Zahawi told to support planning reforms or resign

ZAHAWI Nadhim“Nadhim Zahawi, the MP for Stratford-upon-Avon, decided to attack the National Planning Policy Framework this week. Mr Zahawi was simply repeating what many colleagues feel when he said the reforms were causing ‘physical harm’ and ‘pain’ to the countryside. His intervention was significant, though, because he is a member of the No 10 policy board – and he has now been told in no uncertain terms to support the planning reforms or resign” – Isabel Hardman, Daily Telegraph

>Today: ToryDiary – Zahawi should be free to speak his mind

Coalition spats lead to fear of gridlock

“The increasing frequency and bitterness of coalition spats is fuelling fears that the present Government is doomed to end gridlocked. Senior civil servants have been warned that almost no new major policy initiatives are likely in the 12 months before the general election as the political benefits of co-operation between the Tories and Lib Dems fade” – The Times (£)

  • Lib Dems want Cameron to drop porn filters – Independent

Labour and Lib Dem peers plot to derail Referendum Bill

EU Exit“Today in the House of Lords, peers will be debating the EU Referendum Bill, which I am introducing…Newspaper reports insist that Labour and Lib Dem leaders are meeting to plot how to derail the Bill – not openly by voting it down, but surreptitiously, behind locked doors. Attempting to avoid the blame” – Michael Dobbs, Daily Telegraph

  • German foreign minister attacks “brainless Eurosceptics” – Daily Telegraph
  • EU rules stifle a golden age of biotechnology – George Freeman, The Times (£)
  • Baroso triumphant as jobless Europe wastes five years – Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Daily Telegraph
  • Labour hints at restricting freedom of movement in EU – BBC
  • Vote no to “the United States of Europe” – Daily Express Comment

Le Pen claims she is close to UKIP

“Marine Le Pen, leader of the French far-Right party, has said that Ukip has far more in common with the Front National than it would like to admit and that the two parties could join forces to bring down the EU’s ‘Berlin wall of Brussels’…’They say they’re not in agreement with us. My foot,’ she told the Telegraph. ‘OK, we don’t have the same economic policies [but] they share our point of view on the European Union and immigration” – Daily Telegraph

Grayling scraps plans for 100-year prison sentences

GRAYLING collarless“Chris Grayling has scrapped plans to appease Strasbourg over a controversial ruling that ‘life means life’ sentences for killers are unlawful. Ministers had been considering proposals to replace whole-life jail terms with 100-year sentences, in a bid to satisfy an edict from the European Court of Human Rights” – Daily Mail

  • Ministry of Justice will fight to keep whole-life sentences – Daily Telegraph

Johnson praises “fantastically restrained” police

“Boris Johnson praised Scotland Yard’s armed police units as ‘fantastically restrained’ yesterday. The Mayor of London said firearms officers were deployed to around 10,000 incidents over the last four years, and only fired their weapons on six occasions. Mr Johnson was among several senior political figures who rallied round the Metropolitan Police following the Duggan inquest verdict” – Daily Mail

  • Duggan jury given special protection after threats – The Times (£)
  • Gangsterism, not racism, lay behind Duggan’s death – Fraser Nelson, Daily Telegraph
  • Home Secretary could curtail use of “stop and search” – Guardian
  • Organised crime infiltrated Scotland Yard at will, report says – Independent

Osborne backs rise in minimum wage – unless it costs jobs

OSBORNE blue tie“George Osborne said he backed an increase in the minimum wage yesterday – but suggested it would be ‘self-defeating’ if it ended up costing jobs. The Chancellor, answering calls from senior Tories for an inflation-busting increase to the current hourly rate of £6.31, said a hike needed to be carefully calibrated so that it did not lead to cuts by firms who could not afford a higher wage bill” – Daily Mail

Bedroom tax loophole could exempt 40,000

“Thousands of people have been wrongly identified as liable for the bedroom tax, including some who now face eviction or have been forced to move to a smaller property, as a result of an error by Department of Work and Pensions. Housing experts believe as many as 40,000 people could be affected by the mistake. The DWP says it believes only a ‘small number’ of tenants are affected, which it estimates number 5,000” – Guardian

Anzac role in First World War “downplayed”

Screen shot 2014-01-10 at 09.09.06“Ministers have been accused of ‘social engineering’ over their plans to mark the centenary of the First World War, by downplaying the role of Australian and New Zealand soldiers in favour of the contribution from New Commonwealth nations. Critics claim the government is focusing on black and Asian servicemen from other parts of the British Empire, such as India, as well as Caribbean and West African nations, at the expense of the Anzac forces, along with those from Canada and South Africa” – Daily Telegraph

News in brief

  • China overtakes US as biggest goods trader – Financial Times
  • Elderly could miss out on NHS drugs – Daily Telegraph
  • Father of 22 children by 11 women spared jail for drug dealing – Daily Express
  • Indian diplomat accused of fraud leaves US – Guardian
  • Governor of New Jersey sacks two aides – The Times (£)
  • Paisley says Dublin provoked bombings – Belfast Telegraph
  • Number of Welsh councils likely to be halved – Wales Online
  • Retailers hit by poor Christmas sales – Guardian
  • Thousands sign petition calling on Channel 4 to drop Benefits Street – Independent