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Europe 1) Lord Lawson on Brexit – “Nothing to fear but fear itself”

EU Exit“Lord Lawson yesterday declared Britain has ‘nothing to fear but fear itself’ from leaving the European Union. … The Tory grandee said the country would retain control of its destiny and stop having to send a net £10billion every year to Brussels. … In a speech to academics, the former Chancellor also insisted that British trade would prosper outside the EU.” – Daily Mail

  • “One who is currently easing himself out of his old pelt with a shoulder-shimmy here, a greasy word or two there, is Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond. He used to be a prominent Eurosceptic (indeed, his scepticism was one of the reasons he was appointed). Now he is mid-restyle.” – Quentin Letts, Daily Mail
  • “The consequences of leaving would reach beyond the UK economy.” – Jean-Claude Piris, Financial Times
  • “Why the Brexit referendum will be swung by the horrific events in Cologne.” – Allison Pearson

> Today: WATCH – Toyota have blown the pro-EU campaign’s irresponsible scaremongering out of the water, says Fox

> Yesterday: Jan Zeber on Comment – The EU’s threatened intervention in Poland will only make the situation worse

Europe 2) Boris tells the Brexit campaign that he won’t be their front man, according to reports

boris-johnson“The campaign to get Britain out of the European Union has been dealt a blow after Boris Johnson told senior Eurosceptics he does not want to be their leader. … The Daily Express has learnt that the charismatic London Mayor, who steps down in May, held informal talks with a senior Conservative backbenchers before Christmas over the role. … But, in what many will see as a setback to the whole campaign, he made it clear he did not want to lead the Brexit drive. … It is understood he said: ‘The trouble is, I am not an “outer”.'” – Daily Express

Europe 3) Row over migrant benefit figures

Border“The Government has been accused of a ‘cover up’ after twice refusing to say how many EU migrants are claiming welfare here. … It emerged last year HM Revenue and Customs holds the information but was keeping it secret because it would be ‘unhelpful’ to PM David Cameron’s EU renegotiation. … Now outraged Tory MP Chris Heaton-Harris has demanded the numbers are revealed to the Commons — but the Treasury still refuses to release them.” – The Sun

  • “A senior eurocrat was under attack last night for demanding to give evidence to a key inquiry into Britain’s referendum negotiations in secret.” – Daily Mail
  • “David Cameron risks leaving little time to make the case for EU membership if he calls the UK’s referendum on Brexit in June, Nicola Sturgeon has warned.” – Financial Times
  • “German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said Europe is ‘vulnerable’ in the refugee crisis because it is not yet in control of the situation to the extent that it would like to be.” – The Independent

> Yesterday: Nick Timothy’s column – It’s time to tell some home truths about sexism in minority communities

Cameron denies “backsliding” on the environment…

Cameron“David Cameron has defended his government’s record on the environment and climate change, saying suggestions of backsliding are “total and utter nonsense”. The prime minister also told the liaison committee, made up of MPs who chair select committees, that the government needs to do “more of everything” to deal with the flooding that has repeatedly hit the UK in recent years.” – The Guardian

  • “Compassionate Conservatism: the idea that David Cameron is forever postponing.” – Rafael Behr, The Guardian

…and considers new powers for the police to control terror suspects

Police shield“David Cameron will examine tougher bail rules which could allow the police to seize terror suspects’ passports more quickly and stop them fleeing the country. … The Prime Minister, giving evidence to senior MPs, said he would ‘happily’ look into strengthening the powers during an evidence session in Parliament. … Mr Cameron was quizzed on police powers in after it emerged the man suspected of being the new Jihadi John, Siddhartha Dhar, was able to get out of Britain in September 2014 while on police bail.” – Daily Mail

  • “More than 100 terror suspects are roaming Britain’s streets under ‘toothless’ bail laws, a top cop said last night.” – The Sun
  • “David Cameron has admitted that ‘there aren’t enough’ moderate Syrian fighters to defeat Isis yet and conceded some of the rebels belong to ‘relatively hardline Islamist groups’.” – The Independent
  • “David Cameron has been criticised by senior MPs after he refused to allow parliament’s intelligence and security committee (ISC) unlimited access to the intelligence that led to recent drone strikes against Islamic State.” – The Guardian
  • “The government has been accused of trying to ‘steamroll’ radical surveillance laws through parliament by refusing to give MPs and peers more time to scrutinise its proposals.” – The Times (£)

Ten killed in Istanbul suicide bomding

ISIS“A suspected member of the Islamic State (IS) group has killed 10 people, at least eight of them German tourists, in a suicide bomb attack in the Turkish city of Istanbul, officials say. … They say the Syrian national carried out the attack in the Sultanahmet district, near the famous Blue Mosque. … Fifteen people were wounded, many of them also German.” – BBC

