Cameron faces a Euro-revolt on three fronts…

CAMERON EU fence“David Cameron is facing a ‘triple whammy’ from his backbenchers as he tries to head off a series of revolts over Europe. … The prime minister is facing two rebellions involving dozens of backbenchers demanding measures to increase controls on immigrants. … Meanwhile, a bill promising a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union, adopted by Cameron to unify his party, is facing imminent collapse. It has been branded a ‘dead parrot’ by Bill Cash, the veteran Eurosceptic.” – The Sunday Times (£)

  • “…the Home Office is said to have demanded that the Prime Minister’s aides stop negotiating with Tory rebels, despite the evident threat to Mr Cameron’s authority from the mass revolt.” – Sunday Telegraph
  • “The European Union should be stripped of any power to regulate British banks, a senior Conservative has said. … John Redwood, chairman of the Conservative party’s economic affairs committee, called on David Cameron to ‘repatriate all banking regulation’ when discussions begin over changing the terms of Britain’s membership of the EU.” – Sunday Telegraph

And comment:

  • “What should really worry No 10 is how well organised the revolt is. It is being co-ordinated by two of the most influential Tory factions, the socially conservative Cornerstone Group and the Thatcherite No Turning Back group. … These groups met on Wednesday with Nigel Mills, the Tory who has won the support of 70 MPs for an amendment proposing that transitional controls on Romanians and Bulgarians entering Britain be extended for five years.” – James Forsyth, Mail on Sunday

> Yesterday: ToryDiary – Dominic Raab is right to push for foreign criminals to be deported more easily

…as Grayling prepares to combat the spread of European human rights law

GRAYLING collarless“Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, will go to court in an attempt to halt the spread of European human rights laws, as part of a plan to scale back the powers of the EU. … Mr Grayling wants to reverse human rights legislation and is drawing up sweeping plans for reform, which could include Britain withdrawing from the European Convention on Human Rights entirely.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • “The government has identified a test case to challenge European human rights laws, the justice secretary Chris Grayling is expected to tell MPs. … The case involves two women who were told that UK law prevented them taking their employers, both foreign embassies in London, to an employment tribunal in 2012. On appeal, a judge ruled that EU human rights law could override an act of parliament.” – The Sunday Times (£)
  • “Ministers are at the centre of a security row after it emerged that two terrorist suspects who went on the run more than six years ago are still protected by anonymity orders.” – Sunday Telegraph

Miller tries to draw the poison from social media sites

“Radical moves to crack down on social media ‘poison’ will be launched this week to try to prevent a repeat of the tragedy of a teenage girl who killed herself after swapping self-harm pictures on a website. … Culture Secretary Maria Miller will challenge social media companies to transform how they police their sites by ‘pro-actively’ removing offensive and dangerous posts as soon as possible.” – Mail on Sunday

  • “Undoubtedly, we have pathologised parts of the bumpy ride that constitutes ‘normal’ growing up, but even given that apparently growing tendency, at least one in 10 children and teenagers has a diagnosable mental illness.” – Observer editorial

McVey hails the Government’s economic plan, as it emerges that over half-a-million people have come off welfare

UnionJack arrows angled“Figures show 566,000 fewer people are claiming one of three main handouts since the Government came to power. … It means more than 13,000 people a month — 438 A DAY — have moved off welfare as reforms to cap benefits and make work pay come into effect. … Employment Minister Esther McVey said: ‘This shows the Government’s long-term economic plan is working.'” – Sun on Sunday (£)

  • “One of the claimants featured on Channel 4’s controversial  Benefits Street has been charged with drug and firearms offences. … Roberts and five of her neighbours were charged following a series of drug raids on properties in the now infamous James Turner Street in Birmingham.” – Mail on Sunday
  • “Police have launched an investigation after a 15-year-old ‘child bride’ featured on Benefits Street.” – Mail on Sunday
  • “Jobless young Romanians are being offered apprenticeships on a flagship British government scheme intended to help unemployed Britons into work.” – The Sunday Times (£)

And comment:

  • “Iain Duncan Smith is the unsung hero of the jobs recovery” – Janet Daley, Sunday Telegraph

> Yesterday: ToryDiary – Cutting the numbers stuck on disability benefit is an important achievement

