Osborne v Boris “civil war” breaks out

Screen shot 2014-03-02 at 09.22.52“Civil war erupted in the Tory Party last night after Boris Johnson accused George Osborne of lying about urging him to make a  Commons comeback. Supporters of the London Mayor claimed the Chancellor’s camp was engaging in a ‘dirty tricks plot’ to wreck his hopes of becoming Conservative leader – and boost Mr Osborne’s own ambitions for the job The simmering ‘Boris versus George’ leadership feud burst into the open over reports that Mr Osborne had ‘delivered personally’ a message to Mr Johnson that David Cameron wants him to stand as a parliamentary candidate at the next Election.” – Mail on Sunday

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Boris should return to the Commons at the next election

Owen makes donation to Labour..

“Co-founder and former leader of the SDP Lord Owen has given money to Labour, having hailed its “brave and bold” change to its links with the unions. David Owen, a former Labour cabinet minister, made the announcement after the party backed Ed Miliband’s reforms. He said he had given up his status as a crossbench peer to give “over £7,500″ but would remain an independent.” – BBC

  • “Miliband said: “Lord Owen’s support today is welcome. It is 33 years since he left our party and much has happened since. In our many conversations over the past few years, I have come to value his friendship and insight into politics.” – Sunday Times(£)

…but Hodges is not convinced

“Miliband has in effect increased the size of the votes in the control of the unions from 33 per cent to around 60 per cent. All of which is why, when it came to the crunch, McCluskey raised the card containing his union’s mighty block vote and gave Miliband’s ‘reform’ plans a fair wind. Tellingly, Labour’s leader made no mention in either of his speeches to the events in Falkirk that had precipitated this special conference. But, in an equally telling intervention, McCluskey did. ‘My union has done nothing wrong,’ he declared to loud cheers. Before pointedly adding: ‘This is our party and we are going nowhere.’ And he’s right. They’re not. Nor, for that matter, is Ed Miliband.” – Dan Hodges Mail on Sunday

  • “HARDLINE union chiefs have launched a crusade to radicalise Labour by targeting the party’s youth wing, it was claimed last night. Worried insiders said a “formidable” machine led by Unite and the GMB was “influencing the next generation of activists” — and forcing moderates away. They even compared the situation to the infiltration by the hard-left Militant Tendency in the 1980s which caused years of bitter division in the Labour movement.” – The Sun(£)

>Yesterday: LeftWatch – Ed Miliband’s “reforms” to the union link hand McCluskey and friends more power

Fox says using Net Migration measure is “statistical nonsense”…

FOX Liam blue background“If the Tories are to bring back enough of these voters to win an overall majority at the election, there needs to be a clearer narrative on immigration, stressing not only the need to restrict numbers, but also to determine which individuals, with what skills, enter our country. While Conservative policy has concentrated on getting down the net migration numbers, it is actual numbers that affect school places, housing and health. The Conservatives must ditch this statistical nonsense.Likewise, even if numbers came down and all were economic refugees from Somalia, what has been gained? We need to control how many and who comes into Britain. That will help to ensure that we get the right kind of migration for our needs.” – Liam Fox Sunday Telegraph

>Today: ToryDiary:Net migration is the wrong measure

…while Theresa May hits back at Cable

“We must also seize the opportunity presented to us by the Prime Minister’s plan to reform the EU and address the problems caused by free movement – problems other EU members are starting to recognise. There are obvious hurdles which stand in our way – we are in a coalition, and do not have a majority in Parliament to do all this yet. But I am determined we should do everything we can in the meantime. The Immigration Bill, currently before Parliament, will make it more difficult for people to live in the UK unlawfully, ensure immigrants make a fair contribution to our key public services, and make it easier to remove people who have no right to be in this country.” – Theresa May Mail on Sunday

  • 45,200 immigrants who overstayed visa are lost – The Sun(£)
  • What’s wrong with selling visas to rich immigrants at £2.5 million a pop? – Will Hutton The Observer
  • Interview with Yvette Cooper – The Observer

Cameron says “no excuse” for Russian intervention in Crimea

suntimesukraine“Fears of a military conflict over Crimea intensified last night when President Vladimir Putin won the backing of parliament for his decision to send in troops and Ukraine responded by putting its own forces on combat alert. The escalation in the crisis came amid signs that violent unrest against the new pro-western government in Kiev was spreading from the Crimean peninsula to eastern Ukraine. Both areas are dominated by ethnic Russians.” – Sunday Times(£)

  • “Prime Minister David Cameron has said there can be “no excuse” for outside military intervention in Ukraine. He was speaking after the Russian parliament approved President Putin’s request to deploy troops there. Mr Cameron said everyone “must work to lower, not escalate, tensions. The world is watching.” Foreign Secretary William Hague said he had passed this message to his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, in a phone call earlier on Saturday. Mr Hague said Ukraine’s sovereignty over the Crimea region should be respected and Britain opposed Russian moves to use troops there.” – BBC

