Osborne: I want a trade relationship with the EU

OSBORNE non-broken sword‘Britain’s relationship with the EU should return to the concept of a “single market of free trade” following the renegotiation of the country’s membership, George Osborne has pledged. In his first major interview since the general election, the Chancellor said that the “central attraction” of European Union membership is economic and this should be at the heart of the renegotiation. He said that “fixing” the economic aspects of our relationship is the key to “convincing ourselves that it is right for Britain to remain in the EU”.’ – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Robert Oxley on Comment: Cameron and Osborne are setting themselves a tight timetable for the EU referendum

The Chancellor did not expect a Conservative majority

‘“I fundamentally thought that we would remain in office, but I didn’t think that it was very likely we would do so with an overall majority,” Osborne said. “I felt we had done enough to persuade the British people to give us one [a majority]. But it didn’t look like that was going to happen…I live in Downing Street, so there was a very real practical issue. I had taken the decision not to pack up [completely]. But, I did have a bag that would have kept me in clean shirts for a few days.”’ – Daily Telegraph

>Today: ToryDiary: Cameron’s revolutionary secret: the most professional Cabinet in British history

Growth accelerates in the second quarter

GROWTH Krieg‘Britain’s recovery has passed a major milestone with gross domestic product per head returning to its pre-downturn peak after seven years. The pace of overall UK economic growth quickened notably in the second quarter of the year as the service sector forged ahead. Growth rebounded to 0.7 per cent quarter on quarter, in line with consensus expectations, recovering from the disappointing 0.4 per cent recorded in the first three months of the year.’ – FT

>Today: Jack Dacombe on Comment: Conservatives should focus on achievement, not aspiration

Thousands of illegal migrants try to storm Calais

‘At least 2200 illegal migrants tried to storm the Channel Tunnel in a bid to reach Britain from France, it has been revealed. In one of the worst security breaches in the history of the undersea link, huge gangs broke through security fencing in Calais in the early hours. It comes as Home Secretary Theresa May announced that Britain had agreed to provide an extra £7million towards efforts to tackle the Calais migrant crisis.’ – Daily Mail

  • One died during the rush – The Times (£)
  • Hiring NHS staff from abroad is ‘too expensive’ – Daily Mail

Cameron: Accept help to lose weight, or lose your benefits

David Cameron 14-04-15‘Obese people who refuse medical treatment to help them lose weight could have their benefits cut, the Prime Minister will announce today. David Cameron will launch a review to work out the cost to taxpayers and the economy of ‘preventable’ conditions such as obesity and drug and alcohol addiction. He has asked a government health adviser to examine plans to force people with health problems to undertake treatment when claiming benefits.’ – Daily Mail

Altmann at odds with the Chancellor over pension reform

‘An independent voice among the public for more than two decades, Baroness Altmann had battled for ordinary workers on pension issues, often speaking out against government policy. She was also trusted by the blue-collar Conservatives the Tories were trying to win over. But three months after Baroness Altmann was brought into the heart of government, there are growing perceptions of a split between the pensions minister and George Osborne, the chancellor, over the future of pension policy. Tensions have begun to surface over recent proposals by the Treasury to prevent the ballooning cost to the exchequer of incentivising retirement saving.’ – FT

  • Retirement saving tax breaks for the rich face the chop – FT

Estate agents challenge London property plan

Homes For All Big‘The people who buy and sell houses for the world’s wealthy have cast doubt on UK government plans to increase transparency in the London housing market in order to tackle corruption. Prime Minister David Cameron said on Tuesday — while on an official visit to Singapore — that some properties were being bought with “plundered and laundered cash” and the UK should not be a “haven for corrupt money”.’ – FT

  • Transparency is good, but it isn’t a housing policy – The Guardian Leader
  • Goldsmith received controversial donation – The Times (£)

>Today: ToryDiary: Who do you want as the Conservative candidate for London Mayor? Take our latest survey to have your say.

