7.30pm ToryDiary: Hackgate fails to move public opinion towards Labour

5pm LISTEN: William Hague on Number 10's relationship with News International: "Personally I am not embarrassed by it in any way"

3pm Sam Bowman on Comment: Media plurality depends on reform of the BBC

Hughes Simon PolShow2.15pm LeftWatch: Simon Hughes holds his fire over Cameron's Coulson meeting at Chequers, and attacks Blair instead

1pm Bernard Jenkin MP on Comment: The UK has now reached a tipping point on defence

12.15pm ConHomeUSA: Latest US Republican and conservative news

11.30am WATCH: Five minutes with Ann Widdecombe – "I think I would have been a first class Prime Minister"

11am LeftWatch: Should further action be taken to discipline Labour MP Lyn Brown?

ToryDiary: Andrew Mitchell announces £52.25m in emergency aid for African drought victims


Lord Ashcroft on Comment: The secret memo that reveals the Times's fears of being prosecuted in the United States: Tom Baldwin involved again

Local Government: Boris boosts apprenticeships by 28,000

Gazette: Record number of volunteers join Project Umubano

WATCH: Government sends more Tornados to Libya

"Hack-gate" still dominates the headlines: Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks (twice) stayed at Chequers

Indy"Mr Coulson is understood to have stayed overnight in March at the official country residence of the Prime Minister. The stay was as intended as a thank-you after the former tabloid editor had resigned in January as the Prime Minister’s head of communications." – Daily Telegraph

"The scale of private links between David Cameron and News International was exposed for the first time last night, with the Prime Minister shown to have met Rupert Murdoch's executives on no fewer than 26 occasions in just over a year since he entered Downing Street. Rebekah Brooks, who resigned yesterday as chief executive of Mr Murdoch's Wapping titles over the escalating scandal, is the only person Mr Cameron has invited twice to Chequers, a privilege not extended even to the most senior members of his Cabinet." – The Independent

> ConservativeHome coverage yesterday: 

"A scandal that has diminished Britain": In angry editorial The Daily Telegraph blames George Osborne for Coulson's promotion

OSBORNE BLUE TIE"David Cameron should have dismantled this quasi-masonic circle, with its conspiratorial deal-cutting and back-scratching. Instead, encouraged by George Osborne, he invited the circle into Downing Street, giving Mr Coulson an undeserved second chance. Mr Cameron is paying the price for this and other cynical moves. At a time when he is supposed to be navigating Britain through both the domestic and global debt crises, the Prime Minister is desperately trying to align himself with public opinion and distance himself from the News International scandal. Government has given way to the shallowest form of crisis management." – Daily Telegraph

Cameron gets low ratings from voters for handling of Hackgate

"An end of week poll shows that David Cameron has personally taken a thrashing over the phone hacking crisis. Survation states today that only 35 per cent believed he has handled the situation adequately or well. The rest say he has acted badly thus far. But Cameron’s loss has been Ed Miliband’s gain. His efforts to highlight the troubles at News International have led to 66 per cent agreeing he handled the matter adequately or well." – Sebastian Payne, on the Telegraph Blogs

Andrew Grice: Since the scandal broke, Ed MIliband has barely put a foot wrong

"The mood in Downing Street was bleak. Mr Cameron, who ran rings round Gordon Brown over MPs' expenses, has been running to catch up with Mr Miliband. "We have been behind the curve – frankly, all over the place," one No 10 insider confessed. Mr Miliband's circle is not getting carried away though. His advisers are now focused on the $64,000 question: how to build on this, project himself on a wider front and tell voters something big about Labour's direction." – Andrew Grice, in the Independent

Other Hack-gate comment:

  • "You can't have it both ways, Gordon Brown (at least not down here)" – Graeme Archer, in the Daily Telegraph
  • "The next 20 scandals. So you won’t be shocked" – Matthew Parris, in the Times (£)
  • "The hollow treachery of political friendship" – Janice Turner, in the Times (£)
  • "Rejoice at Rupert Murdoch, but the Daily Mail still darkens the horizon" – Polly Toynbee, in the Guardian

Labour turn to SNP's links to Murdoch

SALMOND-ALEX "James Murdoch is expected to be grilled over his relationship with SNP First Minister Alex Salmond and any deal that was struck to win News International's backing for the Nationalists in this year's Holyrood election." – The Scotsman

Metropolitan police allegedly put pressure on Guardian over hacking coverage

"Scotland Yard's most senior officers tried to convince the Guardian during two private meetings that its coverage of phone hacking was exaggerated and incorrect without revealing they had hired Neil Wallis, the former deputy editor of the News of the World, as an adviser. … Wallis, 60, who was deputy to Andy Coulson, the NoW editor at the time of the phone hacking, was arrested on Thursday as part of Operation Weeting. Coulson has also been arrested and bailed." – The Guardian

  • Met’s image suffers battering in scandal - Financial Times (£)
  • "Boris Johnson’s deputy mayor was accused last night of covering up the Metropolitan Police’s contract with a former News of the World executive who is a suspect in the hacking scandal." - The Times (£)

"Fresh EU cash grab 'will force Treasury to raise VAT'"

