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Cameron personally approved axing May’s SpAds from candidates list

MAY Commons Ellison“David Cameron personally approved the decision to axe two of Theresa May’s senior advisers from the Tory candidates list, the Daily Mail can reveal. Senior sources say the Prime Minister ‘signed off’ a recommendation from party chairman Grant Shapps to suspend the taxpayer-funded aides as prospective MPs….Last night the decision came under attack from former minister Sir Alan Duncan, who described the treatment of Nick Timothy and Stephen Parkinson as ‘Stalinist’. He added: ‘I can’t see that this is a proper way for a party to behave.’ ” – Daily Mail

  • Bitter squabble is designed to punish Home Secretary – Andrew Pierce Daily Mail
  • Dozens of spon doctors may have broken rules by canvassing – The Sun(£)
  • “David Davis, a former Conservative party chairman, said that the suspensions had been “unwise”.” – The Times(£)
  • Special Advisers have a votal role in bringing reform – Leader The Times(£)

>Yesterday:

Osborne boosted by fall in borrowing

“Bank fines for rigging the foreign exchange market helped boost the public finances last month as George Osborne battles to meet annual deficit targets, official figures showed today. Public sector borrowing – excluding the effect of bank bailouts – was £14.1 billion in November, better than expected and £1.6 billion lower than in the same month last year. Treasury coffers were swollen by £1.1 billion in penalties from banks fined by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed.” – Daily Mail

  • “Economists said the chancellor was facing an uphill struggle to meet his deficit target for 2014-15 set by the Treasury’s independent forecaster, the Office for Budget Responsibility.” – The Guardian

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Team Osborne’s answer to Fraser Nelson on the deficit

McVey’s plan to help unemployed over-50s back into work

MCVEY Esther Downing Street“Unemployed over-50s will be offered “career reviews” and help with using computers as part of a government plan to get more older people into work. The trial will also include seven “older worker champions” across the UK. An estimated 1.2 million over-50s are unemployed and “willing to work” – and ministers said if they all found jobs it would “add £50bn to the economy”. Employment Minister Esther McVey said she wanted to tackle “outdated views” that older workers were “past it”.” – BBC

Fallon says all roles in the armed forces will be opened up to women

“I hope that, following further work on our training regimes and equipment, we can open up combat roles to women in 2016. We will investigate how training regimes can be constructed to allow women to integrate safely, while protecting combat effectiveness. But it should also bring health benefits to the physical training for both men and women.” Defence Secretary Michael Fallon Daily Telegraph

  • How long before the army is forced to recruit overweight people? – Norman Tebbit Daily Telegraph

Villiers says Northern Ireland talks at “crunch point”

VILLIERS Theresa purple“The five main parties at Stormont have asked the government for £2bn in loans and extra funding over a 10-year period, the BBC understands. The secretary of state said Downing Street and the Treasury were now considering the proposal. Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers said the talks were at a “crunch point”. She would not go into the detail of the proposals, but said the government was looking “very seriously” at the paper submitted by the five parties.” – BBC

  • “The parties want a multimillion-pound institution that among other things would examine thousands of unsolved crimes from the Troubles.” – The Guardian

Migration system in “intensive care” says Vaz…

expressmigrants“The number of migrants who are missing or caught in a massive backlog is enough to fi ll the city of Cardiff. The total, almost 400,000, is highlighted in a Commons report, which comes after Britain’s border chief John Vine lashed out at the Home Office’s handling of immigration yesterday, saying it “isn’t good enough” at removing illegals. A day earlier Mr Vine, the Chief Inspector of Borders, had revealed that more than 173,000 foreign nationals had overstayed their visas in the UK after 2008 and some 89,000 of those have vanished.” – Daily Express

  • “The UK’s immigration system is in “intensive care”, a senior MP has said. Home Affairs Committee chairman Keith Vaz criticised ministers over exit checks, missing migrants and the use of a single immigration target. A committee report on UK immigration directorates made a range of criticisms and raised “serious doubts” over plans to bring in exit checks – by next April – on all those leaving the UK.” – BBC
  • 100 illegal attempts a day to enter UK – BBC
  • Immigration cuts across Left and Right – James Kirkup Daily Telegraph

…but Cameron defends his record

“On illegal immigration, we are making it harder for people who have no right to be here to live in the UK, by revoking their driving licences, stopping them from opening bank accounts and making sure landlords check their legal status. Crucially, once they have been identified, we have made it much easier to deport them. We have changed the law so that we now have a policy of “deport first, appeal later” for foreign criminals – in other words, if criminals want to appeal against their deportation, they are no longer able to stay here in the UK while they do so. Instead, they must go to their home country and make the case from there.” – David Cameron Daily Express

>Today: ToryDiary: The Conservative challenge to win back Express man from UKIP

Boris approves a garden bridge over the Thames

BORIS open mouth“A garden bridge over the Thames has been approved by the mayor of London but doubts remain over who will meet its substantial annual running costs. The bridge has attracted criticism for the £60m of public money it will cost to build, despite initially being privately financed. It will have estimated running costs of £3.5m a year, which Westminster council has asked Transport for London (TfL) to act as guarantor for as a condition of granting it planning permission. The London mayor, Boris Johnson, has insisted TfL will not do so but nevertheless expressed confidence on Friday that construction could begin next year.” – The Guardian

Crabb: Miliband “doesn’t give a toss about Wales”

