyeball. He waited till there was a brief moment's silence, then pounced. "Shut up!" – The Guardian
  • (Oh, and Clegg turned up) – Daily Express

> Yesterday on ConservativeHome:

Tough love: Prime Minister targets hard core of 120,000 troublemaking families who are costing taxpayers £9bn a year

"The Prime Minister will announce plans for a network of ‘trouble shooters’ who turn up at homes to get people out of bed for work, make sure children go to school or ensure alcoholics or drug addicts go to rehab. Mr Cameron will say that currently as many as 28 arms of the state – including police, social workers and health visitors – are involved in trying to turn around the lives of problem households." – Daily Mail

> Yesterday: Ruth Porter on Comment – Current child poverty targets miss the point entirely

Tough measures: Priti Patel wins support for crime victims bill

Patel Priti"Conservative MP Priti Patel won support from across the Commons yesterday when she announced her Victims of Crime (Code of Practice Bill). The criminal justice system has to move away from protecting the rights of convicts over their victims, the backbencher told MPs. The MP added that only one per cent of the criminal justice system’s £8billion a year budget goes towards victims, with everything else spent on offenders." – Daily Express

> Yesterday: Priti Patel MP on Comment – Legislation should be introduced to  give more rights to victims of crime through a new enforceable Code of Practice

Tough talk: Stop excusing greedy rioters looking for instant gratification Theresa May tells LSE – Daily Mail

"The Home Secretary rounded on apologists for the summer riots, dismissing claims those involved had been protesting about spending cuts and police harassment. In an unforgiving speech to the London School of Economics, she criticised the Reading the Riots research it conducted jointly with the Guardian newspaper as ‘limited’, adding that the rioters’ actions were ‘inexcusable’." – Daily Mail

Telling it straight – Daily Mail Editorial

The great badger culling row warms up

"Animal welfare campaigners say they will challenge badger culling in England after trials were given the go-ahead by the Environment Secretary, Caroline Spelman. The six-week trials will take place in two areas next year and could lead to a wider cull across the country as part of efforts to tackle TB in cattle. Farmers and veterinary leaders welcomed the move, saying it was an "undisputed science" that killing badgers was effective, although controlled shooting had yet to be tested." – The Independent

Jobless total soars to 17-year high…

"Britain's unemployment woes worsened yesterday as new figures showed the jobless total has soared to 2.64 ­million – the highest level in almost two decades. The number of people without work rocketed by 128,000 as the UK slides ­towards a ­double-dip recession. Grim figures delivered a pre-Christmas blow to the Government with youth and female unemployment showing the biggest rises and the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s allowance soaring for the ninth month in a row." – Daily Express

…But it's not all bad news

"Again on Wednesday, forecasters were confounded when three separate sources of official figures showed employment more robust than seemed reasonable given the chronic weakness of the UK economy." – Chris Giles, Financial Times (£)

"Where's Gordon?"

BROWN RESOLVED"There is a strange, ghostly silence in the otherwise noisy debate about the current economic crisis. Everyone, it seems, has a view – except the only other public figure to have been at the heart of a similar emergency in 2008. Gordon Brown, who struggled to find a compelling and authentic voice when in power, now has no voice at all…Indeed, there is a Shakespearean twist to his post-Downing Street fate. A once mighty Chancellor, feared by internal and external opponents, is now almost bullied into silence." – Steve Richards, The Independent

Government advisers warns that electricity bills to rocket by 25% because of green targetsDaily Mail

Expenses cheats to be banned from Lords Daily Telegraph

Lansley orders independent assessments of NHS boardsThe Guardian

New advice to Ministers on e-mailsFinancial Times (£)

Calls for transparency over former MPs' access to Parliament The Independent

Housing benefit changes defeated in Lords The Guardian

Polls open in Feltham and Heston by-election BBC

Other Political News and Comment in Brief

  • Banks to be told to ease restrictions on the thousands caught in negative equity – Daily Mail
  • Teachers giving students exam questions before they sit GCSEs and A-levels – Daily Telegraph
  • Ten city firms face tax investigation – The Times (£)
  • Top general predicts UK overseas missions – Financial Times (£)
  • No need to fear the rise of the Brotherhood – Ed Husain, The Times (£)
  • Sir Fred Goodwin could face charges over IBS fiasco – Daily Express
  • New Scottish anti-sectarian laws: Holyrood gets shirty over bigot bill – Scotsman
  • This sorry display of self-interest brings shame on the Commons – Peter Oborne, Daily Telegraph

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