IMF: British economy shows best improvement in the world

GROWTH Krieg‘The British economy is in far better shape than expected and the outlook has improved by more than any other major nation, the International Monetary Fund will say today. The global watchdog looks set to predict that gross domestic product in the UK will increase by 2.4 per cent this year – considerably better than the 1.8 per cent it forecast just three months ago.’ – Daily Mail

Calamity Clegg engulfed by crisis as Rennard threatens to sue


‘Nick Clegg was facing the prospect of ruinous and costly legal action last night over “botched” attempts to contain the sexual harassment scandal engulfing his party. The Liberal Democrat leader was accused of a “complete failure of leadership” after an eleventh-hour attempt to suspend Lord Rennard looked likely to end in the courts.’ – The Times (£)

May and Cameron face questions over terror suspect release

‘David Cameron and Theresa May could be dragged to the Commons to explain why six terror suspects will be free to roam the streets without any controls by the end of this week – as fresh evidence emerged of their danger.Labour demanded the PM and Home Secretary explain why the Government was allowing their Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures – which currently restrict their movements – to expire.’ – The Sun (£)

Pickles relegates the EU flag to the basement

PICKLES Eric 2009‘The Communities Secretary has successfully overturned a European Commission diktat that the 12-star banner must be flown outside the buildings of all government ministries for one week from 9 May. The commission has rewritten its rules to state that the flag must still be displayed – but only somewhere on the premises; not necessarily outside. Mr Pickles has cheekily responded by pledging to unfurl the blue and yellow standard in a spare room in the basement.’ – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: MPsETC: Redwood: 2010 intake Tory MPs in marginals are Euro-rebels too

Jessica Lee becomes fourth female Tory MP to stand down

‘A fourth female Conservative MP announced her decision yesterday to quit Parliament instead of standing for a second term. Jessica Lee, MP for Erewash, in Derbyshire, said she had taken the “difficult decision” to step down in 2015 after considering her “personal circumstances and responsibilities”. The latest departure of the Conservatives’ 2010 female intake will dismay the party.’ – The Times (£)

>Today: MPsETC: Jessica Lee MP steps down: 11 per cent of Tory women elected in 2010 have decided to leave Parliament

>Yesterday: Charlotte Leslie MP’s column: The importance of being a fairy godmother

NHS data being handed out without patients’ permission

‘The NHS is already handing out personal data about tens of thousands of patients including their names and addresses at a rate of nearly once a week, it emerged yesterday. Health bosses are routinely providing details to university researchers, watchdogs, hospitals and other governments without seeking patients’ consent. In March, the NHS will begin a controversial project which involves extracting personal information from patients’ GP records and passing them on.’ – Daily Mail

  • Report on patient’s death kept secret to protect NHS staff – Daily Mail
  • EU rules could outlaw £50m NHS database – Daily Telegraph

Official report: Police Federation must change or die

Police‘The Police Federation must change radically to survive, an independent review by a former Whitehall mandarin declared. Sir David Normington attacked the organisation for sinking to the politics of ‘personal attack’ and said some senior figures were too keen to play political games. He strongly criticised representatives who ‘personally targeted’ former Tory chief whip Andrew Mitchell, the Chief Inspector of Constabulary Tom Winsor and successive Home Secretaries.’ – Daily Mail

Bank Ki-moon uninvites Iran from Syria talks

Syria‘The UN on Monday withdrew an invitation for Iran to attend this week’s Syria peace talks just 24 hours after it was issued. The decision followed a day of intense diplomatic wrangling which nearly scuppered the negotiations before they had started. Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, was forced to withdraw the invitation to Iran after the Syrian opposition threatened to boycott the talks.’ – FT

>Today: Geoffrey Clifton-Brown on Comment: Our visit to victims of the humanitarian disaster in Syria

Should England be more Scottish in its politics?

‘England, for many, is a sort of Greater Fulham; rich, red-trousered, Tory and blithely accustomed to wholly dominating a club of which they are only supposed to be a member. If more Scots knew more about their neighbours, then more of them might realise that many in England object to something pretty similar. The only difference is that they call it “London”.’ – Hugo Rifkind, The Times (£)

Lord Deben warns of “Troskyites” in the green movement

‘The Conservative ex-cabinet minister, formerly known as John Gummer, argued that the best way of protecting the planet is broad agreement about practical solutions, including exploitation of Britain’s shale gas reserves. He said the fight against climate change will not be won if moderates allow their position to be associated with campaigners who have “extremist” views close to Trotskyism that are not really connected to the environment. The chairman’s remarks are likely to prove controversial with groups that strongly oppose fracking.’ – The Guardian

Judge’s think tank urges ministers to back marriage

‘Mr Duncan Smith’s Family Stability Review is aimed at gathering information on how families are changing, which are most at risk of failing, and how the state can do more to keep them together. The Marriage Foundation, which was launched by High Court family judge Sir Paul Coleridge, said in the first published evidence to the review that the families most at risk are those of unmarried new parents. It said that cohabiting couples make up fewer than one in five parents, but half of all family breakdown.’ – Daily Mail

  • Lord Carey warns that the Church of England might break up – Daily Mail

Labour want return to contribution-based benefits…with no idea of how to pay for it

BALLS Ed Spend can‘People who lose their jobs after working for five years will get higher state benefits worth an extra £120 under Labour plans outlined yesterday. Rachel Reeves, Labour’s work and pensions spokesman, said she would restore a direct link between contributions and handouts. But she failed to explain how this would be funded – sparking claims from Tories that her proposals were ‘economically illiterate’.’ – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: In a “tough love” auction on welfare only the Tories can win

Len McCluskey’s Unite election questioned over ‘phantom voters’

‘Britain’s biggest trade union has been embroiled in a row over the re-election of its General Secretary, Len McCluskey, in April last year. The only candidate to stand against him, a former union convener from Bristol, lodged a complaint with the trade union ombudsman over the controversial decision to send ballot papers to 158,000 people whose membership had expired. It has been claimed that some of those who received papers had not paid their subscriptions in years and even that others were no longer alive.’ – The Times (£)

Farage says mothers are ‘worth less’ to City firms – and is then assaulted

UKIP glass‘Mothers are ‘worth less’ to employers in the City than men, Nigel Farage claimed today. The Ukip leader suggested women who take time off to have children are paid less because they lose contact with their client base and struggle to succeed when they return to work. Hours after making the controversial remarks, Mr Farage complained it was ‘not very nice’ being clobbered over the head with a placard’ – Daily Mail

>Today: LocalGovernment: How will UKIP perform in the Council Elections?

>Yesterday: LocalGovernment: In Norfolk UKIP are keeping Labour and the Lib Dems in power

News in brief

  • BBC licence fee under threat from new technology – FT
  • Half of us suffer depression at one time or another – Daily Mail
  • Ukraine’s President must repeal his autocratic new laws – FT Leader
  • Comet-chasing space probe wakes up – The Independent
  • Cressida Bonas’ step-father has been found dead – Daily Telegraph
  • Putin claims he isn’t homophobic, as he likes Elton John – The Times Leader (£)
  • Mikaeel Kular’s mother charged with murder – Daily Mail