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“He f****d it up.” Warsaw’s jibe at Cameron over the EU

CAMERON EU fence“David Cameron’s bid to renegotiate Britain’s relationship with the EU has been ridiculed by Poland’s Foreign Secretary in explosive private recordings leaked to the country’s media. … Radek Sikorski, who was in the infamous Bullingdon Club with Boris Johnson at university in Oxford, accused Mr Cameron of ‘incompetence’ and ‘stupidly’ pandering to his eurosceptic backbenchers. … He said the Prime Minister had ‘f****d up’ trying to veto the last European treaty and would fail in his bid to overhaul Britain’s relationship with Brussels unless they offer Poland a ‘mountain of gold’.” – Daily Mail

  • “The prime minister is assessing whether to invoke the so-called Luxembourg Compromise, known as the ‘L-bomb’, claiming vital national interests are at risk if Mr Juncker is appointed, senior officials confirmed last night.” – The Times (£)
  • “Mr Cameron told Herman Van Rompuy, who chairs this week’s EU summit, that he wants Mr Juncker’s nomination as European Commission president put to an unprecedented vote and that he is prepared to be isolated in his opposition.” – Financial Times
  • “Visitors to France will face travel chaos next week as air traffic controllers join rail workers in a nationwide strike.” – Daily Mail
  • “European students who took out taxpayer-funded loans to study at English universities are defaulting on nearly £40million of repayments, official figures have shown.” – Daily Mail

And comment:

  • “In a sign of growing frustration, No. 10 yesterday suggested for the first time that Mr Cameron might campaign to leave the EU in his planned 2017 referendum.” – Daily Mail editorial
  • “His embarrassing failure to block Europhile Jean-Claude Juncker as EU president has already put a question-mark over his competence and his influence. This won’t help.” – Sun editorial (£)
  • “If Jean-Claude Juncker is anointed president of the European Commission, many voters in this country will start eyeing the exit.” – Max Hastings, Daily Mail
  • “Britain’s wooing of Germany has fallen flat” – Gideon Rachman, Financial Times

> Today: ToryDiary – Cameron versus S*k*rsk*, R*st*wsk*, Kr*w**c, Gr*s & T*sk

The Prime Minister is “appalled” at the jailing of journalists in Egypt, as Tory MPs call for aid payments to end…

Egypt flag“David Cameron said that he was ‘completely appalled’ by the verdicts against former BBC correspondent Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, while Foreign Secretary William Hague summoned the Egyptian ambassador in London for crisis talks. … Conservative MPs called for an urgent review of UK and EU aid payments to Egypt. There were similar calls in the US, which has just handed Cairo a huge slice of foreign aid.” – Daily Mail

  • “Christian woman on death row in a Sudanese prison has been released on the orders of a court in Khartoum following an international outcry over her sentence and treatment.” – The Guardian

And comment:

  • “The journalists were accused of falsely suggesting that Egypt is a deeply divided nation, yet these perverted verdicts prove just that.” – Guardian editorial
  • “Until the journalists are freed, international pressure must be piled on the Egyptian government.” – Times editorial (£)
  • “The brutality of Egypt’s regime” – Financial Times editorial
  • “Jailed Al Jazeera journalists are pawns in the war between Qatar and Saudi Arabia” – Robert Fisk, The Independent

…and he also wants to shame companies into hiring more ethnic minority workers

“David Cameron is looking at forcing British firms to reveal how many Afro-Caribbean workers they employ – to shame them into hiring more. … The PM admitted more needs to be done to ‘level the playing field’. … Afro-Caribbean, Chinese, Indian and Bangladeshi kids are now outperforming their white peers at school. … But more than 55 per cent of black 16 to 24 year-olds are out of work – double the level of six years ago.” – The Sun (£)

  • “Illegal immigrants are increasingly turning to same-sex sham marriages to stay in Britain.” – The Sun (£)
  • “A man who says he was recruited and sent by a covert police unit to infiltrate the British National party has spent more than a decade trying to persuade police to publicly clear his name of racism.” – The Guardian

