3pm Local government: Council byelection results from yesterday

2.30 Alex Deane on Comment: Neglecting our friends: "I have it on good authority that the flags of the British Overseas Territories will not be flown. Not because some fool in our bureaucracy opposed their flying; oh no – someone made the sensible observation that they ought to be flown and there was agreement with that suggestion. The simple problem, it has emerged, is…"

1pm ToryDiary: First they came for Tim Chatwin…

John Glen MP on Comment: Will Ofcom throw away 30 years of free markets?

ToryDiary: Jeremy Hunt's future

Columnist Bruce Anderson: The good and bad sides of Ken Clarke

Chris Heaton-Harris MP on Comment: The choice is between economic growth and onshore wind. We should choose the former.

Local Government:

The Deep End: From Gin Lane to porn superhighway

WATCH: Former Commons Speaker Betty Boothroyd says she wants MPs to be noisy

Hunt: The Leveson fallout

HUNT JEREMY OPEN NECKED SHIRT1) Cameron dismisses enquiry

"Jeremy Hunt was given a clean bill of health by David Cameron last night just 25 minutes after disclosing damning new details of his closeness to James Murdoch. The Prime Minister backed his Culture Secretary despite the revelation that Mr Hunt exchanged friendly texts with Mr Murdoch before and after assuming responsibility for the BSkyB takeover bid." – Daily Mail

2) The Culture Secretary considered resignation

"Among many revelations, it was disclosed he considered resigning – admitting he was shocked when he learnt of the volume of the communications between News Corp and his special adviser Adam Smith. Hunt said the language sometimes used by his adviser in a series of text messages had been inappropriate. But he suggested that News Corp besieged Smith and claimed that the "barrage … ended up pushing him into certain situations and language that wasn't appropriate"." – The Guardian

3) Operation Prop-Up-Hunt continues…

"For now, all he and his cabinet colleagues are focused on is making sure the secretary of state for culture, Olympics, media and sport, crosses the finishing line represented by the 2012 Olympics…For Mr Hunt to be pulled up, before the Olympic flame is lit, by an inquiry into the appropriateness of his conduct of the UK’s biggest media deal, is a political and diplomatic calamity the government is determined to avoid." – Financial Times (£)

4) …As does Operation Bring-Down-Hunt

"Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman said it was “frankly disgraceful” that Mr Hunt was not being referred to Sir Alex Allan, the Prime Minister’s adviser on the ministerial code of conduct. She said: “Jeremy Hunt should not be in his job now as he has broken the ministerial code and misled Parliament. David Cameron said he would stand up for high standards but he is sweeping this matter under the carpet.” " – Daily Express

  • Doctors urged by Labour leadership to call off strike – The Independent

5) Osborne is dragged into the fray

"George Osborne is expected to be called to the Leveson Inquiry to explain his text messages with Jeremy Hunt on the day he was handed control of the BSkyB takeover bid. Whitehall insiders predicted the Chancellor, who has not so far been asked to appear, will be summoned alongside David Cameron, who is expected to give evidence on June 14." – Daily Mail

  • It's no LOL matter for Osborne as he's drawn into BSkyB affair – Andrew Grice, The Independent

And meanwhile, Coulson is at bay

Coulson exiting"Andy Coulson, the former editor of the News of the World, vowed yesterday to “vigorously contest” allegations that he committed perjury during the 2010 trial of Tommy Sheridan. Mr Coulson, the Prime Minister’s former communications chief, was charged by Strathclyde Police on Wednesday night over testimony he gave during the Socialist MSP’s trial. A report is to be sent to the procurator fiscal which will decide if Mr Coulson will face court proceedings." – The Times (£)

> Yesterday: WATCH – Hunt at Leveson:

Talking of the Chancellor, it's another day, another U-turn

"The chancellor said he would exclude charitable donations from a limit on how much tax relief individuals can claim in a single year, giving way to sustained pressure from the voluntary sector…Announcing his abandonment of the so-called “charity tax”, the chancellor said: “It is clear from our conversations with charities that any kind of cap could damage donations, and as I said at the Budget that’s not what we want at all.” It comes just two days after he had a similar change of heart on other tax rises, dropping plans to put VAT on hot pasties and caravans, at which time his advisers insisted he would not make a similar move on charities." – Financial Times (£)

  • Clegg furious at U-turn timing – Daily Telegraph
  • George Osborne's U-turns are in danger of overshadowing the good things in his Budget – Daily Telegraph Editorial
  • "Why doesn’t George Osborne just get a box of matches, set fire to his Budget and start all over again?"- Sun Editorial
  • British Chamber of Commerce argues for £5bn emergency measures – The Guardian
  • Osborne comes out for EU referendum – Daily Express
  • Osborne sues to deter EU overreaching on financial products – Financial Times (£)

> Yesterday on ToryDiary

Spain reveals €100bn capital flight

"Madrid was dealt a double blow on Thursday after it emerged that almost €100bn in capital had left the country in the first three months of the year and the head of the European Central Bank lambasted its handling of Bankia, the troubled Spanish lender. High quality global journalism requires investment. Data published by Spain’s central bank showed €97bn had been pulled out in the first quarter – around a 10th of the country’s GDP – as concerns mounted over Madrid’s ability to contain its twin economic and financial crises, which have forced government borrowing costs to euro-era highs." – Financial Times (£)

  • Ireland votes on EU fiscal pact – and polls indicate early lead for 'Yes' camp – The Independent
  • Thomas Cook eyes the return of the drachma – Daily Express
  • Never mind Greece and Spain, have the Irish seized their last chance to fight back? – Simon Heffer, Daily Mail

Fraser Nelson: Britain could renegotiate a looser EU membership – without a referendum

Nelson Fraser pink shirt"So Europe need not split the Coalition. Both Cameron and Osborne can renegotiate a looser membership, which would not trigger a referendum because no more powers would be passed to Europe. As one Clegg ally puts it, “this is a narrow landing strip” which both parties could use. But it would require much political agility and a willingness to compromise; certain elements in both the Lib Dem and Tory parties would need to be confronted." – Daily Telegraph

Boris launches Met police reviewThe Independent

Hague: Syria is sliding to civil war

"Syria is sliding towards all-out civil war which could spread to neighbouring Middle East countries, Foreign Secretary William Hague warned yesterday. Mr Hague voiced his fears as he led Europe in drafting new sanctions against President Assad’s regime. Mr Hague, speaking at a conference in Istanbul, said Syria’s bloodshed was becoming more sectarian. He said the country is moving towards “all-out civil war or a state of collapse”." – Daily Express

Scottish independence: Treasury slaps down Alex Salmond’s bank claimScotsman

"Striking as a doctor can never be justified – I am resigning from the BMA"

Dan Poulter"As a doctor, my priority is always to look after my patients, yet the proposed strike action will put patients' lives at risk and damage the esteemed reputation of the medical profession. Moreover, it comes at a time when the majority of public and private sector workers are facing the reality of dealing with Britain's legacy of debt inherited from the previous government by having to work longer while contributing more to their pensions." – Dan Poulter MP in the Guardian

Huhne to appear in court over speeding points claimsThe Guardian

Warsi on tsunami tour as expenses row rages onDaily Express

Grayling blames record high of 4m homes where no one goes to work blamed on recession and benefitsDaily Mail

MPs query MoD spending on golf clubs, bars, hotels and restaurantsThe Times (£)

More than a third of MPs say Commons loos aren't up to scratchThe Sun

Three main party leaders pay tribute to the MonarchDaily Telegraph

Sinn Fein set to approve gift to the QueenBelfast Newsletter

More than half the public say they will celebrate the Queen’s 60-year reign during the coming double Bank Holiday weekend and a majority plan to watch the River Thames pageant on television on Sunday Daily Express


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