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Brexit 1) Cameron’s EU reform package is not binding, Gove warns

GOVE union flag T-shirt‘Mr Gove told the BBC: “The facts are that the European Court of Justice is not bound by this agreement until treaties are changed and we don’t know when that will be.” He added: “I do think it’s important that people also realise that the European Court of Justice stands above every nation state, and ultimately it will decide on the basis of the treaties and this deal is not yet in the treaties.”‘ – The Sun (£)

  • ‘…there aren’t a great deal of upsides to having a husband in politics. If, at the end of the day, he can’t stand up for what he believes in, then what’s the point? That is why I don’t think there was ever any real question in Michael’s mind that he was going to vote Out. In all the years we’ve been together, I’ve never really known him change his mind about the fundamentals in life.’ – Sarah Vine, Daily Mail
  • I reckon Boris still wants in – Daniel Finkelstein, The Times (£)
  • Boris’ careerism? What of the Tories who once flaunted their Eurosceptic credentials? – Peter Oborne, Daily Mail
  • Will the Mayor change his views on immigration? – Philip Johnston, Daily Telegraph
  • Gove’s Game of Thrones – James Kirkup, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Steve Baker on Comment: A vote to Remain would be a vote to endorse the Lisbon Treaty

Brexit 2) Voters doubt that the deal will deliver

‘Voters have declared David Cameron’s EU referendum deal an overwhelming flop when it comes to curbing mass immigration. In an exclusive Daily Mail poll, three-quarters of the public say the Prime Minister’s so-called ‘emergency brake’ on tax credits and his curbs on the payment of child benefit to EU workers will either fail to reduce migration – or could even allow it rise further. The poll also shows that, among those groups most passionate about voting in the referendum, the contest is now neck and neck.’ – Daily Mail

>Today: ToryDiary: Does it matter that Cameron has failed to get much of the press to back his EU reform?

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: ConHome survey. Three in five Party members say they will vote to leave the EU. But there’s hope for Remain.

Brexit 3) The race is on to secure the support of Tory MPs

Rosette shield‘Roughly 80 Conservative politicians remained undecided on Tuesday, with 140 of their colleagues backing Remain and 118 supporting Leave according to a snapshot survey by ConservativeHome…Those in favour of Brexit are mostly backbenchers, while the ranks of those wanting Britain to stay part of the EU are dominated by MPs with government jobs, ConservativeHome’s figures show. Newer MPs tend to be more eurosceptic…Despite this, Monday’s parliamentary debate reflected Mr Cameron’s decade-long attempt to shape the party in his image, according to ConservativeHome executive editor Mark Wallace.’ – FT

>Today: 

>Yesterday: WATCH: We’re better off in the EU, says Freeman

Brexit 4) Former military chiefs say the EU is good for security

‘Britain must stay in the European Union so it can protect itself from “grave security threats” caused by Isil and Russia, some the country’s most senior former military commanders say. In a letter to The Telegraph, 13 former Armed Forces chiefs say that they “believe strongly that it is in our national interest to remain an EU member”. The signatories to the letter include Field Marshal Lord Erwin Bramall, a former Chief of Defence Staff who took part in the Normandy landing in the Second World War, and Field Marshal Lord Charles Guthrie, former Chief of Defence Staff.’ – Daily Telegraph

Brexit 5) Wharton makes a positive case for Leave

WHARTON James headshot‘The EU is important to the UK, but we should look out to the world as a whole. We should sign agreements to open up trade with emerging markets and old friends in the Commonwealth. We should decide who comes here to live and work, in the interests of our economy and the stability of our society. We should resist the managed decline that the EU has come to represent. Our relationship with it should be part, but not all, of our global identity. It is quite possible to have a relationship with the EU without being in it.’ – James Wharton MP, The Times (£)

Feldman will present party reforms to MPs today

‘Lord Feldman will brief the backbench 1922 committee on his findings on Wednesday, when he will make the “case for change”. The review will recommend that local associations co-operate to cut spending on administration and free cash for campaigning and recruitment, said a person familiar with the matter. It will also suggest that membership administration be centralised…The consolidation of administrative support would be offered to local constituency associations as a voluntary option; they would not lose control over locally owned properties or other assets, said a person familiar with the matter. Local members would have to approve the change of structure in a ballot.’ – FT

