Cameron insists that the Portsmouth dockyard closure is in the national interest.  But he’s accused of a fix to help win the Scottish referendum.

Screen shot 2013-11-07 at 07.37.34“BAE systems is to axe 1,775 jobs across its naval ships business, with 940 jobs lost in Portsmouth and a further 835 in Glasgow, Rosyth and Filton, near Bristol. The two other BAE shipyards in Govan and Scotstoun on the Clyde in Scotland will continue shipbuilding, in what is being seen as a victory for Alex Salmond, the Scottish First Minister. It has led to accusations that ministers opted to spare jobs in Scotland to increase the chances of the country staying in the United Kingdom after next year’s referendum on independence.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Hammond admits frigates contract would be stripped if voters choose to leave the UK – Daily Mail

Caroline Dinenage says that Hampshire’s been sacrificed for Scotland…

“The Conservative MP for Gosport, Caroline Dinenage, whose constituency is home to many dockyard workers, protested that jobs in Hampshire had been “sacrificed” to Scotland. The announcement also left the Government struggling to explain what might happen to naval contracts awarded to the Clyde if Scots vote on September 18 to leave the United Kingdom.” – The Independent

…And Penny Mordaunt writes to BAE Systems…

Screen shot 2013-11-07 at 07.10.03“The closure of Portsmouth’s site also does not bode well for the electoral prospects of Penny Mordaunt, MP for Portsmouth North, who has a majority of just over 7,000. Mordaunt, a Royal Navy reservist and aide to the defence secretary, has written to BAE Systems to ask why some of the patrol vessels cannot be built in Portsmouth when the city asked for two ships to be built there.” – The Guardian

…While Labour sits on the fence

“Labour defence spokesman Vernon Coaker said: ‘Britain must retain a sovereign ship-building capability. None of us want to see Scotland leave the United Kingdom, but we need clarity from the Government about what safeguards are in place to meet all eventualities after next year’s referendum.’ ” – Daily Mail

IDS accused of attempting to influence scathing Public Accounts Committee report on Universal Credit

DUNCAN SMITH AITW“The Work and Pensions Secretary faces criticism today in a scathing report from the Public Accounts Committee which says that the money was squandered on the Universal Credit welfare programme. The committee accused the Government of “alarmingly weak” management. Mr Duncan Smith and members of his parliamentary team are understood to have approached at least three Tory MPs on the cross-party committee to ask them to ensure that Robert Devereux, Permanent Secretary at the Department for Work and Pensions, was singled out for censure.” – The Times (£)

  • Single mothers defeated in benefits cap challenge – Daily Express

Shapps rejects delay to Wharton Bill over Electoral Commission view of wording

“The Electoral Commission has suggested asking “should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union?” – in case voters thought they were being asked whether to opt in, rather than out. Mr Shapps rejected the call for a change in wording, which could jeopardise the private member’s bill’s progress through Parliament. He said: “The idea that we don’t know we are in the EU is rather fanciful. The question is worded in a very straightforward manner. There is no reason to delay.” – Daily Express

  • Party Chairman’s software firm to be dissolved – The Guardian

> Today: ToryDiary – A third of Tory members back Afriyie’s EU referendum plan

> Yesterday: Grant Shapps MP on Comment: Join Team 2015 today

Digby Jones: Either we get fundamental EU reform – or we should leave

DIGBY JONES headshot“We certainly must put the option of leaving on the negotiating table. The tactic of promising to stay in the EU regardless of what the Prime Minister can negotiate is insane. When did anyone start negotiations with “It’s OK, we don’t mean it, we will do what you want anyway” as an opening gambit? Staying in a reformed Europe has to be the right course, but should we stay in the current mess? Frankly, our nation just can’t afford to if we are to provide our grandchildren with a globally competitive economy worthy of the name.” – The Times (£)

> Yesterday:

We can stay in or leave the ECHR. But as long as we’re signed up, we must obey its rulings, says Grieve:

“Dominic Grieve said sticking to international rules can be “irksome” but the country cannot “cherry pick” what legal obligations it adheres to. The comments come as MPs consider how to respond to a European Court of Human Rights ruling against the UK ban on convicted prisoners taking part in elections. The Prime Minister had previously said the idea of overturning the country’s blanket ban on convicted prisoners voting made him feel “physically sick”.” – Daily Express

  • 40 years for triple killer was too soft, says Attorney-General – Daily Mail

Clegg to attack Labour and Conservatives over the environment

Lib Dems Recontaminating“Nick Clegg will on Thursday urge the coalition to “stay the course” on its green agenda despite the political consensus shifting away from the environment because of the economic downturn. The deputy prime minister will accuse Westminster in a speech, which comes amid a new row over carbon reduction targets, of being “fickle” for having gone cold on environmental issues since 2010.  “My commitment to the green agenda is as strong as it ever was and it will stay that way – whether fashionable or not, no matter what the other parties do,” Mr Clegg will say.” – Financial Times

