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“Put Juncker in charge, and Britain could leave the EU” – what Cameron is reported to have told Brussels

CAMERON EU fence“David Cameron has warned he would no longer be able to guarantee that Britain would remain a member of the European Union if European leaders elect Jean-Claude Juncker as European Commission chief, Germany’s Der Spiegel said. … The magazine said participants understood Cameron’s comments to mean that a majority vote for Juncker could destabilise his government to the extent that an “in-out” referendum would have to be brought forward. … That in turn, they understood, would most likely lead to the British people voting to quit the EU, the magazine said.” – The Observer

  • “The BBC is systematically ‘downgrading’ David Cameron’s pledge to hold a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union, leaving most voters ignorant of the Prime Minister’s radical plans, Iain Duncan Smith has said.” – Sunday Telegraph
  • “The question pondered by Team Cameron is this: what can the prime minister offer voters and Eurosceptic MPs that will convince them he is serious about renegotiating Britain’s relationship with Brussels?” – Sunday Times (£)
  • “Tony Blair was at the centre of  a row last night over claims that he was preparing to mount another bid to become President of Europe.” – Mail on Sunday
  • “Victims of last year’s military coup in Egypt have accused Tony Blair and his former spin doctor Alastair Campbell of assisting a brutal regime responsible for mass killings, torture and the jailing of thousands of innocent people.” – Mail on Sunday

And comment:

  • “EU institutions are transcendentally oblivious to the democratic will” – Janet Daley, Sunday Telegraph
  • “European Union dream threatened by austerity and disharmony” – William Keegan, The Observer

> Today: ToryDiary – How many heads does it take to demolish a brick wall?

Osborne calls for reforms to Europe’s migration laws

OSBORNE blue tie“After concerns over immigration drove voters towards Ukip in the EU elections, George Osborne warns today that if Labour win power next year the floodgates will swing back open. … In an exclusive interview with The Sun on Sunday, Mr Osborne said major reforms at European level are needed to get immigration down to the target of ‘tens of thousands’. … In a boost to our campaign to make tackling uncontrolled EU migration a Red Line in the renegotiation talks, ahead of Britain’s in-out vote in 2017, the Chancellor said: ‘We are delivering on the policy, and the key dimension to it which we now need to deliver on is the European aspect.'” – Sun on Sunday (£)

Fox does likewise

“What I am proposing is an open and shut policy: more open to those who have the skills we need to maintain our prosperity and place in the world and more closed to those who, for whatever reason, would end up placing a burden on our welfare system and infrastructure. … That is the sort of fair approach the British people will accept. … Britain is lucky. We have a mainstream Eurosceptic party able to form a Government and offer a referendum. Only the Conservative party can do this. It is a tremendous responsibility and a phenomenal challenge. David Cameron will reap rewards if he seizes this historic opportunity.” – Liam Fox, Mail on Sunday

But the Tories aren’t the only party wrestling over immigration: Labour MPs write an open letter to Miliband

Ed Miliband French“Ed Miliband is facing a backbench revolt over immigration policy as senior Labour MPs publicly warn of catastrophic consequences for the party unless he seeks constraints on the free movement of EU workers. … The unrestricted entry of EU citizens from eastern Europe since 2004 is hurting the ‘very communities that the Labour party was founded to represent’, the MPs claim in an open letter published in the Observer. … Miliband is urged by the rebels, including two former ministers, to commit a Labour government to seeking to constrain the free movement of labour from European countries with much lower incomes than the UK, such as Romania and Bulgaria.” – The Observer

Read the Labour MPs’ letter in full

  • “Labour is heading for defeat at the General Election because the party is seen as ‘Nice But Dim’, a pollster warned yesterday. … YouGov president Peter Kellner’s damning verdict on Ed Miliband’s chances of becoming PM came as the Labour leader faced a revolt from his MPs last night on immigration.” – Sun on Sunday (£)
  • “It was once a thriving tight-knit working class community — but locals say it is now divided. … They blame migration. Rotherham has the highest influx of asylum seekers in the region — even topping the number settling in nearby Leeds, despite it being a third of its size.” – Sun on Sunday (£)
  • “Labour must not yield to anti-European sentiment after Ukip’s success in last month’s elections, Chuka Umunna, the shadow Business Secretary, told a conference of Labour activists yesterday.” – Independent on Sunday

And comment:

  • “Ed Miliband would do well to echo Tony Blair’s line that immigration has brought much to this country” – Observer editorial
  • “Ed Miliband appears out of step on immigration, even in his constituency” – Daniel Boffey, The Observer

Back to the Chancellor, he isn’t too happy about the £4 billion estimate for refurbishing Parliament…

