Cameron and Europe 1: Could an EU Referendum be law BEFORE 2015?

CAMERON EU flag“David Cameron is prepared to use special constitutional powers to ensure that plans for an EU referendum become law before the next election. … The Prime Minister has pledged to use the Parliament Act to overpower the House of Lords and get the EU Referendum Bill onto the statute book before 2015, it is understood. … The Act, which has been used only seven times in the past century, is sometimes described as the ‘nuclear’ option of parliamentary process to break stalemates between the Commons and the Lords.” – Daily Telegraph

  • “David Cameron is ‘behind the curve’ and heading for defeat in his quest to renegotiate Britian’s relationship with Europe, according to the think tank playing an active to role helping Whitehall with the negotiations.” – The Times (£)
  • “European courts in Strasbourg and Luxembourg have lost popular support and have nothing to offer the United Kingdom, according to the justice secretary, Chris Grayling. … In one of his more outspoken attacks on European judges, the minister blamed them for imposing ever-more-detailed legal requirements – such as prisoner voting and mandatory reviews of whole-life sentences – on parliament.” – The Guardian
  • “The European Parliament has blocked Tory moves to scrap its second headquarters in Strasbourg to stop the monthly travelling circus between France and Brussels.” – Daily Mail

Cameron and Europe 2: Tory MPs want him to speak up about EU immigration…

“David Cameron is under massive pressure to use a crunch EU summit to tell Eurocrats that Brits want to call a halt to EU immigration. … Tory MPs said the PM must act after a bombshell YouGov poll for The Sun which showed Brits want him to win back control over our borders. … Clacton MP Douglas Carswell said: ‘The Prime Minister should listen to the views of the people.'” – The Sun (£)

  • “Cameron has no plan for EU reform. Here’s one for him.” – Mats Persson, The Times (£)
  • “The public debate is becoming ever more xenophobic, but the reality is that foreign workers are good for Britain” – Independent editorial
  • “New immigration rules are too little, too late” – Daily Telegraph editorial

Cameron and Europe 3: …but he’s concentrating his fire on a Europe-wide defence force

EU FLag“David Cameron will block any attempts to set up a Europe-wide defence force, Downing Street said last night. .. The issue is top of the agenda at an EU summit in Brussels today and tomorrow. … Among the proposals are the introduction of EU drones, as well as closer ties between member states on satellite communications and cyber defence.” – The Sun (£)

Cameron and Europe 4: He remembers his forbears who died in the First World War…

“On my visit to the Menin Gate on Thursday, I will be looking for the name of my great, great uncle. Capt John Geddes died in the second battle at Ypres in 1915 – the first of five members of my family to be killed in the First World War. Of course no one alive in my family today knew him. … Yet like many across Britain, I feel a strong connection with all the members of my family who gave their lives in the war. … This means a great deal to me and I want my children to feel the same way.” – David Cameron, Daily Telegraph

  • “First world war memorials and graves will be repaired with £5m of government cash as part of national commemorations to mark next year’s centenary of the conflict, David Cameron will announce on Thursday during a visit to a site in Flanders, Belgium, where tens of thousands of British and Commonwealth soldiers are buried.” – The Guardian

…as the Head of the Armed Forces rounds on today’s defence cuts

“Britain’s military will become a ‘hollow force’ with state of the art equipment but no one to operate it unless manpower budgets increase, the head of the Armed Forces has warned. … Gen Sir Nick Houghton, chief of the defence staff, said the Royal Navy was already ‘perilously close to its critical mass’ after cuts to the numbers of sailors.” – Daily Telegraph

  • “Mission accomplished? Afghanistan is a calamity and our leaders must be held to account” – Seamus Milne, The Guardian
  • “A total misreading of the situation in Syria is just the latest example of Whitehall blundering” – Peter Oborne, Daily Telegraph

> Today, by Justin Forsyth on Comment: Where children aren’t dreaming of a White Christmas

The Prime Minister has some good news to point to: the employment figures…

Upturn“More than 30 million  people are in work for  the first time in British  history after a further fall in unemployment was revealed yesterday. … David Cameron claimed that the Government’s economic plan ‘is working’ as unemployment fell by 99,000 in the three months to October, reducing the jobless rate from 7.6 per cent to 7.4 per cent, the lowest level since 2009.” – Daily Mail “David Cameron has mocked the shadow chancellor, Ed Balls, for being a ‘turkey’ after anonymous briefings against the latter by Labour sources.” – The Guardian

  • “The jobless total falling to its lowest level since 2009 is not just an early Christmas present for the Government. … It is yet another compelling statistic in favour of allowing David Cameron and George Osborne to continue nursing our economy back to full health after the next election.” – Sun editorial (£)
  • “The fact that unemployment has fallen to its lowest level since the start of 2009 should be cause for unalloyed rejoicing – except, of course, on the Labour benches.” – Daily Telegraph editorial