Westminster and Holyrood strike Scottish funding deal

Scottish flag‘Plans to stop £7billion of English taxpayers’ cash going to Scotland were watered down tonight in a major sop to Nicola Sturgeon. George Osborne had wanted to cut the funding over a decade as part of a historic deal to give Scotland tax-raising powers. But it was diluted to break a months-long deadlock in devolution talks – securing what David Cameron called a “major milestone” in transferring powers north of the border.’ – The Sun (£)

  • Wales may lose out from tax changes – FT
  • Aston Martin announces new Welsh plant – FT
  • The Northern Powerhouse must be built on an education revolution – The Times Leader (£)
  • Failing schools can learn from London – Daily Telegraph Leader

>Today: Henry Hill’s Red, White and Blue column: Cameron backs Villiers as Nationalists demand she resign

Osborne warned over productivity gap

‘George Osborne believes his plan to push up the minimum wage sharply for over 25 year olds will boost productivity, because employers will be incentivised to train up their low-skilled staff to make them “worth” the higher pay. However, analysis from the Resolution Foundation demonstrates the scale of the challenge. Productivity would have to rise 6 per cent a year between now and 2020 — three times as fast as the Bank of England expects — to maintain its historic relationship with the minimum wage.’ – FT

BMA announces three more junior doctors’ strikes

NHS_Logo‘There will be three more junior doctor strikes – each 48 hours long, the British Medical Association announced today. The new contract the Government has also threatened to impose will also be contested with a judicial review…The strikes will lead to the cancellation of tens of thousands of operations on top of the 7,000 already disrupted by the last two walkouts. The move comes after Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said after the last strike on February 10 that the new contract would be imposed after years of negotiations ended in deadlock.’ – Daily Mail

  • This could cost them their public support – The Sun Says (£)
  • A quarter of NHS staff say their hospital doesn’t do enough to learn from mistakes – Daily Mail
  • There’s no miracle cure for NHS funding – Frank Field, The Guardian

Sharp rise in prison hostage-taking

‘The Ministry of Justice revealed there were 139 occasions last year when a lag held another convict or a guard hostage — nearly nine times higher than the 16 in 2010. Union chiefs said the rise mirrored the explosion in serious violence in prisons up and down the country, fuelled by staff cuts and the sharp increase in legal highs behind bars.’ – The Sun (£)

Senior Momentum activist expelled from the Labour Party

Momentum‘A member of the ruling committee of Momentum, Jill Mountford, has been expelled from the Labour party, and further members of the committee may face expulsions, sources at Labour party headquarters told the New Statesman. Mountford has been expelled due to her membership of the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty, a Trotskyite grouping, for which she stood against Harriet Harman, then deputy leader of the Labour party, at the 2010 general election.’ – The New Statesman

  • Labour is being hollowed out by its leadership – Sebastian Payne, FT
  • Blair: I’m baffled by the rise of Sanders and Corbyn – The Guardian
  • Corbynite activists face anti-semitism allegations – Daily Mail

>Today: Rebecca Coulson’s column: Anti-semitism is a reason to approve of Israel

Peers urge the BBC to reveal the cost of its big-budget dramas

‘The BBC should reveal what it spends on hit shows like the drama War and Peace and Bafta-winning Happy Valley to make sure it’s held to account, says a new report. A powerful committee of peers said full and detailed costs of expensive dramas, documentaries and children’s programmes should be broken down and filed to a regulator. The BBC has argued against the move saying the information was commercially sensitive.’ – The Sun (£)

News in Brief

  • Crossrail to be named the Elizabeth Line – Daily Mail
  • Acting has become one of the professions dominated by the privately educated – The Times (£)
  • Mars recalls chocolate bars – Daily Mail
  • Ex-wife of lottery winner: I wouldn’t take him back, even for £32m – Daily Telegraph
  • Stock Exchange seeks merger again – CityAM
  • Adams botches the Irish election campaign for Sinn Fein – The Times (£)
  • Trump wins Nevada primary – FT
  • Search for missing workers after Didcot power station accident – Daily Telegraph
  • Nurse stricken by Ebola returns to hospital again – The Independent

34 comments for: Newslinks for Wednesday 24th February 2016

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