EU 1) Osborne: Brussels would suffer from Brexit

EU Exit‘A British exit from the EU would be a disaster for its other members, Chancellor George Osborne warned yesterday. In one of his most significant speeches to date on the nation’s future in Europe, he said: ‘A country of the size and global reach of Britain  leaving would be very bad for the European Union.’The Conservative leadership is seeking to regain the initiative on the issue of Europe following a demand from 95 backbench MPs for Britain to demand a unilateral veto over any EU edict, a move that critics say would mean the end of the  single market.’ – Daily Mail

  • He’s right, but the Conservatives should focus on striking a deal with UKIP – Daily Mail Leader
  • The Government has a muddled strategy – FT
  • Cameron to seek treaty protection for The City – The Guardian
  • No 10 never actually received the backbenchers’ letter – The Times (£)
  • Oborne: eurosceptic backbenchers are behaving disloyally – Peter Oborne, Daily Telegraph
  • Home Office immigration report delayed, as it clashes with Government position – Daily Mail

>Today: ToryDiary: Why Downing Street believes it won the War of Jenkin’s Letter

EU 2) Conservatives polling in third place for Euro-elections

‘The Tories are on course to come a disastrous third place in May’s European Parliament elections – plunging David Cameron into a fresh crisis – a bombshell poll reveals. It is likely to be the first time in the history of British democracy that the Tory party will come below second place in a nationwide poll. Voters are planning on giving BOTH governing Coalition parties an almighty kicking, our exclusive YouGov survey also reveals.’ – The Sun (£)

  • The only good news for Cameron is that he isn’t Clegg – The Sun Says (£)
  • New EU rules open up procurement market to British SMEs – FT

Carney bashes Labour’s bank bonus cap

MILIBAND Red Ed‘Bank of England governor Mark Carney last night dismissed proposals to cap bankers’ bonuses as ‘crude’ measures that will fail. He said it would simply prompt lenders to push up basic pay as they sought to keep hold of high-flying executives.  His comments came amid speculation that the Royal Bank of Scotland wants to give senior staff bonuses worth twice their salaries.’ – Daily Mail

  • Reject rewards for failure – Daily Mail Leader
  • Miliband’s plan won’t help customers or anyone else – The Times Leader (£)
  • Should the Competition Commission intervene more in high street banking? – FT
  • Kinnock’s son, the latest Red Prince – Daily Mail

Humphrys: The BBC could be cut by a third

‘John Humphrys last night claimed the BBC is too big, obsessed by box-ticking and could be cut by a third. He warned the corporation could lose its right to charge the licence fee when its funding next comes under review and he said that ‘would be the end of the BBC as we know it.’ The veteran interviewer – who has presented the Today programme for 26 years – said he was devoted to the BBC but felt its original values had become distorted over time.’ – Daily Mail

  • Now Paxman wades into the trenches to do battle with Gove – The Times (£)
Scottish flag

How would Scottish independence work?

‘It was once widely assumed that the first act of an independent Scotland would be to drop sterling in favour of the euro. But that was before the eurozone crisis exposed deep flaws in the monetary institutions of the single European currency. Now it seems that, if a Scottish state enters into monetary union, it will be with the UK instead. How might such a union be implemented? There are three options.’ – FT

>Today: Andrew Gimson interviews Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish Tories, who has an optimistic message for colleagues around the UK

Investigation into evidence of gender-selective abortion in Britain

‘The Department of Health has launched an investigation into claims that illegal abortions of female foetuses are taking place among some families living within ethnic communities in Britain who seek to ensure that they have sons. A study of data from 2011 National Censuscarried out by The Independent has indicated that gender-selective abortions have significantly shifted the natural sex ratio of some communities in England and Wales in favour of boys.’ – The Independent

  • Majority of abortions signed off by doctors who haven’t met the women involved – Daily Mail
  • Government proposes to water down the rules further – Daily Telegraph

Crime statistics ‘may not be reliable’

Police helmet‘The statistics authority says the crime figures no longer comply with its code of practice – indicating the data cannot be trusted. ‘There is accumulating evidence that suggests the underlying data on crimes recorded by the police may not be reliable,’ said Sir Andrew Dilnot, the watchdog’s chairman. He pointed to a warning from the Office for National Statistics that police records appear to ‘overstate the true rate at which crime has been falling’ by failing to take into account hundreds of thousands of offences.’ – Daily Mail

Almost 1,000 teachers accused of sexual abuse of pupils

‘Almost 1,000 teachers and other school staff have been accused of having a sexual relationship with a pupil in the past five years, new figures show. Local authorities said that 959 staff had been suspended, disciplined or dismissed after being accused of having sex with a student.’ – The Times (£)

Robert Gates: British defence cuts undermine alliance with America

‘Cuts to Britain’s armed forces would mean the UK could no longer be a full military partner to the United States, a former American defence secretary has warned. Robert Gates told the BBC that cuts in the number of military staff would limit the UK’s global position.’ – The Guardian

Lib Dem outcry as Rennard faces no action

LibDemDead‘Liberal Democrat women reacted furiously last night after the party announced that it would be taking no further action against a peer accused of sexual harassment. An investigation by a leading barrister found that there was “broadly credible” evidence that Lord Rennard, a former party chief executive, had violated the “personal space and autonomy” of several female activists and urged him to apologise. However, Alistair Webster, QC, concluded that the high burden of proof required by party rules meant he could take no disciplinary action.’ – The Times (£)

News in brief

  • Judge in court over allegedly lying to police in Huhne case – FT
  • Charlie Brooks’ porn magazine crops up in phone hacking trial – The Independent
  • More rockets fired at Israel from Gaza – FT
  • Nick Robinson’s “Fat Bottomed Girls” moment – Daily Mail