EU and BRITAIN"British consumers face a fresh VAT hike as EU chiefs are planning a tax grab to fund their pet projects. At the moment 0.3 per cent of VAT in every pound spent goes directly towards EU funding. But Brussels politicians are planning to raise the levy to 1.3 per cent – and the cost will almost certainly be passed on to consumers if the plans are approved." – Daily Mail

"The European Commission is angling for an extra one per cent – or £3billion – more of our sales tax takings, analysis of budget proposals reveals. This would either require the Treasury to hand over more cash from Britain’s under-pressure budget – or pass on the cost to taxpayers by raising VAT from 20 per cent to an eye-watering 21 per cent." – Daily Express 

  • Patrick O'Flynn highlights the Bombadier contract fiasco: "…one of these linchpins of East Midlands manufacturing has just been dealt a devastating blow by the British Government. Bombardier has lost out on a £1.4billion contract because the Department For Transport has given the work to the giant German corporation Siemens. So far we know that 1,400 Bombardier workers will lose their jobs, with perhaps three times that number facing redundancy in component-supply companies." – "The politicians waffle as our industries die" – Daily Express

Iain Martin: Sorry to depress you but there will have to be even harsher spending cuts

"…it's becoming increasingly clear that the present problems will not be a temporary phenomenon. This week, the newly-created Office of Budget Responsibility released a chilling report on Britain's longer-term economic prospects. It said that our already high levels of debt will climb to more than 100 per cent of national output shortly after the middle of this century. The cost of an ageing population — with more and more demands on the NHS — will increase pressure for much deeper spending cuts or big tax rises." – Iain Martin, in the Daily Mail

Government plans "substantial increase" in role for the Territorial Army 

Fox Thumbs Up"An independent review of reserve forces is expected to recommend a recruitment drive for more part-time soldiers. Better pay and training will be offered but there will be more emphasis on reservists in civilian jobs to go on military operations when needed. … The aim is to make the reserves more professional, forming more stand-alone units that can deploy and operate on their own, rather than just attaching reservists in small groups across the regular forces." – BBC

"Only one in 20 members of the TA is currently sufficiently trained to be deployed on the frontline. The reserves review is said to be urging the retention of the TA's 36,000 strength, and for about 5,000 – almost one in seven – to be trained up." - Belfast Telegraph

William Hague increases pressure on Gaddafi as four more Tornado jets sent to Libya Daily Mail

Hague FCO"More than 30 countries yesterday recognised Libya's rebel movement as the legitimate government as they tried to end the war and unseat a defiant Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. The statement by nations meeting in Istanbul for the fourth time since Nato attacks against Gaddafi's regime began in March could allow the US to free up more than $30bn of Gaddafi's assets held by American banks for the opposition fighters. … Kuwait and Qatar reportedly have given about $100m to the opposition." – The Independent 

Andrew Mitchell announces £52.25m in aid for the Horn of Africa

Mitchell Thoughtful"Ahead of a visit to Kenya, International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said the money would be used in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya. The World Food Programme estimates 10 million people are affected by the worst drought in over half a century. Mr Mitchell said the situation was "getting worse" and urged the international community to do more." - BBC

"At least 50 NHS trusts are in severe financial difficulty as a result of the unprecedented squeeze on NHS finances as managers struggle to find £20 billion savings by 2014."The Independent

Sir George Young hands over control of MPs' pensions to IPSA

YOUNG-GEORGE"The reform means MPs are set to lose an average £12,000 a year as their pensions are brought in line with the rest of the public sector. They are also likely to see their retirement age increase, from the current level of 65 to 68, and an end to their generous final salary pay-outs. Taxpayer contributions to MPs’ pension pots – currently around 20 per cent of their total salary bill – is also likely to be halved." – Daily Mail

  • The Sun Says: "Our MPs promised to drag their noses out of the trough after the expenses scandal. But they haven't lost their appetite for taxpayers' cash. Now they are squealing over plans to reform their gold-plated pensions along with those of teachers and civil servants." – The Sun

BBC's Newsnight cancelled after a day of disruption as staff walk out over job lossesDaily Mail

"MPs complain that the power of the Murdoch empire has been corrosive. But hasn’t the power of the BBC juggernaut with its pro-immigration, pro-euro, pro-multiculturalism,  anti-church, anti-marriage, politically correct Left-wing and anti-American agenda had a far more corrosive effect on British life?" - Daily Mail leader

Labour whip in foul-mouthed attack on blind journalist, Sean Dilley

BrownLyn"Lyn Brown, the burly MP for West Ham, barged into the back of Talksport political editor Sean Dilley, and his golden retriever guide dog, as he was walking in a corridor towards Portcullis House. Witnesses were shocked to see a clearly stressed Miss Brown bulldoze into the back of Mr Dilley before overtaking him, shouting: 'For ****'s sake, move out of my ******* way.'" – Daily Mail

And finally… Michael Gove backs folk dancing

GOVE MICHAEL BLACK"Quote of the week comes from Monday's Hansard: Bob Russell (Lib Dem): "Will the Secretary of State for Education do something to promote English folk dance and song?" Michael Gove (Con): "Oscar Wilde once said that one should try everything in life once, apart from folk dancing and incest. I think he was only 50 per cent right."" – The Independent



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