Published:

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8pm WATCH: Now comes the spoof Downfall video sending up Tom Harris's spoof Downfall video

5pm Teatime newslinks: Downing Street dismisses the suggestion of a royal yacht as a gift for the Queen on her Diamond Jubilee

3.15pm MPsETC Update with statement from Kris Hopkins MP: The Times (£) reports another backbench initiative to challenge the party's right

3pm WATCH: The spoof Downfall video that forced Tom Harris's resignation as Labour's social media tsar

2.45pm Local Government: Conservative council plans to spurn Council Tax freeze

Noon: ConservativeHomeUSA newslinks: Huntsman withdraws from race, endorses Romney

11.30am ToryDiary: Liam Fox warns that the debt crisis will last a decade – and that it threatens America's global leadership

Screen shot 2012-01-16 at 08.56.549.45am David Burrowes MP on Comment: The focus of debate about dying must be palliative care

ToryDiary: Difficult, hazardous and right: the Government's push to reform disability benefits

Columnist Bruce Anderson: The evidence is overwhelming – a lot of Scots are suffering from an inferiority complex

Dominic Raab MP on Comment: If LibDems mean what they say about FOI, Huhne must come clean over emissions

Local Government: Will the London Assembly back Boris on the Council Tax freeze?

MPsETC: The Times (£) reports another backbench initiative to challenge the party's right

Philip Booth on ThinkTankCentral: A message for David Cameron. Government can't make us happy.

WATCH: Huntsman to quit U.S race

Hague: we cannot rule out war to stop a nuclear Iran

Hague FCO long
"He said the UK was focused on trying to secure talks toward a peaceful solution over the escalating issue. But he insisted all options were open in relation to Tehran’s “increasingly dangerous” development of nuclear weapons. 'We have never ruled anything out. We have not ruled out any option, or supporting any option. We believe all options should be on the table, that is part of the pressure on Iran,' he said." – Daily Express

How can Hague believe warmongering is right? – Daily Express Editorial

UK "must redouble economic efforts", says Hague – The Independent

Currency deal with China shows way forward, Osborne says

"George Osborne will hail a groundbreaking agreement with China today that will bring a multibillion-pound boost to the City of London. Speaking in Hong Kong, the Chancellor will say that Britain must look to the Asian “engine of world growth” as he announces that London will become an offshore trading centre for the Chinese currency, the yuan. Mr Osborne, who faces warnings that Britain has slipped back into recession, will contrast the struggling economies of Europe with the burgeoning growth of China." – The Times (£)

Gove asks Hunt to give the Queen a new royal yacht (as suggested by David Willitts)…

Screen shot 2012-01-16 at 05.08.35"Michael Gove has brushed aside Britain's economic problems to propose the public donate a new royal yacht to the Queen as a mark of respect during this year's diamond jubilee celebrations, according to a confidential letter to fellow ministers. In the letter, which has been sent to Jeremy Hunt, the culture secretary and minister overseeing the celebrations, and to the deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, Gove at one point comes close to suggesting that Britain's dire economic climate means that a large-scale celebration is required to lift the country's spirits." – The Guardian

…And warns parents to expect fewer exam passes

"The Government’s crackdown on grade inflation will mean fewer As and A*s being handed out in an attempt to return to realistic results, the Education Secretary said. Mr Gove argued that this was a price worth paying for an exam system that commands respect among universities and parents. In an interview yesterday, he said grade inflation ‘discredits the integrity of our education system’ and GCSEs, A-levels and degrees must get ‘tougher’." – Daily Mail

> Yesterday: WATCH – Michael Gove: It will take ten years to "see all of the fruits" of the Government's education reforms

Ministers get ready for Lords disability benefit battle

"One in every 17 people could soon be claiming a disability benefit designed for those who cannot walk or get around. Unless reforms proceed, the number being paid Disability Living Allowance will rise to 3.5 million by 2015, according to Government forecasts seen by the Daily Mail. This is more than three times the 1.1million who received the benefit when it was created in 1992." – Daily Mail