“Labour leader Ed Miliband “doesn’t give a toss about Wales”, the Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb has said. The Preseli Pembrokeshire MP said Mr Miliband epitomises “everything that’s wrong” with the modern Labour Party. Mr Crabb told the Western Mail that his leader, David Cameron, has shown commitment to Wales…Mr Crabb said bringing the Nato summit to Newport and a deal to electrify the valleys rail network shows that the Conservatives are committed to helping Wales.” – BBC

Charity Commission criticise Oxfam’s political content

“An Oxfam tweet linking benefit cuts to poverty could have been “misconstrued as party political campaigning”, the Charity Commission has said. The charity put out a tweet in June speaking of a “perfect storm” caused by “zero hours contracts, high prices, benefit cuts and unemployment”. The watchdog said Oxfam “should have done more to avoid any misperception of political bias”. Oxfam said it had reviewed its social media policy as a result.” – BBC

Farage defends “rough diamond” candidate

FARAGE big laugh“Nigel Farage has defended a former UKIP candidate who was recorded using a derogatory word about Chinese people by saying “a lot of people would use” it. Kerry Smith stood down as the candidate for South Basildon and East Thurrock in 2015 after a recording emerged of him using the term and other offensive language about gay people. The UKIP leader said he would never use the term but “a lot of people would”.” – BBC

  • “It’s 2014. Those aren’t “colloquialisms” . . . they’re just nasty, Nigel.” – The Sun Says(£)

Four out of five voters want the Green Party included in election debates

“Four out of five people believe the Green Party leader should be included in the 2015 election’s TV leadership debates. The ICM poll, which asked 1001 people of different ages from across the country whether they thought the leader of the Green Party should be included, found 79 per cent supported inviting a representative from the environmental party. The data comes just months after major broadcasters – including the BBC – confirmed they will not include the Green Party in the TV debates, despite inviting Ukip leader Nigel Farage.” – The Independent

Cowley: Miliband is the Basil Fawlty of British politics…

Miliband coffee“Worse for Miliband was that the strategy document instructed Labour MPs to ‘change the subject’ if voters raised immigration as a concern during door-to-door canvassing. If challenged about immigration, or Labour’s record on it when in government, MPs were instructed to ‘[move] the conversation on to issues where we have clear policy’. Let’s call this the Basil Fawlty approach to electioneering.” – New Statesman Editor Jason Cowley Daily Mail

…while Salmon offers some friendly advice to the Labour leader

“There’s an opportunity opening up with the likely result of this coming election being a balanced parliament,” he says, although “it’s not inevitable if Ed Miliband doesn’t have the common sense to sack Ed Balls . . . People think Miliband is the problem and to an extent he is but . . . the real problem is the continuing link with the last Labour government. As long as Ed Balls is shadow chancellor, Labour can’t win.” – Alex Salmond interviewed in The Times(£)

Parris: Isis wants to draw America in

PARRIS Mathhew“I wonder whether, at a time when Cold War certainties have melted and our own values have become rather diffuse, we ache for a sense of the barbarian at the gates to unite us. I wonder whether this western interest happens to coincide with the interests of an exceptionally nasty slew of tribalists and madcap fanatics across Islam, equally intent on forging a sense of solidarity through the invention of the Other. Are we playing into each other’s hands? I only ask.” – Matthew Parris The Times(£)

Field: Why Conservatives should cheer Juncker

“Completing the trade deal with the United States remains high on the agenda, as are efforts to prevent corporate tax evasion. This neatly ties into the Chancellor’s efforts to get better cross-border cooperation on global tax issues…Mr Juncker has promised that this will not be a business-as-usual Commission. For now, as a matter of faith, I believe it absolutely vital that British MPs and MEPs take his approach at face value. As a mark of our own commitment to restyling the relationship with the EU in a way that will best restore Britons’ confidence, we must now properly engage rather than carp from the side-lines.” Mark Field MP Daily Telegraph

Obama will retaliate against North Korea

timesobama“President Obama vowed last night that America would hit back against North Korea after the FBI revealed that the rogue communist state was behind the “destructive” hacking attack on a Hollywood film studio. Mr Obama did not say whether he would order a retaliatory cyberattack but said the response of the US would be proportionate, “at a place and time and manner that we choose”. The FBI revealed earlier in the day that North Korea carried out the attack on Sony Pictures. After reports that Iran, Russia and China had previously used similar malicious software in cyberattacks, he said there was no evidence that they had assisted.”- The Times(£)

  • A united front is needed against rogue regimes – Leader Daily Telegraph
  • The Vatican’s influence in US/Cuba deal – The Guardian
  • George Clooney will stand up for free speech – what about the rest of Hollywood – Marina Hyde The Guardian
  • Sony hack, the last thing Hollywood wanted for Christmas – Celia Walden Daily Telegraph

News in brief

  • A&E has worst week in England – BBC
  • Mandy Rice-Davies, who has died, became a holiday companion of Lady Thatcher – Daily Telegraph
  • Women hit by tax credits freeze – The Guardian
  • Disabled missing out on access to work scheme – BBC

And finally…Tim Bell says Christmas with Maggie was hilariously excruciating

ThatcherNoTurningBack“It was shrimp cocktail and roast turkey with all the trimmings and crackers and funny hats — though I never saw her wearing one there. Then at 2.45pm on the dot, we’d file into the Churchill Library and take our places for the Queen’s Speech, with Her Greatness in the middle, right opposite the television saying ‘SHHH!’ very loudly. You couldn’t speak, you couldn’t cough. You couldn’t move. You had to get yourself into a reasonably comfortable position because if you shifted once it had started she’d give you a killer death stare.” – Daily Mail

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