Cameron blocks plan for EU army…

EU FLag“David Cameron has blocked plans for European Union owned military forces and told a summit of Europe’s leaders that Nato is the “bedrock” of defence in Europe. The Prime Minister has told a Brussels summit that there can be no question of British support for proposals from Baroness Ashton and the European Commission for the EU to run its own military.” – Daily Telegraph

…as Tory MPs debate EU immigration

“His backbenchers yesterday clashed over the impact of a possible influx in a debate in Westminster Hall. Tobias Ellwood, an aide to the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, angered right-wing colleagues with the barbed claim that the debate had become polarised between “little England” and the “multicultural, open-door approach”. He said that it was important to focus on “facts and figures” rather than “some of the quite barmy assumptions . . . that have been repeated and then gain credence”. His remarks provoked a furious reaction from Mark Reckless, who said that if Mr Ellwood put himself in the “open-door” category it would be “more a sign of his own narcissism than anything else”. – The Times(£)

  • “David Cameron’s readiness to force the legislation through with the Parliament Act is tactically clever, constitutionally proper and democratically apt….The Parliament Act was designed for precisely such situations and, if the Upper House won’t pass the Bill, the PM will ensure it becomes law within a year of passing the Commons – in other words, before the next general election. Good for him.” – Dan Hannan Daily Telegraph
  • “The electorate wants decision-making returned to Westminster and a combination between the two parties of the Right could be sufficient to make it happen. With a division it cannot.” – Jacob Rees-Mogg Daily Telegraph

MPs call for ban on TV pay day loan advertisements

timesrigby“A committee of MPs has called for a ban on payday loan advertising on children’s television, but the industry regards its report as wide of the mark. Adverts could expose children to the idea that loans were “fun, easy and an appropriate way to access finance”, the Business Select Committee report said.” – BBC

More homegrown extremists wish to copy murderers of Lee Rigby say security chiefs…

“Hundreds of homegrown extremists would like to copy the murderers of Lee Rigby by killing more Servicemen, security chiefs warned last night. As the men who killed Fusilier Rigby were convicted of murder at the Old Bailey, anti-terrorism officials said that it was impossible to thwart every future plot.” – The Times(£)

…but the Met believe it was one-off barbaric murder

“The view that this was a one-off barbaric murder rather than part of a wider terrorist campaign was also underlined by the national threat level from international terrorism remaining unchanged at “substantial” in the wake of the killing.” – The Guardian

  • “POLICE and the intelligence services must learn from the apparent failures that led to Lee Rigby’s murder. It is also crucial that the inquiry now under way spares no one found to be at fault. Senior officers want us to believe Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale were lone wolves who told no one of their murderous plan. That may be so. But it is also clear that when it came to Adebolajo they took their eyes off the ball.” – The Sun Says(£)

Serco pay back £68.5 million for tagging overcharging

“Private security firm Serco has agreed to repay about £68.5m to the government for overcharging on contracts to tag criminals in the UK, Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has said. It follows allegations Serco and G4S charged the government for tagging people who were either dead or in jail.” – BBC

Delay in agreeing terms for referendum outcome

“The Scottish and UK governments will miss Friday’s election watchdog deadline to agree what will happen after the independence referendum. The Electoral Commission asked both administrations to reach a joint position on the processes for after the vote, whatever the outcome.” – BBC

Ministers “back down” over farm subsidies

“Wildlife groups have accused the government of caving in to the big farmers over planned changes to farm subsidies in England. The government proposed increasing the proportion of farm payments transferred to protecting wildlife from 9% to 15%. But it backed it down to 12% after farmers said this was not fair.” – BBC

Less concern about household debt

“There’s been a sharp drop in the number of households concerned about their debts, according to a survey done for the Bank of England. The report says that in 2013, 39% of households were worried about debt, compared with 46% last year.” – BBC

Putin compares Cromwell to Stalin

” ‘How in particular is Cromwell so different from Stalin?’ he asked. ‘Can you tell me? Not in any way at all. From the point of view of liberals, he is the same bloody dictator.’ Mr Putin was speaking at a press conference on plans to restore statues of the Soviet tyrant and other Communist leaders more than two decades after they were toppled. Russian hardliners want to see a monument to Stalin brought back to Moscow. Putin compared the move to the existence of a statue of Cromwell outside the Houses of Parliament.” – Daily Mail

  • “In 1653 Cromwell told the Rump Parliament: “Depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!” And off they went, grumbling. Stalin would have had them shot.” – Leader The Times(£)

Spies “told to ignore torture”