“You need mayors like Boris.” Coverage of Osborne’s speech in the North…

paint-map“George Osborne has urged northern cities to adopt Boris Johnson-style elected mayors – just two years after thousands of voters said they did not want them. … In Manchester yesterday Mr Osborne said he is ready to offer a bigger carrot in terms of local decision-making power to tempt the cities to reconsider. … His offer came as he set out his vision of an economic ‘powerhouse’ in the north of England, with a high-speed rail link between Manchester and Leeds.” – Daily Mail

  • “Within hours of George Osborne calling for a high speed line between Manchester and Leeds to create a ‘Northern powerhouse’, their regional neighbours were jostling for a seat on the train.” – Financial Times
  • “The government needs to adopt the living wage as an ‘explicit goal’ to help lift 1 million workers out of low paid jobs, according to a commission of business leaders and anti-poverty groups set up by the Archbishop of York.” – The Guardian

And comment:

  • “If Mr Osborne wants to boost economic activity, the introduction of regional pay bargaining to break the stranglehold of the State would be far more effective than saddling voters with expensive local versions of Boris Johnson.” – Daily Mail editorial
  • “…the chancellor’s effort to shore up Tory support in the north has missed an opportunity to address the real connectivity problem: the myriad bottlenecks on existing roads and railways that limit the effective size of the region’s economy.” – Financial Times editorial
  • “Cities are not spontaneous encounters; they need stimulus and the government is right to consider how it can help the emergence of a rival city superpower.” – Times editorial (£)
  • “Devolving this kind of power out of Whitehall is long overdue, but local government structures will need reshaping if they are to exploit their new powers.” – Guardian editorial
  • “…if the Chancellor’s speech, delivered in a city where the Conservatives have not even won a seat on the city council in more than 20 years, is meant to begin to overcome the party’s Northern problem, all that can be said is that there is a very long way still to go.” – Independent editorial
  • “HS3 alone will not get our big northern cities on track” – Philip Johnston, Daily Telegraph

> Today:

> Yesterday: ToryDiary – Osborne looks to the North

…as a mayor called Boris defends his airport plans

borisfringe“Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, is fighting to keep alive his proposal for a Thames estuary airport by publishing a report claiming that a four-runway hub will serve the UK’s regions much better than an expanded Heathrow. … Mr Johnson, a leading opponent of Heathrow’s expansion, is struggling to convince sceptics that his alternative proposal is viable. Estimates of the cost of a estuary airport range up to £100bn, against £16.8bn for expanding Heathrow and £7.8bn for another runway at Gatwick.” – Financial Times

  • “A report by York Aviation and Oxford Economics published today highlights how a decision on where to build additional airport capacity in the south east is of paramount importance to Cardiff.” – WalesOnline

Could the Chancellor’s plans for Lloyds be upset by another scandal?

“The Government’s aim of returning the entire Lloyds Banking Group to private ownership before the general election could be blown off-course by another mis-selling scandal. … An investigation by The Independent of the potential liabilities of British banks incurred from the mis-selling of interest rate protection products, known as swaps, has revealed that payouts could match the PPI scandal, which has so far cost them £22bn.” – The Independent

Tories question the balance of taxation

Tax Take“Taxes taken from savers and home buyers will exceed revenue collected in so-called sin taxes within two years, official figures have revealed. … An analysis of Treasury projections show that revenue collected by the Government through inheritance tax and stamp duty will exceed that collected through taxes on alcohol and cigarettes by the end of 2016. … George Osborne was urged by leading conservative MPs last night to reform the tax system for the benefit of savers.” – Daily Telegraph

Pickles thwarted by the High Court as he tries to block wind farm scheme

“Government attempts to stop the spread of unsightly wind and solar farms have suffered a setback after a High Court judge quashed Eric Pickles’ decision to block one such controversial scheme. … The Communities Secretary has been personally reviewing dozens of planning application appeals for wind farms and some solar farms, causing widespread complaints from the industry that projects are being blocked for political reasons.” – Daily Telegraph

  • “A Government ambition to build hundreds of thousands of homes a year has branded unrealistic by housebuilders. … The warning came in a report from a leading accountancy firm that said the UK is facing its biggest shortfall since 1950s.” – Daily Telegraph

Hunt admonishes hospitals for hiding their blunders

HUNT Doctor Carla Millar“One in five hospitals is not being honest about the extent to which patients are suffering needless harm, according to the Health Secretary. … Jeremy Hunt will warn that 29 NHS trusts are under-recording the number of serious errors and near misses that occur due to mistakes by staff. … In a speech today, he will say that such errors are causing patients and families ‘immeasurable harm’ and costing the Health Service £800million annually in extra treatment and legal bills.” – Daily Mail

