5.15pm WATCH: "The muttering idiot sitting opposite me" – Cameron on Balls

4pm Chris Skidmore MP on Comment: How the Government should tackle health tourism

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2.30pm ToryDiary: Mischief-making Nigel Farage opens door to joint Tory-UKIP candidates

2pm WATCH: David Cameron's PPS Desmond Swayne and Justice Minister Crispin Blunt record pro-gay marriage videos for Out4Marriage

PMQs 23rd May1pm ToryDiary: Cameron livens up a Beecroft-focused PMQs by calling Ed Balls a "muttering idiot"

10.45am WATCH: Martin Callanan MEP: The EU needs "a free trade, de-regulatory, and pro-market agenda" to achieve growth

10am Robert Halfon MP on Comment: Petrol prices are not just about economics. They are about social justice.

ToryDiary: Cameron under attack from Beecroft for letting "socialist" Vince Cable dictate business policy

Columnist Jill Kirby: NICE is wrong to say that older women and lesbian couples should get IVF on the NHS

BURNS-CONORConor Burns MP on Comment: My passionate belief in the Conservative Party and my concerns about today's electoral registration bill – which could pave the way for Coalition candidates at the next election

Local Government: Cllr David Burbage to stand for Police Commissioner in Thames Valley

MajorityConservatism: David Cameron's five-point plan to win the next election

MPsETC: Would you like to be a Tory MEP? There could be nine vacancies in 2014…

The Deep End: Cutting too far, too fast – or not at all?

WATCH: Dominic Raab MP – The European Court of Human Rights is "like a drunk that can't walk in a straight line"

Yes, you must: ECHR rules that prisoners must have the right to vote…

"The European Court of Human Rights gave ministers six months to comply with the ruling or face a series of challenges and big legal costs. But the judges said that the Government could decide which convicted prisoners should be given the right to vote so that ministers could exclude the most serious offenders from being enfranchised. They warned the Government against any attempt to do as little as possible in implementing the ruling by saying that the trend was towards fewer restrictions on convicted prisoners’ voting rights." – The Times (£) 

…No, we won't: Davis, Raab and Patel warn of constitutional clash…

Patel Priti"Ex-shadow home secretary David Davis said: 'This regrettable decision is an infringement of the UK Parliament's right to decide on matters which are fundamental to the British way of life, and which are not appropriate to judicial intervention.' Dominic Raab, an MP and legal expert, said: 'Strasbourg is setting the scene for a major constitutional clash over who writes the laws of the land.' Tory MP Priti Patel said: 'The public will be demanding that the Prime Minister now stands up for British interests and refuses to give convicted prisoners the right to vote." – Daily Mail 

…Carswell: They shall not pass

"Tory backbencher Douglas Carswell said: “This judgment shows why we must withdraw from the jurisdiction of this court. It is simply intolerable. “Parliament needs to pass a law showing that this foreign legal panel will have no bearing on the laws of this country.” Mr Carswell warned the Coalition against complying with the order. He added: “If this Government wants to be able to look the voters in the eye it is going to have think very carefully about what it does now." – Daily Express

EU eurozone crisis summit tomorrow

"The leaders of all 27 EU states at to meet in Brussels tomorrow in an emergency summit to save the eurozone from complete collapse. The leaders will attempt to find their way out of the debt crisis by promoting jobs and growth and abandoning the German chancellor Angela Merkel's strategy of austerity. The meeting comes after the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development today warned that the 17 countries that use the euro risk falling into a "severe recession." – Daily Express

  • Europe has the money to kickstart growth – Guido (Westerwelle, not Fawkes), The Times (£)

Clegg smooths the path for infrastructure spending…

"The ruling UK coalition is preparing a “massive” increase in state-backed investment in housing and infrastructure, as Nick Clegg signalled a shift from lurid warnings by ministers about the debt crisis to a fresh emphasis on growth.  In an interview with the Financial Times, the deputy prime minister sounded a new tone on economic policy, when he said the government’s “absolute priority” was to use the government’s strong balance sheet to inject credit into the economy." – Financial Times (£)

  • IMF's Lagarde calls for more quantitative easing, says tax cuts may be needed soon – The Times (£)
  • Britain's austerity drive praised by OECD – Daily Mail
  • £28 billion pension lift for Treasury – Daily Express
  • Danny Alexander to announce clamp down on tax avoidance in Whitehall – The Times (£)


…But Deputy Prime Minister hit by communist claim after he says universities should favour state pupils…

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"Nick Clegg was branded a communist yesterday for declaring Britain a nation of snobs. The Deputy Prime Minister suggested society was as dominated by class as it had been almost a century ago…But his comments sparked a backlash from the independent school sector. Tim Hands, master of Magdalen College School in Oxford, said Mr Clegg’s plan was the ‘old-style communist creation of a closed market’ that betrayed parents who paid for a private education." – Daily Mail

  • Only a radical rethink of pre-school education will improve the lot of the under-achiever – Neil O'Brien, Daily Telegraph

…And he and Cameron are at odds over secret courts…

"Government sources said last-minute wrangling was still going on between the Tories and the Liberal Democrats over how far to water down proposals to allow a wide range of cases to be conducted behind closed doors. The key issues are the degree of judicial involvement in a new system, and whether or not inquests should be included under any circumstances." – Daily Mail

  • Coroners' courts are your last defence against a tyrannical State. Is that why Cameron wants to make them secret? – Daily Mail Editorial

