Immigration Bill 1) Leaked report on foreign criminals fuels Raab’s rebellion

Border‘The Home Office document, marked restricted but leaked ahead of a crunch vote by MPs, reveals there are about 12,000 foreign prisoners in the UK – and another 4,000 who have been freed after serving a sentence but not deported…The leak came as rebel Tory MPs will today threaten to back a Commons motion that would make it easier to deport foreign criminals after their sentence. Dominic Raab, whose move is supported by more than 100 MPs, said the leaked document was ‘a chilling analysis of the growing threat of foreign national criminals’.’ – Daily Mail

>Today: ToryDiary: How Cameron and the rebels can kiss and make up

Immigration Bill 2) May wants new powers to strip terror suspects of British citizenship

‘The Home Secretary last night tabled an eleventh-hour amendment to the Government’s Immigration Bill to guarantee that British terror suspects can be stripped of their citizenship, even if it leaves them stateless. Theresa May will today call for measures that will let authorities remove a British passport from any person whose conduct is deemed “seriously prejudicial to the vital interests of the UK”.’ – The Times (£)

Help for flooded Somerset – at last

Army‘David Cameron seized control of the growing crisis over the Somerset floods yesterday and ordered overflowing rivers to be dredged. The Prime Minister said the situation was unacceptable and promised that accumulated river silt would be cleared for the first time since 2005… Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said last night that troops and specialist Army vehicles will be drafted in to help people affected by the floods. After chairing a meeting of the Government’s emergency Cobra committee, Mr Paterson also said dredgers would be deployed, adding: ‘Things are going to get worse, with rising tides and people need to be prepared.’ – Daily Mail

Carney dents Salmond’s independence plans

Mark Carney‘Scotland would not be able to claim complete independence after breaking away from the UK if it kept the pound, the Governor of the Bank of England has said. Pouring cold water on Alex Salmond’s plans to keep sterling and push ahead with independence, Mark Carney told Scottish business leaders in Edinburgh yesterday : “A durable, successful currency union requires some ceding of national sovereignty.”’ – The Times (£)

Revolutionary plan for longer school days – and less holiday

‘Children will be made to stay in school for nine hours a day — 45 weeks of the year — under radical plans being studied by senior Tories. The scheme, drawn up by David Cameron’s former Number Ten policy chief Paul Kirby, would see holidays slashed to just seven weeks and stretch the average school day from around 9am to 6pm. Radical plans for nine-hour school days would boost education standards, slash crippling childcare costs and allow millions of mums to return to full-time work, evidence suggests.’ – The Sun (£)

  • Don’t dismiss it out of hand – The Sun Says (£)
  • Parents revolt over term-time holiday clampdown – The Times (£)
  • Hundreds of teachers sign up to no-strike alternative to unions – The Independent

No, no, no – Cameron refuses to apologise for the miners’ strike

THATCHER Che‘David Cameron yesterday dismissed a Labour call for him to apologise for Margaret Thatcher’s handling of the miners’ strike – insisting militant union leader Arthur Scargill should say sorry for his ‘appalling’ conduct. The Prime Minister reacted with bemusement to Labour’s launch of a ‘justice for the coalfields’ campaign demanding a fresh inquiry into the strike and a formal apology from the Government.’ – Daily Mail

Now Eurocrats try to meddle in our benefits system

‘A Council of Europe report criticising key British social security benefits as inadequate was dismissed last night by the Government as “lunacy”. Iain Duncan Smith and Tory MPs reacted with fury to the findings, which if implemented would increase the benefits bill by hundreds of millions of pounds.’ – The Times (£)

  • They make the eurosceptics’ argument better than anyone – Daily Mail Leader
  • EU working on system to stop cars by remote – Daily Telegraph
  • Hollande and Cameron have a gastropub date – The Times (£)

>Yesterday: Matthew Elliott on Comment: Historians won’t let the EU elites rewrite European history

Ofgem told: break open the energy market, or face the scrapheap

Nuclear power towers‘Ministers have warned Ofgem that it will be scrapped if it fails to shake up the market to end the monopoly of the Big Six energy firms. The regulator has been told it is in the ‘last chance saloon’ and must get more suppliers into the market and find a way to curb the profits of the main suppliers, who have cashed in while consumers have seen bills soar.’ – Daily Mail