…and is shocked by the sheds built to house migrants

“No wonder the Prime Minister looks aghast. He is standing inside a squalid shed in the back garden of a suburban London house. … Yet yesterday it emerged that the shack, with one of its four walls missing and covered instead by a blue cotton sheet, is home to a number of  Indian immigrants living illegally in Britain. … In total 14 people were living a three-bedroom home and the shack built in the garden.” – Daily Mail

Miller takes on Hacked Off

MILLER Maria white Marr“Maria Miller has slammed Labour for involving the lobby group Hacked Off in political negotiations on Press regulation, saying its presence had been a destructive force creating lasting damage. … She said: ‘I think it made some lasting damage. We had managed to get to a stage where we were on the verge of agreement. Some of the interventions over that weekend created a great deal of bad will.’” – Daily Mail

  • “Fracking could take place under your home without your knowledge – because drilling firms would not be obliged to notify you under new rules proposed by ministers yesterday.” – Daily Mail

Gove unveils a further £2.3 billion for building new classrooms

“The education secretary has unveiled a further £2.3bn in funding for new classrooms to head off a looming shortage of school places illustrated by forecasts released on Wednesday showing the numbers of primary-age pupils in Manchester, Bristol and parts of London will rise by more than a fifth in coming years. … In a statement to parliament, Michael Gove said the extra £2.3bn would enable councils to budget up to 2017, providing more stability and certainty for planners.” – The Guardian

  • “The ‘right school’? No, parents staying together is the best way to help children” – Joanna Moorhead, The Guardian
  • “Anachronistic and iniquitous, grammar schools are a blot on the British education system” – Owen Jones, The Independent

Pickles could move to ban councils from using the phrase “bedroom tax”

PICKLES Eric 2009“Councils could be banned from using the phrase ‘bedroom tax’ under moves to give Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, the power to veto contentious language in local authority newsletters, leaflets and online publicity, critics claimed on Wednesday night. … The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents 370 councils, said the moves posed a ‘real threat to local democracy’, potentially preventing councils from campaigning on HS2, cuts to services and hospital closures.” – The Independent

  • A third of disabled people affected by the … er … “bedroom tax” have been refused help from a supplementary emergency fund – The Guardian

Ministers reject calls for a GP guarantee

“Ministers have rejected calls to reinstate patients’ right to see their GP within 48 hours as a way of relieving the pressure on overcrowded A&E units. … The coalition scrapped the guarantee, introduced by Labour in 2000, as part of a scaling back of NHS targets soon after it took power in 2010.” – The Guardian

Villiers cleared of wrongdoing after lunch with lobbyist

“A Downing Street inquiry into allegations against the cabinet minister Theresa Villiers has cleared her of wrongdoing over an undeclared lunch with a lobbyist while a transport minister. But the finding was denounced as a “complete and utter whitewash” by the Conservative MP Anne Main, who complained to No 10 after learning that the 2011 lunch included discussion of a controversial planning application by the developers Helioslough for a rail freight depot on green belt land in her St Albans constituency.” – The Guardian

The Telegraph picks up on Andrew Gimson’s ConservativeHome interview with Graham Brady

Andrew Gimson sketch pic“The Prime Minister has promised Tory MPs a vote on whether to join a second coalition after the next election, Graham Brady the chairman of the influential 1922 committee has said. … Mr Brady told Conservative Home that while he wanted the party to focus on winning a majority there was a need for “proper consultation” in the event of another coalition.” – Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday:

Tim Montgomerie: “IDS isn’t ending social security – he’s saving it”

“If left-wing columnists really want to know who is endangering the welfare state they should look in the mirror. In the most competitive ever global environment it is simply unsustainable for five million British people to be on out-of-work benefits. Getting many more people into work is the only way we can save the welfare system for the people who will always need and deserve society’s help. We all must hope IDS can succeed.” – Tim Montgomerie, The Times (£)

  • “On airport expansion, MPs’ pay, press regulation and gender apartheid, ministers suffer from collective cowardice.” – Sue Cameron, Daily Telegraph

Cable aims to tackle the abuse of zero-hours contracts

“Employers could be banned from preventing staff on zero-hours contracts from working elsewhere as part of a crackdown on abuse of the controversial deals, Vince Cable will announce on Wednesday. … A government consultation on zero-hours contracts, designed to prevent misuse by employers, will seek views on whether legislation should be introduced to ban so-called ‘exclusivity clauses’.” – The Guardian

Simon Hughes has been made a justice minister

“Simon Hughes, the Liberal Democrat deputy leader, has won a surprise promotion to his first Government post. … He was appointed a minister of state in the Ministry of Justice, replacing Lord McNally, who is becoming the chairman of the Youth Justice Board.” – The Independent

> Yesterday on LeftWatch: First, Norman Baker. Now Simon Hughes.

