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Cameron says UK and Turkey “working hand in glove” to fight terror…

Turkish-Flag-7“David Cameron has said the UK and Turkey are working “hand in glove” to prevent British jihadists returning home after fighting in Iraq and Syria. Speaking after talks with his Turkish counterpart in Ankara, the UK prime minister said Islamic State (IS) was a “common enemy” that must be confronted. He hailed the countries’ existing intelligence co-operation and said this would be stepped up further. The US and EU want Turkey to take a more active role in tackling IS.” – BBC

  • “Cameron also reiterated his support for Turkey’s efforts to join the European Union for the first time in years, despite being under pressure over immigration and a challenge from Ukip to withdraw the UK’s backing for its membership.” – The Guardian
  • “Mr Cameron said that both Turkey and the UK were “taking the steps that we believe we should” to deal with “this scourge of foreign fighters”. This is understood to include requiring all Turkey’s airlines to share timely and accurate information about airline passengers flying from Turkish airports direct to the UK.” – Daily Telegraph

…but he condemns CIA torture

“David Cameron said last night that “torture is always wrong”. Speaking on a visit to Turkey , the prime minister added: “Those of us who want to see a safer and more secure world, who want to see extremism defeated, we won’t succeed if we lose our moral authority, if we lose the things that make our systems work and countries successful.”- The Times(£)

  • CIA interrogation methods made America and its allies safer – Michael Hayden Daily Telegraph

>Today: David Davis MP on Comment: We have damaged our national interest by turning a blind eye to torture

Americans plead with Boris: Pay your tax

BORIS open mouth“Boris Johnson should settle a six-figure tax bill in the US, the American ambassador indicated yesterday. The London Mayor, who was born in New York and has dual citizenship, revealed last month that he is being pursued by the US tax authorities over profits made on the sale of a home in London. American citizens are required to pay taxes on income over a certain level, even if the money is already taxed abroad. Mr Johnson described the demand as ‘incredible’, and suggested he would not pay.” – Daily Mail

  • BoJo plays netball with Stephen Greenhalgh in Ealing – The Sun(£)

DUP “rules out” joining a coalition Government in Westminster

“The Democratic Unionist Party has ruled out entering into a formal coalition at Westminster if the 2015 election creates a hung parliament. It is understood to be willing to “shore up” a future administration, but is not interested in a cabinet role. The DUP is the largest party in Northern Ireland, and the fourth biggest in the UK Parliament. It said it would consider supporting a government, dependent on securing the best deal for Northern Ireland. The DUP is expected to returns its eight MPs to Westminster at the general election next May, but is targeting a ninth seat.” – BBC

May plans to do more to tackle online child abuse

MAY Home Office big“Today there are millions of images and videos of child sexual abuse online. It is now up to all of us to stand up and protect our children, both here in the UK and overseas. Over the next two days the Prime Minister, David Cameron, and I will be hosting a global conference to galvanise support among the international community in the battle against online child sexual exploitation.” Theresa May Daily Telegraph

Hunt says MPs struggle to connect with voters over immigration concerns

“POLITICIANS are struggling to connect with voters who are fed up with immigration, a Tory Cabinet minister has admitted. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said it was a “challenge” for MPs to be honest about the controversial issue….In an interview with Total Politics magazine, Mr Hunt said: “We’ve got to do better, as a political class, at connecting with people who are feeling alienated, and, you know, it’s a challenge. Take an issue like immigration: the answers aren’t always cut and dried…” – The Sun(£)

Lord Cooper says a minority Conservative Government better than “complicated” coalition

ballot_box“The Conservative Party should be prepared to form a minority government if it fails to win the next election outright rather entering another “complicated” Coalition, one of David Cameron’s favourite pollsters has said. Lord Cooper, an election strategist at No. 10, said that polls indicate that the Conservatives are unlikely to win an outright majority at the next election and that a “tidal wave” of support for parties such as Ukip would lead to a “messy” hung Parliament.” – Daily Telegraph

