Miliband rules out matching Cameron’s EU referendum pledge

EU FLag‘Ed Miliband has all but ruled out giving Britain a referendum on its EU membership if he becomes PM. The Labour boss will publicly refuse to match David Cameron’s landmark pledge of a nationwide poll by the end of 2017. The controversial move opens up a major dividing line between the two men at the general election next year.’ – The Sun (£)

  • I’ll be unequivocally equivocal – Ed Miliband, FT
  • Vote Tory to have a say, Vote Labour not to – The Sun Says (£)
  • Tebbit backs a Tory/UKIP pact – The Times (£)
  • MEPs push for plastic bag taxes – Daily Mail
  • Roger Boyes: The world has stopped listening to Hague – The Times (£)


A million more people caught in the 40p tax band

‘More than a million extra middle-income workers will have been dragged into the 40p tax bracket by next year because of George Osborne’s plans to boost income for the low-paid…However, a further [income tax allowance] rise from £10,000 to £10,500, due to be announced in next week’s Budget, risks a backlash from Tory MPs. They say that balancing the cut by sucking in more workers to the higher tax bracket, as George Osborne plans to do, penalises middle-class families already struggling with the rising cost of living.’ – The Times (£)

  • Osborne is a high tax Tory for too many people – Ryan Bourne, The Times (£)
  • Policy Exchange proposes cut in employers’ National Insurance – The Sun (£)
  • Wind farms cost £25 per household – Daily Mail
  • HMRC will gain power to raid bank accounts – The Sun (£)
  • Former Gove SpAd launches people power campaign to cut energy bills – Daily Mail

>Today: Mark Field MP on Comment: Next week, Osborne should offer some forward guidance of his own – on tax cuts


RIP Bob Crow – the last of his kind

Bob Crow‘Throughout his life, the controversial trades union leader Bob Crow remained a passionate supporter of Millwall, the South London football club whose fans have long been notorious for their aggressive tribalism. Millwall diehards, far from being ashamed of their thuggish image, have always revelled in it. ‘No one likes us, we don’t care!’ is their favourite chant. Those words perfectly encapsulate the bullish, uncompromising spirit of Crow.’ – Daily Mail

Co-Op boss ‘ousted’ by left wing reality deniers

‘As chief executive, straight-talking Sutherland sought to impose free-market disciplines on the group, modernise the management hierarchy and — most importantly — save the wounded Co-operative Bank, with its 4.7 million customers, from the bankruptcy courts. Instead, he reached the bitter conclusion that the Co-op was ‘ungovernable’. He found himself facing down an organisation run by Left-wing committees more interested in pursuing a socialist, Labour-supporting agenda and engaging in political causes than in creating a solid business.’ – Daily Mail

  • Shadow minister attacks “greed” of business – The Times (£)

Lenders warn Help to Buy may have to end early

House icon‘The Help to Buy equity loan, launched last April, and the guarantee scheme, unveiled in October, have helped more than 20,000 borrowers access low deposit mortgages. But brokers and lenders are warning that rising house prices, mortgage pricing, and decent deals outside of Help to Buy, could see the popular guarantee scheme withdrawn early. The biggest threat to the scheme is artificially inflated prices, according to 69 per cent of lenders and 57 per cent of brokers, surveyed by the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association.’ – Daily Mail

  • Taxpayers spend £63m buying homes devalued by HS2 – FT
  • Interest rates could rise sixfold in three years – Daily Telegraph


Salmond is in wonderland over Scottish deficit

‘Scottish ministers are over-optimistic about their country’s likely deficit in three years, the UK Treasury says, leaving a potential £3bn black hole by the time they hope to become independent. Figures published on Tuesday show that Edinburgh has a much more positive view of the deficit than other forecasts.’ – FT

Emergency powers allow Health Secretary to close hospitals or wards

NHS_Logo‘Ministers will be able to close hospitals or wards within weeks under new sweeping powers, even if they are not failing, Labour MPs claimed yesterday. They failed to stop a new law which would allow hospitals to be closed within 40 days, although it was also opposed by a small number of Tories and Lib Dems. It followed a bid last year by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to close the accident and emergency and maternity wards at Lewisham Hospital in south London.’ – Daily Mail

>Today: ToryDiary: The NHS winter crisis that never happened

Clegg ignored warnings about his free school meals policy

‘Nick Clegg ‘put his fingers in his ears’ when told his free school meals policy was in chaos, it was claimed last night. The Deputy Prime Minister is accused of ignoring Whitehall warnings that the £1billion plan was a ‘dumb gimmick’. Dominic Cummings – a former adviser to Education Secretary Michael Gove – said officials were given only one hour’s notice of the policy announcement.’ – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: MPsETC: Cummings savages Clegg’s free school meals policy

Lord Turner: Raise the pension age faster

Savings‘The state pension age should rise to 70 by 2040 – more than 20 years earlier than scheduled under government changes, the country’s pension tsar said last night…Under the current plan, the State pension age for women will match men at 65 by 2018, and then both men and women will rise to 66 by 2020, 67 by 2028, 68 by the ‘mid-2030s’ and 69 by the ‘late-2040s’.’ – Daily Mail

Voters tip Boris for victory in 2020

‘Boris Johnson would dramatically increase the chances of the Conservatives winning the 2020 election if he was chosen as leader, a YouGov poll for The Times has revealed. Respondents were asked to imagine which of the likely leader contenders would improve their chances of winning the 2020 ballot. Some 43 per cent said Mr Johnson would improve their chances in the election.’ – The Times (£)

Berners-Lee: We need a Magna Carta for the internet

Shield‘The inventor of the world wide web has marked the 25th anniversary of his creation by calling for a ‘Magna Carta’ bill of rights to protect its users. Sir Tim Berners-Lee told BBC Breakfast the issue could be compared to the importance of human rights. He has been an outspoken critic of government surveillance following a series of leaks from ex-US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.’ – BBC News

Daily Mail: The BBC Licence Fee should not be a criminal matter

‘Imagine the public outcry if we had a law making it a criminal offence to read the Mail or any other paper without first having bought a subscription to the Guardian. Unthinkable, of course. Yet the extraordinary truth is we already have a very similar law in Britain, which makes it a crime to watch ITV or other channels without first handing £145.50 to the BBC. Indeed, more than a tenth of criminal trials in Britain – 180,000 a year – are prosecutions for evading the licence fee.’ – Daily Mail Leader

News in brief

  • The Nigel Evans trial continues – Daily Mail
  • Crimea cut off – The Times (£)
  • Ten questions about the fate of Flight MH370 – Daily Mail
  • 5 per cent of prison inmates are gypsies, romany or travellers – The Times (£)
  • Policeman faces the sack after punching shoplifter – Daily Telegraph
  • One Direction fans lobby Government over aid spending – The Sun (£)