6.30pm WATCH: James Wharton discusses his private member's bill for an EU referendum

CG4.30pm This morning, Patrick McLoughlin defended HS2 on this site after a critical Commons report. Now his former Cabinet colleague Cheryl Gillan calls for the project to be scrapped. She writes on Comment: A report that underlines the need for a rethink on HS2

4.15pm On ThinkTankCentral, Andy Mayer writes: A longer working life means a healthier life – policymakers should take note

3.30pm JP Floru on Comment: Queues at the state Post Offices and the Stockholm Syndrome

3.15 MPsETC: MEP shortlists for the North West and London

3pm Local Government: Four Conservative councillors in Merton threaten to defect to UKIP

Graphup12.45pm On ToryDiary, Peter Hoskin writes that an improving economy may rescue Cameron and Osborne, but it won’t deliver them from some tricky questions: "Among those questions is one that the Chancellor hasn’t been fortunate enough to properly consider in the past: what does he do with improving growth forecasts?"

11.30am Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin on Comment: Why Margaret Hodge and her committee are wrong about HS2

11am MPsETC: In public, Conservative MPs are backing rebels. But in private, they're voting for loyalists.

ToryDiary: Cameron's been likened to Major. More votes like last night's, and the comparison will be with Lord North.

Also on ToryDiary: Lewis Sidnick to be a Contributing Editor to ConsevativeHome

BurkeAndrew Gimson writes this week's Culture Column: Let Jesse Norman be your guide through the life and work of Edmund Burke

James Duddridge MP on Comment: We must do all we can to make sure Zimbabwe's elections are fair elections

Also on Comment, Charles Walker MP says that Andrew Gimson is wrong about Grant Shapps – he's the best man to do the Job from Hell

MPsETC updateA list of the 114 Tory MPs who voted in support of John Baron's amendment 

George Grant on Local Government: Green Party civil war in Brighton shows the clash when the Left is faced with reality

The Deep End: Drone warfare isn’t very nice, but that’s mainly because of the warfare not the drones

Not technically a rebellion, but still a blow for David Cameron: 114 Tories vote for the Baron amendment

Cameron"A total of 130 MPs, including 12 Labour rebels and DUP members, backed an unprecedented motion expressing 'regret' that last week's Queen's Speech did not include legislation paving the way for a referendum. … In all, 114 Tories – more than half the party's backbenchers and one in three of its MPs – backed the amendment … the scale of the Tory rebellion was a significant blow for David Cameron, who had tried on Tuesday to take the sting out of the vote by unveiling draft legislation." - Daily Mail

  • "The secret of David Cameron’s Europe strategy: he doesn’t have one" – James Forsyth, The Spectator
  • "Eurosceptic Tories are damaging the national interest – and their chances of winning the next election" – Ed Davey MP, New Statesman
  • "If the 'outs' get their way, we'll end up like Ukraine" – Vince Cable, Guardian
  • "Who’s the odd one out in Europe? Not us" – Andreas Whittam Smith, Independent

> Today: 

> Yesterday:

Mr Cameron joins Robert Halfon in exerting pressure on oil bosses

"The Prime Minister said he will urgently look at 'extending criminal offences' to cover market manipulation in the energy sector, after BP and Shell were raided by European authorities on suspicion of rigging oil prices. … Robert Halfon, MP for Harlow, said he has also written to the Serious Fraud Office and City of London Police to ask whether they have any scope to investigate." – Daily Telegraph

  • RH"If oil executives have fixed prices there should be a windfall tax and jail sentences" – Robert Halfon, The Times (£)
  • "Robert Halfon, the MP for Harlow, is a doughty crusader for consumer rights: his call for any executives found guilty of rigging the petrol market to be slung into prison and a windfall tax imposed on their firms will have strong popular resonance." – Daily Telegraph editorial
  • "If found guilty, we agree with David Cameron that those responsible should face jail. … Their companies should also be hit with massive fines, with the money being used to slash fuel duty." – Sun editorial
  • "Should evidence of fraud be found … the implications are difficult to overstate." – Independent editorial

> Yesterday on ToryDiary: Political lessons from the fuel price war

And hints that he wants to offer RBS shares to the public

Tell Sid"David Cameron on Wednesday gave the strongest hint yet that he wants to reprivatise Royal Bank of Scotland by offering shares to millions of voters, in a process he hopes to begin before the next election. … Speaking in New York, Mr Cameron said for the first time that he was open to the idea of 'involving people in owning this bank in a genuine way' – an echo of the 'Tell Sid' privatisations of the 1980s." – Financial Times

But resists pressure to publish a list of Lynton Crosby's clients

"The prime minister has in the past called for more transparency with regard to the lobbying industry, saying that sunlight was 'the best disinfectant'. … But Mr Cameron has dismissed suggestions that there could be any conflict of interest in having Mr Crosby, an Australian pollster and lobbyist, from working part-time for the Tory party while still advising his private clients." – Financial Times

  • "David Cameron has appointed George Eustice, his former press secretary and former Ukip candidate, as his new adviser on Energy and Climate Change issues" – Independent

Nadine Dorries: I want to be the first Tory-UKIP candidate

Joint candidate

"There are members in my association who approached me recently who are confused. They have always been Conservative and will never change their allegiance but feel very much as though they have a huge amount of empathy with Ukip. I feel it would be a travesty if Ukip came in and took the seats off our councillors or indeed me when actually their policies and their beliefs are very much Ukip. Because what we have done, we have thrown clothes off and they have picked them up and put them on." – Nadine Dorries, interviewed in The Spectator