PM to announce extra help for soldiers

“DAVID Cameron has pledged an extra £28.5million for military heroes past and present…He insisted last night: “Whatever threat they are protecting us from, the debt we owe our troops is never forgotten.” In the double giveaway — paid for by sinning bankers’ Libor interest rate fines — there will be: A £20MILLION fund to boost childcare facilities for Forces’ families, with the first £3m building a centre for RAF crews in Cyprus fighting Islamic State. The facility at RAF Akrotiri air base will include a creche and playground for more than 100 kids. £8.5MILLION will significantly expand a centre for wounded, traumatised and homeless veterans.” – The Sun(£)

Morgan pledges business reps will go to schools to help teenagers get jobs

MORGAN Nicky headshot“COMPANY bosses are to be drafted into every school in the country to help guide teenagers into jobs. Education Secretary Nicky Morgan will today announce that the Government is setting up a new service to link up employers with local secondary schools. The bosses will volunteer to do inspirational talks, give tips on CV writing and interview techniques, and offer work placements to boost school leavers’ skills and confidence. The move has been drawn up to bridge the daunting and often huge gap that exists between school and landing a decent career.” – The Sun(£)

Ministers “too trusting” of large contractors say MPs

“The government has become too dependent on a handful of “quasi-monopoly” private sector contractors to provide public services, MPs have warned. The Public Accounts Committee said the fact Whitehall departments continued to award work to Serco and G4S while they were under investigation for overcharging highlighted the problem. It said ministers had placed “too much trust” in a small pool of large firms. The Cabinet Office said there was “more to do” to support smaller providers.” – BBC

Halfon demands lower petrol prices

HALFON-robert“Tory MP Rob Halfon one of Chancellor George Osborne’s closest aides, is backing The Sun’s demand for a 5p cut to 115p as part of our “Rip-off Britain” campaign. He said: “The oil price is falling, but yet again greedy oil companies are failing to pass on falling prices at the pumps. “These fat cats are guzzling the money of hard-working motorists. We urgently need an inquiry so we can end the great oil company rip-off.” – The Sun(£)

Government loses 100th vote in the Lords

“The government has been defeated for the 100th time in the House of Lords since it came to power in May 2010 after losing a series of votes on the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill. It lost a vote over plans to restrict use of judicial review by 274 to 205, one of two defeats on the issue. Ministers were also defeated over secure colleges for young offenders. Peers backed a ban on any girls or boys under 15 being housed in such institutions by 304 votes to 240.” – BBC

Wilshaw warns that secondary school progress has “stalled”

Michael Wilshaw“Ofsted is warning that too many secondary schools in England are not making sufficient progress, with almost a third judged not to be good enough. Chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw will deliver the message that secondary schools have “stalled”, in the education watchdog’s annual report.” – BBC

  • “Charlie Taylor, chief executive of the Government’s National College for Teaching and Leadership, told the Telegraph that turning around primary schools was “often a much quicker process” than improving “big, complicated” secondaries.” – Daily Telegraph

A third of NHS contracts go to private firms

“A third of NHS contracts in England have been awarded to private sector providers since the service was reorganised in 2013, figures suggest. The information comes from a Freedom of Information request made by the British Medical Journal. Of 3,494 contracts awarded by 182 Clinical Commissioning Groups in England between April 2013 and August 2014, 33% went to the private sector.” – BBC

  • “Racketeer” management consultants go from one £4,000 a day NHS job to another – Daily Mail

EU Budget agreed at £111 billion

EU Flag“Negotiators from the European Parliament and EU governments have reached a deal on the EU’s 2015 budget and amendments to the 2014 budget. Spending in 2015 has been set at €141.2bn (£111.2bn; $173.5bn) amid pressure to scale it back. National budgets have been cut across Europe to reduce huge deficits. A €3.5bn top-up payment was agreed for 2014 to help clear EU bills, bringing the final figure to €139bn. The UK’s total contribution to the current budget is €15.29bn (11% of the total).” – BBC

