Cameron threatens to block Serbia and Albania from joining the EU, if migration isn’t curbed

cameron-speech“David Cameron threatened last night to veto any new members of the EU unless he won sweeping curbs on freedom of movement. … The Prime Minister said he would block Serbia and Albania from joining unless there were stringent restrictions on how citizens could move across the continent. … Mr Cameron said curbs were needed to avoid the ‘huge mistake’ of the unrestricted opening of borders to Poland and other countries nine years ago, with hundreds of thousands coming to the UK for work.” – Daily Mail

  • “The Office for National Statistics says some areas will see expansion of more than 20 per cent between 2011 and 2021, in a population boom that looks certain to engulf much of the south of the country.” – Daily Mail


  • “Anyone who doubts the importance of David Cameron’s mission to change the rules on EU migrants need only look ahead to January.” – Sun editorial (£)
  • “If the Prime Minister wants to change the EU, he has to stop making enemies” – Andrew Grice, The Independent

> Today on ToryDiary: Cameron shouldn’t waste his words in Europe

> Yesterday, on MPsETC: Once benefit tourism is dealt with, the real debate on immigration can start

The French aren’t on Team Cameron (when it comes to austerity and defence)…

French flag“Asked about austerity cuts imposed by British Prime Minister David Cameron’s coalition government, Mr Ayrault said: ‘France is about to regain the level of national wealth it had before the 2008 crisis, and Britain has still not got there. … ‘So the situation in Britain, with the mass poverty that it generated is far worse than in France.’” – Daily Mail

“David Cameron was compared to diving footballers and women who fake orgasms in an extraordinary spat with French president Francois Hollande. … Mr Hollande said the PM was ‘un peu simule’ — which means someone who fakes injury or sexual pleasure — in a row over plans for a European defence force.” – The Sun (£)

  • “EU chiefs have ditched plans to introduce tough new rules on fracking for shale gas, it has emerged. … It had been feared that Brussels bureaucrats were set to impose restrictions on the burgeoning industry. … PM David Cameron wrote to EU president Jose Manuel Barroso warning him the move would hamper investment and cost jobs.” – The Sun (£)
  • “David Cameron is not planning to attend the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Downing Street said on Friday, but insisted the move was not a statement about Russia’s stance on gay rights.” – The Independent
  • “Britain is missing out on the benefits of genetically modified crops because of Europe’s ‘medieval’ attitude towards the technology, the Environment Minister has said.” – The Times (£)

…and neither is the UAE (when it comes to military sales)…

Fighter Jet“David Cameron’s failure to take military action against Syria may have cost Britain a £6 billion deal to sell fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates, experts claimed last night. … The decision was a blow for Mr Cameron, who flew to Dubai last month to persuade crown prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to buy the warplanes, which are also in service with the RAF.” – Daily Mail

  • “The UK will help destroy Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile by incinerating over 150 tonnes of chemicals used in the production of deadly nerve agents such as sarin and VX gas over the next three months.” – The Guardian

> Today, by Lord Ashcroft on Comment: When the Chief of the Defence Staff gives a blunt warning about our Armed Forces, we should all listen carefully

…and neither is Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner (when it comes to the Falklands)

“Argentina’s president has set up a ‘strategy task force’ to try to seize control of the Falklands. … Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner said the move was to ‘end colonialism’ and ‘recover the islands by peaceful means’.” – The Sun (£)

Terrorism will never prevail, says the Prime Minister…

CAMERON looking right“The PM spoke out in a poignant statement marking the 25th anniversary of the Lockerbie bombing. … Mr Cameron said: ‘To families, friends, neighbours, loved ones and all those caught up in the painful process of recovery. … Let us say to them: our admiration for you is unconditional. … You have shown that terrorist acts cannot crush the human spirit. That is why terrorism will never prevail.'” – The Sun (£)

  • Services in UK and US mark 25th anniversary of Lockerbie bombing – Daily Telegraph

