Published:

7pm ToryDiary: Fraser Nelson fires a budget warning shot at Osborne

4pm Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt MP on Comment: David Nicholson has apologised – now Labour must too

Screen shot 2013-03-06 at 15.24.183.15pm WATCH: Is it a bedroom tax or a spare room subsidy? Cameron and Miliband clash at PMQs.

3pm Andrew Lilico on Comment compares the Conservative Party to a Snog, Marry, Avoid contestant. "In 2001 and 2005 we wore a mini-skirt, put on fake orange tan,
bleach-blonded our hair, and covered ourselves in bling.  In 2010 we put
bones through our noses, cut off all our hair, and wore torn jeans and a
hoodie.  But each of these was just an extravagant way of avoiding
revealing ourselves, because we were afraid that people wouldn't like
the real us." After Eastleigh…

1.30pm ToryDiary: PMQs – what on earth is Miliband on?

Noon WATCH: Miliband – We were wrong to dismiss concerns about immigration

11am Alex Deane on Comment: Our defeat in Europe over bankers' bonuses is a disaster for the City

Four healthcare pieces lead Consevative Home.

Mid-Staffs and Labour:

Healthcare, here and abroad:

Columnist Stephan Shakespeare: Modernisation isn't just
about gender, sexuality and the environment, it's also about being on
the side of the 'little guy'

MajorityConservatism: "Question: What would you do were you in Cameron's place?" Answer: Start by looking back at last October's conference speech…

Osborne beaten in Brussels over bonuses

OSBORNE-GEORGE-FROM-FT"At a crucial meeting of finance ministers in Brussels, George Osborne, the UK chancellor, stood alone in opposing a peg on bonuses relative to salary, in a decisive blow for London’s frantic diplomatic efforts to blunt the initiative.  An overwhelming majority backed a 1:1 ratio of salary-to-bonus, which a supermajority of shareholders can rise to 2:1. Michel Barnier, the EU commissioner responsible for the reforms, said it was “crystal clear” that the cap will be imposed." – Financial Times (£)

  • Andrea Leadsom denounces Cable for attempting to undermine Osborne – The Sun
  • Business Secretary wants to tax winter fuel payments – Daily Mail

David Wighton: Britain is losing the battle to save the City

"Many people will ask why it matters to them if the City loses a bit of business. It had grown too big anyway. It is true that the immediate impact will be limited and focused on particular areas. But damaging one part of the City damages the whole, by chipping away at its status as an international financial centre. And Britain’s loss of influence over Brussels regulation threatens the entire financial services industry." – The Times (£)

  • London shares hit five-year high as Wall Street breaks records – Daily Mail

Alexander rebukes Hammond in Cabinet…but the Defence Secretary is defiant

HAMMOND PHILIP NEWSNIGHT
"Danny Alexander, the Chief Treasury Secretary, rebuked Mr Hammond during the Cabinet's weekly private meeting for  airing “dirty laundry” in public after he gave media interviews calling for more welfare cuts rather than another squeeze on his own budget…David Cameron is understood to have nodded with approval during Mr Alexander's comments and said “I agree”…Only a few hours after the Cabinet session, an unrepentant Mr Hammond again spoke out publicly against more Ministry of Defence cuts." – The Independent

  • Major shake-up of military bases in Scotland – Scotsman
  • Desert rats to lose tanks under army cuts – Daily Telegraph
  • General joins fight for troops – The Sun

Was May's ECHR plan leaked by a leadership rival?

"Some of her allies believe that a possible future Tory leadership opponent leaked the details of her plan to embarrass her, because pulling Britain away from the court could prove extremely difficult in practice…“She is shaping up as a serious candidate,” said one Tory. “She has allies in the party and has been quietly building her reputation. Some think that someone in the Cabinet leaked her thoughts on the EHCR to drop her in it.” – The Times (£)

> Yesterday: ToryDiary – The next Conservative leadership election is under way

Lamb announces NHS commissioning rules rewrite

Screen shot 2013-03-06 at 08.24.06"Ministers were accused of a U-turn on Tuesday as they announced that part of the health reform legislation will be rewritten to satisfy critics who claimed it would lead to the privatisation of the NHS. A dispute blew up following publication of key regulations suggesting clinicians would be forced to put services out to competition. The changes were announced as David Cameron confirmed his confidence in Sir David Nicholson." – Financial Times (£)

Sarah Woolaston – Nicholson must go…

"She said he should not continue in his role after major NHS reforms are unveiled next month, as warning signs about the disaster had been ‘ignored’. She added: ‘He claimed not to know about the extent of gagging clauses which are silencing NHS staff, claimed not to know about the climate of fear that was highlighted in three reports that were suppressed and only came to light because of a Freedom of Information request." – Daily Mail 

….Nicholson must go – Steve Barclay

Steve Barclay"It is baffling that a close-knit group of former health ministers and front benchers from across the political spectrum appear to be acting as gatekeepers for those who are ultimately responsible for this unprecedented crisis of trust in the NHS. The most pressing of many serious questions that must now be answered is how far the cover-up actually extends and what senior officials and ex Ministers stand to lose if it is brought into the open." – Daily Telegraph

  • NHS whistle-blower threatens to reveal correspondence following Nicholson's testimony – Daily Telegraph
  • Labour's sick defence of the indefensible – Daily Mail Editorial
  • Justice will not be done until Sir David quits – Daily Telegraph
  • Patients 'are still in danger from nurses who can't speak English' says Public Accounts Committee – Daily Mail
  • Former NHS worker barred from protest over Health Service cuts because she backs UKIP – Daily Mail

> Today:

Immigration 1) LibDem peer attacks Farage

"Liberal Democrat Lord Tyler sparked a major row with UKIP leader Nigel Farage with a warning against blaming ‘foreigner scapegoats for our economic troubles’. The peer made the provocative remarks during a House of Lords debate on how best to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War. The peer claimed Mr Farage would ‘do well to revisit the history of that period’ to learn that ‘fomenting distrust can so easily lead to hatred’." – Daily Mail

Immigration 2) IDS: we face a benefits "crisis" over migrant influx

DUNCAN-SMITH-LOOKING-LEFT
"Britain faces a “crisis” in its attempts to stop immigrants from Bulgaria and Romania coming to the UK solely to claim benefits, Iain Duncan Smith said yesterday. The Work and Pensions Secretary told MPs that it was currently too easy for EU migrants to claim access to social housing, healthcare and tax credits. However, he said, the Government is facing stiff opposition from the European Commission as it attempts to change the situation." – The Times (£)

  • Labour claims universal credit in meltdown – The Guardian

Immigration 3) Miliband will evade apology for Labour's record

"Miliband will also concede his party was “wrong in the past to dismiss people’s concerns about immigration” and claim it is now committed to bringing down the numbers of migrants heading to the UK. But Mr Miliband will once again decline to apologise for the net influx of 2.2 million people during Tony Blair and Gordon Brown’s time in charge. Last night, angry Tories condemned his repeated refusal to apologise for Labour’s immigration failures as “appalling” and ridiculed the party’s lack of specific proposals for tightening border controls." – Daily Express

  • David Miliband: Bush was the worst thing ever to happen to Blair – Daily Telegraph

Greg Hands: Balls's Brownite cabal is seizing control of Labour

Hands Greg MP"Hands has trawled through the list which shows how every Labour MP voted in the 2010 leadership contest. This shows Balls has the best record of ensuring that his supporters have been rewarded with – and have since maintained – places on the frontbench. Hands calculates that, on the basis of first preference votes, 51% of those who supported Balls sit on the frontbench compared with 45% of Ed Miliband's supporters, 38% of David Miliband's supporters, 13% of Andy Burnham's supporters and 0% of Diane Abbott's supporters." – The Guardian

> Yesterday: Greg Clark's Weekly Letter from a Treasury Minister: Ed Balls's three rules of Opposition. Admit no mistakes. Avoid consistency. Propose nothing new.

After Eastleigh, Cameron should show some humility, says Ann Widdecombe

"In the aftermath of beastly Eastleigh the sound we should be hearing is the disconsolate trudge of footsteps as the advisers who led David Cameron into this mess pick up their P45s and leave but, no, they are all still there, doubtless urging gay marriage, amendment to the royal succession and wind turbines as the answers to the Conservatives’ problems." – Ann Widdecombe, Daily Express

Chavez is dead, and William Hague says…

Screen shot 2013-03-06 at 08.32.24"Chávez’s death, announced by Nicolás Maduro, the vice-president, came almost two years after he was diagnosed with cancer in June 2011. He then declared himself cured twice, was operated on four times and also underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy…High quality global journalism requires investment…In the days and weeks before Chávez’s death, Venezuela’s government was vague about the precise condition of his health, although official bulletins on his health became increasingly pessimistic." – Financial Times (£)

…that he "left a lasting impression on the country"

"Mr Obama indicated that the US was keen to begin a new era of “constructive” relations with Venezuela. “As Venezuela begins a new chapter in its history, the United States remains committed to policies that promote democratic principles, the rule of law, and respect for human rights,” the President said. William Hague attempted to strike a diplomatic note, saying he was “saddened” by news of the Venezuelan president’s death. “As President of Venezuela for 14 years he has left a lasting impression on the country and more widely.” – The Times (£

  • End of Chávismo spells woe for Castros – William Dobson, Financial Times (£)
  • "My wife and I spent almost two weeks working in his presidential campaign late last year." – George Galloway, The Independent

News in Brief:

  • Half of England at risk of 'damaging development' ahead of planning changes this month – Daily Telegraph
  • Payday loan companies face government crackdown – The Times (£)
  • Three quizzed after mortar bombing thwarted – Irish News
  • Chilcot enquiry to challenge official line on Iraq – The Independent
  • Childcare costs rising by more than twice the rate of inflation – The Guardian
  • Welsh Affairs Select Committee warns of Severn Bridge toll and M4 congestion threat to Wales's economy – Wales Online
  • Low-income families hit hardest by higher cost of driving – The Times (£)
  • Has Duchess of Cambridge revealed baby's sex – Daily Telegraph

And finally 1) David Cameron launches into Hague impersonation during chicken and prawn sandwich backbench lunch

Screen shot 2013-03-06 at 08.33.41"A dozen members of the 2010 Conservative intake joined the Prime Minister around the Cabinet table in Downing Street and were invited to speak freely about their concerns. Over chicken and prawn sandwiches they discussed the stagnant economy, the frustrations of coalition government and last week’s disastrous Eastleigh by-election result. Those present ranged from the rebellious, such as Andrew Bingham and Nigel Mills, to the ambitious, such as Kwasi Kwarteng." – The Times (£)

And finally 2) Samantha Cameron dons red wig for Red Nose Day

"Wearing a special Red Nose Day apron and matching oven gloves, the Prime Minister’s wife whipped up flapjacks, moon rocks and tiffin cakes in the No 10 kitchen with her children Nancy, nine, and Elwen, seven. The treats were then sold to Downing Street staff, with the £160 raised going towards next week’s fundraising event…The PM has done his bit by making a cameo appearance in the video for One Direction’s charity single One Way Or Another (Teenage Kicks)." – Daily Express

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