Net immigration soars

cameron-face‘David Cameron’s pledge to cut net immigration to under 100,000 by next year was in “tatters” tonight after a surprise surge in migrants from the European Union. Net immigration is now at its highest since 2011, and the Prime Minister is faced with going into an election without having met one of his key promises.’ – The Times (£)

>Today: Sir Andrew Green on Comment: The latest immigration figures are grist to the mill for Euro-sceptics

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Three lessons from today’s net immigration figures

Merkel’s offer falls short of the hype

‘Angela Merkel made a passionate plea for Britain not to quit the EU yesterday but suggested David Cameron can hope to achieve only limited reform before a referendum. The German Chancellor used a visit to London to back the Prime Minister’s calls for a clampdown on EU migrants’ right to claim benefits and indicated the UK and non-eurozone countries could win concessions as the eurozone integrates further. But she warned she would disappoint British calls for her to commit now to fundamental reform of the EU – and dodged any promise of the full-scale treaty changes.’ – Daily Mail


Judge-led inquiry into IRA ‘on the run’ letters

Police helmet‘The Prime Minister announced a judge-led probe into effective amnesties for Republican killers after a catastrophic blunder let the man accused of the Hyde Park bombing in 1982 walk free from court. Mr Cameron intervened after Northern Ireland’s First Minister Peter Robinson threatened to quit unless there was a full inquiry into John Downey’s release, claiming was kept in the dark about the system. The judge, who has not yet been named, will be allowed to quiz Mr Blair, former Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain and Sinn Fein figures about the letters.’ – Daily Mail

Tory voters prefer another coalition to keep Miliband out

‘Conservative voters would overwhelmingly prefer another coalition with the Liberal Democrats as a way of stopping Ed Miliband from gaining power, a poll has revealed. Four years into the coalition Government’s term, most voters regard the prospect of a hung parliament after the next election as a “bad thing”. The YouGov poll, conducted for The Times this week, found that 57 per cent of voters believed that the failure by any party to win a majority would lead to “weak government”.’ – The Times (£)

>Today: ToryDiary: Ed Miliband is a strong argument to vote Conservative

Pressure on Harman and Dromey mounts as Hewitt apologises for NCCL/PIE links

Labour-Party-Red-Rose-logo‘Labour’s Patricia Hewitt last night apologised after The Sun confronted her for backing a paedophile plan for the age of consent to be TEN in certain cases. The ex-Health Secretary put her name to a document that also wanted to legalise incest. She and Jack Dromey, now a Labour MP, were members of a committee recommending a revolutionary change in child sex laws. Our investigation showed how she backed the work of the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE) in the 1970s and 1980s. She said: “I got it wrong on PIE and I apologise for having done so.”’ – The Sun (£)

  • Harman and Dromey must apologise, too – The Sun Says (£)

Badger cull ‘ineffective’

‘An independent scientific assessment of last year’s pilot badger culls in parts of Gloucestershire and Somerset has concluded that they were not effective. Analysis commissioned by the government found the number of badgers killed fell well short of the target deemed necessary, the BBC understands.’ – BBC News

Finance sector deals new blows to the SNP

Scottish flag‘SNP hopes that an independent Scotland will remain a thriving international finance centre have been blown apart by a succession of stark warnings from major institutions about the consequences of a “yes” vote in September’s referendum. Standard & Poor’s, the credit ratings agency, yesterday became the latest authority to question the viability of an independence settlement.’ – The Times (£)

Loss-making RBS announces half a billion pound bonus pot

‘Royal Bank of Scotland revealed a £576million bonus pot for staff today despite slumping deeper into the red with annual losses of £8.2billion. The bonus pot – down 15 per cent on 2012 – includes a £237million payout shared among its investment bankers.’ – The Sun (£)

Isabel Oakeshott: Who is David Cameron?

‘I only ask because so few people seem to know. Of course voters know his job title and a bit about his background – largely that he went to Eton, then Oxford, where he was a member of something called the Bullingdon Club. They know he has a beautiful and accomplished wife; likes the countryside; and has several young children, including one who was profoundly disabled and tragically died. Yet for a prime minister who has been in Downing St for almost four years, and leader of his party for nine, the real David Cameron remains surprisingly enigmatic.’ – Isabel Oakeshott, PoliticsHome

Hunt pledges revolution in dementia care

Hunt Jeremy 15‘Britain’s elderly will witness a revolution in dementia care, which will transform the country into a “global leader” in fighting the illness, Jeremy Hunt said. The Health Secretary announced a new ambition for the NHS, stating that by March next year those with suspected dementia should receive a diagnosis within six weeks, rather than six months as is currently the case in parts of the country.’ – Daily Telegraph

  • Allegations of a Welsh NHS cover-up echoing Mid Staffs – Daily Mail

Russian ‘armed invasion’ underway in Crimea

‘Russian military forces are blockading Sevastopol airport in the Ukrainian region of Crimea, Ukraine’s interior minister has said. Arsen Avakov called their presence an “armed invasion”. Armed men also took over the other main Crimean airport, Simferopol, on Friday morning.’ – BBC News

>Yesterday: Lord Risby on Comment: Recent horrific events in Ukraine must mark the end of old failures

Will the Government be able to ride out Free School stumbles?

School‘School expansion can be difficult; missteps can be expected. The lesson from American reform is that entirely new schools are as likely to fail as new companies. And such failures do attract headlines. That is why Harrow and St Paul’s have been so reluctant to share their formula by opening a chain of state schools. Why risk it? Why open a Harrow state school in Liverpool, and forfeit your reputation if something goes wrong? Far easier to keep your head down, raise the fees and admit a few scholarship kids. And this is the British problem.’ – Fraser Nelson, Daily Telegraph

Barristers to strike again

‘Lawyers have pledged to stage a second strike to undermine the Government’s legal aid shake-up after Justice Secretary Chris Grayling published a final raft of reforms. Members of the Criminal Bar Association will bring the court system to a halt when they take part in a nationwide walkout next Friday in protest at the cuts.’ – Daily Mail

News in Brief

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