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Cameron prepares to make immigration one of his European “red lines”…

EU Exit“David Cameron is to demand the right to limit European immigration as his price to stay in the EU, The Sun can reveal. … If other leaders do not agree, the PM will tell them he is now prepared to lead Britain’s exit in his pledged 2017 In/Out referendum. … The ultimatum will be unveiled by the Premier by Christmas. … In issuing it, the Premier will openly accept the possibility of leaving the EU for the first time — a major departure from his position of refusing to accept failure in the key talks until now.” – The Sun (£)

  • “In the past 20 years political and journalistic elites have advocated the euro, allowed uncontrolled immigration, poured money into an unreformed welfare state and tried to invade two countries on the cheap. On each occasion the masses have been sceptical — and on each occasion the masses have been right.” – Tim Montgomerie, The Times (£)
  • “Even the Tories have a kind of resignation about how much we can do in the world now, an insularity embodied by Ukip’s smallminded politics for a small, wilting country.” – Suzanne Moore, The Guardian
  • “The black-up morris dancing row shows that Britain isn’t one nation, but many.” – Martin Kettle, The Guardian
  • “At last, David Cameron will throw down the gauntlet on immigration.” – Sun editorial (£)

…still faces disgruntlement over the European Arrest Warrant…

“A leading eurosceptic Conservative is teaming up with Ukip’s treasurer in an attempt to derail the government’s plans to continue Britain’s involvement in key EU policing and justice measures, in an indication of the potential for Tory rebellion over Europe. … In a second show of defiance, MPs from the Thatcherite No Turning Back Group told David Cameron over a private lunch they would rebel over the prime minister’s plans to opt back into the European arrest warrant. … ‘We gave him a polite but firm warning that we can’t sign up to this,’ said one party figure.” – Financial Times

…declines to sack Lord Freud…

Lord Freud“David Cameron last night faced down calls to sack his welfare minister Lord Freud after claiming disabled people are ‘not worth’ the minimum wage. … In a statement Lord Freud issued a ‘full and unreserved apology’ and sought to insist all disabled people should be paid at least the minimum wage ‘without exception’. … It also emerged that in 2003, the Labour government published guidance on where it might be acceptable to pay disabled people less than the minimum wage, now £6.50 an hour.” – Daily Mail

  • “David Cameron ordered the welfare reform minister Lord Freud to issue a full apology after it emerged he had said that some disabled people were ‘not worth’ paying the minimum wage.” – The Guardian
  • “Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, is expected to criticise the comments which were made by Lord Freud, the minister in charge of welfare reform, at the Conservative party conference.” – Daily Telegraph
  • “Interns should be paid the minimum wage by law, ending the practice of unpaid internships that help the wealthy, the government’s official adviser on social mobility will recommend next week.” – The Guardian

And comment:

  • “The central political question to be considered over the next few months is not what Lord Freud said at a conference fringe meeting, but whether Mr Miliband is suitable to be prime minister. No amount of diversionary spin is going to stop it being asked over and over again.” – Daily Telegraph editorial
  • “‘Sack him!’ cried a few Labour voices. They meant Lord Freud should be sacked. They were not referring to Mr Miliband, who had just been cheered lustily by Conservative and Lib Dem MPs delighted by his recent performance.” – Quentin Letts, Daily Mail

> Yesterday: WATCH – The furore over Lord Freud’s remarks

…and hails the biggest fall in unemployment on record

GROWTH Krieg“A record high number of workers in part-time jobs has helped create the biggest fall in unemployment for 40 years. … It means the jobless total is below two million for the first time since the recession struck in 2008 – with just 6 per cent of Britons now out of work. … Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions in the Commons yesterday, David Cameron seized on the unemployment fall as ‘great news’ but admitted there was ‘more work to be done’ as wages lag behind the cost of living.” – Daily Mail

  • “Young people with strong regional accents should not have to change the way they speak when they are trying to get a job, the employment minister has said.” – Daily Telegraph

And comment:

  • “Though unemployment continues to fall, British households are still being squeezed on living standards.” – Times editorial (£)
  • “Employment has bounced back much more quickly from the recession than expected. But a pile-’em-high, sell-’em-cheap approach to the workforce is reducing the political dividend from this success.” – Guardian editorial
  • “A benign economic backdrop is no excuse to evade tough choices.” – Financial Times editorial
  • “Public service strikers are standing up for the real Britain.” – Seumas Milne, The Guardian

> Yesterday: Charlie Elphicke MP on Comment – The Conservatives are getting Britain working

But will his inheritance tax pledge come to anything?