“British spies were told they could turn a blind eye to torture – at the same time as Tony Blair was claiming Britain does not sanction abuse, it was revealed yesterday. MI6 chiefs said staff had no obligation to intervene if they saw the CIA mistreating terrorist suspects, according to a report into the treatment and rendition of detainees.” – Daily Mail

  • “Even during the Second World War, when Britain was battling for survival against Nazi tyranny, Churchill’s  government still adhered to the  essential features of our democracy. But the same cannot be said of the Blair Government. Under his leadership, we became complicit in torture, brutality and contempt for due process.” – Mark Seddon Daily Mail

Expenses fraud MPs escaped prosecution

“Police failed to pass on evidence to prosecutors that more MPs and peers may have claimed expenses fraudulently, The Times has learnt. Campaigners called for the the investigation into politicians’ expenses to be reopened after it emerged that detectives carried out an initial assessment of 77 politicians suspected of dishonesty and full investigations into 14.” – The Times(£)

Dieter Helm on the folly of Miliband, Huhne and Davey

“Britain has chosen some of the most expensive technologies on a crash course to meet a short-term 2020 European renewables directive…It is hard to make up the result — higher prices, lower competitiveness, serious risks to security and more carbon consumption.” Dieter Helm The Times(£)

Charitable giving is no excuse for the rich says Polly Toynbee

“Charity is a fine thing, the backbone of a good society. But too often it’s used to justify the 1%’s mushrooming wealth. Pointing to the fine monuments to Victorian philanthropists, the rich imagine a better era before the intrusive state stepped in: if only taxes were lower, they would give as their ancestors did. But they conveniently ignore the facts.” – Polly Toynbee The Guardian

London could “suck the life out” of rest of UK says Cable

“Heathrow cannot be expanded as it will allow London to become a “giant suction machine” draining the life out of the rest of the country, the business secretary has said. Vince Cable defended his comments in 2012 saying that Heathrow expansion would now happen.” – Daily Telegraph

  • The London Mayor…dismissed the Business Secretary’s remarks as “rubbish”. He said: “What a stupefying and ridiculous assertion to make, and this from the Cabinet minister in charge of supposedly growing the UK economy.” – The Independent

Gordon Brown “ruined mahogany table”

“Gordon Brown ruined a mahogany table after he got so angry he stabbed it furiously with a pen, an MP has claimed. The former Prime Minister is said to have taken out his rage on the antique desk in 2010 after the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats came to power. Oliver Letwin revealed how he learnt the tale of the pockmarked desk during a visit to Downing Street, which he claims is now run smoothly compared to when Mr Brown was in charge.” – Daily Telegraph

Fraser Nelson looks back at 2013

frasernelson“2013 has been the year of disasters that did not happen. Take crime. It was not so long ago that internal government reports were predicting a crime wave induced by unemployment. In fact, the streets have seldom been safer, with recorded offences now standing at a 25-year low. It’s not just Labour that has been wrong-footed: those of us who predicted dire consequences as a result of prison cuts must also feast on humble pie. Yes, the budget has been cut by 20 per cent – but the system has proved able to cope with just as many inmates as the courts wish to sentence.” – Fraser Nelson Daily Telegraph

There were two Nelson Mandelas says Frederick Forsyth

“The first went into Robben Island jail in 1964 sentenced to a whole-life tariff. He was not even then a young man but was 45. The second came out in 1990 aged 72. The first man was wholly dedicated to revolution, if need be violent. The second was utterly transformed. This is the Mandela the world reveres. So what happened on that bleak, stormlashed island? The answer is simple. The man who went in was filled with hatred – yes, he himself admitted that. The transformation was not accomplished by the prison system, nor the government, nor the guards. It was accomplished by the man himself inside his own head.” – Frederick Forsyth Daily Express

News in brief

  • Theatre ceiling collapses – BBC
  • Firms to be paid to switch off the lights – Daily Mail
  • Nearly half of teachers “consider quitting” – The Sun(£)
  • Ed Miliband proposes crackdown on gaming machines – The Mirror
  • Police failing over Rochdale child abuse – BBC
  • Legal highs risk to rural areas – Daily Telegraph
  • Boost to Scotch Whisky exports – The Independent

And finally…Tory Euro candidate asked: “Does anyone else just want to slap Susanna Reid?”

“Susanna Reid’s racy routines on Strictly and her flirty interview techniques have raised more than a few eyebrows over the past few months. But a Tory politician found herself at the centre of a backlash yesterday after suggesting she’d like to give the Strictly finalist a ‘slap’. Deborah Dunleavy, 49, who was one of the ‘Cameron Cuties’ standing for Parliament in 2010, provoked the row after watching the newsreader dance on Saturday’s show.” – Daily Mail


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