>Today: Mark Field MP on Comment: Time and again Putin has tested our resolve. And time and again he has found it wanting

State education for Gove girl

“LIKE millions of parents, Michael Gove will find out tomorrow whether his daughter has won a place at the state school of her choice. But if 11-year-old Beatrice is successful, Gove could make political history as the first Conservative education secretary to send his child to a state secondary. He and his wife Sarah Vine, a journalist, have applied to six schools for Beatrice, including Holland Park, known as “the socialist Eton”, sources close to the Tory cabinet minister confirmed yesterday following inquiries by The Sunday Times.” – Sunday Times(£)

  • Labour say all children should study English and maths until they are 18 – The Observer

Gamblers need more protection says Miller

MILLER Maria white Marr“The betting industry is not doing enough to protect gamblers, Culture Secretary Maria Miller has said. Ms Miller said the industry’s voluntary code for the use of gaming machines in betting shops would now be made compulsory by the government. She said she would look at whether warning messages when someone has spent £250 or been playing for 30 minutes on high-stakes machines are tough enough.” – BBC

Hewitt “backed legalised sex for ten-year-olds”

“New details have emerged showing how Patricia Hewitt, then the body’s general secretary, tried to defend a policy that would have legalised sex with 10-year-olds. The evidence was disclosed in a letter in which Mrs Hewitt — later health secretary in Tony Blair’s government –argued in favour of a reduction in the age of consent, despite a senior teacher pointing out that such a move could only be promoted by “some very twisted minds”.” – Sunday Telegraph

Don’t pander to UKIP say Howard and Heseltine…

HESELTINE, green sweater“Two of the Conservative party’s most respected grandees have warned the prime minister not to veer to the right and pander to UKIP’s agenda. Lord Heseltine, the former deputy prime minister, warned David Cameron he risked losing the election to Labour if he let Nigel Farage’s party determine the Conservatives’ pitch to the electorate. Lord Howard, a former Tory leader, urged Cameron to target the collapsing Liberal Democrat vote rather than chase UKIP supporters. He said Cameron should face down climate change sceptics in the Tories as a way to woo disillusioned Lib Dems.” – Sunday Times(£)

…as UKIP search for skeletons in cupboard

“UKIP supporters who want to stand for election as party candidates must declare they have no “skeletons in the cupboard” that could cause embarrassment, it has emerged. Prospective candidates must promise that they have never supported or condoned racism or criminal activity. Since the last European Parliament elections in 2009, five UK Independence Party MEPs have either defected to rivals or been thrown out of the party.” – Sunday Telegraph

Hain “misled Parliament” over “comfort letters”

hain“Northern Ireland’s first minister has accused Peter Hain, the former Labour cabinet minister, of misleading parliament about the controversial “comfort letters” sent to on-the-run suspected IRA terrorists. Peter Robinson said Hain, a former Northern Ireland secretary, had shown a “clear lack of truthfulness” over answers he gave eight years ago to the House of Commons. Hain said last night that he “absolutely refutes” the allegation.” – Sunday Times(£)

  • Bloody Sunday pursuit “waste of police time” says Hain – BBC

Better Together campaign “faces financial crisis”

“Better Together, the cross-party campaign to save the Union, faces a financial crisis after failing to raise even half its £7m funding target. With 200 days to go till the Scottish referendum, the group led by Alistair Darling says it fears public opinion could swing the nationalists’ way because it cannot match the yes camp’s war chest.” – Sunday Times(£)

  • 60 per cent of English and Welsh want Scots to stay in the UK – The Observer

Mainstream charities funding group led by Islamic terror suspect

“A controversial Islamic rights group fronted by a man charged with attending a terror training camp in Syria is being bankrolled by two mainstream British charities, including a foundation set up in the name of Dame Anita Roddick. CagePrisoners, an organisation founded by Moazzam Begg – who has just appeared in court on terror charges – has been given £120,000 by the Anita Roddick Foundation, which distributes part of the former Body Shop owner’s £100 million fortune. A second charity, the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, a Quaker-run fund set up by the chocolate-maker and philanthropist a century ago, has also paid CagePrisoners £305,000 over six years.” – Sunday Telegraph

News in brief

And finally…Hague’s office is 14 times larger than Greening’s

“Male ministers have larger offices than female ministers…To see how differently ministers are treated, compare the offices of William Hague and Justine Greening. To cross the foreign secretary’s office, you virtually need a team of pack mules and supplies for three days. It is a vast, rambling estate of some 4,000 sq ft. That’s nearly 14 times larger than the development secretary’s 290 sq ft. And don’t forget she has to share that cupboard with the brooms.” – Sunday Times (£)