Ministers plan a crackdown on under-age smoking, starting with e-cigarettes

“Ministers will launch a  crackdown on under-age smoking this week by banning the sale of ‘e-cigs’ to those under 18 – and making it illegal for adults to buy cigarettes for children. … Although electronic cigarettes are presumed to be safer  than traditional tobacco versions, England’s Chief Medical Officer has warned  that because they give the smoker a hit of nicotine, there  is uncertainty about the long-term health implications.” – Mail on Sunday

  • “Smoking would be banned in cars carrying children under plans drawn up by Labour.” – The Sunday Times (£)

Rumours that the Queen’s Speech has been delayed because of “a lack of interesting policies”

Blank page“It’s official: MPs are doing less parliamentary work than at any time in the past decade. The coalition government is spending a third less time on legislation than the last Labour government, new figures revealed last night. … The statistics will fuel concerns among all parties that the Tory-Liberal Democrat coalition has run out of things to say. There are rumours that the Queen’s Speech has been delayed because of a lack of interesting policies to put forward in a legislative programme.” – Independent on Sunday

Are Gove and Truss at odds over how WW1 should be taught?

“Michael Gove and one of his high-flying junior ministers disagree profoundly about the teaching of the causes and consequences of the first world war, according to the education secretary’s opposite number, Tristram Hunt. … Last week, Elizabeth Truss, childcare minister in the Department for Education, told the House of Commons that teachers should inform pupils that there are varying views on the conflict, and that it was up to teachers to decide how they taught the subject. … In an article for the Daily Mail this month, Gove dismissed historians who question the ‘just’ character of the war as ‘left wing’.” – The Observer

Rob Wilson rails against the BBC’s lavish spending

“BBC bosses were last night accused of racking up a £4million bill for hotels and first-class rail tickets for staff visiting its controversial new North of England base. … Last night, Tory MP Rob Wilson claimed this proved the Corporation ‘still can’t be trusted to spend public  money wisely’.” – Mail on Sunday

Tories back away from Yeo as he fights against deselection

“Mr Yeo has been criticised for earning £400,000 from green energy interests since 2009 while chairing the Commons Energy and Climate Change Select Committee since 2010. … Now three fellow Tory MPs – who also chair Commons select committees – have distanced themselves from Mr Yeo, fighting to overturn a decision by local party chiefs to deselect him as Suffolk South MP.” – Mail on Sunday

  • “The presence of wind turbines  near homes has wiped tens of thousands of pounds off their value, according to the first major study into the impact the eyesore structures have on house prices.” – Mail on Sunday

The Mail on Sunday accuses Aidan Burley of lying to a party investigation

“Aidan Burley was forced to resign as a ministerial aide after admitting ‘clearly inappropriate behaviour’ at the bash in a French ski resort, where guests, one in a Nazi uniform, chanted pro-Hitler slogans. … Last week a Conservative Party investigation accepted his testimony that he had not been present at a bar where revellers were chanting ‘Hitler!’ and ‘Himmler!’ … But we can expose those claims as a blatant untruth.” – Mail on Sunday

Davey to offer local authorities cash to create energy for themselves

Ed Davey“Local communities will be offered up to £150,000 each to create their own renewable energy through solar panels or wind turbines and take on the Big Six gas and electricity giants, the Government will announce tomorrow. … Ed Davey, the Climate Change Secretary, will launch a £10m Urban Community Energy Fund to kick-start projects in England that could see one million homes supplied with electricity from ‘home-made’ generation by 2020.” – Independent on Sunday

  • “Admit it, greenies: the game’s up for renewable energy” – Dominic Lawson, The Sunday Times (£)

David Steel: The Rennard row is damaging the Lib Dems…

“One of the first rules in politics is ‘if you find yourself in a hole, stop digging’. Both [sides in the row] dug furiously, to the delight of our enemies. The damage is substantial: Nick Clegg made an excellent speech in Davos to which nobody paid a blind bit of notice; and our candidate in Thursday’s Scottish byelection polled 2 per cent in an unpromising seat where in 2007 we at least got 14 per cent…” – David Steel, The Observer