PMQs: Miliband fires opening shot for “winter crisis” NHS hostilities…

“Mr Miliband attacked Mr Cameron for ignoring figures which showed A&E targets had been missed for 15 consecutive weeks, even before the onset of winter. But the Prime Minister insisted the Government was meeting its targets, with waiting times down and the number of emergency consultants up…Dr Bernadette Garrihy, a member of the board of the College of Emergency Medicine, said Government measures to ease the pressure on A&E amounted to “a drop in the ocean” – Daily Express

  • Head of cancer services at Colchester Hospital put on leave as police investigate claims waiting figures were fiddled – Daily Mail

> Yesterday: LeftWatch – “People’s Assembly” yobbery leaves Unite the Union with more questions to answer

…And Bercow clashes with Cameron (again)

Screen shot 2013-11-07 at 07.02.59“The Tories were angriest, though, when the Speaker ticked off David Cameron for giving irrelevant answers. “Actually, I think the question was about tribunals, if memory serves,” he suggested to the Prime Minister, loftily. “It’s a good idea to remember the essence of the question that was put.” Mr Cameron’s face turned the shade that the Dulux colour chart is pleased to call Sumptuous Plum. He was evidently still chewing on the humiliation 10 minutes later, because during an answer about poverty he broke off to shout, “I’m keen to answer the question, Mr Speaker! It’s a very direct answer! Yes!”” – Michael Deacon, Daily Telegraph

  • Cameron tells the Commons that Ministers will review laws to prevent “industrial intimidation” – Daily Mail
  • Inequality is at its lowest since 1986, and David Cameron takes the session with that – John Rentoul, The Independent

> Yesterday: Andrew Gimson’s PMQs sketch: Cameron and Miliband are trapped in a demeaning cycle of abusive behaviour

Chris Giles: Labour’s cost of living attack can damage the Government, but the squeeze began when Blair was in office

“Although Ed Miliband, Labour’s leader, and Mr Balls suggest that the squeeze on household incomes is a new phenomenon, little could be further from the truth. There was a sudden structural break in the rise in median UK household incomes, but it came a decade ago. Since 2002-03 there has not been a single year with a rise in real median incomes above 1 per cent, compared with an annual average of 1.7 per cent in the previous 40 years.” – Financial Times

  • Unite whistleblower stands firm over Labour’s Falkirk ‘stitch-up’ – The Times (£)
  • Government plans to cut red tape for private jets ‘could leave a gaping hole in Britain’s security’, says Labour’s Gordon Marsden – Daily Mail

> Yesterday: ToryDiary – The best way to help poorer workers is to cut their tax bill

UK population projected to reach 73 million by 2037

Screen shot 2013-11-07 at 07.46.04“The UK population is set to rise by 9m, or 14 per cent, to more than 73m by 2037, according to the latest projections from the Office for National Statistics. In 25 years, the ONS foresees a more aged UK population whose numbers are heavily bolstered by immigration.  The projections are likely to form the basis for a host of policy calculations – notably in health, education, housing, transport and pensions – and intensify debate on the effects of immigration.” – Financial Times

Bank of England team on alert for housing bubble

“The Bank of England is keeping a careful watch on developments in the property market, but its job is not to micromanage fluctuations in asset prices, a UK policy maker said on Wednesday. Donald Kohn, a member of the central bank’s Financial Policy Committee , said the BoE was well-aware of the role housing had played in past credit cycles, and that it would ensure that lending standards did not get too loose this time round.” – Financial Times

  • House prices rise by fastest rate for three years – Daily Express
  • Housing and utility bills to swallow a third of incomes – The Independent
  • Austerity ‘hangover’ until 2030 after decades of spending on credit – The Times (£)
  • Policy Exchange report says that we pay the highest property taxes in the world – Daily Telegraph
  • Osborne should cut taxes – Tim Montgomerie, The Times (£)

Christie wins: will he be the Republican Presidential candidate in 2016?

CHRISTIE victory speech Nov 2013“Chris Christie used his decisive re-election to the governorship of New Jersey to present himself to American voters as a politician devoted to finding common ground between warring factions, in a move that put him at the heart of the debate for Republicans hoping to take back the White House in 2016. On an election night peppered with indicators for Republicans considering their future strategy, Christie made no attempt to disguise his belief that his victory in a predominantly Democratic state, in which he drew substantial support from moderate and independent voters, carried a message of relevance on the national stage.” – The Guardian

News in Brief

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