PARLIAMENT“MPs are demanding an extraordinary £4billion of taxpayers’ money to refurbish the Houses of Parliament, The Mail on Sunday has learned. … The huge sum – enough to build 200 secondary schools – is needed to correct ‘structural problems’, say MPs. … It is understood Mr Osborne reacted with fury when he was informed about the imminent demand, telling aides: ‘They had better think again.’” – Mail on Sunday

  • “The money must be found. Having said that, £4 billion seems a lot. Chancellor George Osborne is right to be asking for a cheaper estimate.” – Mail on Sunday editorial

…as he’s urged to waive the fee imposed on Chernobyl children…

“Since 1986, when the region suffered the world’s worst nuclear disaster, charities have funded annual month-long trips for more than 4,000 children to the UK. … But charities have had to halve the number they help after the Government introduced the £86 payment in a bid to claw back about £170,000 a year. … Conservative MP Craig Whitaker is lobbying the Chancellor to waive the fee.” – Mail on Sunday

  • “The mother of a British wildlife volunteer missing in a Malaysian jungle was yesterday flying out to join the search for her son. … Gareth Huntley, 34, from London, has not been seen since Tuesday morning on the island of Tioman, where he is working with the Juara Turtle Project charity. … Yesterday she urged Prime Minister David Cameron to ‘make one phone call’ to the country’s leader ‘before time runs out’.” – Mail on Sunday

…and could face a disaster at RBS, if a new book is to be believed

RBS logo“British taxpayers risk losing their entire £45bn stake in Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) which is in grave danger of failing within 10 years, according to an explosive new book. … A new study of the disgraced bank, which brought the UK to the brink of financial ruin, reveals RBS still has a £100bn ‘black hole’ in its finances due to ‘five broad areas of alleged criminality and wrongdoing’.” – Independent on Sunday

Queen’s Speech 1) Another set of pension reforms

“A shake-up of workplace pensions that will revolutionise retirement savings will be announced on Wednesday in the Queen’s Speech. … For the first time, workers will be able to contribute to Dutch-style ‘collective pension’ funds which they will share with thousands of other members. … Instead of saving into individual pots, which are more vulnerable to variations in the stock market, workers will pool their investments in a ‘mega fund’ that will pay them an income in retirement.” – Daily Telegraph

Queen’s Speech 2) A crackdown on the British extremists travelling to Syria

Syria“The Queen’s Speech on Wednesday will include plans to target the estimated 400 extremists with British links who have travelled to Syria since the conflict began. … As the law currently stands, only terror-related activities which take place in the UK can be criminalised – meaning that British nationals who use a foreign base, such as Syria, to plan attacks on the UK can escape prosecution. … Under the new plans, the Terrorism Act will be amended so that Britons can be prosecuted even if they prepare for terrorist acts while they are abroad.” – Mail on Sunday

  • “Counter-terrorism police have arrested two men suspected of involvement in the Syrian insurgency at Heathrow Airport in separate operations.” – Mail on Sunday
  • “A young British Muslim who fled his suburban upbringing and travelled abroad to become a fanatical terrorist can today be unmasked by The Mail on Sunday.” – Mail on Sunday

And comment:

  • “Those in charge of drafting these new laws should ensure that they are effective enough both to deter and severely punish this form of evil.” – Mail on Sunday editorial

Queen’s Speech 3) Protection for those forced into the sex trade

“A flagship bill in this week’s Queen’s speech will seek to end the criminalisation of victims which has deterred many of those forced into slavery from coming forward to bring their slave masters to justice. … The Modern Slavery Bill will aim to provide protection for victims of slavery and trafficking ‘in circumstances where they have been compelled to commit a crime and should not be treated as a criminal’.” – Sunday Times (£)

Queen’s Speech 4) New watchdog to prevent bullying in the Armed Forces

Armed Forces“Troops are to get a new watchdog to combat bullying, harassment and discrimination in the Armed Forces. … The Military Ombudsman will have the power to investigate grievances from Our Boys and Girls if they feel they are being ignored by top brass. … The Sun on Sunday can reveal that a tough new complaints system will feature in the Queen’s Speech this week.” – Sun on Sunday (£)

  • “Serving members of Britain’s Armed Forces have secretly joined a pacifist organisation directly opposed to war and the carrying of weapons, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.” – Mail on Sunday
  • “More than 17,000 readers have backed The Sun on Sunday’s campaign for a memorial near the spot where soldier Lee Rigby was murdered.” – Sun on Sunday (£)

Queen’s Speech 5) Measures to block “revolving door” payoffs in the public sector