  • “It has been a bad week for women, and a bad week for the Liberal Democrats, but it has been just as bad for the institution in which they are both minority groups, where a persistent status quo that you might have hoped would have expired in the last century has been brought into depressing relief.” – Archie Bland, Independent on Sunday
  • “What some hommes d’un certain age seem not to understand is that the kind of overture of which Rennard and Hancock stand accused is not just about sex. It is about power.” – Camilla Cavendish, The Sunday Times (£)
  • “The unedifying saga of Lord Rennard’s allegedly amorous approaches to female Liberal Democrats, and internal arguments over how to deal with those allegations, reawakened resentments about the abuse of power in an institution where men usually occupy the top positions.” – Toby Helm, The Observer
  • “The party is not fit for government. … Clegg needs to change his party rules — like Ed Miliband did to Labour on appointing shadow cabinets — to give him at least a smidgeon of actual power. Until then he’s as useless as a chocolate teapot.” – Louise Mensch, Sun on Sunday (£)
  • “Old assumptions about what is acceptable behaviour no longer hold, as the male-dominated Lib Dems are – painfully and publicly – finding out” – Joan Smith, Independent on Sunday
  • “Sorry Nick, but women won’t ever touch you again… and I don’t mean that in a Lord Rennard way” – Rachel Johnson, Mail on Sunday

…and it could damage the party even more, if the peer starts digging up dirt

Dirt“The Liberal Democrat peer at the centre of a sexual harassment scandal could expose two decades of sex scandals in the party if Nick Clegg ‘goes nuclear’ and tries to expel him, say his friends. … Lord Rennard, who masterminded some of the party’s most successful election campaigns, is said by allies to ‘know where the bodies are buried’, including details of a married Lib Dem peer who has had extramarital affairs, a married MP who had a sexual liaison with a Lib Dem peer, a former MP who was regarded as a sex pest and secret gay liaisons involving both MPs and peers.” – The Sunday Times (£)

Nick Cohen focuses on “the real scandal in the Liberal Democrats”

“The real scandal in the Liberal Democrats is not leading the news. Extremists are menacing the career and life of a Liberal Democrat politician and respectable society hardly considers these authentically scandalous threats to be a scandal at all. The scandal, in short, is that there is no scandal. … The reasons for the attacks on Maajid Nawaz are so bland, it makes me yearn to live in a grown-up country where I could shrug them off.” – Nick Cohen, The Observer

> Yesterday: WATCH – Calls to deselect Lib Dem candidate Maajid Nawaz

Balls announces a 50p rate of tax – Blairites recoil

BALLS Ed Spend can“Labour MPs and union leaders hailed the initiative as a ‘populist vote-winner’ that could propel the party into power at next year’s General Election. But the tax hike was attacked by powerful figures close to Mr Blair, who claimed it was a ‘lurch to the Left’ reminiscent of Harold Wilson’s Government, when the top rate of tax rose to 83p – and 98p when unearned income was added.” – Mail on Sunday

“…the commitment by shadow chancellor Ed Balls was immediately criticised by business groups and tax campaigners, who said it would drive away investment and do further damage to, rather than enhance, Labour’s economic reputation. Even former City minister Lord Myners questioned the move.” – The Observer

  • “On the face of it, Ed Balls’s plan to raise the top-rate of tax to 50p is a vote-winner. It is supported by  six out of ten adults overall, with fewer than one in five against. … But the problem for Mr Balls and Labour leader Ed Miliband is that voters do not trust them – or their motives.” – Mail on Sunday

> Yesterday: LeftWatch – Labour would reinstate the 50p income tax rate – how would they fund the tax rise?

Miliband writes about the policy (and others) for the Sun on Sunday

“We know that the next Labour government will have to be different from the last. There will be less money around — there will have to be cuts so we can balance the books and have national debt falling. … But One Nation Labour will not be the same as the Tories and the Liberal Democrats. … Ed Balls announced yesterday that the next Labour government will reverse this Government’s tax cut for millionaires.” – Ed Miliband, Sun on Sunday (£)