"The Conservatives would reject Nadine Dorries again if she decided to stand on a joint ticket with Ukip at the next election, the party suggested night." – Daily Telegraph

  • "…a lot of rural/suburbab Tory-Ukippery just doesn't make sense in the big, competitive, changing world." – David Aaronovitch, The Times (£)

> Yesterday:

The New Statesman wonders whether Boris Johnson and Michael Gove are the Tory dream ticket

Staggers"Johnson’s casual Euroscepticism is not the reason he is toasted as the king over the water by many Tories but Ukip’s rise has nonetheless enhanced that status. The colourful persona that is “Boris” – unusual in being on first-name terms with the electorate – is the only figure who can match Nigel Farage in the effortless bonhomie that passes as distinction from conventional politics. … By contrast, gravitas and intellectual rigour are what distinguish Gove’s ambitions." – Rafael Behr, New Statesman [no link yet available]

  • "Speaking to MPs on the Education Select Committee, Mr Gove said he welcomed comparisons with Mr Blair for his approach to winning political arguments. … He then clarified his remark, saying: 'Tony Blair will decide who his heir is but I am a great fan.'" – Daily Telegraph
  • "GCSE grades could be ditched in favour of a number-based system, Michael Gove suggested yesterday." – Daily Mail

George Osborne will be cheered by Mervyn King's parting optimism

King"In a welcome break from six years of persistent gloom, Sir Mervyn King announced that 'a modest and sustained recovery' is on its way. … Last night George Osborne welcomed the improved economic outlook." - Daily Mail

"[Sir Mervyn] accused the previous Government, under Gordon Brown, of ignoring his advice to deal more decisively with the banks and claimed that Britain would be enjoying a stronger recovery if Labour had injected more money into the banks." – The Times (£)

"The Chancellor told the CBI's annual dinner in London: 'Now is not the time to lose our nerve. Let's not listen to those who would take us back to square one. Let's carry on doing what is right for Britain. Let's see this through.'" – Independent

  • "King wants this triumph over the forces of inflation, as well as his robust actions to head off depression after the financial crisis of 2007-09, to be seen as his lasting legacy." – Alex Brummer, Daily Mail

Patrick McLoughlin defends HS2 from the National Audit Office

PM"Ministers have got their sums wrong and left the  controversial high-speed rail scheme with a £3billion funding gap, a report revealed yesterday. … Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin hit back by rejecting the report’s ‘core conclusion’ and said there was a clear case that HS2  would generate hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions of pounds worth of economic benefits." - Daily Mail

"Body-mounted cameras could help police on the beat to convict more criminals, Theresa May said yesterday." - Daily Mail

  • "Police chiefs who keep arrests and charges secret were slammed by David Cameron last night. … Mr Cameron intervened to back Home Secretary Theresa May in her stand-off with chief constables over the issue." – The Sun

Sue Cameron warns that Francis Maude faces a "mauling" over his plans for civil service reform

"An unholy alliance of MPs and senior civil servants is expected to launch a serious bid to wrest control of the entire reform agenda from his grasp. They are calling for an all-party parliamentary commission to be set up to examine the future of Whitehall." – Sue Cameron, Daily Telegraph

Stephen Barclay joins in the calls for action over tax avoidance

Amazon"Amazon's main UK business was given more in government grants than it paid in corporation tax last year, it emerged yesterday … Stephen Barclay, a Conservative MP on the committee, said the Government needs to do more to close loopholes to stop multinationals avoiding the 'spirit of the legislation' and treating corporation tax as a 'voluntary payment'." – The Times (£)

  • Nine of the biggest firms failed to disclose use of offshore tax havens – The Times (£)

Nick Clegg versus Sri Lanka

"He pledged consequences if the country did not address reports of politically-motivated trials, assaults on lawyers, and ‘suppression of Press freedom’. .. But he may have been unaware that a body representing editors in Sri Lanka has highlighted the threat to freedom of expression posed in Britain by the Royal Charter proposed by political parties and the Hacked Off lobby group." - Daily Mail

> Yesterday on ToryDiary: Nick Clegg enjoys standing in for David Cameron and denouncing Labour

"Have MPs learnt a thing since 2009?" asks Peter Oborne – "Their greed suggests not"

"The public is entitled to view all this with disgust. Our standard of living is falling, our services are being cut back, the risk of unemployment grows ever greater. But politicians continue to live in a different world, with a separate set of standards." – Peter Oborne, Daily Telegraph

Concerns that not all NHS whistleblowers are equal, after Sir David Nicholson letter

Acme"[Sir David] told MPs on the Health Select Committee two months ago [that exposing abuses] was not only a legal duty but ‘vitally important to patient safety to make it happen’. … But doctors have described his pledge as a sham after a letter emerged, written days later, in which he tells an NHS employee he cannot help them speak out because a ‘legal process’ had concluded foundation trusts are ‘separate legal bodies’ from the Department of Health." - Daily Mail

  • "Doctors must have nothing to do with suicide of patients" - Baroness Finlay, The Times (£)

News in brief:

  • The number of Romanians and Bulgarians working in Britain has risen by 15% in a year to 103,000, even before restrictions are lifted - Daily Mail
  • The High Court has been asked to consider the legality of the "spare room subsidy" – Financial Times
  • Draft bill to stop millionaires ‘buying’ British politics – Financial Times
  • The deputy editor of the Guardian is put in charge of Newsnight - Daily Mail
  • France is back in recession - Daily Mail


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