European leaders line up against Tory hopes of renegotiation

EU Exit““More and more” European leaders oppose David Cameron’s call for treaty change in the run-up to a British referendum because of the danger of copycat popular votes spreading across Europe, a senior Brussels figure said. Anger grew in Conservative ranks yesterday after Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, ruled out changes to the European Union’s treaty until late 2019, two years after the date the Conservatives have set for an in/out vote on Europe. In a further setback for the prime minister, Martin Schulz, the president of the European parliament, said that treaty change was too risky in the EU’s present political climate.” – The Times (£)

  • Prime Minister accused of making ‘fictional’ election pledge as Juncker rules out talks – The Independent
  • Clegg refuses to veto an in-out referendum – The Guardian
  • Complex negotiations to follow any referendum – Financial Times
  • Polls suggest EU exit splits Britons down the middle – Financial Times


  • You can dislike the EU without being a cheerleader for Russia – Mark Wallace, The Times (£)
  • The European Commission has no business telling Britain when it can negotiate – The Times (£) editorial

Cameron admits he will have failed if he falls short of a majority…

“David Cameron has admitted he will have failed as Tory leader if he does not win a majority at the next election. The Prime Minister said voters were not ‘fully sure’ about the Tories at the last election, but claimed they would back the party this time. He said he only needed 23 seats to win a majority, before adding: ‘If I fall short of those 23 seats I will feel I have not succeeded.’” – Daily Mail

…as he warns that Labour and the SNP are on the same side

SNP logo white background“Ed Miliband is in league with the Scottish Nationalists and preparing to allow them to be ‘the chain to Labour’s wrecking ball’, David Cameron will say today. The Prime Minister – who last night said he would be a ‘big failure’ if he does not win a Commons majority – will unveil an analysis to show Labour and the SNP are ‘really on the same side’ and want ‘more borrowing, more debt and more taxes’. Mr Cameron will show that, since Mr Miliband became Labour leader, the SNP has trooped through the lobbies with his MPs in 91.5 per cent of Commons divisions. The SNP backed Labour in 27 out of 28 votes on welfare and 62 out of 65 on the economy.” – Daily Mail

  • Lab-Nat ‘coalition of chaos’ a threat to the UK, PM claims – The Independent
  • Farage prepared to work with Tories to block Labour and the SNP – The Guardian
  • Davidson refuses to rule out cooperation with the SNP at Holyrood – Financial Times
  • Can the Tories win a second Scottish seat? – The Independent
  • Miliband preps for two days for rematch with Sturgeon – The Sun (£)


Osborne rejects Murphy over English income tax rate

“George Osborne has hit back at Jim Murphy’s outspoken attack on a Tory plan for an English-only rate of income tax by arguing the change is only “right and fair” after control over the levy is devolved to Scotland. The Chancellor rejected the Scottish Labour leader’s claim that the move represented a “brutal betrayal” that would undermine the Union, claiming instead that it would create “a stronger Scotland within a stronger UK.” Speaking during a visit to Aberdeenshire, he also rubbished Mr Murphy’s claim that Scottish MPs would no longer be able to vote on UK Budgets under Conservative proposals to deal with English votes for English laws.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Scottish politicians call English votes plan a ‘betrayal of Scotland’ – The Guardian
  • Scottish Labour makes the party decisions in Scotland, Murphy asserts – The Guardian
  • Why does the Chancellor want to make inheritance tax so needlessly complex? – Allister Heath, Daily Telegraph

Morgan holds webchat with the Daily Telegraph

MORGAN Nicky headshot“With the general election just around the corner, Telegraph readers were given the opportunity to take part in a live webchat with Nicky Morgan, the Education Secretary. Ms Morgan took questions from participants from 12.45pm on April 15 for one hour. The event was hosted by Josie Gurney-Read, who directed questions to Ms Morgan throughout the webchat. Questions focused on Conservative education policy, while readers quizzed the education secretary on promises made should the party win the election in May.” – Daily Telegraph

