Published:

6.45pm WATCH: Chris Bryant MP says News Intl scandal is biggest case of corporate corruption since 1720

5.45pm ToryDiary: Now Clegg is linking boundary changes with elected House of Lords…

4.45pm Annesley Abercorn on Comment: Boris's new Routemaster is a statement of confidence in our national identity

INNOVATION UK copy3pm ToryDiary: We need competition between Britain's cities to get the economy growing again. Here's how…

2.30pm Local government: Livingstone channelled media appearance fees through company when Mayor

WATCH: Nick Clegg: Under Labour people lost their benefits if they did work experience

12.45pm Bill Cash MP on Comment looks forward to today's emergency debate on Fiscal Union: More Europe always leads to less prosperity and more disorder

Jackson stewart12.45pm ToryDiary: Dull PMQs rescued by Stewart Jackson MP's "curse of Clegg" phrase

Noon ConHomeUSA newslinks: Romney wins Michigan and big in Arizona

11.30am Local government: Camden Conservatives propose 3% Council Tax cut

ToryDiary: Cameron has an opportunity to stop Alex Salmond charging English students attending Scottish universities. Will he take it?

Columnist Jill Kirby: Retrospective legislation may produce applause today but it will damage Britain in the years to come

Exchange

Lord Lamont on Comment: A Lords elected by PR will give LibDems a huge, permanent, enhanced role in politics

Harry Benson on Comment: A wise woman should think long and hard before proposing to her man this leap day

Local government: Chesterfield abandons plans for Council Tax rise and Call for more cities for follow example of Boris Bikes

WATCH:

ConHomeUSA: Mitt Romney celebrates victory in Michigan by turning fire onto Obama

"Mr Cameron is no nearer to persuading us to be a Conservative country again"; Must-read of the day from Benedict Brogan looking at how Britain changed a great deal under Labour

"John Major may have imagined a country at ease with itself, but it was under Tony Blair that it changed socially to become more consciously tolerant – some would say modern – on issues of race, gender and sexuality. And there was more to it than that: the country was changed by Gordon Brown, too, who extended the grip of the state deep into the lives of citizens, vastly increasing dependence on state benefits, expanding the size of the public sector workforce, and creating a shadow state of organisations that aped private sector practice but relied exclusively or near enough on public contracts for their funding. Just as we became easier with each other, so too we became comfortable with Big Government." – Benedict Brogan in The Telegraph

Government wants rewrite of ECHR to give more power to national parliaments

James Landale at the BBC writes: "The draft that I have seen says the European Court should not be able to examine cases that are "identical in substance to a claim that has been considered by a national court"… The government also calls for people to have much less time to apply to the European Court – just two, three or four months, not six months as now, after a national court makes its final judgement."

Theresa May plans to force skilled migrant workers to leave the UK after five years if they earn less than £35,000 a year

May Theresa in black"More than 40,000 skilled migrants a year are to lose their right to work beyond five years in Britain, in a move towards creating a temporary "guestworker" migrant labour force in the UK… Theresa May, will tell MPs on Wednesday that she is breaking the link between migration and settlement for the first time, by taking away the right to remain in Britain for more than five years from any migrant worker earning less than £35,000 a year." – Guardian

  • The Daily Mail attacks Theresa May's plan to extend secret courts

Former adviser to Andrew Lansley, Dr Sam Everington, and the host of his first speechas Health Secretary withdraws support from NHS Bill

"In a letter to David Cameron, Everington warns that "your rolling restructuring of the NHS compromises our ability to focus on what really counts" and that improvements to NHS primary care could be made "without the bureaucracy generated by the bill." – Guardian | Telegraph

  • Andrew Lansley insists that the Coalition is united – Independent
  • My fellow doctors are putting greed before their patients, Dr Robert Lefever in the Daily Mail reacts to BMA threat of industrial action over pensions

Not only is the Coalition's retrospective action against Barclays unjust; it should be anathema to a state that wants to create a predictable environment for business 

FT

Cable, Pickles and Spelman all criticised in Cabinet meeting for not doing more to support economic growthFT (£)

