Merkel to address both houses of UK Parliament with plea to stay in EU

merkel“Amid genuine fears in Berlin that Britain may be on a trajectory towards exit, the German chancellor is expected to say that Britain benefits from its membership of the EU. But Merkel is also expected to say that the EU benefits from Britain’s open approach to trade and markets. Her visit, which has many of the trappings of a state visit rarely offered to a head of government, contrasts with the low key reception for the French president, François Hollande, at the Anglo-French summit last month at RAF Brize Norton.” – The Guardian

  • “German Chancellor Angela Merkel is to address both Houses of Parliament and have tea with The Queen during a symbolic one-day visit to the UK. Mrs Merkel will follow in the footsteps of other leaders, such as Nelson Mandela, Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan, in addressing MPs and peers. She will later hold talks with the three main party leaders, David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband.” – BBC
  • “In London, there was also nervousness that expectations had been allowed to run ahead of reality. “The hype has come from the fact that she is meeting the Queen, but let’s face it this a renegotiation that isn’t going to start in earnest until and unless the Prime Minister is re-elected,” said a government source. Reports about a series of opt-outs, including on the Working Time Directive, were termed as “not unreasonable guesswork about where we are working”, by an official. “But is she arriving with a great big offer? Of course not.” – The Times(£)
  • Why Merkel’s EU reform shopping list isn’t enough -Matthew Elliot City AM

Yesterday: Christopher Howarth on Comment: Cameron needs to look beyond Germany to win Merkel’s support

Tories consider new strike ballot law for 2015 manifesto

“The Conservatives could tighten the law on strike ballots if they win the next election. Downing Street said the issue was “on the table” after Prime Minister David Cameron told MPs he wanted to see fewer “unnecessary” strikes. Mayor of London Boris Johnson has called for strikes to be illegal unless at least 50% of staff in a workplace participate in a ballot.” – BBC

Yesterday:ToryDiary: Andrew Gimson’s PMQ sketch: Miliband has abandoned the economic field

Robinson meets Villiers about secret letters to terror suspects

VILLIERS THERESA NW“The first minister has given the government until Thursday night to respond to the crisis over secret letters sent to more than 180 Irish republican paramilitary suspects. Peter Robinson has also asked for the NI Assembly to be recalled on Friday. Mr Robinson held talks with Secretary of State Theresa Villiers at Hillsborough Castle on Wednesday night. Earlier, Mr Robinson had threatened to resign unless a judicial inquiry into the so-called “On The Runs” was held.” – BBC

  • “If it is true that Northern Ireland’s DUP knew nothing of the effective amnesty given to scores of IRA suspects by this Government and the last, they have every right to be outraged.” – The Sun Says

Hunt closes Mid-Staffs NHS Trust

“The scandal-hit Mid-Staffordshire NHS Trust is to be broken up after appalling care led to hundreds of deaths. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt told MPs local people ‘suffered too much for too long under a system which ignored appalling failures of care in their local hospital’. He said the time had come to plans to dissolve the trust and move key services to neighbouring hospitals.” – Daily Mail

Demand that Lee Rigby’s murders should remain in prison for life

sunrigby“The fiancée of Lee Rigby said his murderers yesterday got exactly what they had demanded as they hacked him to death — an eye for an eye. Aimee West, 23 — speaking after Michael Adebolajo was jailed for a whole-life term and Michael Adebowale got at least 45 years — added: “I don’t want them out in my lifetime or Lee’s son’s lifetime. While they were standing over Lee’s body, they were harping on about a life for a life, an eye for an eye. Now it’s their turn.” – The Sun(£)

Public say the tax on wine and spirits is too high

“Half of Brits believe taxes on wine and spirits are too high, a new poll has revealed. And 80 per cent say there should be NO more increases at all. Campaigners say the findings pile pressure on George Osborne to freeze duties at their current rate in next month’s Budget. Figures show that 79 per cent of the price of a bottle of spirits is tax. For bottles of wine, the level is 57 per cent.” – The Sun(£)

Yesterday: David Skelton on Comment: If we Tories are the real workers’ party, we’ll cut tax on bingo

Law Commission says pre-nuptials should be made legally binding

telegraphdiy“Couples would be able to legally agree the terms of a divorce before they marry, under a new law being put forward by the Law Commission. The current law allows married couples and civil partners to make agreements, but courts do not always uphold them. The new suggestion would mean that any pre- or post-nuptial agreements would be seen as legally enforceable.” – BBC

  • “The Law Commission is also urging the Government to consider devising a specific numerical formula which separating couples could use to calculate how to divide their assets. The introduction of a Government-approved divorce ‘calculator’ would allow couples to work out how much each should receive without as much involvement from lawyers.” – Daily Telegraph

IDS “loses battle” with Osborne over changing definition of child poverty..

