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8.45pm ToryDiary: Tory MPs give Andrew Lansley huge reception at '22 in his battle with the "yellow bastards"

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7.30pm WATCH: Clarke clarifies rape comments

3.45pm David T Breaker on Comment: Why doesn't the right protest in Britain?

2.15pm Robert Halfon MP on Comment: Proportional representation for the Lords would simply replace one form of patronage with another

1.30pm WATCH: Britain is spending twice as much bailing out the €uro as we're cutting from domestic budgets, says Dan Hannan MEP

1.15pm WATCH: Cameron reveals that health expert who recommended NHS privatisation advised last Labour government, not the Coalition

CLARKE-KEN-dark-shirt1pm ToryDiary: Ken Clarke's unfortunate remarks on punishing rape, gift Miliband victory at PMQs

11.15am Parliament: In his latest monthly report from the European Parliament, Martin Callanan MEP writes that Schengen and the Euro are in turmoil. "This really isn’t a good time to be a federalist in the European Union."

10am Mike Craven on Comment: Business wants more focus on growth

ToryDiary: Does growth come first for the Government?

Lord Ashcroft on Comment: Why I campaigned for the Military Covenant to be enshrined in law

Also on Comment: John Hayes MP: We will ensure every young Briton has access to the training and experience they need to succeed

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Gazette: ConHome's Graeme Archer has won the Orwell Prize for blogging

Local Government: Yesterday's ConservativeHome conference on Innovation and Improvement in local government

Parliament: Clarke on privacy and superinjunctions: "Every time I watch a football team I do not think I necessarily need to know about the sex life of each of the players."

WATCH: Violent clashes during Queen's state visit

Now Farage claims Huhne was in Essex on day of speeding offence there.  Liberal Democrats distance themselves from him.  And his ex-wife ups the pressure.

Screen shot 2011-05-18 at 04.59.40 "Chris Huhne was in Essex the day of the speeding rap threatening his career, UKIP boss Nigel Farage claimed last night.  Mr Farage said he flew into Stansted with him.  Energy Secretary Mr Huhne is accused of getting his wife to take the penalty points so he could avoid a driving ban.  The Lib Dem is now under mounting pressure after claims by UKIP's leader put him in the frame for the rap he's accused of trying to dodge." – The Sun

"Chris Huhne’s estranged wife revealed to a judge eight years ago that her husband had asked her to take the blame for his speeding offences, the Mail has been told.  Vicky Pryce is said to have confided in her friend in 2003 that the Energy Secretary had made her take points on her licence to save himself from a driving ban." – Daily Mail

"A leading Liberal Democrat told The Daily Telegraph that Mr Huhne’s response to Miss Pryce’s allegations “did not stack up” and “sharks are circling”… So far Huhne has failed to deny the allegations in full, he has only said that the allegations are incorrect. The story just does not stack up…The pressure is building within the party, and key thing is how well supported he [was] when he gave the statement.” – Daily Telegraph 

"Get-out clause" built into Huhne's emissions targets

"The Government has inserted a get-out clause in its climate change plan which will allow it to scrap a new emissions target within three years if other European countries fail to take similar action.  Chris Huhne, the Energy Secretary, said he was adopting the recommendation by the Committee on Climate Change for emissions to be halved by 2025 compared with 1990 levels.  However, he said that the Government would hold a review in early 2014 and would adjust the target in line with “the actual EU trajectory”." – The Times (£)

Carbon pledge will double energy bills – Daily Express

No hold-up for nuclear reviewBBC

The Climate Change Secretary is mocked during Commons statement…

"At various points (sorry), Stephen Pound, the court jester of the Labour benches, would bellow at Mr Huhne: “How many points was that?”  Mr Huhne, face set, colourless lips in a grim line, ignored that and any other references to his wife’s claim that he had asked her to accept speeding penalty points incurred on the M11 after he had flown to Stansted in March 2003." – Ann Treneman, The Times (£)

> Yesterday on ToryDiary: A lesson of the Huhne affair: Cameron isn't in full charge of the Cabinet

…But the reception for Clegg's Lords reform plans is even worse (especially from Conservatives)

Screen shot 2011-05-18 at 04.58.36 "Nick Clegg's flagship plan for an elected House of Lords ran into an immediate storm of protest which cast doubt over whether he would be able to force it through Parliament.  Although David Cameron and other Tory Cabinet ministers rallied behind Mr Clegg, he provoked an open revolt by Tory backbenchers when he unveiled his proposals in the Commons.  The overwhelming majority of Tories who quizzed him during an uncomfortable 75-minute grilling poured scorn on his blueprint." – The Independent