Tax Take“David Cameron has rowed back on a £3billion pledge to slash inheritance tax – just 24 hours after he promised it. … The PM dramatically vowed to OAPs on Tuesday that only the ‘very wealthy’ would be forced to pay the hated levy. … But as the massive cost became clear, he admitted to MPs on Wednesday: ‘It may have to wait some time.’ … His embarrassing change of heart came at Prime Minister’s Questions when Tory MP Angie Bray urged him to raise the threshold ‘as soon as possible’.” – The Sun (£)

  • “How can Mr Cameron and his fiscal watchdog have such a different understanding of the numbers? The answer, confirmed to the Financial Times by the Treasury, is that the prime minister is not comparing like with like.” – Financial Times

And comment:

  • “Tax cuts are exactly what the UK doesn’t need.” – Giles Wilkes, Financial Times

Victory for Maude: the Prime Minister will have final say over senior civil servant appointments

“The prime minister is to be given the final choice on the appointment of the most senior civil servants, in a reform that risks fuelling charges of Whitehall politicisation. … … Under the new agreement, the prime minister will be able to make the final appointment from a shortlist of names provided by the civil service commission. Currently one candidate is chosen by a panel and the prime minister can only approve or reject the appointment.” – Financial Times

Stamp out the basic errors, Hunt to tell the NHS

HUNT Doctor Carla Millar“The NHS could afford to employ tens of thousands of extra nurses if it stamped out basic errors which put patient safety at risk, Jeremy Hunt will say today. … The Health Secretary will tell staff that a culture change is needed to stop cash-strapped hospitals wasting as much as £2.5billion a year on needless mistakes. … In a speech at Birmingham Children’s Hospital today, Mr Hunt will tell NHS staff that poor care is the ‘most wasteful and expensive’ failing made by hospitals – meaning patients suffer complications and longer stays as a result.” – Daily Mail

  • “Patients face more rationing of treatments on the government’s Cancer Drugs Fund, as health chiefs said the present system was not working and undervalued the lives of patients with less high-profile diseases.” – The Times (£)

And comment:

  • “Stand aside, politicians: it’s time for an evidence-based NHS.” – Max Pemberton, The Spectator
  • “The cancer drugs fund should be closed.” – Times editorial (£)

Ministers toughen up the rules for foreign criminals

“Foreign rapists, killers and burglars are finally being stripped of their right to lodge a ‘conveyer belt’ of appeals in a bid to cheat deportation. … Under tough new laws, the number of grounds on which foreign criminals can contest their removal will be reduced from a staggering 17 to just four. … Crucially, they will no longer be able to appeal simply because they do not agree with the Home Office’s decision or because they think their crime was ‘not serious enough’.” – Daily Mail

  • “Foreigners held in English and Welsh prisons cannot be returned if jails in their home country do not comply with human rights legislation. … But Conservative backbenchers have called for cash from the Department for International Development and the Ministry of Justice to develop prisons overseas to ensure they do comply.” – Daily Mail
  • “More than £850 million of taxpayer-funded aid may have been tainted by links to a Nigerian money-launderer jailed in Britain, a parliamentary committee was told yesterday.” – The Times (£)

Enthusiasm for May’s plans to limit pre-charge bail

MAY Warhol“Veteran DJ Paul Gambaccini yesterday backed the Home Secretary’s plan to limit the time suspects can be kept on police bail without charge. … The 65-year-old broadcaster, who spent a year on bail before being told last week he would not be prosecuted over historic sex abuse allegations, said he welcomed Theresa May’s proposals with ‘enthusiasm’. … Mrs May told chief constables yesterday that the Government would look at introducing a statutory limit on how long suspects could be kept on ‘pre-charge bail’.” – Daily Mail