“Plans to tear up the official definition of child poverty will be put on ice today following a Government row. Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith proposed that factors such as family breakdown and debt should be included in a new measure of children’s life chances. But senior colleagues are understood to have warned that the move would leave the Government open to charges of deliberately changing the goalposts in an attempt to mask the alleged impact of its austerity policies. Lib Dem sources insisted they had been prepared to back the plan – but claimed it had been blocked by Chancellor George Osborne.” – Daily Mail

  • “Iain Duncan Smith will today be forced to admit defeat in a bitter row with George Osborne that has called into question the coalition’s commitment to cut child poverty. The Work and Pensions Secretary has been forbidden from unveiling two measures to identify children most at risk of being trapped in poverty after David Cameron sided with the Treasury in a long-running Whitehall spat.” – The Times(£)
  • “Disabled people are facing “distress and financial difficulties” owing to the slow processing of claims under a new benefit scheme, a report has found. Claimants for the new Personal Independence Payment (PIP) were having to wait weeks longer than anticipated, the National Audit Office (NAO) said. Backlogs of thousands of cases had built up in trial areas due to
    delays in assessment by private firms. Ministers said the scheme’s rollout had been “adjusted” in light of lessons.” – BBC

…but they have a joint article in The Guardian

IDS headshot“Using the main measure set by the last Labour Government child poverty is down by 300,000 since 2010. But we are not satisfied with measuring our achievement simply by how many children are moved from one side of an arbitrary line to the other. For far too long, a fixation on relative income led the last government to chase an ever elusive poverty target, spending unprecedented amounts on benefits and almost £170 billion on tax credits as they tried to move poor families over the line. But it did not deal with the difficult issues.” – Iain Duncan Smith and George Osborne The Guardian

Claim that Clegg’s Youth Contract “not working”

“In 2011, Nick Clegg offered to pay employers to take on 160,000 18 to 24 year-olds as part of a £1billion package. But figures slipped out on Tuesday revealing that only TEN THOUSAND posts had so far been filled. Lottie Dexter, head of the Million Jobs Campaign, said: “It’s disappointing not to see a root and branch review of youth unemployment. The Government’s wage incentive scheme is clearly not working. There can be no more excuses. Wage subsidy schemes, like the Youth Contract, will not solve our deep rooted unemployment crisis.” – The Sun(£)

  • Nick Clegg plans employment safety net for 16-year-olds who don’t go to university –The Independent

Gove says Prince Charles is a “natural conservative” on the environment

GOVE, Michael blue sky“Mr Gove said the heir to the throne, who must stay above party politics, was someone who ‘captures this best and understands it instinctively’. ‘It’s a Conservative instinct for example for property rights which safeguard the environment better than a bureaucratic or collectivist approach’, Mr Gove said. ‘It is celebrating those people who live and work in the natural environment like our farmers which is central to making sure the environment is stewarded carefully, rather than always in a default mode looking to bureaucrats or quangos to celebrate what is beautiful.’ Addressing the inaugural meeting of the Conservative Environment Network, a group of Tory MPs calling for a ‘decentralised’ approach to the environment.” – Daily Mail

Grammar schools plan to admit more poor pupils

“Grammar schools plan to admit more poor pupils, it was revealed yesterday. They are aiming to take a higher proportion of students who are eligible for free school meals by changing admissions policies. Over-subscribed schools could give preference to FSM pupils who pass the 11-plus test, just as children in care are currently given priority.” – Daily Mail

More evidence of NCCL and PIE links

piexchange“According to archives held at Hull University, in December 1975 Keith Hose, chairman of PIE, wrote to Patricia Hewitt, then general secretary of NCCL and later a Labour health secretary, asking her to consider PIE’s views in its policy on ages of consent. The letter was on PIE notepaper which features a logo of two bare-legged children sitting on a rock. Hewitt wrote back saying: “We have found your evidence … most helpful and I think it has certainly been taken into account by the people preparing our evidence.” – The Guardian

  • “Harriet Harman failed to act against a group which promoted paedophilia because she “didn’t want to rock the boat”, it was claimed yesterday. Former Paedophile Information Exchange chairman Tom O’Carroll’s comments piled pressure on Ms Harman, who has refused to apologise for not acting against PIE. The sick group was affiliated to the National Council for Civil Liberties when she was legal officer in the 1970s.” – The Sun(£)
  • Harman’s pressure group advertised for members in magazine for paedophiles – Daily Mail
  • MP Jack Dromey denies “smear” – BBC
  • Labour MP Tom Watson “would not have touched PIE with a bargepole.” – The Independent
  • NCCL offered legal advice to adults wanting sex with 14-year-olds – Daily Telegraph

Montgomerie: The cost of being a Tory candidate excludes the working class

“Becoming a Member of Parliament is onerous and expensive. A survey of 37 Tory candidates carried out by the ConservativeHome website a few years ago found the cost for successful candidates averaged £41,550. Costs included the amount spent on going to selection meetings all over the country in the hope of being adopted. Many never get past that stage. Those who do face a whole lot more accommodation and travel costs if they don’t live in or near the constituency where they’re selected.” Tim Montgomerie The Times(£)

Today: Majority: Tim Montgomerie and Stephen Shakespeare: Welcome to The Good Right

Oborne: The west can get rid of Assad or fight al-Qaeda -but not both

oborne“The signs are mounting that the Western powers are beginning to understand that they have a choice. They can get rid of Assad, or they can fight al-Qaeda. But they can’t do both. That option was never really there.” – Peter Oborne Daily Telegraph

News in brief

  • EU ban cigarettes in packets of ten – Daily Telegraph
  • Home ownership at 27 year low – Daily Mail
  • Plebgate officers sacked – The Sun(£)
  • FTSE four year high – The Guardian
  • Low Pay Commission propose three per cent rise in Minimum Wage – BBC
  • Slowdown in global warming “does not invalidate long term trend” – The Guardian
  • GPs paid £10,000 bonus “just for staying in their jobs.” – Daily Mail
  • Independent Scotland would have to leave BBC – The Independent
  • Standard Life plans move from Edinburgh if there’s a Yes vote – Daily Telegraph

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