Meet the true blue (collar) Conservatives

“Critics may sneer at the Tories as a party of privileged toffs and public schoolboys – but the truth is very different. A minority of the new Tory candidates running for election on May 7 are privately educated, and many of them have put in hard graft before they entered politics. No wonder it riles David Cameron when the Conservatives are dismissed as the party of the rich. The Sun took three of them back to their roots to hear why working people have always been at the heart of the Conservatives’ values.” – The Sun (£)


Freer blames Passover for Ashcroft poll showing Labour lead in Thatcher’s constituency

Opinion Poll graphic“A poll that suggested Labour would win Margaret Thatcher’s old constituency was flawed because it was conducted during Passover, the Conservative defending the seat has said. Mike Freer said that many Jewish voters who might have backed the Conservatives in Finchley and Golders Green would have been observing the festival so not have taken part in the poll by Lord Ashcroft. The poll of the seat, which covers most of Mrs Thatcher’s old Finchley constituency, put Labour on 43 points ahead of the Conservatives on 41. It was released on Tuesday but conducted between 7 and 11 April, during Passover.” – Daily Telegraph

IMF undermines Tory projections of a surplus in 2018

“Britain will still be running a budget deficit at the end of the decade despite plans to return the country to the black, the International Monetary Fund warned last night. The global watchdog said the state will continue to spend more on public services and other areas such as welfare and overseas aid than it raises in tax throughout the next parliament… The Conservatives have pledged to return Britain to the black in 2018-19 with a surplus of £5.2billion – the first since 2001. David Cameron and George Osborne then plan to run a surplus of £7billion in 2019-20. But the IMF predicted that there will still be a deficit of £7billion that year – even after a decade of austerity.” – Daily Mail

  • This blows a hole in the Tory deficit plan – The Guardian
  • Balls claims Conservatives have made £25bn in unfunded commitments – The Guardian

Miliband could stop first-time buyers getting a home, firms warn

HOMES Manifesto“Young people will have less chance of owning a home if Ed Miliband wins the general election, a major property website has warned. Labour’s plans could “kill off” the Conservative Party’s Help to Buy ISA scheme, announced in George Osborne’s Budget, Zoopla said. The firm also warned that Mr Miliband’s plans for a mansion tax on properties worth more than £2million will have “significant” effects on the entire housing market and could deter foreign investment in the UK. A victory for Mr Miliband will have a “negative impact on the UK housing market in the short to medium term”.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Estate agents claim mansion tax fears are crippling the property market – Daily Telegraph

Thornberry ‘Queen of Hypocrisy’ for hitting out at right to buy…

“A senior Labour politician was under fire last night for attacking right to buy – while renting out a property she bought from a housing association. Emily Thornberry has come out against David Cameron’s pledge to extend the right to buy policy from council tenants to those in housing association homes. But eight years ago she and her husband bought at auction a housing association property now worth almost £1million. Tories said Miss Thornberry, who lost her frontbench job after tweeting a sneering picture of a house covered in England flags and with a white van outside, opposed right to buy but not ‘right to buy to let’.” – Daily Mail

…whilst Miliband’s £300,000 is a non-dom and pays no UK tax

axelrod“Ed Miliband’s US adviser pays no tax in Britain on his reported £300,000 salary, he has admitted. David Axelrod masterminded two presidential election victories for Barack Obama and was hired by the Labour leader amid great fanfare last year. He has helped refine Mr Miliband’s message about tackling the cost of living and making sure the wealthy pay their fair share. And he will have been aware of Labour’s eye-catching crackdown on non-doms last week. But speaking in the US where he is promoting his autobiography, Mr Axelrod revealed he is not resident for tax purposes in the UK.” – Daily Mail

  • Miliband’s invisible man – Daily Telegraph
  • Why is the Labour leader such a goof with the yoof? – Andrew Pierce, Daily Mail
  • Ed’s son declares which of their kitchens is best – Daily Mail