  • “The NHS has been served up to ‘armies of lawyers and accountants’ from the private healthcare industry, the leader of Britain’s doctors has said, accusing the Government of a double-pronged attack on the health service driven by privatisation and cuts to services.” – The Independent
  • “The NHS’s financial problems are set to worsen next year, with more hospitals ending up in the red, the health services’s finance managers have warned.” – The Guardian
  • “Thousand of patients are being arbitrarily struck off by GPs who say they can no longer cope with spiralling numbers.” – Daily Mail
  • “Hay fever cases have more than doubled since this time last year, with a fivefold rise in cases in a fortnight.” – Daily Telegraph

And comment:

  • “The NHS dog will not stay silent for long” – Rachel Sylvester, The Times (£)
  • “The real reason why NHS is overwhelmed” – Daily Mail editorial

Advisor attacks the Government’s badger culls

“In a strongly worded attack, Professor Timothy Coulson, a member of the Independent Expert Panel (IEP) which was tasked by the Government to advise it on pilot culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire, said: ‘I am tempted to speculate that the Government no longer wants to know whether the pilots are effective or humane.’ … Professor Coulson, a zoologist based at the University of Oxford, adds: ‘They just want to cull badgers, regardless of whether the population or humaneness consequences can be assessed.'” – The Independent

Brady calls for a “conscious uncoupling” of the Coalition

BRADY Graham headshot“An orderly ‘conscious uncoupling’ of the coalition government should take place months before the next general election, a senior Conservative said last night. … Graham Brady, chairman of the influential 1922 committee of Tory MPs, said he had always believed that both coalition parties would need a ‘significant opportunity’ to offer a distinct message to the voters. … He warned that attempting to see out the coalition right up until election day would lead to an ‘increasingly fractious period’ that would damage both parties.” – The Times (£)

Evans fights back against deselection “whisperings”

“Mr Evans, who claims he has the support of senior Tories including the Prime Minister, last night said that he was ‘confident’ that he would win the ballot, but admitted that he had heard local whisperings. … ‘There’s only going to be a small element of homophobia but it’s incredibly rare to hear any of it. The vast majority were delighted when I came out in 2010, that I’m able to get on with my life, and wish me well for the future.’” – Daily Mail

Miliband: I won’t quit, even if Labour loses the next election

MILIBAND Red Ed“Ed Miliband has told friends he will fight to stay on as Labour leader even if he leads the party to election defeat next year. … The beleaguered Labour leader believes he can ‘do a Kinnock’ and go on for years, regardless of the General Election result, a Shadow Cabinet source told the Daily Mail. … ‘There’s lots of talk about who should replace Ed if we lose next year, but it all misses one big point: he has no intention of going,’ the source said.” – Daily Mail

  • “Ed Miliband is seen as even less Prime Ministerial than No10 disaster Gordon Brown, an exclusive poll has revealed. … The YouGov survey for The Sun found just three per cent of Brits think the Labour leader comes across well as a national leader, from a long list of 21 post-war PMs and opposition bosses.” – The Sun (£)
  • “On this day: Gordon Brown became Labour Party leader” – The Scotsman
  • “Labour leader Ed Miliband is looking to hire an apprentice to assist with running his office.” – The Independent

And comment:

  • “The crisis in the Labour party goes much deeper than Ed Miliband” – John Harris, The Guardian
  • “David Blunkett and Ed Miliband could learn a lot from Dolly Parton” – Steve Richards, The Independent
  • “Labour is already starting to drift into the post-Miliband era” – Dan Hodges, Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday: Lord Ashcroft on Comment – Labour’s lead is down to five points in this week’s Ashcroft National Poll

Balls tweaks his mansion tax proposal

“Labour has sought to placate owners of high value properties by modifying its policy of levying an extra ‘mansion tax’ on houses worth more than £2m. … Ed Balls, Labour’s shadow chancellor, has said the party will allow owners to defer paying the tax until they sell their homes, will introduce bands to make sure those with the highest value properties pay more and will raise the rates in line with property prices rather than overall UK inflation.” – Financial Times

