HS2 1) Cameron fights back, assisted by Boris…

CAMERON & BORIS“Doubts have been raised about the new high-speed line after concerns from Tory MPs and a threat from Labour not to approve a “blank cheque” for the scheme. However, the Prime Minister will announce today that he has ordered a swift review into how to complete the mammoth project well under its £50 billion budget. The review will be the first task handed to Sir David Higgins, the former chief executive of Britain’s Olympic Delivery Authority, who will oversee the HS2 project from next year.” – The Times (£)

  • Upgrading existing rail network would be better value than HS2, government analysis finds – Daily Telegraph

…(HS2 2: The Mayor blasts Labour for opportunism)

“We need a new supersewer under London, we need a new hub airport, and we need to increase our rail capacity…It is deeply regrettable that the current Labour Party leadership should be so opportunistic and short-sighted as to pussyfoot around about HS2. They are putting short-term tactics before the long-term needs of Britain, and they will not succeed. In 2015 the choice is going to be clear: between fool’s gold, and a Conservative programme for investment and long-term growth.” – Daily Telegraph

Osborne prepares to shift green levies from bills to taxes

Screen shot 2013-11-04 at 07.16.10“George Osborne, the Chancellor, is considering how to reform the energy schemes, including whether to switch the cost of environmental and social projects from bills to general taxation. According to senior government sources, the focus of ministers’ attention has been on the Energy Companies ­Obligation (Eco) scheme, which funds loft insulation and other projects for vulnerable consumers.” – Daily Telegraph

ConservativeHome poll shows that Tory members want Mitchell back in the Cabinet

“David Cameron is under pressure to reinstate Andrew Mitchell to the Cabinet after fresh criticism of police officers embroiled in the “plebgate” affair. A poll of Conservative Party members found that 78 per cent believed Mr Mitchell, who resigned as Chief Whip in the aftermath of the row, should be brought back into the Cabinet. The findings came as officers accused of giving misleading evidence about their role in Mr Mitchell’s resignation came under severe criticism from MPs and a senior police officer.” – The Times (£)

> Today: Nearly four out of five Tory members want Mitchell back in the Cabinet

Clegg blocks bid to require high-risk migrants to pay bonds in advance…

angry clegg pram“Under the proposals, temporary migrants from high-risk countries – such as Sri Lanka, Nigeria and Ghana – would have paid a surety before coming to Britain, and have it seized if they failed to leave when their visa expired.  The proposal, a Tory manifesto commitment, was to be tested later this month. In a speech in March Mr Clegg tried to take credit for the idea but later disowned it.” – Daily Mail

  • Immigrants fill one in five skilled British jobs – Daily Telegraph
  • Cable says UK economy hampered by lack of female engineers – The Guardian

> Yesterday: ToryDiary – Cameron’s 2014 nightmare

…While Hunt blocks bid to let teenage girls stockpile the morning-after pill

“Health advisers want under-25s to be able to routinely collect free emergency contraception at chemists and clinics. But Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt plans to reject the officials’ advice, amid fears it would send sexually-transmitted diseases soaring, Whitehall sources say. Under current NHS guidance, women should get advice from a GP, nurse or pharmacist before being given the after-sex pill. But the National Institute for Clinical Excellence has recommended women are given “advance provision”, meaning teenagers could store the emergency pill for regular use after unprotected sex.” – The Sun

The press is free to sign up or not sign up to the Royal Charter, says Maria Miller

Screen shot 2013-11-04 at 07.18.46“Maria Miller, the culture secretary, has said newspaper publishers will be free to decide whether to sign up to the royal charter on press regulation that was agreed by politicians last week. Speaking on the BBC on Sunday, Ms Miller said: “The most important thing that happens now, and is happening very well, is for the press to go forward with their own self-regulatory body.” The royal charter, agreed by the three main political parties, is intended to create a framework for independent press regulation, after the Leveson inquiry exposed the weakness of the previous regime.” – Financial Times

  • What’s all the fuss about the royal charter meaning the end of press freedom? – Chris Huhne, The Guardian

Ken Clarke describes the niqab as “a kind of bag”

“The minister, a former barrister, believes women should wear what they want in public – but said the same rules could not apply if they were engaged in a ‘serious issue such as giving evidence’ as the veil could ‘undermine’ a trial. He described the niqab, where only the woman’s eyes are visible, as a ‘most peculiar costume for the 21st century’ that left them ‘completely invisible’ to others.” – Daily Mail

Pass, fail and distinction: Matthew Hancock wants driving test shake-up

Screen shot 2013-11-04 at 07.19.44“Driving tests should have a distinction grade to improve road safety, a Tory minister has said. Skills minister Matthew Hancock said it is wrong that would-be drivers can only pass or fail. He said that if there was a higher level to aspire to, insurance firms would be able to offer cheaper premiums to the best drivers – which could make the country’s roads safer.” – Daily Mail

Key Falkirk witness says McLuskey is wrong – and that she didn’t withdraw her story. Did Unite tamper with her statement?