>Yesterday: Nick Faith on Comment: Speak up for the pro-building majority

Plan to name and shame firms that don’t check if suppliers use child labour

‘More than 12,000 big businesses that fail to check whether child labour is used by their suppliers will be exposed in a new drive to stamp out the practice, David Cameron has revealed. The prime minister will unveil the measure today as he becomes the first ever British prime minster to visit Vietnam, which suffers from a severe child labour and trafficking problem that leads to some of its citizens being exploited in Britain.’ – The Times (£)

Lord Sewel resigns from the Upper House

LORDS logo‘Shamed Lord Sewel was clinging to his title last night despite quitting the House of Lords. He had resigned as Deputy Speaker but hoped to ride out the storm over drug-fuelled romps with two hookers. He finally gave in and announced he was leaving the Lords yesterday — but officials admitted there is “no mechanism” to strip him of his title. The last time it happened was in 1917 under wartime legislation relating to “traitors of the realm” and new laws would be needed to do it again.’ – The Sun (£)

124 peers claim subsistence allowance despite living near Parliament

‘More than 100 peers are pocketing thousands of pounds a month in expenses despite living close to the House of Lords, the Mail can disclose today. Dozens are taking advantage of a scheme designed to make the system fairer following the MPs expenses scandal but which hugely favours those living in London. The disclosures will add weight to calls for reform of the bloated upper chamber.’ – Daily Mail

Labour 1) Poll puts Corbyn 19 points ahead (with Yvette in second place)

CORBYN Jeremy‘Jeremy Corbyn has pulled further ahead in the Labour leadership contest, according to a private poll yesterday which suggests that Yvette Cooper has overtaken Andy Burnham for second place. The radical left-winger is on course to top the ballot with 42 per cent, with Ms Cooper on 23 per cent, Mr Burnham on 20 per cent and Liz Kendall on 14 per cent.’ – The Times (£)


Labour 2) Dejevsky: Vote Corbyn to revive the Lib Dems

‘It is not just the Daily Telegraph’s “Tories for Corbyn” who should be backing the Labour left-winger in their own self-interest. Whether or not they think it worth £3 to take part, the Liberal Democrats should be rooting for Corbyn too. Not because a more leftwing Labour party would necessarily push Blairites in their direction, but because Corbyn-style clarity about what Labour stands for would help the Liberal Democrats to define themselves more clearly – and they could start by giving full meaning to both elements of their name.’ – Mary Dejevsky, The Guardian

The SNP deny that Cameron could block a second referendum

Scottish flag‘The Scottish National party has angrily dismissed suggestions that the prime minister could block a second referendum to break up the UK — but in reality both sides are keen to avoid taking a firm position. David Cameron said on Monday night that he did not “see the need” for another independence referendum. Given that Westminster must pass Holyrood the legal power to hold such a vote, some interpreted this as the prime minister refusing to allow one.’ – FT

>Today: Henry Hill’s Red, White and Blue column: Cameron rules out Scottish referendum rematch

Police chief: Every force has given up the war on cannabis

‘Police have given up investigating small scale cannabis farms, one of the country’s top officers admitted yesterday. Sara Thornton, who leads the National Police Chiefs’ Council, said cracking down on the growing army of dope-heads has ‘never been a top priority’. The former Thames Valley chief constable said forces tipped off about a cannabis farm at someone’s home would probably only ‘record’ the fact.’ – Daily Mail

Defence cuts see Army numbers fall below target

Army‘A failure to recruit sufficient numbers of regular recruits has led to a shortfall in the number of serving British Army personnel. Latest Ministry of Defence (MoD) figures show that the number of full-time servicemen and women is 300 under the 82,000 target set for 2018. In all there were 81,700 trained servicemen and women in the Army as of June, down from 102,260 in 2010.’ – The Times (£)

>Yesterday: Dr Liam Fox MP on Comment: It is time to end the absurd policy of hitting ISIS in Iraq but not Syria

News in Brief

  • Saif Gaddafi sentenced to death – Daily Mail
  • American dentist paid thousands to kill a lion with a crossbow – The Times (£)
  • Half of us to chat to our flowers – Daily Mail
  • Seagulls: it’s war – The Sun (£)
  • Earth would get just 12 hours warning of a devastating solar storm – The Guardian
  • Our Top Ten British films of all time – The Times Leader (£)
  • The West is betraying the Kurds – Brendan O’Neill, Daily Telegraph
  • Greens told that two people cannot share the job of an MP – The Guardian
  • Litvinenko inquiry continues to take evidence – FT

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