Balls is on the hunt for spending cuts (and fiscal credibility)

“Ed Balls will on Thursday instruct colleagues to start identifying spending cuts in a “zero-based spending review” which he says will help a Labour government put Britain’s budget back into surplus. … The shadow chancellor insists that the exercise will be ‘tough’ and look at spending in every department, including the NHS, as he tries to counter Conservative claims that Labour lacks the discipline to eliminate the deficit.” – Financial Times

  • “The essential division now seems to be between those, like Cruddas, who think the party needs a radical shift in the way Labour talks about the state and between those – chiefly, but not exclusively, allies of Ed Balls – who prefer to contain the debate in the more conventional parameters of how much is being spent in Whitehall and on what.” – Rafael Behr, New Statesman

Harman “went crazy” at Douglas Alexander

“Harriet Harman ‘went crazy’ at Douglas Alexander, Labour’s election chief, over his running of the party’s campaign and the role given to women, Labour sources have revealed. … The Labour deputy leader also attacked Mr Alexander over plans to limit the party’s efforts in the European elections next May, in the face of scant resources and the expectation of a poor performance.” – The Times (£)

Mark Wallace: We can’t let Labour repeat France’s mistakes

WALLACE Mark“There is no glee to take, even for deficit hawks like myself, in the disastrous French experiment with plan B. It has inflicted the huge human cost of yet another downturn, yet more unemployment, and yet more debt on a country which could instead be on the road to recovery. … But there is a lesson to learn. When someone promises that you can get out of a serious debt problem by borrowing more, they are lying or they have been lied to.” – Mark Wallace, Comment is Free

Select Committee accuses HMRC of weakening in the face of big corporations

“A report by MPs highlights the failure of HM Revenue and Customs to get more from firms such as Google and Amazon. … Allowing American internet giants to get away with paying little or nothing in the UK is ‘at odds with HMRC’s stance on pursuing tax debt from small and medium-sized businesses’, the report by the  public accounts committee says.” – Daily Mail

  • “The report also revealed how the Government had collected just £440million in unpaid tax from Swiss bank accounts — despite predicting they would raise £3.12billion.” – The Sun (£)

Over half of all councils plan to develop green-belt land

“Research for the National Trust has found that 51 per cent of English authorities with green belt land were ‘likely or very likely’ to allocate it for development within the next five years. … More than half of the 147 local authorities that responded to the survey said they had brownfield sites available that could help meet housing targets, but developers did not see them as viable locations for projects.” – Daily Mail

  • “Planning laws need to be more subtle and less restrictive than the Green Belt” – Times editorial (£)

British spies knew about the mistreatment of terror suspects, concludes inquiry

“British spies were aware of the mistreatment and torture of up to 40 terrorist suspects in the aftermath of September 11, a report will reveal today. … An inquiry by High Court judge Sir Peter Gibson concludes that spy chiefs and politicians – including Jack Straw – have further questions to answer over what they knew about the CIA’s rendition of terror suspects.” – Daily Mail

A newslinks special: Unhappy judges

  • “The Recorder of Lincoln, Judge Sean Morris, raised the prospect that the courts could face a surge of foreign offenders when controls on Romania and Bulgaria are abandoned 13 days from now. … He expressed frustration at delays of six months and longer to obtain criminal records from the Romanian authorities and called on ministers to do something about it.” – Daily Mail
  • “A High Court judge, who is stepping down after being rebuked for campaigning in favour of marriage, claimed yesterday to have strong backing within the judiciary. … Sir Paul Coleridge said only ‘one or two’ of his colleagues were opposed to his traditional views.” – Daily Mail
  • “Two judges were yesterday found guilty of misappropriating more than £1.5million of public money. … Denis McKay and Stuart Turner systematically misused the legal aid money sent to their law firm, the Solicitors Regulation Authority said.” – Daily Mail

Stock markets rise on Bernanke’s decision to taper the US stimulus

US flag“The stock market had a swift and clear reaction to the Federal Reserve’s decision to trim its stimulus efforts as stocks surged Wednesday. … The Federal Reserve announced today that it decided to reduce its stimulus efforts next month because the job market has shown steady improvement, opting to only buy $75billion in bonds as opposed to the scheduled $85billion.” – Daily Mail

  • “Under normal circumstances, investors would barely notice a $10bn cut, but these are not ordinary times” – Financial Times editorial

> Yesterday, by Andrew Lilico on Comment: Bailing out the banks did not prevent a Depression

News in brief

  • University student intake at record high – Financial Times
  • Bill to be amended to protect the right to protest – The Guardian
  • Management failures at the Beeb led to £100 million being wasted on a computer system, concludes inquiry – Daily Mail
  • Tony Booth, Cherie Blair’s father, has been battling Alzheimer’s for nearly a decade – Daily Mail
  • Lord Ashcroft’s urine blown “all over the place” – Daily Mail

And finally: Michael Howard’s massage

“I can’t say I’ve always had a deep longing to have a tattoo, but neither have I ever been vehemently against them, as some people are. … And I did have a henna one done for my 60th birthday. My husband, Michael, and I were on holiday in Zanzibar when a lovely lady approached us on the beach and asked whether I’d like one. … ‘Why not?’ I said. So she settled down right then and there and gave me an ornamental design on my shoulder. Michael, meanwhile, had a massage.” – Sandra Howard, wife of Michael Howard, writes in the Daily Mail

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