Immigration 1) New influx turns record numbers against the EU

EU Exit‘The influx of Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants has led to a surge in support for Britain leaving the European Union. A new survey indicates that 50 per cent of the population would cut the UK’s ties with Brussels, with a record low 33 per cent in favour of staying in. The 17 per cent margin in a Survation poll for The Mail on Sunday is one of the biggest gaps in recent ‘In or Out’ EU surveys.’ – Mail on Sunday

Immigration 2) Fraudsters are uncovered selling fake documents to milk benefits

‘Eastern European migrants are being offered expert help to fraudulently milk the benefits system by an accountants agency run by a Bulgarian businessman, a Mail on Sunday undercover investigation has revealed. ‘Our reporter, posing as a newly arrived Bulgarian migrant seeking to claim benefits, was filmed being illegally offered bogus documents to support her application by an ‘advice’ agency in North London yesterday.’ – Mail on Sunday

Immigration 3) Robinson admits the BBC ‘blundered’ in silencing critics

‘The BBC’s political editor has criticised the corporation for making a “terrible mistake” in censoring concerns over immigration for fear that it would stir racism. Robinson said that senior figures in the BBC had believed that having an open, uncensored debate about immigration would “unleash some terrible side of the British public”.’ – Sunday Times (£)

Cameron pledges more pension rises through to 2020…

CAMERON-PENSIVE‘David Cameron has heralded Britain’s economic recovery by announcing a cash boost for pensioners and hinting at future tax cuts for middle and top earners. In a sign of growing confidence that the worst days of recession and low economic growth are over, the prime minister pledged to extend rises to the state pension until at least 2020. He also promised that if he is re-elected in 2015 he will maintain the so-called triple lock for the duration of the next parliament, ensuring that pensions rise by at least 2.5% a year.’ – Sunday Times (£)

…and admits Scottish hearts must be won, as well as heads

Scottish flag‘“We’ve just got to keep pushing both the arguments of the head and those of the heart. I think the arguments of the head we’ve been winning very strongly. We now need to win some of the arguments of the heart. The UK is not something to want to belong to simply for economic reasons, but actually for emotional and historic reasons,” he said. With reports of jitters among senior Tories, Cameron emphasised there was no room for complacency: “Obviously I’m very concerned that we win this referendum. I think the argument has been going the way of the United Kingdom, but it will not be won until every last vote is counted . . . I’ll work very hard to play my part.”’ – Full Cameron interview, Sunday Times (£)

“Liar!” “Out of control!” – Gove and Clegg go to war

Libdem bird vs TORY‘A simmering Cabinet feud erupted into the open last night as allies of Michael Gove accused Nick Clegg of ‘lying’ after he claimed that the Education Secretary was out of control. The astonishing war of words started when the Deputy Prime Minister complained that he was forced to deal with ‘problems’ which had been ‘bumped up’ from Mr Gove’s office on an ‘almost daily basis’.  Mr Gove’s allies immediately hit back by accusing the Liberal Democrat leader of trying to sabotage his efforts to improve schools. One said: ‘We spend our time sorting out Clegg’s screw-ups, not the other way round.’’ – Mail on Sunday

  • Alexander urges businesses to spend cash reserves – The Sun on Sunday (£)
  • Lib Dems give Deputy Prime Minister a poll kicking – Sunday Times (£)
  • Hunt accuses Education Secretary of WW1 “point-scoring” – The Observer

Boulton: Tory Greens on the slide

‘Owen Paterson seems rather less inclined to consult Sir Ian Boyd, the government’s chief scientific adviser, on climate change than to listen to his sceptical brother-in-law Matt Ridley, the science writer and land-owning viscount. Inside the Conservative party, climate change sceptics, including old guards such as Peter Lilley and Lawson, are gaining ground with the patronage of the chancellor. At least two leading Tory environmentalists, Laura Sandys and Tim Yeo, seem to be heading out of Westminster.’ – Adam Boulton, Sunday Times (£)

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Owen Paterson is right – pragmatism is needed to free housing supply

New Ashcroft poll shows the scale of the 2015 challenge

Opinion Poll graphic‘The scale of David Cameron’s task in winning a general election majority is revealed today as a poll shows his party has lost more than a third of those who voted Conservative in 2010. The poll shows the Tories attracted just 6 per cent of those who did not vote for them at the last election, compared with 37 per cent who are Tory “defectors”, half of whom say they plan to vote for Nigel Farage’s UK Independence Party.’ – The Independent on Sunday

>Today: Lord Ashcroft on Comment: My latest polling – and the mountain the Conservatives must climb to gain a majority

UKIPers and Tories urged to swap votes to stop Miliband

UKIP glass‘A controversial plan for Tory and UKIP supporters to ‘swap votes’ to keep Ed Miliband out of No 10 and ensure Britain gets the chance to leave the European Union has been launched by writer and political campaigner Toby Young. His ‘Country Before Party’ scheme aims to stop UKIP robbing the Tories of the Commons seats they need to defeat Labour in the next Election. Mr Young claims it would give UKIP leader Nigel Farage and a handful of his candidates a chance of winning seats.’ – Mail on Sunday

At last, you may have to show ID to vote

‘Voters could have to show their passport or driving licence to prove their identity at polling stations, under a recommendation by the government’s elections watchdog. The Electoral Commission’s proposal follows evidence that an increasing number of people are being impersonated at polling stations and their votes being stolen. The change would lead to people who failed to produce ID — including anyone whose passport was being renewed — being denied a vote.’ – Sunday Times (£)

The cost of culling a badger: £4,100

‘The contentious badger cull has cost an astonishing £4,100 for each animal killed – almost double previous estimates – campaigners claimed last night. New calculations suggest the amount spent on killing 1,771 badgers since the cull began in August was £7.3 million, with taxpayers picking up a £5.8 million share of the bill. The animals were killed to prevent the spread of TB to cattle.’ – Mail on Sunday

Help to Buy caught up in spin blunder

help-to-buy-logo-jpg‘David Cameron was facing potential embarrassment last night over a high-profile publicity stunt to promote his controversial Help To Buy scheme. On Thursday the Prime Minister visited the home of attractive blonde Sharon Ray, 30, in Southampton and sipped tea on her sofa while chatting to her about how the scheme had helped her get on the property ladder…But last night it emerged Ms Ray is a sales director at the estate agency which marketed and sold her the £145,000 two-bedroom ground floor flat last month. Critics took to the internet suggesting viewers had been deceived and perhaps Ms Ray was not the deserving case she seemed.’ – Mail on Sunday

Russians test Royal Navy response times

‘A fully armed Royal Navy warship was scrambled to challenge a missile-carrying Russian vessel  in the waters off Britain just days before Christmas, defence sources revealed last night. In a calculated test of Britain’s reduced naval capacity in the North Sea, the Russian warship came within 30 miles of the coast.’ – Mail on Sunday

News in brief