  • “Police are blasting five people a day with 50,000-volt Taser guns as use of the controversial weapons has soared.” – Daily Mail

And comment:

  • “‘Parking’ suspects on indefinite bail is unjust.” – Daily Telegraph editorial
  • “Listen up Theresa May. It’s time to get emotional about domestic abuse.” – Polly Neate, Daily Telegraph

Police officer warns: there will be more Rotherham-style scandals

Police shield“There will be more Rotherham-style child sexual exploitation scandals unearthed in the coming months as the ‘stone is lifted’ on the scale of abuse perpetuated on the young, one of Britain’s top police officers has warned. … In an interview with the Guardian, Simon Bailey, chief constable of Norfolk police, who is the leading officer concerned with child abuse within the Association of Chief Police Officers, said that sex crimes involving children had for ‘too long been a hidden crime’.” – The Guardian

Government drops mini-cab plan

“The Government has dropped plans to allow minicabs to be driven by unlicensed drivers when ‘off duty’ after warnings it would endanger taxi users. … Mary Creagh, Labour’s shadow transport secretary, said the proposal, which had been part of the Deregulation Bill which reaches committee stage in the House of Lords next week, ‘would have put women’s safety at risk’.” – The Times (£)

Gibb celebrates the decline in school absenteeism

“School absenteeism has plummeted to a record low following a crackdown on term-time family holidays. … New official figures show that in total, England’s primary and secondary pupils missed 35.7 million days of school in the autumn and spring terms of 2013/14 – down around 4.2 million from the same two terms the year before. … School Reform Minister Nick Gibb said: ‘Our plan for education is getting more young people than ever before back in class, helping thousands more to fulfil their potential and realise their aspirations.'” – Daily Mail

Paterson versus the Green Blob

Paterson Owen 2010“The former Environment Secretary attacked a so-called ‘green blob’ at the heart of Government yesterday – accusing Whitehall officials and ministers of raising energy prices for the poor. … He said the ‘green blob’ included civil servants and quangos in thrall to the climate change and environmental lobby. He claimed it had blocked him from prioritising shale gas exploration as a more efficient way to secure energy for the future.” – Daily Mail

  • “If Mr Paterson’s frightening analysis is correct, under current policies Mr Miliband’s Climate Change Act will cost us a mind-boggling £1.3trillion over the next 36 years.” – Daily Mail editorial

> Today: the Deep End – The rightwing case against nuclear power

Boris rejects proposals to ban smoking in parks

“Boris Johnson has described proposals to ban smoking in parks as ‘bossy and nannying’, while Downing Street said there are no plans to implement the measure across the UK. … The mayor of London set himself at odds with a recommendation from a health panel he set up that would make thousands of acres of parkland in London and landmarks including Trafalgar Square smoke-free zones.” – Daily Telegraph

> Today: Profile – Sir Winston Churchill. Not be confused with Boris Churchill, a.k.a Sir Winston Johnson

Browne to stand down as a Lib Dem MP

Browne Jeremy headshot“One of the MPs most highly tipped to take over from Nick Clegg as Liberal Democrat leader has announced he will stand down from parliament next year, in a significant blow to the party’s attempts to retain his key marginal seat. … Jeremy Browne, the former home office and Foreign Office minister, said on Wednesday that he would not stand again as the Lib Dem candidate in Taunton Deane. … In a letter to Mr Clegg, Mr Browne said: ‘I have been very committed to the role and I have done it to the best of my ability. It is time to do something different.'” – Financial Times

Clegg announces a new privacy and civil liberties board

“Nick Clegg said the details of the civil liberties board were being worked on but it would be modelled on its equivalent American body, which scrutinises policy initiatives at an early stage for their potential impact on privacy and civil liberties. … The Liberal Democrat leader announced the new body would be up and running before the election during his evidence to parliament’s intelligence and security committee’s inquiry into the future of security and privacy legislation.” – The Guardian