Elderly may be told to pay £60,000 for care – Daily Telegraph

Clegg 1) He wants Budget to target the rich

Screen shot 2012-01-16 at 05.08.23"The Liberal Democrats are urging George Osborne to include a mansion tax on homes worth £2m and measures to stop the rich avoiding stamp duty when they sell their properties by transferring ownership to a shell company. Although it is thought the Chancellor is unlikely to introduce a high-value property tax immediately, he may set up a review to look at raising the tax burden on the rich by targeting property assets rather than income, which would be harder to avoid." – The Independent

Clegg 2) He plans "John Lewis economy"

"The Deputy Prime Minister will launch today a campaign for a “well-rewarded workforce”, saying that businesses owned by their staff are more dynamic and have higher morale. He wants to encourage companies to follow the model of John Lewis, the department store group which is owned by its employees and distributes its profits between them. Mr Clegg’s call for “responsible capitalism” will come as City firms are preparing to pay executives billions of pounds in bonuses, despite pledges from politicians to curb excessive pay and growing hardship among ordinary families." – Daily Telegraph

Huhne says Cameron's 50p tax u-turn a Lib Dem victory – Daily Telegraph

More yellow news: Senior Lib Dems are angling for devo-max…

"They believe that the option, known as devo-max, has major implications for Britain’s finances and should not be settled in a referendum on Scottish independence. They see the strategy as one that all the main Westminster parties could support and believe that it would scupper Alex Salmond’s wish to include devo-max on a referendum ballot to give him a consolation prize if Scots reject full independence." – The Times (£)

…While Cameron prepares to meet Salmond (as new poll shows English voters increasingly restive)…

CAMERON + FLAG
"David Cameron has agreed to meet Alex Salmond for one-on-one talks about the prospect of a referendum on Scottish independence, amid signs that the drum beat of nationalism in Scotland is provoking a backlash among English voters. The prime minister, who will visit Scotland within the next few weeks, announced on Sunday that he wanted arrangements to be made “in the coming days” for a meeting with the Holyrood first minister." – Financial Times (£)

Scotland news:

  • Jim Sillars warns Salmond: work with Cameron or face defeat – Scotsman
  • Salmond faces devo-max opposition from his own MSPs – Herald Scotland

Scotland comment:

  • Isn’t it just as likely that Britain will hit the rocks and break up? – Boris Johnson, Daily Telegraph
  • The SNP can’t make the rules and be the ref – Jim Murphy MP, The Times (£)
  • The only way to save the Union is to stop throwing cash at the Scots, and treat them as equals – Melanie Phillips, Daily Mail

Yesterday: WATCH –

Cameron, Clegg and Miliband pledge to leave 10% of estates to charity when they die

"In an unusual cross-party move, the three leaders have signed up to support a campaign called Legacy10 to promote charitable giving. Under government plans to promote the campaign – which Mr Cameron sees as part of his Big Society agenda – new inheritance tax laws will also encourage legacy giving.With effect from April any estate which leaves at least 10 per cent of its taxable wealth to a charitable cause will be able to take advantage of a reduced rate in inheritance tax, from its current level of 40 per cent down to 36 per cent." – Daily Mail

Jonathan AitkenJonathan Aitken claims Thatcher didn't know who Cameron was Daily Mail

Lords Tebbit & Newton savage Clarke over legal aid cutsDaily Telegraph

Row over Cheryl Gillan HS2 home sale Daily Mail

Miliband vows to stay at poll show Labour supporters give him negative ratings Daily Express

Why I have left the Labour Party and joined the ConservativesFormer Labour official Luke Bozier's blog

Peter Oborne lauds Sayeeda Warsi as he accompanies her to Pakistan

"But Britain has a secret weapon – Sayeeda Warsi. With her Punjabi heritage, local languages and easy manner, the Conservative Party chairman can reach parts of the Pakistan political system that other government ministers cannot…Northern, working-class and Muslim, Sayeeda Warsi has evolved a language of diplomacy that is all her own. She takes people with her, rather than dictates. She represents modern multicultural Britain in all its complexity, and she’s a Conservative. She is on her way to inventing a new type of politics for the looming age of authenticity." – Daily Telegraph

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