  • “Two U.S. Navy boats have been seized by Iran, with state media accusing the 10 crew on board of ‘snooping’.” – Daily Mail
  • “President Putin has said it would be easier for Russia to provide refuge to President Assad of Syria than it was to grant asylum to Edward Snowden, the US intelligence whistleblower.” – The Times (£)
  • “Islamic State has issued an advice booklet for followers who want to carry out ‘lone wolf’ attacks of the sort that are plaguing European countries.” – Daily Telegraph

And comment:

  • “Turkey must decide whose side it is on in Syria: Isil or the West.” – Con Coughlin, Daily Telegraph
  • “Without education, Syria’s children will be a lost generation.” – Gordon Brown, The Guardian

MoD reveals that nine British soldiers die in training every year

More than one in 20 deaths in the British military happens during training, damning new figures revealed. … A shocking 131 military personnel have lost their lives during drills or on exercises in the past 15 years, according to the Ministry of Defence. … Troops have been killed in tragedies including being shot during mock battles, being crushed by armoured vehicles, falling to their deaths while parachuting, or drowning during river crossings while weighed down by heavy backpacks.” – Daily Mail

Mercer calls for a Veterans’ Ministry

Johnny Mercer MP“I and many others want to see a single point of contact so every veteran or Armed Forces personnel and their families knows where to go. … We want to know that care needs are uniformly assessed and co-ordinated; that the money we give to the brilliant Armed Forces charities is not wasted duplicating treatment, or on practices that are not of the highest quality. … The only way to achieve these goals is by creating an independent government Department for Veterans’ Affairs.” – Johnny Mercer MP, The Sun

Osborne adviser apologises for her role during the financial crisis

Banks Face 6 Billion Of Libor Litigation“Angela Knight, who was chief executive of the British Banking Association throughout the financial crisis, appeared before the Commons treasury committee to answer questions about her appointment as chairwoman of the Office of Tax Simplification. … Labour MP Helen Goodman intervened to ask if Ms Knight was ‘sorry’ about her ‘energetic’ defence of the banks and whether she would apologise for endorsing the rigged Libor rate in 2008. … Ms Knight replied: ‘Of course I’m sorry.” – Daily Mail

  • “A Bank of England official oversaw the move by the City regulator to scrap a review into Britain’s banks, it emerged on Tuesday, just a day after the Financial Conduct Authority insisted external pressure had not influenced its decision.” – Financial Times
  • “RBS urged investors to sell everything amid warnings that oil prices could fall to the lowest level in 17 years which may spark a meltdown as severe as the 2008 financial crisis.” – Daily Mail
  • “The City of London’s most vocal ‘bear’ has warned that the world is heading for a financial crisis as severe as the crash of 2008-09 that could prompt the collapse of the eurozone.” – The Guardian
  • “Iceland says it has fully reimbursed Britain for the collapse of the Icesave bank in 2008 which left British and Dutch account-holders empty-handed.” – The Guardian
  • “Household debt has jumped by more than 40 per cent in the past six months, sparking fears about whether families will struggle with their household finances when interest rates rise.” – The Times (£)

And comment:

  • “George Osborne might argue time for ‘banker bashing’ is over but, the Serious Fraud Office isn’t ready to throw in the towel.” – Alex Brummer, Daily Mail
  • “What market turbulence is telling us.” – Martin Wolf, Financial Times
  • “Is the turmoil in the financial markets an ominous sign?” – Hamish McRae, The Independent
  • “The middle class is in for a tax shock as George Osborne tries to hit his budget target.” – Jeremy Warner, Daily Telegraph

Javid urged to make the apprenticeship levy more appealing to businesses

Sajid Javid 12-07-15“The head of the CBI has written privately to Sajid Javid, the business secretary, to warn that the new “apprenticeship levy” could impose huge costs on business without any improvement in the training they provide. … Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI director-general, has urged Mr Javid to take on board several recommendations to help the scheme achieve ‘long-term success’.” – Financial Times

Doubts surround the Conservatives’ bullying probe

“The Tories have been accused of failing bullying victims after nine of the party’s activists refused to give evidence to its official inquiry. … Alleged victims at the heart of the bullying scandal that has engulfed the Conservative party following the death of Elliott Johnson said they had lost confidence in the probe. … The law firm Clifford Chance, which is managing the inquiry, told witnesses it could not guarantee their anonymity.” – The Independent

Team Corbyn joins junior doctors on the picket line

Woolfie Corbyn“Labour leaders were accused of behaving like ‘Seventies socialists’ last night after joining doctors on the picket line. … Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell was among more than half a dozen MPs who stood shoulder to shoulder with striking medics. … Political analysts said it was the first time in recent history that Labour had officially supported a public sector strike.” – Daily Mail