Blair resists giving evidence on “comfort letters” to IRA fugitives

“Tony Blair has repeatedly attempted to duck out of an inquiry into the ‘comfort letters’ sent to IRA fugitives by claiming that his ‘commitments’ will make an appearance ‘challenging’. The Northern Ireland affairs committee has spent more than six months attempting to question Mr Blair over secret deals that he made with Sinn Fein.” – Daily Mail

  • Sinead O’Connor applies to join Sinn Fein – BBC

Harman says Labour are ahead of the Conservatives on women candidates

harman“Harriet Harman, Labour’s deputy leader, has said women will hold the balance of power at the next election but warned that more than four-fifths of Tory parliamentary party seats will be held by men if they win all their 40 target constituencies and retain all their existing seats. …She claims her party’s research shows that 54% of Labour candidates in its top 106 target seats are women while 77% of Tory candidates are male in the 40 marginal seats Labour need to retain, 40 seats they hope to gain and an additional 50 Tory seats that Labour has on its target list.” – The Guardian

UKIP General Secretary “lied” over relationship…

“UKIP activist Natasha Bolter has said a senior party figure was “lying” when he said they had a relationship. General Secretary Roger Bird has been suspended as UKIP considers a complaint relating to candidate selection. Ms Bolter has accused Mr Bird of propositioning her on the day he oversaw her completion of an exam for prospective candidates. ” – BBC

…but he says he has the text messages to prove it

“Bird responded yesterday by revealing a string of loving messages he claimed she had sent him – including one which read: ‘I love you and miss you and think you are sort of perfect.’ He insisted the messages proved that, far from sexually harassing her, the pair had actually been in a ‘consensual’ sexual relationship. But Mrs Bolter, 39, responded furiously to his claims, accusing him of lying and insisting: ‘I did not sleep with Roger Bird – end of.’ ” – Daily Mail

>Today: UKIP Watch: The five tribes of UKIP

Tax and red tape close 6,000 pubs

institute_economic_affairs“More than 6,000 pubs have shut over the past eight years thanks to sky-high taxes and government red tape. The smoking ban, increases in alcohol duty and declining real wages since the recession have directly contributed to more than half of all closures since 2006. The Institute of Economic Affairs said that taxes on drink in the UK are so high that British drinkers pay 40 per cent of the EU’s entire alcohol duty bill.” – Daily Mail

  • The real reasons for the tragic demise of the British pub industry – Allister Heath Daily Telegraph

Scotland Yard sold for £370 million

“The Metropolitan Police has cashed in on soaring property prices in the capital by selling London’s most famous police station for £120 million more than the asking price. New Scotland Yard in Westminster has been sold to Abu Dhabi Financial Group for £370 million, a significant amount more than the original £250 million guide price and three times what was originally paid for the site freehold in 2008. The Middle East investment fund plans to turn the 1960s block into luxury apartments, with will offer views of Westminster Abbey, the London Eye and the Shard.” – The Times(£)

Behr: Why Cameron and Miliband fear small parties

green20party (1)“Miliband and Cameron will win back some support in the election campaign by mobilising fear of the other man’s accidental victory. One of them will be prime minister; but which it is could come down to as marginal a calculation as whether Green supporters hate the idea of a Tory government more than Ukip supporters recoil at a Labour one.” – Rafael Behr The Guardian

News in brief

  • Stay in the EU pleads Rowan Williams – Daily Telegraph
  • Over a million British families have been “workless” for more than three years – The Sun(£)
  • MP warns of funerals in back gardens – BBC
  • Conservatives and Labour tied – YouGov
  • 12,000 foreign criminals in Britain – Daily Mail
  • Labour candidate hopes to be first transgender MP – The Sun(£)
  • Robert Mugabe purges cabinet – Daily Telegraph
  • Amber Rudd prevented from attending climate talks – The Guardian

 

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