  • "Tories sat behind the deputy prime minister in a harsh, almost tangible silence. Labour MPs just mocked. "At each election, one-third of members will be re-elected under STV … " poor Nick Clegg said, and someone yelled "Try AV!", to more scorn." – Simon Hoggart, The Guardian
  • "From both Labour and the Tory benches there came mayhem and mockery in equal measure.  Some of it was led by Mr Cameron’s parliamentary private secretary, lusty Desmond Swayne (New Forest W). Julian Lewis, Tory MP for the other side of the New Forest, hooted with disbelief at some of Mr Clegg’s assertions." – Quentin Letts, Daily Mail

Don't lay waste to the wisdom of the Lords – Lord Hennessey, Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday on ConservativeHome

The Deputy Prime Minister opens up a new front against Lansley's health plans

"Nick Clegg has singled out the role of Monitor, the NHS regulator, as the area of the embattled NHS bill that needs the "most substantial changes" and has said that all references to the body being an economic regulator "should be removed".  In a presentation by the deputy prime minister to the weekly meeting of his parliamentary party and leaked to the Guardian, Clegg circulated a page-long document in which he set out how he believes the regulator should be reconceived." – The Guardian

Laws gives his first interview since the vote to bar him from the Commons – and warns his party not to snipe at the Tories

LAWS DAVID "David Laws rebukes Chris Huhne and dissident Liberal Democrats today for sniping at their Tory partners, warning that their grandstanding puts the success of the coalition at risk.  In his first interview since quitting the Cabinet last year over his Commons expenses, he tells the Lib Dems that voters will not forgive them for sulking in a corner rather than seizing the opportunity of power.  In a clear swipe at Mr Huhne, he says that throwing crockery or banging the Cabinet table will not win influence within the coalition." – The Times (£)

"'Therefore it was always easier at school, ever since I can remember being aware of my sexuality, to keep it secret.' This was, he says, 'from my very earliest teenage years'. While he was a day boy at an independent school in Surrey, St George’s College in Weybridge, he says no boy ever admitted being gay. When he met the man he lives with, James Lundie, it was his first relationship. He was in his mid-30s." – The Times interview in full (£)

New Scottish LibDem leader won't automatically be entitled to grill Alex SalmondDaily Telegraph

Rapists could be out of jail in 15 months if they admit their guilt quickly

"Rapists will have their jail terms halved if they admit guilt under a proposal condemned last night as "bonkers".  Judges say it could mean a convicted sex attacker serving as little as 15 months in prison.  Ministers argue that encouraging an early guilty plea will spare victims the ordeal of giving evidence in court and increase the six per cent conviction rate for rape.  The reform, which ignited a new row over ‘soft justice’, will also apply to burglars, robbers and other serious criminals." – Daily Mail

Fox believes that a national security council member is leaking his letters.  Not Downing Street.  Not the Foreign Office.  So who could it be?

Screen shot 2011-05-18 at 07.27.10 "Liam Fox believes that a fellow cabinet minister on the national security council tried to damage him by leaking a private letter to David Cameron in which he appeared to challenge the Tories' pledge to meet a UN target on overseas aid.  As William Hague expressed irritation with the defence secretary after the leaking of a second private letter to the prime minister, one senior Whitehall source said that Fox is convinced that a cabinet minister sanctioned the leaking in a deliberate act of sabotage." – The Guardian

"Downing Street yesterday confirmed that “there is no fixed timetable” for introducing a bill on development spending.  Coalition sources said the Bill is being delayed because of concerns about a significant Conservative backbench rebellion.  Privately, both supporters and critics of the plan say that Dr Fox has fuelled backbench resistance to the aid law, which was promised in the Conservative election manifesto." – Daily Telegraph

Editorials and commentators pile in on the Defence Secretary's side:

  • Give aid where it's needed… at home – Daily Mail Editorial
  • Time to listen to Fox – Sun Editorial
  • Despite our noble objections, aid does not solve problems – it just makes them worse – Ian Birrell, Daily Mail
  • Only cuts can save the international aid budget – Alice Thomson, The Times (£)

> Yesterday on ConservativeHome:

Prime Minister rebukes defence chiefs – 400 troops will return from Afghanistan

"David Cameron last night issued a stinging rebuke to defence chiefs who warned that Britain’s military capability is being hit by spending cuts.  As he signalled an early British withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Prime Minister admitted he had had ‘good, proper arguments’ over funding with Sir David Richards, the chief of the defence staff."  But he insisted it was inevitable that Sir David and other military bosses would always 'want more'." – Daily Mail