…as it emerges that one of Lee Rigby’s killers wrote him an apology letter

“Killer Michael Adebowale wrote a cringeing apology to David Cameron from his jail cell after slaughtering Lee Rigby, The Sun can reveal. .. It was one of a string he penned during a crisis in his Muslim faith days after the murderous attack. … In another he told his own mum: ‘I’m so sorry, I think Islam is evil’.” – The Sun (£)

“BBC bosses have been slammed for letting firebrand Muslim preacher Anjem Choudary spout his message of hate the day after two men were found guilty of Drummer Lee Rigby’s brutal slaying.” – The Sun (£)

  • “Lee Rigby’s murder was monstrous. But as his killers were jailed, it was confirmed Blair’s government was complicit in torture. Should we be surprised if some young Muslims hate the West?” – Stephen Glover, Daily Mail
  • “Is a Guantánamo Nativity scene really such a threat to the West?” – Graeme Archer, Daily Telegraph

McVey accuses councils of sitting on a hardship fund provided by the Government

“New figures out today, from the 323 local authorities that returned data, show that sixty percent of their funding was still available, meaning tens of millions of pounds could still be claimed by people who may need additional support. … This clearly shows that scare stories we’ve heard about the funding running out were unfounded … But more importantly it shows that there is still support available to people who might need it” – Esther McVey, Daily Telegraph

Happy Christmas, George: Growth was stronger than previously forecast (but it’s not all good news)

Upturn“UK gross domestic product rose by 0.5 per cent in the first quarter of 2013, up from a previous estimate of 0.4 per cent, and by 0.8 per cent in the second quarter, up from 0.7 per cent, the Office for National Statistics said. … However, a slew of other data from the ONS was less positive, and could fuel concerns about the nature of Britain’s growth.” – Daily Mail

“Britain’s economy roared into the Christmas holidays on the back of stronger spending and faster growth, but at the same time retailers report scrimping on the high street as many households still feel the pinch.” – Financial Times

  • “The sudden strengthening of Britain’s labour market is a cause of celebration for most. But for the Bank of England, it also poses a dilemma.” – Financial Times editorial
  • “Britain needs to reclaim its Victorian vision” – Dieter Helm, Financial Times
  • “The economy is recovering but industry is key to real revival” – Ruth Sutherland, Daily Mail
  • “Time to spread our wings beyond the South East” – Geoffrey Lean, Daily Telegraph

Peter Franklin: Inflation didn’t let rip in 2013

“So far, there’s no sign of the beast, despite this year’s economic turn-around. In fact, in November, the Consumer Prices Index fell to a four-year low — even though total employment rose to a record high. No wonder economists have been left scratching their heads. It’s partly explained by something else that didn’t happen this year for millions of people — a pay rise.” – Peter Franklin joins other writers in describing “Things that didn’t happen in 2013” for The Times (£)

  • “Whatever the reason for the rise of food banks, on the frontline they are dealing with deperate need” – Janice Turner, The Times (£)

Charles Moore: Why does the Coalition find it so difficult to listen to the country?

charlesmoore“…whom does a mass organisation convert by showing contempt for its own? You often read about a party’s ‘natural supporters’. In the current political lexicon, that phrase seems to be used interchangeably with ‘idiots who have nowhere else to go’. But they are not idiots, and now most of them have gone, unreplaced.”- Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph

Miliband accused of hypocrisy over gambling machines

“Labour leader Ed Miliband has been accused of hypocrisy for wanting to ban high stakes gaming machines while raking in big-money donations from gambling bosses. … Mr Miliband says he’ll give councils the power to outlaw “fixed-odds betting terminals” from bookies’ shops if he wins the election. … That’s despite the fact that the party has accepted £160,000 from Bet365 boss Peter Coates.” – The Sun (£)

  • Labour party takes stock: should Ed Miliband be bold or cautious? – The Guardian

Labour plans to pay some pensioners their Winter Fuel Allowance in summer

“More than a million pensioners living in the countryside would benefit from Labour plans to pay the winter fuel allowance earlier in the year to allow them to take advantage of lower energy prices. … Huw Irranca-Davies, the shadow environment minister, has said that his party will attempt to protect elderly people living in rural areas from ‘excessive price spikes’ in winter.” – Daily Telegraph