“Public sector ‘fat cats’ who bank huge redundancy payments before finding a new job funded by the taxpayer will be targeted in Wednesday’s Queen’s Speech. … Ministers are planning to introduce legislation to claw back the pay-offs from employees earning more than £100,000 a year if they take a new job in the same part of the public sector within a year of redundancy.” – Mail on Sunday

  • “Celebrities and the super-rich have been forced to pay £210 million through a ‘back-door mansion tax’ in the last two years, new figures have revealed.” – Mail on Sunday
  • “Around 1.5 million refuse collectors, social workers, town planners, librarians, care home staff and other local government employees are expected to walk out of work for 24 hours on 10 July.” – Independent on Sunday
  • “Brazen Benefits Street star White Dee is demanding a ‘written apology’ from the Government for slashing her handouts.” – Sun on Sunday (£)

Queen’s Speech 6) “A more Tory flavour”

Rosette shield“The rest of the Queen’s Speech, one Cameron confidant tells me, will have ‘a more Tory flavour to it’ than its predecessors. … The Tories are increasingly buoyant about their General Election prospects. One of Cameron’s circle declares: ‘The Liberals are a complete mess, Labour is in a complete mess and we have a massive prize we can win.’” – James Forsyth, Mail on Sunday

  • “To win, we must revive and lead the unbeatable alliance that combines our natural middle-class supporters with the aspirational working-class voters who share our values but need to know the party of Margaret Thatcher is still on their side.” – Dominic Raab, Sunday Express
  • “By far the biggest losers in last week’s poll were David Cameron, and his useless, dying Tory Party.” – Peter Hitchens, Mail on Sunday
  • “The Scottish independence referendum will decide David Cameron’s place in history” – John Rentoul, Independent on Sunday

> Yesterday: ToryDiary – How thin will the Queen’s Speech be?

Willetts backs the move towards US-style degree courses

“British universities are increasingly offering US-style degree courses to drive up student numbers in the face of mounting competition from overseas, it has emerged. … Rising numbers of institutions are running ‘major/minor’ courses – an established feature of American higher education – to meet rising demand for more flexible degrees. … David Willetts, the Universities Minister, said: ‘It’s another example of universities responding to pressure from students.'” – Sunday Telegraph

Grayling faces trouble over tagging

“Criminals could be let out of prison tag-free amid fresh chaos in the monitoring system. … Plans to find a private security firm to put the devices on lags have been hit by massive delays. … Experts have warned there is now a serious risk there will be no electronic tagging at all.” – Sun on Sunday (£)

  • “Almost half of all parents fighting to get access to their children through the courts are being made to do so without legal advice, family magistrates warn today.” – Independent on Sunday

And comment:

  • “The NHS can’t cope with our society’s mentally ill, so the crisis is hidden behind bars” – Nick Cohen, The Observer

Emails suggest that the police set a trap for Mitchell

Andrew Mitchell“New evidence in the Plebgate affair suggests that police officers in Downing Street set a trap for Andrew Mitchell, the former Tory cabinet minister. … A police email sent in September 2012 shows that officers planned to stop Mitchell the next time he wanted to cycle through the main gates. When he tried to do so, just hours later, the angry exchange that led to his resignation occurred.” – Sunday Times (£)

Corruption on the road to World Cup 2022? Whittingdale wants the bidding process to start again

“The secret payments that helped Qatar to win the World Cup bid are revealed for the first time this weekend in a bombshell cache of millions of documents leaked to The Sunday Times. … The files expose how Qatar’s astonishing victory in the race to secure the right to host the 2022 tournament was sealed by a covert campaign by Mohamed bin Hammam, the country’s top football official. … John Whittingdale, chairman of the Commons culture committee, said: ‘There is now an overwhelming case that the decision as to where the World Cup should be held in 2022 should be run again.'” – Sunday Times (£)

  • “Our revelations mean it is time to draw this farce to a close.” – Sunday Times editorial (£)
  • “Fifa needs to up its game to give the World Cup a clean bill of health.” – Sun on Sunday editorial (£)

> Yesterday: Alistair Burt MP on Comment – The World Cup brings thrills, spills and – inevitably – politics along with it

Portas accuses the Coalition of failing the high street

“Retail guru Mary Portas has criticised the government for being slow to provide funding and guidance for suffering UK high streets in an essay which takes on her critics by highlighting the successes of towns which have followed her guidance. … Two years after the coalition responded to Portas’s 2011 review of the high street in which she made a string of recommendations, she writes: ‘Progress from central government has been far slower than I’d hoped.’ She also blamed ‘bumpy starts’ at the 27 Portas Pilot towns on ‘vague supporting processes’ and ‘insufficient guidance from government’.” – The Observer

