Screen shot 2012-12-18 at 21.51.43
10pm WATCH: As Michael Crick's investigation reveals a fabricated account of his words, Mitchell says – "In that these three toxic phrases were hung round my neck and are completely untrue, I was stitched up"

8.30pm ToryDiary: If Andrew Mitchell lost his career over fabrications, David Cameron should give it him back

6pm WATCH: William Hague announces a large part of the British Antarctic Territory has been named Queen Elizabeth Land

5.45pm MPsETC: Defra Minister Richard Benyon secures "major step forward" in Common Fisheries Policy reform

Screen shot 2012-12-18 at 20.41.522.30pm WATCH: Tim Yeo says investors are "a bit confused" about the Government's stance on energy sources and carbon emissions

1.30pm MPsETC: Tory MP Alec Shelbrooke introduces Bill for Welfare Cash Card, to stop claimants buying cigarettes and alcohol

1pm Columnist Peter Hoskin: Labour's fiscal bribes persist — they should be killed off

12.45pm WATCH: The Queen visits Downing Street to meet the Cabinet

Noon Greg Clark MP on Comment: This government is decentralising the public sector for the first time in more than a century

10am WATCH: David Cameron says Britain's banking union opt-out is an "important new precedent" for a non-Eurozone country

Nigel eating cakes2

ToryDiary: UKIP is a magnet for unhappy Tory voters but it's much, much more than Europe that's driving the dissatisfaction

LALord Ashcroft on Comment: The UKIP threat is not about Europe

Also on Comment - George Freeman MP: George Osborne is becoming the entrepreneur’s friend

LeftWatch: Ed Miliband is now being undermined by both the Scottish and Welsh Labour parties

Local government: Harry Phibbs reviews Victory in London by Alex Crowley

The Deep End: The state is moving to cyberspace and, like it or not, you’re coming too

Tory defections to UKIP driven by issues such as immigration and welfare rather than Europe, says new Lord Ashcroft polling

UKIP"More than one in ten Conservative voters at the last election now backs [UKIP], but many will return to the fold if the Government delivers on immigration, welfare and the deficit, a poll suggests today. Just a quarter of those considering voting UKIP name relations with Europe as one of the top three issues facing Britain, according to the survey commissioned by former Tory vice chairman Lord Ashcroft. He warned that the promise of an EU referendum will not be enough to reverse an increase in support for UKIP." – Daily Mail

  • "The Tories have lost one sixth of their support in the past two months and UKIP has risen to a record high as voters take a harder line against the European Union, according to a poll for The Times." – Times (£)
  • Ukip more popular than ever, poll shows – Daily Telegraph

Coverage from today:

Coverage from yesterday:

David Cameron: withdrawal from EU is imaginable…


"David Cameron broke new ground on Europe… suggesting British withdrawal from the EU is "imaginable"… The prime minister stressed that he supported membership of a reformed EU, though he said Britain was "in charge of our own destiny"." – Guardian

  • "Bit by bit, David Cameron is being forced to shift his position on Britain’s relations with the European Union." – Daily Express editorial
  • "The UK is “sleepwalking to a European Union exit”, Labour leader Ed Miliband claimed yesterday" – Scotsman
  • Nowhere is the UK’s imagined irrelevance less true than in the European Union – Janan Ganesh for the FT (£)

…Yet signs up to "systematic" long-term European defence co-operation 

Cameron troops"David Cameron was accused yesterday of signing Britain up to a blueprint for a Euro Army. European leaders agreed plans for greater defence co-operation at a summit in Brussels that will force Britain to consult fellow EU nations over defence planning, with defence chiefs having to co-ordinate capabilities and procurement." – Daily Mail

  • "Britain’s armed forces are to rely increasingly on allies — most notably France — as they are remodelled for straitened times, the the Chief of the defence staff said last night. … General Sir David Richards said that a new Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) would form the teeth of Britain’s armed forces" – Times (£)

British Bill of Rights report due to be publishedBBC

Human rights judges go too far, says Grayling as he ratchets up hostilities with Strasbourg court

Grayling Chris Parliament"A senior cabinet minister last night accused European human rights judges of ‘overstepping the mark’ – in a significant ratcheting up of hostilities with the Strasbourg court. Justice Secretary Chris Grayling’s remarks are the strongest condemnation to date of the controversial court from a Tory minister. He accuses the judges of prying ‘more and more’ into areas that should be decided in domestic courts or by MPs in Parliament." – Daily Mail

  • The European Court has drifted too far from its principles – and we want to put that right – Chris Grayling for the Daily Telegraph

David Davis: We don't need secret courts to protect our US relations

Davis David April 2011"The government's own independent adviser on security matters has told the joint committee on human rights that one reason for the government's pursuit of secret courts is to protect their position on the use of drones to assassinate alleged terrorists. The policy is controversial, not least because a number of those killed appear to be innocent bystanders. Are we going to deny them justice simply because of our craven relationship with the US?" – David Davis for the Guardian