McShane to be sentenced over expenses fraud

“The 65-year-old MP, a former BBC journalist, claimed £12,900 for research and translation services carried out by a company that he set up under a false identity. The forged invoices used variations in his titles and in one case the spelling of his surname as McShane. … He will be sentenced on Monday after admitting to expenses fraud.” – The Times (£)

British intelligence agencies face questions over torture

Mi6“Former government ministers and intelligence chiefs face a series of disturbing questions over the UK’s involvement in the abduction and torture of terrorism suspects after 9/11, an official inquiry has concluded. … In a damning report that swept aside years of denials, the Gibson inquiry concluded that the British government and its intelligence agencies had been involved in so-called rendition operations, in which detainees were kidnapped and flown around the globe, and had interrogated detainees who they knew were being mistreated.” – The Guardian

  • “Who in Whitehall approved ‘gloves-off’ interrogation after 9/11?” – Ian Cobain, The Guardian

British and American spies targeted other world leaders and charities, according to latest Snowden leaks

“British and American intelligence agencies had a comprehensive list of surveillance targets that included the EU’s competition commissioner, German government buildings in Berlin and overseas, and the heads of institutions that provide humanitarian and financial help to Africa, top-secret documents reveal. … One GCHQ document, drafted in January 2009, makes clear that the agencies were targeting an email address listed as belonging to another important American ally – the ‘Israeli prime minister’. Ehud Olmert was in office at the time.” – The Guardian

  • “Ministers need to take the revelations much more seriously than they have done.” – Guardian editorial

Police and care agency failings helped a sex-grooming gang to thrive, concludes report

“Failings by police and care agencies allowed a sex-grooming gang to prey on underage girls, a report stated yesterday. … It blamed untrained detectives probing child exploitation and a lack of resources. The serious case review followed the jailing of nine Asian men for a total of 77 years over the grooming and sexual abuse of young white girls in Heywood and Rochdale in 2008 and 2009.” – The Sun (£)

NHS regulator: The health service should be treated as a national religion

NHS“David Prior, the chairman of the Care Quality Commission, said the health service had been allowed to reach the brink of crisis because it was ‘too powerful’ to be criticised. … He said parts of the NHS were ‘out of control’ because honest debate about the weaknesses of the health service was not tolerated.” – Daily Telegraph

News in brief

  • Over 10,000 parents were convicted, last year, over their children’s truancy – Daily Mail
  • Victims of press intrusion reject Miller’s claim that Hacked Off is a “destructive force” – The Guardian
  • Tories betrayed us, say locals living in Heathrow’s shadow – The Times (£)
  • House prices down 5 per cent over ten years in real terms – Daily Telegraph
  • The proportion of new homes built in towns and cities has dropped by 10 per cent – Daily Telegraph

And finally 1: Christmas card wars in Solihull

“Liberal Democrat MP Lorely Burt has provoked anger among her constituents after she omitted the word ‘Christmas’ from her annual card in favour of the message ‘Happy Holidays’. … Julian Knight, the Conservative Solihull candidate said the card was a “nonsense” and that several people had contacted him to complain.” – Daily Mail

And finally 2: Prescott in Christmas party bust-up

Prescott Punch“Labour bruiser John Prescott was involved in a furious row with a journalist at a boozy Christmas bash. … Prezza, 75 — dubbed Two Jabs after once belting a yob — was challenged by the newsman over his political past. … A source revealed last night: ‘Words were exchanged. But Prezza stood his ground like an old pro. His son David stepped in and helped calm things down and the other guy left.'” – The Sun (£)

  • “I just can’t resist a punch-up” – Godfrey Bloom, interviewed in The Guardian

And finally 3: Blair in oil

“He was notoriously unwilling to sit for a portrait when he first left office, but the National Portrait Gallery today finally unveiled an ‘immediate’ and ‘uncompromising’ work of former Prime Minister Tony Blair. … The four feet by three oil painting by Alastair Adams, President of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters, is a dramatic close-up of Mr Blair” – The Independent

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