Osborne 1) New £20 billion spending review

OSBORNE scissors‘George Osborne today ordered Cabinet ministers to prepare for 40 per cent cuts to their budgets in his scramble to find £20billion in savings. The Chancellor launched the 2015 Spending Review with a promise to ‘deliver more with less’, with policing, councils and transport expected to bear the brunt.’ – Daily Mail

  • Cabinet Ministers encouraged to be radical – The Times (£)
  • His approach has risks and rewards – FT Leader
  • The Bank may limit Buy to Let mortgages – Daily Mail
  • All hail the Chancellor’s predistribution – John Kay, FT
  • The MoD relies on ‘fishing boats and Twitter’ to defend the North Sea – The Scotsman
  • Bercow flips his lid – Daily Mail

Osborne 2) Aid budget to be scrutinised for value for money

‘George Osborne called time on crazy overseas aid programmes yesterday as he warned “unprotected” Government departments to plan for thumping spending cuts of up to 40 per cent. In a huge intervention the Chancellor responded to mounting fury by telling Whitehall to prove cash going on overseas development delivered “high value for money”.’ – The Sun (£)

  • The 0.7 target has left them with more money than they can handle – Daily Mail Leader
  • The target is insane – The Sun Says (£)
  • Aid cash is being used to pay civil service pensions abroad – The Times (£)
  • Income tax revenue hits record high – The Sun (£)
  • National Insurance may be on the way out – Daily Telegraph
  • Seven-figure HS2 jobs revealed – The Sun (£)

Hammond: Greek bailout battle shows EU renegotiation requires treaty change

EU Exit‘Britain must get treaty changes “nailed down” as part of the Government’s renegotiation with Brussels or EU leaders may simply “roll back” any agreements reached with David Cameron, the Foreign Secretary has warned. Philip Hammond said the decision by Jean-Claude Juncker to discard a binding agreement between EU leaders to protect Britain from eurozone bailouts showed Mr Cameron cannot rely on an informal “understanding” with his counterparts.’ – Daily Telegraph

  • The Yes side risk messing it up – Ed Balls, FT
  • Plan to lift purdah comes under fire – FT
  • Hammond also warns Russia has an advantage over ‘cumbersome’ democratic states – FT

>Today: The Deep End: How Steve Jobs could inspire a victory for the No campaign in the EU referendum

Is the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ really just the North West?

‘Lord O’Neill, commercial secretary to the Treasury, said: “If you’re from Stoke-on-Trent, which is within a 40 mile radius of Manchester, which is right at the heart of this, it [the powerhouse] could also include you.” The Manchester-born economist touched a raw nerve in the north-east and parts of Yorkshire. He did add that the northern powerhouse “can and should potentially be anywhere, east and west of Manchester and north to the Scottish border”. Political and media focus on Manchester — which is geographically more distant from Newcastle than Edinburgh — has caused unease in the north-east.’ – FT

  • Boris seeks greater devolution for London - FT

May restores ‘tens of thousands’ net immigration target

Theresa May 14-04-15‘The Conservatives have set a renewed “target” to cut net migration to the tens of thousands by 2020, Theresa May, the Home Secretary, has confirmed. Her comments to the Commons’ all-party home affairs select committee marked a significant change in tone after the original target, set in 2010, was downgraded to an “ambition” in the run-up to the General Election.’ – Daily Telegraph

Lansley health reforms cost £473 million in redundancies

‘Andrew Lansley’s controversial health reforms cost a whopping £473million in staff redundancy payouts, it has emerged. The shock figures came as ministers admitted that one in five NHS staffers who were made redundant have already been rehired by the health service.’ – The Sun (£)

  • Petition attacking Jeremy Hunt hits 100,000 signatures in 24 hours – The Independent

Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Cameron is right on extremism

CAMERON straight at you‘On Monday, at long last, the British prime minister stood up and said what urgently needed to be said. He condemned what he called “Islamist extremism” as a doctrine“hostile to basic liberal values such as democracy, freedom and sexual equality” and based on the conspiracy theory that the West is out to destroy Islam. And he boldly rejected what he called “the grievance justification” for extremism and the violence it spawns. I could not agree more.’ – Ayaan Hirsi Ali, The Times (£)

>Yesterday: Mohammed Amin on Comment: Neutrality in the struggle against Islamist extremism is unacceptable

Renewable energy subsidies set to be cut back

‘Ministers are poised to announce plans to rein back subsidies for low-carbon energy amid warnings that they will overshoot the government’s own targets. On Wednesday the government will launch a consultation into tighter caps for certain renewable energy forms such as solar or onshore wind projects.’ – FT

Heywood presses for Freedom of Information to be weakened

top secret‘Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood claimed the Freedom of Information Act was making officials ‘less candid’ with ministers in their advice – for fear it would be made public. Sir Jeremy was nicknamed ‘Sir Cover-Up’ for his role in blocking the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq War from seeing letters and records of phone calls between Tony Blair and George Bush. Yesterday he argued there were ‘one or two issues’ with the FoI law, which helped expose the MPs’ expenses scandals and dozens of other revelations about the activities of the state.’ – Daily Mail

  • Transparency is democratic – like it or lump it – Daily Mail Leader
  • Chilcot refused extra help with his report – The Sun (£)

Poll finds Corbyn in the lead…

‘The hard-left MP Jeremy Corbyn is on course to become the next Labour leader, according to the first public poll of the campaign. As the party descended into open warfare over its future yesterday, a YouGov poll for The Times found that Mr Corbyn would beat the previous frontrunner, Andy Burnham, by 53 per cent to 47 per cent in the final round of voting. A poll of first-preference votes puts Mr Corbyn 17 points in front.’ – The Times (£)


>Yesterday: Tory Diary: In five years, the Tories have got smarter – and Labour have got more divided

…so Labour MPs plot to overthrow him if he wins

Labour holes‘Labour MPs are already plotting to oust Jeremy Corbyn if the hard left candidate pulls off victory in the party’s leadership race. Frontbenchers confirmed last night that “disaster scenario planning” was under way in the event of an upset. The gathering momentum behind the anti-austerity candidate’s campaign is terrifying Labour’s mainstream backbenchers.’ – The Times (£)

>Today: Henry Hill’s Red, White and Blue column: Welsh Labour MPs join left-wing rebellion


Behr: Maybe the Opposition should accept Tory voters aren’t evil?

‘The party’s leadership contest has become a contortionist act to avoid confronting two truths about the electorate. First, more people voted Tory than voted Labour. Second, they may have had decent motives, based on the evidence before them. They are not bad people, and they won’t change their minds if the opposition radiates contempt for their opinions.’ – Rafael Behr, The Guardian

News in Brief

  • Grandparents banned from adopting granddaughter because they are old – Daily Mail
  • Hackers seize control of a car at 70mph – The Times (£)
  • It’s Prince George’s second birthday – Daily Mail
  • Obama visits Kenya – FT Leader
  • Monmouthshire house that is older than the pyramids – WalesOnline
  • Armed robber mistakenly released early – The Sun (£)
  • Feel free to grow cannabis, say Durham police – The Times (£)
  • Police used surveillance powers to identify journalists’ sources – The Guardian
  • British pensioner gets bionic eye – Daily Telegraph
  • Parliament takes a deserved break – Daily Telegraph Leader

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