  • “All sides in the junior doctors’ row are increasingly optimistic that they can do a deal to end the bitter four-month dispute before a second strike disrupts NHS services for 48 hours later this month.” – The Guardian
  • “The junior doctors’ strike chaos left patients facing months of limbo after more than 20,000 operations and appointments were axed.” – The Sun
  • “Labour should stop listening to hard-left activists who ‘sit around in their £1million mansions’ and eat ‘croissants at breakfast’, according to a party grandee.” – The Sun

And comment:

  • “And how many truly believe patient safety is the crux of this row? It’s about pay, and kicking the Tories whose election win their union does not respect.” – Sun editorial
  • “Spare us the piety over patient safety.” – Daily Mail editorial
  • “Strike all you like, doctors – technology will soon take away your power.” – James Kirkup, Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday: ToryDiary – Public sector strikes always hurt the people most

The plot to oust one of Corbyn’s allies

“An ally of Jeremy Corbyn could be removed from a key party post within days as Labour moderates mount a fightback. … Labour MPs are planning to hold a vote on Monday that would force Steve Rotheram, Mr Corbyn’s parliamentary aide, to resign from the party’s national executive committee. Two of Mr Corbyn’s leading critics within the party are being lined up to replace him.” – The Times (£)

  • “There six rules for a good reshuffle. Jeremy Corbyn broke every one of them.” – William Hague, Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday: Chris Grayling’s column – It’s not just Corbyn that’s unfit to govern; it’s the Labour Party he leads

The Opposition launches a fresh attack on the Government’s tax credit changes

Labour-Party-Red-Rose-logo“New parents could lose hundreds of pounds a year in tax credits when they have their first child under Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare changes, Labour has warned. … The government has admitted that tax credit claimants may be shifted on to the new universal credit system if they ‘become responsible for a child for the first time’. Owen Smith, the shadow work and pensions secretary, said this meant people will be penalised for getting pregnant.” – The Guardian

  • “A damning report which revealed the full extent of the harm done by funding cuts to children’s centres was among more than 400 statements, documents and reports quietly released by the Government just before Christmas.” – The Independent

And comment:

  • “Cutting benefits won’t help disabled people find work.” – Tanni Grey-Thompson, The Times (£)

> Yesterday: Iain Duncan Smith on Comment – How this Government is helping to reform schools, get people into work, and boost life chances

Danczuk questioned over rape allegation

“Simon Danczuk has today been interviewed by police in connection with a historic rape allegation. … The suspended Labour MP voluntarily attended a Lancashire police station to be quizzed about the claim, which dates back to 2006. … Mr Danczuk, 49, was not arrested but interviewed under caution in connection with an allegation made by his first wife, Sonia Rossington, earlier this month.” – Daily Mail

The SNP threaten not to sign the Scotland Bill

Scottish flag“Nicola Sturgeon will not sign a bill to devolve power to Scotland unless the Treasury agrees to account for unfavourable demographics when considering how much money to give to Holyrood. … A senior figure in the Scottish National party has said the first minister will not consent to the Scotland Bill unless the parallel deal on fiscal arrangements takes into account slower population growth north of the border.” – Financial Times

> Today: Henry Hill’s Red, White and Blue column – Mundell praises biggest shift of powers since devolution

Quentin Letts takes on the quangocrats

“Quango is short for ‘quasi non-governmental organisation’, but has come to encompass a world of official bodies, agencies, authorities and pretty much anything with ‘strategic’ in its title. … Six-figure taxpayer-funded salaries, fat pensions, low expectations, grandiose connections and a pleasing aura of public service: that’s quangos for you.” – Quentin Letts, Daily Mail

  • “Ofwat, Britain’s water regulator, has been heavily criticised by MPs for failing to protect consumer interests and allowing companies to make excess profits.” – Financial Times
  • “Spending on management consultants in Whitehall is rising again at a time when the civil service has fallen to its smallest size since the second world war, the spending watchdog has found.” – Financial Times

News in brief

  • Obama takes on Trump in his State of the Union address – Financial Times
  • More than one in 10 museums intend to introduce entry charges this year – Financial Times
  • Oxford University chiefs tell students that objectionable ideas must be heard – Daily Mail
  • Judges propose an online court for financial claims up to £25,000 – Daily Mail
  • Nearly half of over-65s will risk turning down their heating this winter because of high energy bills – The Sun
  • Hidden rise in violent crime driven by growth in violence against women – The Guardian
  • Church of England attendance plunges to record low – Daily Telegraph
  • G4S sacks four guards accused of assaulting teenage inmates – The Independent
  • Fans call for permanent memorials to David Bowie – The Independent

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