Bank accused as inflation soars

Screen shot 2011-05-18 at 08.16.44 "Inflation stormed back to 4.5 per cent in April, official data revealed yesterday, provoking widespread attacks on the Bank of England.  Bank governor Mervyn King was forced to write a letter of explanation to chancellor George Osborne on Monday, detailing why inflation remains above target.  Since coming to office Osborne has received a letter from King every three months, as inflation is more than one per cent above the Bank’s two per cent target." – City A.M

Families face inflation jump – Daily Express

Cameron urges banks to lend more

"David Cameron has warned banks they might face new taxes unless they keep their side of a deal and start lending more to businesses, as he admitted that the initial signs were “disappointing”.  Mr Cameron suggested he would regard any reneging on the lending agreement, known as Project Merlin, as a personal betrayal and that it could bring about a return to “war” between the City and politicians." – Financial Times (£)

Osborne targets small business tax hurdles

"The most “problematic and frustrating” tax hurdles encountered by small businesses will be identified in the next phase of George Osborne’s attempt to simplify the tax regime.  The Office of Tax Simplification, set up last summer to unravel the “spaghetti bowl” of complex laws, is being asked to recommend ways of improving small businesses’ experience of the tax system.  It will also assess specific tax issues faced by individuals starting a business, as part of a report to be published before next year’s Budget." – Financial Times (£)

The Chancellor's alliance with Christine Lagarde, France's glamorous finance ministerWall Street Journal

Tim Loughton says that the sexual grooming of children is far worse than thought

LOUGHTON TIM "The sexual grooming of children in the UK is a much bigger problem than has previously been recognised, the government has said.  The children's minister, Tim Loughton, announced that an action plan will be launched to tackle child sexual exploitation, which experts say involves British children as young as 10 being trafficked for sex around the UK." – The Guardian

Coalition and Political News in Brief

  • Craig Oliver in tax investigation – Daily Telegraph
  • Pressure mounts on Strauss-Kahn to quit – Financial Times (£)
  • Salmond to be re-elected first minister – BBC
  • The Government "hates and wants to destroy the nation's police with savage cuts," officers say – Daily Mail
  • Cable to back copyright law reform – The Guardian
  • Millions must work after 70 – Daily Express
  • Environment Agency to review draft plan – Farmers Weekly
  • Electronic medical records are an IT vanity project – Simon Burns on PoliticsHome
  • Tory peer claimed for London stays when he was driven home by chauffeur – The Times (£)

The Queen arrives in Ireland

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"The Queen's visit represents an opportunity for Ireland and Britain to “move on” from their common history and build future relationships, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore and British foreign secretary William Hague have said.  Speaking at a joint press conference to mark the visit, the two men stressed the significance of the event in relation to past history and future opportunities." – Irish Times

"Queen Elizabeth's visit to Ireland this week is a hugely significant moment for both our countries. Just a few years ago such an event would have been improbable or even impossible.  That Her Majesty can come here, see the beauty of this country and receive a great Irish welcome is testament not just to the generosity and goodwill of the Irish people, but the strengthening of our bilateral relationship, the continuing success of the peace process and the patient work of many people over a number of years." – David Cameron in the Irish Times

Labour urges councillors to form coalitions with Lib Dems

"Ed Miliband has urged Labour councillors to forge coalitions with the Liberal Democrats to run local authorities despite his party's hostility to Nick Clegg for joining forces with David Cameron.  A Labour circular leaked to The Independent tells the party's councillors: "If Liberal Democrat groups/ councillors, who are committed to standing up to the unfair policies imposed by the Government, wish to join Labour in running the council then we should look to form locally progressive coalitions." – The Independent

Geoff Hoon Disgraced Hoon gets top job at WestlandDaily Mail

David Davis: Let's use workfare for Broadband

"Installing tens of thousands of miles of cable in new or existing ducts will take millions of man hours and will not come cheap.  These labour costs can be brought down. Why not use the 2.4 million people who are either jobless or on welfare to build this infrastructure?  During the Great Depression, President Roosevelt established the Civilian Conservation Corps, a relief programme that provided work for jobless young men. In its nine-year existence, three billion trees were planted, 800 parks created and thousands of miles of new roads built.  A similar effort will transform Britain. And for once workfare will not simply be makework." – The Times (£)

And finally…Police Commissioner claims Boris cheats at table tennis

"Johnson has been known to construct an impromptu "wiff-waff" table at City Hall, by pushing desks together and using a pile of books as a net. Stephenson admits to being "palpably hopeless" at the sport.  And yet, claims the Commissioner, Johnson "cheats when he sets the table up… I know we're now being shockingly indiscreet, but he started it – and he cheats where he puts the books. I think it's outrageous, and it shows a competitive edge that goes beyond reasonableness." – The Independent

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