Lord Ashcroft retraces his father’s D-Day footsteps

Lord Ashcroft ConHome conference“Fear and anxiety were undoubtedly widespread: my father and his fellow officers had been privately briefed to expect 75 per cent casualties – dead and wounded – as they landed. … In an area of more than 1,000 war graves and with birdsong as the only sound, I contemplated the thin margin between life and death. If the sniper’s bullet had been just two feet to one side, my father’s life would have been over, aged just 27, and I would never have been born.” – Lord Ashcroft, Sunday Telegraph

Also:

Clegg is a very lucky politician, reckons Rawnsley…

“He would be in much deeper trouble with his party if it looked obvious that Labour or the Tories were striding confidently towards a general election victory guaranteed to thrust the Lib Dems back into the margins. So long as there is a decent chance of the next election producing another hung parliament, Lib Dems can be tantalised with the possibility that they could still be in the game. They have also taken some solace from projections based on the local elections that indicate they could hold 35 to 40 of their parliamentary seats, a lot better than the headline polls are suggesting.” – Andrew Rawnsley, The Observer

  • “The Lib Dems find their point, and it’s not a knife in Nick’s back” – Adam Boulton, Sunday Times (£)

…but is he really?

Curse of Clegg 2“Nick Clegg suffered two fresh blows last night as the police were called in to investigate claims that he sold peerages for cash, and Liberal Democrat members said plans to oust him were back on track. … Angus MacNeil, the Scottish Nationalist MP who sparked the cash for honours scandal that engulfed the Blair government, has written to Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Metropolitan police commissioner, asking him to launch an investigation into claims by the former Lib Dem peer Lord Oakeshott that the sale of peerages is still common.” – Sunday Times (£)

  • “The Parliamentary party will meet after the Queen’s Speech on Wednesday, the first time that the bulk of LibDem MPs have been together since the party lost 11 of its 12 MEPs last weekend. Some MPs had hoped to use this meeting to demand Mr Clegg consider his position, but the Deputy Prime Minister survived a botched coup last week that has eased the pressure on him.” – Independent on Sunday
  • “Nick Clegg has become the least popular leader in modern British political history, according to a new poll.” – Sunday Times (£)
  • “Baroness Williams, the Liberal Democrat peer, was accused of making ‘highly insensitive’ comments on the Lord Rennard scandal yesterday after she apparently tried to play down allegations of sexual impropriety against the party’s former chief executive.” – Sunday Telegraph

Labour council leader faces police probe over leaflet-snatching allegations

“A council leader is being investigated by police for allegedly snatching a rival party’s leaflet from a letterbox during last week’s council elections. … Robert Anderson, leader of Slough Council in Berkshire, is alleged to have put his hand through the front-door flap, removed a Ukip leaflet and replaced it with his own Labour flyer.” – Mail on Sunday

Andrew Gilligan on the mayoral election in Tower Hamlets

“Yet Mr Rahman has gone on to win two mayoral elections as an independent, his latest, last week, even though his council is under a police investigation for corruption and a government investigation for misuse of funds. How did he manage it? Khales Uddin Ahmed, another Labour councillor, claims he knows part of the answer. ‘There are so many fake voters,’ he says. ‘I keep finding houses where there are people registered for postal votes who do not live there.'” – Andrew Gilligan, Sunday Telegraph

UKIP plans to target seats held by senior Tories

Farage Nigel Eating Cakes“Ukip has announced plans to target the seats of senior Tories in the 2015 general election, as a poll suggested that the vast majority of the four million people who voted for the party in the European elections would do the same next year. … Nigel Farage’s party has said it will stand candidates in all six seats in Worcestershire, one of whom would challenge the new culture minister, Sajid Javid, and the government’s assistant whip, Harriet Baldwin.” – The Observer

  • “UKIP is demanding that Nigel Farage be included in all of the leaders’ debates in the run-up to the 2015 general election and that his party be given equal air time to the Tories and Labour.” – Sunday Times (£)

And comment:

  • “Nigel Farage, the Purple Pimpernel, can’t remain an outsider forever” – Matthew d’Ancona, Sunday Telegraph
  • “Media concern over ‘limitless extremism’ before last week’s elections smoothly became sonorous endorsement afterwards” – Peter Preston, The Observer
  • “Forget Ukip – euroscepticism in France would give Farage a run for his money” – Philippe Marliere, The Observer

> Today: Matthew Sinclair on Comment – Internal party democracy is the best response to UKIP’s rise – not abolishing First Past the Post