  • “Labour’s first instinct as it seeks to balance the books will be to raise taxes, as Ed Balls’s latest speech proved” – Matthew d’Ancona, Sunday Telegraph
  • “Never mind Hollande’s sex life… it’s Ed Miliband’s romance with Gallic finances we should truly fear” – Allister Heath, Mail on Sunday
  • “No party is prepared to admit a more fundamental truth: that broad-based taxes need to rise after the election if we want to sustain the public services.” – Nick Pearce, The Observer
  • “Personally, I am less concerned about the disarray of Carney’s forward guidance than with his apparent lack of concern about bankers’ so-called ‘remuneration’.” – William Keegan, The Observer
  • “Now we know the difference between red and blue: 50p” – Adam Boulton, The Sunday Times (£)
  • “Labour goes back to the bad old days” – Sunday Times editorial (£)
  • “If the pledge by Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, to reintroduce the 50p top rate of income tax was intended to shore up his dwindling credibility, it is likely to prove self-defeating.” – Sunday Telegraph editorial

Labour peers want grieving workers to get two weeks’ paid leave

“Grieving workers will get two weeks’ paid leave after the death of a loved one under planned law changes. … Labour peers aim to force more bosses to show compassion by amending the Children and Families Bill this week. … Currently, firms can decide how much time off to allow — and whether it is unpaid.” – Sun on Sunday (£)

Blair writes that extremist religion is the world’s biggest source of conflict…

tony-blair“The fact is that, though of course there are individual grievances or reasons for the violence in each country, there is one thing self-evidently in common: the acts of terrorism are perpetrated by people motivated by an abuse of religion. It is a perversion of faith. But there is no doubt that those who commit the violence often do so by reference to their faith and the sectarian nature of the conflict is a sectarianism based on religion. There is no doubt either that this phenomenon is growing, not abating.” – Tony Blair, The Observer

  • “The Christian think-tank, Theos, has released a report today that shows Labour should target the Muslim vote in next year’s general election, while David Cameron is likely to do well among Jews. The Lib Dems did well with Buddhists in 2010.” – Independent on Sunday

…while facing a legal challenge

“Tony Blair is facing the threat of legal action over his alleged intervention in a multi-million pound compensation claim by British victims of IRA terrorism. … Lawyers for around 200 victims say the former prime minister and other government officials appeared to have ‘connived’ with Colonel Muammar Gaddafi to block their claim against the Libyan regime that supplied Semtex for the attacks.” – Sunday Telegraph

A lack of skilled school-leavers is putting the recovery at risk, say firms

“Britain’s economic recovery is being put at risk because too many school leavers cannot write properly, add up or even wear appropriate clothes for work, a leading business group has claimed. … The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), which represents nearly 200,000 companies, said a chronic shortage of the most basic skills by school leavers means companies are losing out to foreign competition.” – Mail on Sunday

News in brief

  • Dozens of people die during protests in Egypt – The Observer
  • China jails the activist Xu Zhiyong for four years – The Observer
  • Hollande announes his separation from Valerie Trierweiler – Sunday Telegraph
  • Head of Government-backed charity accused of deploying an armed gang in Pakistan – Mail on Sunday
  • Comedian to stand as MEP in protest at the Government’s “privatisation” of the NHS – Mail on Sunday
  • Since 2010, 53,000 criminals have been returned to prison for breaking the terms of their release – Sun on Sunday (£)

And finally 1: Cameron’s folk tendencies

First Aid Kit“It came as a shock last weekend to discover that among my fellow punters at a folk concert back in November 2012 was David Cameron. Speaking to the Mail on Sunday, the Prime Minister slyly hinted at the hipness of his musical tastes by revealing how he and Samantha snuck into a First Aid Kit gig as the Shepherd Bush Empire.” – Louis Norman, Independent on Sunday

And finally 2: Pickles visits India

“Cabinet heavyweight Eric Pickles scoffed six curries in one sitting on a trip to India. … The Communities Secretary was invited to sample the delights of local chefs to spice up his stay in Calcutta. … He tucked into Saagh Gosht, Chicken Tikka Butter Masala and a Chingri Malaikari. … Next up was a vegetarian Kadhi Pakodi, a Malabar fish curry and a Chicken Chettinad.” – Sun on Sunday (£)

  • “Spending on biscuits, sandwiches, tea and coffee by the communities department soared to a total of nearly £60,000 last year.” – The Sunday Times (£)