“But, speaking for the first time, Mrs Kane, 61, told the Mail: ‘I did not change the testimony. I did not change anything. I did not withdraw anything.’ She is now demanding to know whether the evidence she gave was tampered with by Unite. ‘I want all the emails to see what’s what,’ she said. ‘I haven’t seen them. This has been going on for months. I don’t know what the emails are saying. I want to see everything so I know what was said and if anything was changed from what I said.’” – Daily Mail

  • Stephen Deans not expected to seek re-election as chairman of Falkirk West Labour party – The Guardian
  • Falkirk members turn on Miliband – The Times (£)
  • Labour leader offers ‘living wage’ help for business – Financial Times (£)
  • Chuka Umunna employed unpaid staff while campaigning for fairer salaries – Daily Mail
  • Gordon Brown’s £316k bill for being an ‘ex-politician’ – Andrew Pierce, Daily Mail
  • Labour’s squalid saga of fraud and coercion – Daily Mail Editorial

> Today: Priti Patel MP on Comment – Labour. The party of gimmicks, scaremongering, opportunism, taxes, debt – and McLuskey

> Yesterday: LeftWatch – Cameron had the A-list: Falkirk shows that Miliband needs a W-list

Britain must stay in the EU, says the CBI…

Screen shot 2013-11-03 at 15.12.23“The CBI said a poll of members around the country showed the vast majority wanted to remain part of the EU, subject to important reforms. At its annual conference in London, the group will stress that benefits such as easier access to export markets, both in Europe and further afield, easily outweigh the costs. Presenting his “business vision for a reformed EU”, CBI director general John Cridland countered those calling for a so-called “Brexit” by stressing that being outside the world’s largest trading bloc would leave the UK isolated and without influence.” – The Guardian

  • CBI will also declare that British economic recovery ‘is gathering pace’ – Daily Express
  • Europe is an anchor for business – Vince Cable, The Guardian
  • James Wharton MP: I will get Britain its referendum vote in 2017 – Daily Express
  • What British business wants from a reformed Europe – Mike Rake, CBI President, Financial Times

…But it is blasted by Dominic Lawson, who says: the CBI was wrong about the Euro. So why should it be right about the EU?

“It does not take a particularly long memory to recall how, little more than a decade ago, the CBI insisted we had ‘no alternative’ but to abandon the pound and join that extraordinary economic experiment known as the euro. Extraordinary, because never before had a common currency been adopted successfully by peoples who shared neither language nor fiscal policy, nor even any common democratic structure.” – Daily Mail

> Today: Katia Hall on Comment: We must be in the EU if we are to reform it

Ten Ministers among those paying rent to their party

Screen shot 2013-11-04 at 07.23.44“Critics have attacked the practice as “back-door funding” for political parties and called for it to be outlawed. David Willetts, the Universities and Science Minister, paid £13,930 in rent and rates to his local party in Havant, Hampshire, last year, and Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office Minister, paid £10,439 in rent to Horsham Conservative Association in West Sussex. More than £9,000 for “office expenses” was handed by Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, to his local party in Surrey Heath. David Laws, the Schools Minister, paid almost £10,000 in rent to his party in Yeovil.” – The Times (£)

News in Brief

  •  Terror suspect gives police the slip by changing into burka – The Times (£)
  • Aircraft carriers’ cost to rise to £6.2bn – Financial Times
  • As little as ten per cent of the cash raised by popular “posh” poppies can reach the Royal British Legion – The Sun
  • Violence mars Kosovo elections – The Guardian
  • Salmond on China trade visit – Scotsman
  • Colwyn Bay pier’s condition ‘distresses everybody’ in the town, says David Jones – Wales Online
  • Gerry Adams pressed in Disappeared documentary over alleged role in Jean McConville death – Belfast Telegraph
  • £1 billion nazi art trove unearthed in flat behind pile of old food – Daily Express
  • The Daily Mail renews its attack on Common Purpose
  • Richard Dawkins claims that “Bin Laden has won” after airport security confiscates his jar of honey – The Independent

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