“I like Indian restaurants too.” Helmer makes his pitch for Newark votes

“Helmer, who defected from the Conservatives two years ago and is now a Ukip Euro MP, doesn’t actually scoff when I suggest immigration has had benefits too, but his five-word reply, ‘I like Indian restaurants too’, speaks for itself. … In the mouth of the BNP’s Nick Griffin, Helmer’s words would sound vile, but like Farage, he is so chirpy and brazen it is harder to take offence.” – Mail on Sunday

  • “Today, Helmer is mostly wearing a palette of baby poo, camel and beige. He is an amiable sort of cove with the last moustache in the country that’s worn without either irony or innuendo…” – AA Gill, Sunday Times (£)
  • “If [the Tories] can defeat Ukip [in Newark], they may well be able to halt Nigel Farage’s forward march, and begin to reverse it.” – Mail on Sunday editorial

“Damning” report into Birmingham schools set to be published

School“Children in Birmingham are being denied a ’rounded education’ to prepare them for life as British citizens, the chief inspector of schools will warn next week when he publishes damning reports into state schools that have allegedly been imposing Islamic practices and attitudes. … According to a source at the Department for Education (DfE), some of the schools will be asked to accept training programmes designed to help them combat radicalisation and extremism.” – Sunday Times (£)

  • “The man at the centre of the so-called Trojan Horse plot to Islamicise secular schools in Birmingham had been the leader of a fundamentalist group which had aspired to turn Britain into an Islamic state.” – Sunday Times (£)
  • “The children’s author and poet Michael Rosen is to publish an ‘alternative curriculum’ for parents to use with their children because schools have ‘given up doing all the creative, interesting stuff’.” – Sunday Times (£)

And comment:

  • “… it is increasingly clear that our current model of weak governance and atomised schooling in the context of strong community politics is allowing an unacceptable weakening of basic educational safeguards.” – Tristram Hunt, Sunday Times (£)

A postcode lottery in GP services

“A postcode lottery in GP services has been revealed by research, with some affluent areas enjoying up to four times as much access to doctors as poorer areas. … A study by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) found 22% of people living in parts of Bradford were unable to make an appointment with their GP. In Bath and northeast Somerset that figure was just 5%.” – Sunday Times (£)

Landowners rally against the development of HS2

high-speed rail“Earl Spencer and Lord Rothschild are leading a growing revolt by landowners against the Government’s High Speed Two rail line. … A string of aristocratic families are among almost 2,000 petitioners lobbying Parliament to stop the controversial scheme going ahead in its current form. … They have joined a chorus of protest from other campaigners who argue that the line will blight property prices, carve up Britain’s waterways and threaten countryside idylls.” – Mail on Sunday

Meriam Ibrahim to be freed, according to reports

“Meriam Ibrahim, the Sudanese woman sentenced to death for her Christian beliefs, will be freed in the next few days it was reported on Saturday night. The mother of two, who gave birth to a daughter on Tuesday while shackled in heavy chains, has been in jail since January. … The 27-year-old, whose young son Martin has also been forced to stay in prison with her, had been found guilty of apostasy, having married Daniel Wani, a Christian, who holds dual Sudanese-US citizenship. Her 2011 marriage was also annulled and Ibrahim was sentenced to 100 lashes for adultery.” – The Observer

  • “A friend of the Archbishop of Canterbury has been working secretly to help to free the Nigerian schoolgirls who have been kidnapped by Boko Haram extremists.” – Sunday Times (£)

> Yesterday: ToryDiary – 100,000 Christians a year are being martyred – what can be done to stop this?

News in brief

And finally 1) Farewell to Prezza’s pot plants

Plant“John Prescott’s office pot plants are being sold off — to prune the deficit. … Labour’s former Deputy PM blew nearly £40,000 of taxpayers’ money filling his London HQ with costly shrubs. … But Tory successor Eric Pickles has ordered a clear-out of the rubber plants and fig trees to trim costs and raise cash.” – Sun on Sunday (£)

And finally 2) Son of Oakeshott

“The Army reservist son of Lib Dem peer Lord Oakeshott was at the centre of a military police inquiry after an alleged attempt to oust the commanding officer of his unit. … In an apparent precursor to his father’s botched bid to remove Nick Clegg as Lib Dem party leader last week, part-time soldier Luke Oakeshott has been implicated in an alleged behind-the-scenes plot to undermine his Army commander.” – Mail on Sunday

  • “Lord Oakeshott’s impressive property portfolio should provide him with some comfort now he has resigned from the Lib Dems over those mutiny plots” – Sunday Telegraph

18 comments for: Newslinks for Sunday 1st June 2014

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