Ashdown goes to battle over the TV debates

TV“Lord Ashdown said David Cameron will try to ‘mess up’ the proposed party leader TV debates by including the Green party, with the former Lib Dem leader rejecting a head-to-head between the prime minister and Ed Miliband as unfair to Nick Clegg. … Ashdown, the Lib Dem campaign manager, said Cameron would do all he could to avoid going head-to-head with Ukip leader Nigel Farage, included in the debates for the first time in plans published by broadcasters on Monday.” – The Guardian

Labour plans to block buy-to-let investors

“Buy-to-let investors would be banned from purchasing new flats in London and other parts of Britain under radical plans put forward today by Labour that would also allow some first-time-buyers to jump the queue for new-build homes. … The plan will be announced on Thursday as part of the Lyons review commissioned by Ed Miliband to look at ways to improve the housing market. … It comes just months after the opposition party alarmed landlords by promising to introduce caps on rent increases if it wins next year’s general election.” – Financial Times

  • “Labour might not be at war with itself, but Miliband desperately needs to inspire his supporters.” – George Eaton, New Statesman

Brown urged to lead his party in Scotland…

BROWN Scotland“Gordon Brown is under pressure to quit the Commons and become Labour’s leader in Scotland in a desperate bid to halt the SNP surge, The Sun can reveal. … Senior Labour figures want the former PM to stand for election to the Scottish Parliament and re-establish the party north of the Border. … They believe Mr Brown should oust Labour’s current Scottish leader Johann Lamont and eventually become First Minister, in what would be a remarkable political comeback.” – The Sun (£)

> Yesterday: Henry Hill’s column – Scottish Labour must dismount the nationalist tiger

…as Sturgeon (again) raises the prospect of another referendum

“The SNP’s incoming leader has refused to rule out a new vote on Scottish independence in the immediate aftermath of the next Holyrood elections in 2016. … Nicola Sturgeon marked her first day as the party’s unopposed replacement for Alex Salmond by suggesting that proposals for a second referendum could be included in the SNP manifesto for the forthcoming Scottish parliamentary elections. The move prompted outrage among her political opponents.” – The Times (£)

  • “Alex Salmond is struggling to face up to reality, it has been claimed after he said the independence referendum bolstered Scotland’s economic recovery and declared there would be a rerun vote.” – Daily Telegraph

And comment:

  • “The SNP has a formidable new leader in Nicola Sturgeon.” – Independent editorial
  • “Ms Sturgeon needs to assert her authority on an SNP which has changed.” – Scotsman editorial

> Today: Mark Fox on Comment – In defence of Westminster

Wales’s First Minister doesn’t support EVEL

Wales flag“Carwyn Jones, leader of Welsh Labour, said Scotland’s rejection of independence and the wider UK devolution debate meant ‘the fundamental underpinning assumptions about the nature of our state have disappeared.’ … Mr Jones welcomed the prime minister’s commitment to put Wales ‘at the heart of the debate’. … However he did not support the idea of ‘English votes for English laws’. He prefers regional devolution to English cities, he said, despite research this week by the IPPR think-tank showing there is little public support for such a move.” – Financial Times

  • “So where the obvious need is for a constitutional settlement based on a debate about the nation’s governance, the Tories want to get a row going for their election manifesto.” – David Aaronovitch, The Times (£)

> Yesterday: ToryDiary – EVEL is not enough

Would UKIP prefer Miliband in power?