…As he warns Conservatives that gay marriage will happen…

"Nick Clegg has given a firm promise that the Government will bring in a law to allow gay marriage despite a growing campaign to derail it by Conservative MPs. In a warning to opponents, the Deputy Prime Minister said it is a matter of "how, not whether" same-sex marriage is legalised…The Liberal Democrats do not suspect that David Cameron is backsliding on his pledge to bring in a gay marriage law, because he has made a strong personal commitment to it.But they are worried that some Tory ministers may try to reopen the issue under pressure from the party's MPs." – The Independent

…But Owen Paterson becomes the first cabinet minister to oppose it

PATERSON OWEN  08"Mr Paterson made clear his opposition in a letter to a constituent, Andrew Smith, who had asked him to back David Cameron over the issue. The letter was published today by the website “Having considered this matter carefully, I am afraid I have come to the decision not to support gay marriage,” the minister wrote. “The Prime Minister has made clear that he supports equal civil marriage and the Government is rightly consulting widely on this issue before making any changes to the current position.” – The Times (£)

Iran talks to open in Bagdhad BBC

Electricity bills up £200 to ensure profits for firms who build nuclear reactors and wind farms

"Electricity bills could rise by up to £200 a year for each home under plans to guarantee high prices for firms building nuclear power stations and wind farms. Details emerged yesterday as the Government unveiled a revolution in the way the nation produces its electricity. Consumers will have to pay more to ensure companies make a profit on their multi-billion-pound investment." – Daily Mail

  • British energy policy is a dark underworld of fanatics – Simon Jenkins, The Guardian
  • The Energy Secretary wants to keep the lights on: at a price – John Redwood's Blog

> Yesterday: Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey MP on Comment: More low carbon electricity and no public nuclear subsidies – the aims of today's draft Energy Bill

Straw could appear in court over renditionThe Times (£)

Go into rehab or lose benefits, IDS tells alcoholics and drug addicts

"Alcoholics and junkies are to be stripped of their dole cash if they refuse a rehab order. For the first time Job Centre staff will be given tough powers to order addicts into treatment — or face losing £71 a week Jobseeker’s Allowance. Boozers and druggies on sick benefit may also face the same fate. Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith is to reveal the changes — requested by Job Centre bosses — today." – The Sun

  • Welfare-to-work fraud whistleblowers gagged by Tory MPs, Labour claims – The Guardian

Rees-Mogg, Goldsmith, James Morris, Jason McCartney, Stevenson, Whittaker, Fiona Bruce, Reevell and Mowat call for state to be rolled back

REES-MOGG JACOB"The state should be rolled back and more power given to individuals and businesses, a group of Conservative MPs has said. The MPs, all elected in 2010, want a "principled conservatism" that supports the individual rather than the state. In a pamphlet published on Wednesday they set out a programme of policies, including support for a fully elected House of Lords." – BBC

Chris Skidmore blasts £40 million NHS foreign treatment costDaily Express

Maude says the civil service should be run like a business

"Tensions between ministers and the civil service heightened last night when Francis Maude said he wanted to “drive out old ways of working” from Whitehall. The Cabinet Secretary warned that any “resistance must be knocked down” in the battle to change the way that officials operate. In a speech to the Institute for Government, the minister said he wanted the civil service to operate like a business, with high quality data allowing performance to be compared to the rest of the market. That, he argued, was the best way to ensure that taxpayer money was well spent." – The Times (£)

MPs are urged to consider punishing News International bossesThe Times (£)

Beecroft accuses Cameron of giving up on plans to slash business red tape

Screen shot 2012-05-23 at 07.58.58"'It's very difficult having a coalition between a centre-right party and a party a lot of whose ideas are very left,' said the Conservative donor. 'It means striking compromises, and things that a centre, middle person like me would think are good ideas just don't happen. It's impossible to know from the outside where Conservatives could be firmer and insisting on things. But I do think it is disappointing that they appear to have given up on unfair dismissal.' " – Daily Mail

…And labels Cable a socialist

"He claims the Business Secretary’s objections to the proposals are “ideological not economic”. “I think he is a socialist who found a home in the Lib Dems, so he’s one of the Left,” Mr Beecroft says. “I think people find it very odd that he’s in charge of business and yet appears to do very little to support business.” The venture capitalist also discloses that the Conservatives were very supportive of his proposals in private meetings, despite Mr Cameron now publicly distancing himself from the report." – Daily Telegraph

Cameron 'signalled' that Fred Goodwin's knighthood should be reviewed, says key officialDaily Telegraph

"If Scotland decides to go it alone"

Widdecombe Ann BlueSuit"It is a well-known ploy for one partner in a marriage to walk out, expecting the other will come running with pleas for a return on almost any terms. It is also a well-established fact that deserted spouses often simply shrug and carry on to the extent that a proposed return is actively rejected. If the Scots do decide to go it alone then the rest of us will live with it. We shan’t say that they can have anything they like just as long as they stay." – Ann Widdecombe, Daily Express

Colonel Tim Collins drops out of Kent Tory police commissioner nomination race The Times (£)

Former Tory treasurer Cruddas gave party £200,000 gift just days before he was forced to resign Daily Mail

NHS failings lead to deaths of 24,000 diabetics each year, says reportThe Guardian

From Rain Goddess to Sunshine Queen: now Caroline Spelman conjures up hotter temperatures for Britain than in Africa as drought stretches on Daily Telegraph


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