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EU 1): Junker “sure” that UK will reach a deal on continued membership

Jean-Claude Juncker greets David Cameron“Brussels chief Jean-Claude Juncker said yesterday he was ‘quite sure’ Britain will reach a deal on its EU membership renegotiation, sparking fears that an agreement has been stitched up. The European Commission president refused to say how he could be so certain, simply saying: ‘My knowledge is allowing me to tell you that.’ But many were surprised that, with the summit to finalise the talks almost five weeks away, he could be so sure.” – Daily Mail

  • Special Summit could allow referendum as early as June – The Guardian
  • Migrants could be banned from in-work benefits – The Times(£)
  • Quitting the EU would make us less safe claims Sir Keir Starmer – The Independent

Comment

  • Unthinking renegotiation could cost Cameron his job – Michael Deacon Daily Telegraph
  • We’re locked in a loveless marriage to Europe – Matthew Parris The Times(£)
  • Europhiles are doing better than you might think – Asa Bennett Daily Telegraph

EU 2): Further split in Eurosceptic ranks emerges

“Eurosceptic MPs and donors fed up with infighting have abandoned one of the leading groups campaigning to take Britain out of the EU. Up to 30 MPs including David Davis, the former Tory leadership candidate, will support Go, a new grassroots organisation founded last week by the Tory MPs Tom Pursglove and Peter Bone and the Labour MP Kate Hoey. It is the third group campaigning for Brexit, joining Vote Leave and Leave.EU. Mr Pursglove and Mr Bone had previously suggested that they would help Vote Leave. Some financial backers told The Times that they were holding off making donations until the infighting calmed down.” – The Times(£)

EU 3): Don’t water down demand on benefits says May

MAY Marr“A FRESH EU row is raging behind the scenes between Theresa May and David Cameron over a No10 bid to weaken a key immigration demand, The Sun can reveal. The PM wants his proposed four year ban on benefits for new arrivals to be judged on how long they have been resident in the UK. But the Home Secretary is insisting that it must instead be based on how long newcomers from Europe have been contributing into Britain’s coffers – a higher bar which she insists will deter thousands more coming to the UK.” – The Sun

  • May urged to rethink £35,000 salary threshold for non-EU immigrants - The Independent

Hunt threatens to impose junior doctors contract

“Jeremy Hunt has repeated his threat of taking the “nuclear option” and imposing a new contract on junior doctors without their consent, as talks resume on trying to end to the dispute. Speaking to the BBC, the health secretary said it was legal and still possible for the controversial new contract to be imposed without the agreement of the BMA. “I’d rather it didn’t come to that. I’d rather we agreed,” Hunt said.” – The Guardian

>Yesterday: Rob Lyons on Comment: Public health puritanism cuts across Party lines

Corbyn threatens to ban dividends to shareholders if firms don’t pay Living Wage

Woolfie Corbyn“Jeremy Corbyn is to say that a Labour government could ban companies from paying dividends to shareholders unless they pay workers the living wage. He will say in a speech later that too much profit from economic growth has gone to those at the top of society. The Labour leader will explain his strategy to tackle pay inequality and “institutionalise fairness” in Britain.” – BBC

  • Corbyn calls for ratio rules on company pay – The Independent
  • “This completely potty,” says Simon Walker - The Sun
  • Racist police caused riots says Shadow Equalities Minister – Daily Mail
  • Huddleston Road is the front line in Labour’s class war – The Times(£)

Comment

  • We already know why Labour lost: But Labour doesn’t care – Dan Hodges Daily Telegraph
  • Corbynitis has reached the US Democrats – Tim Montgomerie The Times(£)

>Yesterday: LeftWatch: Corbyn’s critics are starting to hit at the hard Left’s most sensitive spot – it’s poshness

Livingstone ousted from Defence Review

“Ken Livingstone has been pushed out of Labour’s Trident review in a series of choreographed announcements by the Labour leadership and unions which was dubbed the “Trident two-step”. Labour announced on Friday that Mr Livingstone, the ex-London mayor, will have no formal role in Labour’s review of its defence policy which is expected to recommend a switch in policy away from the current position of support for the renewal of the Trident nuclear deterrent.” – Daily Telegraph

Labour braced for humiliation in Scottish Parliament elections

snplogo“Labour is bracing itself for another electoral humiliation at the hands of the SNP in the forthcoming Scottish Parliament election, privately admitting that Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership has made no impact on the party’s support in Scotland. The party expects to lose every one of the 35 constituency seats it won four years ago and will have to rely on the top-up system on 5 May to maintain any presence at Holyrood.” – The Independent

Edinburgh Council proposes a Mansion Tax

Tax Take“Scots with the largest homes face their council tax going up by hundreds of pounds per year after one of Nicola Sturgeon’s most senior councillors disclosed plans to introduce a so-called mansion tax. Councillor Sandy Howat, SNP leader on Edinburgh’s City Council’s ruling Labour-Nationalist administration, said he expects the Scottish Government to give the local authority the power to add new upper bands to council tax from next year.” – Daily Telegraph

New Vice Chancellor of Oxford University says extremists should be allowed to speak at universities

“Extremist groups must be allowed to speak at British universities because to ban them would stifle free speech, the new vice chancellor of Oxford has said. Professor Louise Richardson said that she was comfortable with institutions giving platforms to extreme speakers, such as those from the controversial human rights group Cage as it is the best way to challenge their views.” – Daily Telegraph

Grice: Cameron has rediscovered his inner Steve Hilton

Steve Hilton“Today Mr Cameron seems prepared to put some barnacles back. He will make two more speeches -on education, and extremism and community integration– in the next few weeks, before Europe dominates the agenda again. Having announced he will not seek a third term, he does not have to worry about winning another general election. And, as his mind inevitably turns to his legacy, he has returned to his One Nation roots.” – Andrew Grice The Independent

Oborne: Vaizey is a puppet of luvviedom

“There are, generally, two types of Government ministers. We have those who attempt substantial positive changes to the way we live…Of course, this inevitably involves courage, risk-taking and making enemies. Then there are those who seek the easy route. Arts Minister Ed Vaizey falls into this second category. This was confirmed this week when a host of luvvies from the arts world sycophantically congratulated him for becoming the longest ever serving Arts Minister, having completed five-and-a-half years in the job. Their grovelling praise simply proves that Vaizey has been their puppet.” – Peter Oborne Daily Mail

Moore: Universities are for thinking not protesting

MOORE Charles blue background“One way of looking at the past is to treat everyone in it as potential criminals in the dock. Indeed, Rhodes Must Fall does just that, posting online a long discussion called “Rhodes on Trial”. Anyone who does not conform to current views about sex, race, equality, empire, and so on, is permitted no defence counsel, and is summarily convicted. It is not hard to find important dead people who were unsound, from a modern point of view, on the role of women, gay rights, universal suffrage or tiger-shooting.” – Charles Moore Daily Telegraph

News in brief

  • Grouse shooting caused floods claim Green Party – Daily Telegraph
  • Lord Brammall cleared of sexual abuse charges after “witch-hunt” – The Times(£)
  • Trump attacks Cruz for being born in Canada – BBC
  • Major Tim Peake takes a space walk – Daily Mail
  • Janner “abused 12 at Children’s Homes” – BBC
  • Terrorist attack on hotel in Burkina Faso – Daily Mail
  • Worst start to year for financial markets since the Great Depression – The Times(£)
  • Labour MP Chris Bryant quits Church of England – BBC
  • Mark Clarke “was used as Cameron’s axe man” – The Sun

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