Business leaders condemn Labour’s 50p tax proposal

Labour holes‘Senior business figures have launched a strong and united attack on Labour’s pledge to raise the top rate of tax to 50p. In the strongest criticism so far, the heads of 24 of Britain’s most successful companies warned in a letter to The Telegraph – copied below – that Ed Miliband’s policy would threaten the recovery and cost jobs. Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, has been severely criticised by rival politicians, industry figures and some members of his own party since announcing the policy. ‘ – Daily Telegraph

  • Is it short-term or permanent? Labour can’t say – The Times (£)
  • Shadow Chancellor thinks Labour should have spent more – The Sun (£)
  • Ed Balls’ Prius is parked in a disabled bay – Daily Mail

The commentators have harsh words for Ed Balls…

…as do the leader columns

>Today: Priti Patel MP’s column: The choice at the next election. State control with Labour, or free enterprise with the Conservatives

Cameron: We will be the first government in history to cut red tape

Red Tape Britain‘Mr Cameron will use a speech to the Federation of Small Businesses to reveal that the Coalition will be the first government in modern history to leave office with fewer domestic regulations than when it entered – saving businesses more than £850million a year. In total, the coalition is set to abolish 3,000 separate regulations by the time of the election next year, with 800 already axed. Mr Cameron will say: ‘Supporting business is a crucial part of our long-term economic plan, creating jobs and security for all. That is why I have insisted on slashing needless regulation.’ – Daily Mail

  • Fracking could be allowed under houses without owners’ permission – Daily Telegraph
  • Engineers were diverted on New Year’s Day to restore power to the Camerons – The Metro

>Today: George Freeman MP on Comment: The Government launches the Growth Voucher

Dual backbench rebellions expected over immigration

‘Tory Nigel Mills…wants transitional controls on Bulgarian and Romanian migrants, which were lifted on January 1, to be re-introduced. And despite efforts by No 10 to get him to drop the demands, allies of Mr Mills said that between 40 and 50 MPs are still set to rebel when the Bill reaches its report stage on Thursday…The threat comes after Tory MP Dominic Raab revealed he has collected the support of 105 MPs to end the scandal of foreign criminals claiming they have a right to a ‘family life’ in the UK.’ – Daily Mail

  • Six Labour former ministers back Raab – The Sun (£)

Boris: No strikes without a proper majority

borisfringe‘A future Conservative Government is likely to introduce measures to outlaw strikes which don’t have the consent of at least 50 per cent of the workforce, Boris Johnson has revealed. The Mayor of London told The Times that restrictions on the right to strike, which would mean unions needed a much higher level of support for action, were likely to be included in the Tory manifesto at the next election.’ – The Times (£)

Brain drain of graduates from the provinces to London

‘Young adults flock to London for work and never return to their home regions, a report has revealed. One in three 22- to 30-year-olds now move to the capital after graduating from university, in what has been termed ‘a brain drain’ on the provinces. The result, the report warns, is that other parts of the country are left languishing behind economically as the most promising and talented individuals abandon their home towns.’ – Daily Mail

  • School leavers woefully underprepared for the workplace – Daily Mail
  • Whitehall to recruit teenagers – FT
  • Only half of science and IT teachers have a 2:1 degree or better – Daily Mail

Carney has bad news for Salmond

Scottish flag‘The governor of the Bank of England will warn Alex Salmond this week about the dangers of an independent Scotland using Sterling. Mark Carney is expected to compare the SNP’s proposed currency union between an independent Scotland and the UK to the crisis-ridden eurozone. Mr Salmond, who will have his first meeting with Mr Carney later this week, has insisted an independent Scotland could retain the pound, with the Bank of England making key decisions over interest rates. However, it has emerged that Mr Carney has major concerns about formal currency sharing unions between nations.’ – The Scotsman

  • UKIP push Lib Dems into fifth place in Scotland – The Scotsman

Secret report raises fears of “Tory Falkirk” in Thirsk and Malton

Democracy (Deep End)‘Conservative Party chairman Lord Feldman ordered an internal inquiry into allegations of wrongdoing at the Thirsk and Malton Conservative Association, whose leadership is involved in a long-running de-selection battle with the sitting MP, Anne McIntosh. The inquiry’s findings, suppressed by the party but published today for the first time, conclude that local Tory leaders broke party rules by co-opting a large number of new appointees onto the Thirsk and Malton association’s executive board, shortly before a crunch meeting last year where it voted not to re-select Miss McIntosh as Tory candidate for the 2015 general election. Supporters of Miss McIntosh privately described the affair as “our very own Falkirk”.’ – Yorkshire Post

Now you can top up your state pension

‘Pensioners are to be given the chance to boost their state pension by up to £25 a week. They will be allowed to make top-up payments which will increase their retirement income for the rest of their lives. The scheme, available to anyone who has already reached state pension age or will do so by April 2016, will be unveiled today by pensions minister Steve Webb.’ – Daily Mail

New defence deal with Russia is on the table

‘Defence chiefs are preparing to sign a deal that would see British defence companies working jointly on projects with the Russian arms industry. The treaty allows arms companies to buy kit from Russia – and Russian diplomatic sources said they hope one day to see British soldiers carrying the Red Army’s famous Kalashnikov rifle as a result.’ – Daily Telegraph

  • British soldiers and ambassador were enlisted to sell fake bomb detectors – The Guardian

Rennard camp threatens to drag skeletons out of the closet in retaliation

LibDemDead‘Friends of the embattled Lord Rennard have warned he could expose Liberal Democrat sex scandals if he is expelled from the party. The Liberal Democrat peer – who has denied allegations of sexual harassment – could go ‘nuclear’ if party leader Nick Clegg stops him from re-joining the party. Lord Rennard became active with the Lib Dems as an orphaned teen and has devoted his entire life to the party. Now friends feel he has been treated ‘cruelly’ and could retaliate.’ – Daily Mail

Anglicans vote Tory, while other faiths swing left

‘Anglicans are still the “Tory party at prayer”, but the nation’s Roman Catholics and Muslims tend to favour the Labour Party, according to research. Analysis of voting data by Theos, a religious think-tank, suggests that self-identifying Anglicans are consistently more likely to vote Conservative.’ – The Times (£)

Blair: ‘Perversion of religion’ is the 21st century struggle

‘Tony Blair has warned that terrorism motivated by religious extremism is growing and the West needs a global strategy to tackle it. The former prime minister said the battles of the 21st century will no longer be about extreme political ideology like the last. Alongside security measures, including military action, the West must tackle conflicts by educating people about religious tolerance, he added.’ – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: WATCH: There is a case for helping “vulnerable” Syrian refugees, says Hague

News in brief

  • “I’m the victim”, moans beaten up thief – The Sun (£)
  • In some places, girls born today will live to 105 – Daily Mail
  • Government premium phone lines to be scrapped – The Sun (£)
  • US airstrike against Somali militants – The Guardian
  • Comedian starts election camapaign with disgusting smear against the Prime Minister – Toby Young, Telegraph Blogs
  • British boss of Tata dies in mystery fall – The Times (£)
  • Tragic tale of the oldest British soldier in World War One – Daily Mail