  • Creating a dynamic economy in Northern Ireland: Promoting enterprise, reforming welfare – Owen Paterson in the Daily Mail
  • The Express joins the calls for lower fuel duty: "The RAC Foundation said in 21 million households people spend more than 10 per cent of their disposable income on transport – the measure used to define fuel poverty on energy bills"
  • Don't expect an exciting Budget, predicts Nick Wood – neither the Thatcherites nor the Lib Dems will get what they want – Daily Mail

Downing Street said to be underwhelmed by Boris Johnson's re-election plan

Johnson Boris Pointing"Downing Street is worried. When the mayor came in with his Australian election strategist Lynton Crosby last week, they thought their plans were “underwhelming” and lacked a simple “retail offer” for voters. Boris might irritate the Prime Minister but the Conservatives need him to stay in City Hall. They are even prepared to consider Boris Island, his plan for a new airport, if it helps his cause." – Alice Thomson in The Times (£)

Ann Widdecombe wants nationwide referendum on gay marriage: "As this is the most fundamental change to society in centuries, let David Cameron ask the people what they want. If he insists on pushing ahead then I challenge him to hold a referendum. The redefinition of marriage is too big an issue for the state to foist on an unwilling population." – Express

> Miss Widdecombe recently noted that she quit politics when 'I noticed I preferred Countdown to Question Time'

A preview of the issues likely to dominate today's emergency debate on the EU TreatyJohn Redwood

> Yesterday's MPsETC: Could Irish voters say FU to the Merkozy plan to save the €uro?

Number 10 silent on whether David Cameron used Rebekah Brooks' police horseTelegraph

Phone-hacking will be the single largest corporate corruption case for 250 years because 'cover up' went up 'to the very highest levels, says Chris Bryant – Daily Mail

The Sun launches a campaign to expose welfare fraudsters

Screen Shot 2012-02-29 at 07.45.35"An average earner on £25,500 a year pays £2,080 towards the benefits bill through income tax. So he or she is being robbed of £16.64 by benefits cheats. Of the fortune stolen from the State in the last year, £150million was dole money, £220million Income Support, £140million pension credit, £300million housing benefits and £80million sick benefit and Disability Living Allowance." – The Sun

Alex Fergusson, a senior MSP, and Peter Duncan, a former Scottish Tory chairman, gave their backing to ‘Devo Plus’, which could see Scottish ministers given control over nearly all taxes except VAT and National Insurance Telegraph

  • The Scotsman has a full report on the launch of the campaign for Devo+
  • Philip Blond calls for Scottish Parliament to have its own House of Lords – Scotsman
  • Lord Steel of Aikenwood said broadcasters have told him that “SNP heavies” contact them so regularly trying to influence their coverage that it is verging on “intimidation” – Telegraph

The People’s Supermarket, a Big Society project, visited by David Cameron on the day he told the nation that the policy was his mission, is at risk of “imminent closure”Times (£)

Tebbit criticises Meryl Streep for not mentioning Margaret Thatcher in Oscars speechSun

Multi-millionaire Chris Huhne has claimed £17,000 severance pay from taxpayerGuardian

Screen Shot 2012-02-29 at 07.47.42"Chris Huhne will pocket a taxpayer-funded payoff worth more than £17,000 today – despite being the first Cabinet minister in history to be forced from office by a criminal prosecution. The millionaire MP, who recently bought his eighth property, is being handed the tax-free sum after stepping down to fight charges of perverting the course of justice." – Daily Mail

Labour will support 80% elected Lords but may not endorse use of parliament acts to force through changeIndependent

Union that bankrolls Labour calls for disruption of OlympicsBBC

> Yesterday evening's LeftWatch: The union that bankrolls Labour wants to disrupt the London Olympics

Chuka Umunna says we don't need to abolish the Business Department but to put it at the heart of WhitehallPress Association

French Socialist Francois Hollande will meet Ed Miliband today; the conservative leaders of Britain, Germany and Italy have declined to meet himReuters

Want to be happy? Get married, retire, have a family and move to Northern Ireland: Survey finds the most satisfied people in the countryDaily Mail

And finally… Puffed-out Cameron struggles on his morning jog… while his security staff and trainer barely break a sweatDaily Mail

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