UKIP glass“Ukip wants Ed Miliband in power because voters are more likely to opt to stay in the EU if a referendum takes place under David Cameron, senior party figures admit. … Two Ukip sources have conceded privately that they would prefer Labour to win the next election, since they believe that would maximise the chances of Britain exiting the European Union. … The prospect of people voting out would be increased under an unpopular, pro-EU Labour prime minister who has shown little interest in reform of Britain’s relationship with Brussels, one said.” – Daily Mail

  • “The Tories yesterday strongly denied claims from Ukip that they will mount a ‘smear’ campaign against defector Mark Reckless, who triggered the contest on the eve of Conservative Party conference.” – Daily Telegraph
  • “Ukip has gone to war with the Conservatives over campaign spending in a ‘must win’ by-election in Kent.” – The Times (£)

And comment:

  • “As Ukip leader, I offered David Cameron a pact. He wouldn’t even talk to us.” – Malcolm Pearson, The Spectator
  • “Ukip is here to stay – especially if Labour wins.” – James Forsyth, The Spectator
  • “Reading the comments on my Ukip columns, I finally understand the Nazis.” – Matthew Parris, The Spectator
  • “Ukip is reaching out for neglected voters – so that it can neglect them too.” – Hugo Rifkind, The Spectator
  • “Nigel Farage’s Tory ‘fifth columnists’ are helping no one but Ed Miliband.” – Peter Oborne, Daily Telegraph

> Today: Pinning Down Farage – Do UKIP really want an in/out referendum on the EU?

> Yesterday:

Galloway won’t face charges over Israel speech

“George Galloway will not face charges over a speech he made in August declaring Bradford an ‘Israel-free zone’. … The Respect MP for Bradford West was interviewed by police under caution over claims that his statements in Leeds had incited racial hatred. … The Crown Prosecution Service said on Wednesday night it had decided not to charge Galloway, who labelled the allegations ‘an extremely expensive waste of police and CPS time’.” – The Guardian

24 British jihadists thought to have died in Syria

ISIS“As many as 30 Britons may now have died fighting for terror groups in Syria, it was reported last night. … Researchers believe 24 jihadists have been killed fighting with Islamic State and other groups but think the true figure could be higher. … Hundreds, and possibly thousands, of Britons are believed to have fled to Syria and Iraq to join radical Islamic groups such as Islamic State (ISIS) and the Al Qaeda affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra.” – Daily Mail

  • “Islamist militants have made “substantial gains” in Iraq despite the campaign of air strikes led by the US over the past two months, the retired general leading the international coalition against Isis said on Wednesday.” – Financial Times
  • “About 5,000 chemical weapons were recovered or destroyed in Iraq following the 2003 invasion but the Pentagon chose to keep the findings top secret, it has emerged. … But the information wasn’t made public as embarrassingly the weapons, many of which had been built in close collaboration with the West, had been sitting dormant since the 1980s.” – Daily Mail
  • “The Archbishop of Canterbury has warned that the fight against Isis is more than self-defence: it is a battle for social justice in the world that must result in a ‘just peace’.” – The Independent
  • “British Muslim women and girls are just as vulnerable to becoming radicalised as their male peers, according to the author of a study into the early stages of the process.” – The Guardian
  • “Student leaders voted against condemning Islamic State fighters behind the beheading of hostages — claiming it would demonise Muslims.” – The Sun (£)

And comment:

  • “In the absence of war, the arguments for using soldiers as aid workers can only grow.” – James Kirkup, Daily Telegraph

News in brief

  • Duchess of Cornwall supports the cause of credit unions – Daily Mail
  • Judy Finnigan faces threats after rape comment – The Sun (£)
  • Second person diagnosed with Ebola in the US – The Sun (£)
  • Obama pledges a “much more aggressive” response to the Ebola threat – The Times (£)
  • Government adviser says that drones will soon fill Britain’s skies – The Times (£)
  • Fears of global slowdown spark fall on European and US stockmarkets – The Guardian
  • “I blame myself for Peaches’ death,” says Sir Bob Geldof – The Independent
  • Julia Gillard on the sexism in politics – The Independent
  • Apple accidentally reveals new iPads – Daily Telegraph
  • Pep Guardiola wants to manage Manchester United, claims new book – Daily Telegraph

And finally: Bad sport

borisfringe“The London Mayor joined in a children’s match to promote a new health report aiming to get more kids involved in sport. … But after seeing one youngster knock the ball past him Mr Johnson stuck his leg out, tripping him up, sparking shouts of ‘Referee!’ from the side-lines.” – Daily Mail

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