Wind farms should not be less than 1.4 miles from people's homes, Nick Boles suggests

BOLES COLOUR"Nick Boles said in the House of Commons that wind turbines should not have an “unacceptable impact” in local communities… There is currently no national standard for the distance between turbines and houses. But Mr Boles told MPs that he thought a minimum distance “might be appropriate” in some areas." –Daily Telegraph

Lord (Michael) Howard: Keep the bureaucrats’ hands off our hospices

HOWARD-MICHAEL"Hospices began as a response by local people to a lack of dignity and compassion for dying people. As the NHS reforms take effect, we must make sure that the ethos of hospice care is nurtured and extended, and we must not allow hospice care, as a humanitarian response to a deeply human issue, to be eroded by inappropriate regulation and red tape." – Lord Howard for the Times (£)

  • NHS to drop poverty as yardstick for local funding – Guardian

Queen set to attend cabinet meeting in Downing StreetBBC

  • "When the Queen attends a Cabinet meeting today, it should listen to her advice" – Daily Telegraph editorial

Nick Clegg to rock Coalition boat in high-risk bid for votes

Clegg-looking-back"A former top adviser to the Deputy PM revealed the Lib Dems will stress their differences with the Tories in a high-risk bid to win back voters. Richard Reeves warned that if Mr Clegg failed to boost support for his party, the Coalition would likely collapse before 2015." – The Sun

  • The fight for the centre ground between Nick Clegg and David Cameron makes the Coalition fragile – Steve Richards for the Independent
  • Obama already embodies a narrative, but Cameron, Miliband and Clegg must find one to explain their actions – Rachel Sylvester for the Times (£)

> Yesterday on ToryDiaryCameron says that Clegg and Liberal Democrats are struggling to make tough decisions

Clegg challenges Cameron to scrap benefits for wealthy pensioners

"Nick Clegg boasted he vetoed more than £6billion of ‘draconian’ Tory welfare cuts yesterday – but insisted pensioner benefits should not go to the better off. The Deputy Prime Minister directly contradicted David Cameron’s stance on maintaining free bus passes and free TV licences for the over 75s and the annual winter fuel payment. ‘Money should not be paid to those who do not need it,’ he said." – Daily Mail | Scotsman

Ed Davey pledges to fight rising energy bills

Davey Ed"Mr Davey said: “Energy companies have been suggesting that ECO will increase bills. I believe there is no good basis for this claim. We estimate the overall cost of ECO at an average of £1.3bn per year – that’s the same as the current supplier obligations. So ECO should impose no new costs.”" – Independent

  • Tim Yeo will lead calls for decarbonisation target to be included in bill, in order to reassure investors and hit emissions targets – Guardian

Ed Miliband asks for party leaders' meeting to thrash out Leveson deal

Miliband E bankers"Ed Miliband is seeking a meeting with David Cameron and Nick Clegg this week to thrash out an agreement on how to implement the Leveson report on future press standards amid Labour fears that ministers are manoeuvring to delay a decision until the public interest ebbs away in the new year." – Guardian

Labour shows the strain over gay marriage

"Labour tensions over gay marriage have surfaced as MPs attacked the Government’s plans for same-sex weddings and shadow ministers clashed over their tactics on the issue. Ed Miliband has decided to allow his MPs a free vote on the plans when they are introduced in the Commons next month, but all members of the shadow Cabinet are to support the reform. … [some s]enior Labour MPs, including frontbench spokesmen, are expected to vote against the proposals out of religious conviction." – Independent

> From yesterday - David Burrowes MP on Comment: Let's take the gay marriage debate out of the party political arena

Scotland’s free university education ‘no longer sustainable’ says Johann Lamont

Lamont Johann"Free tuition for university students in Scotland is “not sustainable” and a return to the graduate contribution must be considered, Labour leader Johann Lamont has said." – Scotsman

  • Independent Scotland unlikely to be left outside EU, says former judge – Scotsman
  • Anti-English bullies left me unable to do my job, says National Theatre of Scotland chief – Daily Telegraph
  • Ulster Unionists cling to an England that doesn’t care if they stay or go. I fear the same fate north of the Border – Hugo Rifkind for the Times (£)

> Today on LeftWatchEd Miliband is now being undermined by both the Scottish and Welsh Labour parties

RSPCA spends £330,000 to target David Cameron's old hunt… which receives fine of only £4,000 - Daily Mail

Phone calls to poorly-staffed HMRC advice lines cost taxpayers millionsGuardian

Ebacc plans imperil Olympic legacy, say sports chiefsGuardian

Home-schooled children face 'postcode lottery' of official support, say MPs - Guardian

  • Care system failing most vulnerable children – Times (£)

> Yesterday on Local governmentPolicy Exchange calls for 1,000 more children in care to go to boarding schools

France warms to Gérard Depardieu, the heroic tax exileDaily Telegraph


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