Labour launch ‘women’s manifesto’ in a sandpit, to an audience of toddlers

“The launch took place yesterday at a nursery in South London. The now-infamous pink bus was parked nearby. The audience was full of toddlers rather than the party faithful. Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper cooed over a baby; Deputy Leader Harriet Harman chatted to mums; and Shadow Women’s Minister Gloria De Piero played in the sandpit. The contrast between Ed Miliband’s tough-talking manifesto speech on the deficit couldn’t have been greater.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Miliband won’t be drawn on Harman’s future – The Sun (£)
  • Is there any stunt Labour won’t pull to seem normal? – Jan Moir, Daily Mail

Donation figures reveal Labour’s dependence on unions

Unite logo“Labour’s increasing reliance on the unions for finance in the run-up to the UK general election will be highlighted by new donation data published on Thursday. The figures will show that Unite has given £1m, Unison has donated close to £500,000 and the Communication Workers Union has provided £50,000 out of a total £1.9m. It is understood that the money has been declared to the Electoral Commission as the first of weekly updates during the month-long “short campaign”. Unite’s donation of £1m follows a gift of £1.5m from the union in January, confirming its status as the largest contributor to Labour by far.” – Financial Times

Umunna suggests Labour could drop the 50p rate

“Labour could drop the 50p tax rate once the deficit is reduced amid concerns that it will be “tax for the sake of taxing”, Labour’s shadow business secretary has said. In what appears to be a significant split with Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, Chuka Umunna said that he believes in keeping the “tax burden as low as possible”. Mr Miliband said during the leadership hustings in 2010 that he would like to restore the 50p rate “permanently”. The 50p rate was cut by the Coalition by George Osborne amid concerns that it was deterring businesses and “wealth creators”.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Shadow Business Secretary appeals to Blairites over tax – The Times (£)

Sue Cameron: This must be the most dishonest election yet

money“Take, for starters, those now infamous Labour claims last year that if the Tories were elected, they would cut the level of public spending to what it was in the Thirties. This resulted in much scaremongering about a return to the days of mass unemployment, the Jarrow marches, children without shoes, poverty and squalor. Now, it is true that public spending could soon go back to 35 per cent of GDP, which is where it was in the Thirties – but that is also completely misleading. Our national wealth today is far, far greater than it was back then; comparing then and now is like saying that 35 per cent of £100 is the same as 35 per cent of £100 million. It’s a political con trick. One that has, happily, been fully exposed.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Former NHS chief warns that politicians are ignoring problems – Daily Telegraph

UKIP lauds ‘fully costed’ manifesto

“Nigel Farage famously described the UK Independence party’s 2010 manifesto as “486 pages of drivel” he hadn’t bothered to read. Five years on, his anti-EU party has delivered its leader a “new gold standard”. Fully costed, and independently verified by independent economic think-tank the Centre for Economic and Business Research, Mr Farage brandished the 76-page document as evidence that Ukip has finally grown up. “We have produced a fully costed manifesto,” he said as he addressed activists at the The Thurrock Hotel in Essex. “I believe what we have done with this document is the new gold standard about how manifestos in this country should be produced.”” – Financial Times


  • Launch attracts 19th-hole bores – Matthew Engel, Financial Times
  • I love the UKIP manifesto and so will millions. But… – Stephen Glover, Daily Mail


  • Boo-boys backing Britain’s best communicator – Ann Treneman, The Times (£)
  • Farage fires the starting gun – Donald Macintyre, The Independent


UKIP in informal talks with the Conservatives

UKIP logo“Asked whether he had been involved in informal discussions about potential post-election arrangements with Conservatives, Mr Farage said: “If I meet people in a social environment, I’m a gregarious cove and I generally speak to them. “We have discussions with people who are in all of the other political parties, yes, of course that goes on. “What was being said in one of the newspapers this morning was that formally we have been having conversations, and that hasn’t happened and it won’t be happening.”” – Daily Telegraph

  • Post-election negotiations could last weeks, warns O’Donnell – Daily Telegraph

Comment and Editorial:

…but UKIP’s poll slide is not benefiting the Conservatives

“One of the things that cements Ukip votes is a very high optimism about the number of seats the party will win. If this optimism becomes unsustainable, these votes could be shaken loose, which would help the Tories. Yet there are many reasons to question this analysis. First, Ukip voters show the strongest inclination to stick with their choice. Ukip, as Lord Ashcroft’s research shows, is a way of thinking as much as it is a party choice. Its voters will resist the idea that voting Ukip is a wasted vote. They may also decide that they don’t care if it is, since they hate the political class. Second, though vastly more Ukip supporters were Tory in 2010 than were Labour (YouGov last year had it as 45 per cent against 11 per cent) that doesn’t mean Ukip voters will come to the Tories if they switch. They could go to Labour.” – The Times (£)

  • How UKIP may cost Labour more seats than the Tories – The Sun (£)
  • Activists face abuse on the campaign trail – The Times (£)

Tim Montgomerie: Ukippers should quit whilst they’re ahead

Farage Nigel Eating Cakes“It is no exaggeration therefore to say that Ukip voters hold this election in their hands. If enough of them return to the Conservative corner Britain will get an EU referendum, the abolition of inheritance tax for the vast majority of families and some devolution for England. If they don’t there will be much rejoicing in Brussels. Moreover, Britain will have voted to turn its back on Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms, Michael Gove’s changes to exam standards and, of course, George Osborne’s half-successful attempt to ensure Britain lives within its means. Is that what Ukip voters really want? It’s time for them to decide.” – The Times (£)


Lib Dems face West Country wipe out

“The Liberal Democrats are facing electoral destruction in their Westcountry stronghold, a devastating new poll revealed today as Nick Clegg unveiled his manifesto. A survey of 14 Lib Dem-held seats in the South West suggests the struggling party will lose every seat to the Tories, after a dramatic collapse in support. Pollsters say David Cameron will be ‘licking his lips’ at the prospect of making huge gains against his former coalition partners in their backyard. Details of the ComRes poll for ITV News will make for grim reading for Mr Clegg tonight, hours after he set out the manifesto which he hoped would keep him in power.” – Daily Mail

  • Clegg prepared to quit if he can’t remain in power – The Times (£)
  • Party is open to a new coalition – Financial Times
  • Leader refuses to spell out a single red line for negotiations – The Sun (£)
  • Clegg: I won’t stop would-be MPs going to strip clubs – Daily Telegraph

Comment and Editorial:

Manifesto launch hit by lighting and microphone glitches

CLEGG Bird“This morning’s launch of the Liberal Democrat election manifesto was hit by technical glitches which left Nick Clegg struggling to be seen or heard. At one point the Mr Clegg’s presentation, at the arty testbed1 nightclub in Battersea, was plunged into darkness by a power cut. The Liberal Democrat leader’s microphone also stopped working at one point, bemusing some onlookers and forcing him to adopt a back-up.” – The Independent


  • Leader’s wishy-washy manifesto launch speech – Quentin Letts’ sketch, Daily Mail

>Yesterday: WATCH: The lights go out at the Lib Dem manifesto launch

News in Brief:

  • Black stars ‘white up’ to encourage minorities to vote – Daily Mail
  • Child abuse case against Labour peer dropped for the second time – Daily Telegraph
  • Army accused of reckless disregard for troop safety are a thousand are stricken by anti-malarial drugs – The Independent
  • Clinton evolves on gay marriage… just in time for the campaign – The Guardian
  • 80,000 may miss out on first choice of primary school – Daily Mail

And finally… police investigate Galloway over smear claims

“Online “smears” against Labour’s candidate in Bradford West are being investigated as possible breaches of electoral law – amid an increasingly acrimonious local constituency campaign. West Yorkshire Police is investigating after allegations were made about Naz Shah on an anonymous website, The Independent can reveal. Under the Representation of the People Act 1983 it is illegal to make or publish a false statement about a candidate’s personal character or conduct.” – The Independent

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