  • New Halfon campaign to stop penalising customers who pay by cash or cheque – The Sun (£)
  • The firms should listen to him and act now – The Sun (£)

Montgomerie: Family is the antidote to social immobility

‘“By the time she turns three years old,” [Obama] said, “a child born into a low-income home hears 30 million fewer words than a child from a well-off family, which means by the time she starts school, she’s already behind.”…If we are serious about tackling poverty, social immobility and inequality — the ugly triplets of social injustice — we’ll spend a great deal more time wondering how to ensure more children get more words, more time and more affirmation from parents and extended families.’ – Tim Montgomerie, The Times (£)

Ed Balls’ accounting tricks exposed

Labour holes‘Labour has quietly drawn up spending plans that would allow it to borrow £25 billion more than the Tories after the next election, despite promising to match George Osborne’s pledge of clearing the deficit. A “sleight of hand” by Ed Balls means he would be able to slow the pace of public cuts proposed by the Tories, opening up a further ideological divide between the two parties.’ – The Times (£)

  • Cameron leaves open possibility of a 40p tax – FT
  • Row over local government cuts – The Times (£)

>Today: LeftWatch: Pinning Down Miliband: Labour’s fiscal plan

>Yesterday: LeftWatch: The star of Labour’s new Party Political Broadcast said his business was “under attack” from Labour’s high taxes

May: Use Assad’s money to help the Syrians

‘The Government will look at seizing Syrian money frozen in British bank accounts to pay for humanitarian aid, the Home Secretary said yesterday. In response to Labour pressure, Theresa May said she was “certainly willing to talk to the Chancellor” about accessing frozen Syrian regime assets. London banks are believed to hold £90 million of regime funds.’ – The Times (£)

>Yesterday: WATCH: “We will act with the greatest urgency” to aid Syrian refugees, says Cameron

Police numbers fall 3,500

‘The number of police officers in England and Wales fell by almost 3,500 last year to the lowest level in more than a decade. The 2.6 per cent dip in officer numbers follows a sharp reduction in funding. Overall, there were 128,351 in the 43 forces of England and Wales on September 30 last year, the lowest figure since September 2002.’ – Daily Mail

  • It’s what you do with them that counts, ministers argue – The Sun (£)
  • Did anti-terror police raid the wrong house? – Daily Mail

UKIP scrutinise candidates to weed out liabilities

UKIP glass‘UKIP has carried out an unprecedented vetting operation on party candidates who are standing in May’s European elections, hoping to weed out “Walter Mitty-style figures” who could embarrass the party. An FT investigation has revealed that as part of the selection procedure, candidates were cold-called by a tabloid journalist employed by the party to try to trip them up.’ – FT

The Coalition becomes a sexless marriage

‘Without any fanfare or formal announcement, the government has moved into a new phase. ‘We’re not in a coalition now. We’re just cohabiting,’ says one Liberal Democrat. ‘We’re a sexless couple. We live in the same house but sleep in separate bedrooms.’’ – James Forsyth, The Spectator

  • Clegg’s free school meals plan in chaos – Daily Mail

Peers back plan to ban smoking when children are in the car

‘Smoking in a car that is carrying children could be banned within days after the Lords threw its weight behind a controversial plan to outlaw the practice. Peers last night unexpectedly backed the Labour move, which would give ministers the power  to make it a criminal offence in England, punishable by a fine or points on a motorist’s licence.’ – Daily Mail

News in brief

  • Emerging markets start to wobble – FT Leader
  • New Zealand might ditch the Union Flag – Daily Mail
  • Liam Fox libel action settled – BBC News
  • ‘Even the office cat knew’ about NOTW hacking – The Independent
  • Controversial Ukraine amnesty offer – The Guardian
  • Scarlett Johansson steps down from Oxfam after row over Israel boycott – Daily Telegraph
  • Hugh Grant’s love life becomes ever more colourful – Daily Mail