Cooper criticises “deeply troubling” fall in number of offenders barred from working with children

COOPER Yvette looking right“The number of people who have committed child sex offences and have been barred from working with children has fallen by nearly 10,000 over the past three years, according to freedom of information disclosures. … Data obtained by the shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, shows that the number of child sex offenders banned from working with children fell from 12,360 in 2011 to 2,800 last year.” – The Guardian

  • “A ‘dysfunctional’ child protection system is withholding help from some of the country’s most vulnerable youngsters, leaving them at the mercy of drug addict, alcoholic or otherwise chaotic parents, according to a new report.” – The Times (£)

Labour’s assault on outsourcing companies

“Labour will mount an assault on big outsourcing companies if it wins the election, reducing their role in delivering the government’s back-to-work programme and exploring a plan to force them to pay all workers above the minimum wage in exchange for Whitehall contracts. … The proposals are the latest plank in the party’s drive to end “business as usual” in the corporate world, and follow pledges to introduce an energy price freeze, rent controls, a mansion tax and a tighter cap on pension charges.” – Financial Times

  • “Unemployment is falling faster than anyone predicted but joblessness is still endemic among one group of people: young adults. Persuading companies to take on inexperienced youngsters is a perennial challenge for politicians. … Rachel Reeves believes the answer could lie in a business park in Caerphilly, a stone’s throw from one of Europe’s largest castles.” – Financial Times
  • “The ‘British disease’ of workers’ low productivity, identified by Margaret Thatcher in her fight against the unions, is “back with a vengeance”, a senior Labour figure will warn today.” – The Times (£)
  • “More than £100 million was lost as a result of botched justice projects started by the last Labour government, it has emerged.” – Daily Telegraph

And comment:

  • “Labour’s tactic for the next ten months will reportedly be to ‘toxify’ Government policies. We certainly saw that yesterday. … They moaned about every policy from work capability assessments to personal independence payments to job figures (What? Employment is at a record high!).” – Quentin Letts, Daily Mail

> Yesterday: LeftWatch – Labour’s delay of Universal Credit would cost the taxpayer money

Former ambassadors turn on Blair

BLAIR Europe“Three former UK ambassadors to the Middle East will tomorrow join calls for Tony Blair to be removed from his role as Middle East peace envoy. … Signatories to an open letter, led by Mr Blair’s former ambassador to Iran Sir Richard Dalton, describe his achievements in the region as ‘negligible’, criticise his money-making activities and accuse him of trying to ‘absolve himself’ of responsibility for the crisis in Iraq.” – Daily Mail

  • “Tony Blair is looking to open an office in Abu Dhabi, the increasingly assertive oil-rich emirate, in an apparent bid to expand his role as a behind-the-scenes business and political broker in the Middle East.” – Financial Times
  • “Tony Blair tried to dodge a request to face questions from MPs over a secret scheme granting ‘comfort letters’ to IRA fugitives.” – The Times (£)

> Yesterday: Columnist Charlotte Leslie MP – How my anger at Tony Blair helped to drive me into politics

Muslim communities “complacent” about the threat of home-grown jihadists, warns police chief

“Muslim communities in Britain are guilty of ‘complacency and passivity’ over the threat from home-grown jihadists, the UK’s top counter-terrorism officer warned last night. … The Metropolitan Police’s Assistant Commissioner, Cressida Dick, said there were many cases where ‘warning signs’ about extremists were not brought to the attention of authorities.” – Daily Mail

  • “A brainwashed 1,500 Britons have left the country to fight with extremists Isis in Iraq and Syria, an MP claimed yesterday.” – The Sun (£)
  • “Just under 500 Britons have travelled to fight in al-Qaeda-linked organisations in Syria’s civil war and at least one attack planned by fighters who have returned to the UK has been foiled by MI5, according to officials.” – Financial Times
  • “Two British jihadists who appeared in a terrorism recruitment video urging Muslims to fight in Syria were followers of an austere sect which is the fastest growing branch of Islam in Britain, it emerged last night.” – The Times (£)
  • “Britain’s Armed Forces are ‘not good enough’ to deal with the global threat of Jihadis, according to a former head of the military.” – Daily Telegraph

And comment:

  • “The threat of young Isis converts may be impossible for intelligence services to stamp out” – Independent editorial
  • “Assistant Commissioner Dick’s warning that new legislation may be needed to give the Met more powers to gather evidence from communications data should be taken seriously.” – Times editorial (£)
  • “Funding of 2 per cent of GDP will provide the nation with a military of which it can be proud and might also help us counter the Isis menace” – Daily Telegraph editorial

Kerry calls on Iraq to form a new government

Iraq flag“John Kerry called on Iraq’s leaders to immediately form a new government that includes all the country’s political and religious factions, as the US secretary of state scrambled to head off the break-up of the country by a surging rebel alliance. … This should happen ‘not next week, not next month, but now’, Mr Kerry said at the heavily fortified US embassy in Baghdad, where he held talks with Nouri al-Maliki, Iraq’s Shia prime minister, and other leaders.” – Financial Times

  • “Al-Qaeda renegades are using American military hardware plundered in Iraq to tilt the battlefield in Syria, in the latest sign that their surge is threatening to transform the entire Middle East.” – The Times (£)

> Today: Garvan Walshe’s column – Israel is starting to push its luck in the West Bank

Farage wants more referendums

“Nigel Farage has said that his party will be an advocate of direct democracy by giving voters the power in a referendum to block local housing, environmental or transport schemes. He also said he wanted voters to be given a more direct say in foreign affairs issues, arguing that Swiss-style referendums can bind countries together. … In his first setpiece speech since his party’s successes in the European elections, the Ukip leader also said he supported direct recall, whereby MPs charged with misconduct can be answerable to their voters.” – The Guardian

  • “Ukip would shrivel without the internet” – Hugo Rifkind, The Times (£)
  • “Ukip’s trade policy would leave Britain isolated and vulnerable” – Alan Beattie, Financial Times

Salmond’s local income tax to cost families £550, say experts

Scottish flag“Families with two earners face a £550 hike in their bills for council services under Alex Salmond’s plans to introduce a local income tax in an independent Scotland, the Daily Telegraph can disclose today. … Impartial economists in the Scottish Parliament’s Information Centre (SPICe) calculated the levy would have to be set at 5.4p in the pound to replace the revenue raised by council tax – almost double the rate the SNP originally proposed.” – Daily Telegraph

  • “There is ‘generalised hostility to the Barnett formula’ in Whitehall and Westminster over the ‘excessive levels’ of public spending it provides Scotland, a leading academic has told MSPs.” – The Scotsman
  • “The success of Scotland’s world-leading medical research sector has happened because the country is part of the UK, according to Better Together leader Alistair Darling.” – The Scotsman
  • “Independence could kill off Scotland’s shipbuilding industry, Johann Lamont warned on Monday as the pro-UK campaign focused on the impact of separation on manufacturing.” – Daily Telegraph
  • “Daniel Radcliffe, the star of Harry Potter, has suggested he wants the United Kingdom to remain together by saying he likes the current arrangement while discussing Scottish independence.” – Daily Telegraph
  • “Just three months before Scotland’s independence referendum, the nation’s capital is bracing for the spectacle of a bloody war between Scottish patriots and English occupiers – though fortunately in the safely entertaining form of a special screening of Mel Gibson’s gory cinematic epic Braveheart.” – Financial Times

News in brief

  • Ukraine rebels to observe ceasefire until Friday – The Guardian
  • Schumacher’s medical notes stolen – The Guardian
  • Ireland is the best country in the world, according to Good Country Index – The Independent
  • Greenpeace chief travels to the office by aircraft – The Times (£)
  • Britain is becoming a more religious country, reckons historian Schama – Daily Mail
  • Bond’s lost his Britishness, says Cleese – Daily Mail

And finally: The passport boss, leader of the year?

trophy“The head of the beleaguered Passport Office has been nominated for a ‘leader of the year’ award by the government- owned Investors in People consultancy. … Paul Pugh, the £104,000-a-year chief executive, was shortlisted earlier this year for the honour. The awards, described as ‘celebrating the best workplaces, bosses and businesses’, were made at a £185-a-head dinner preceded by a champagne reception in the five-star Landmark hotel in Marylebone, London, last night.” – The Times (£)

33 comments for: Newslinks for Tuesday 24th June 2014

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