Leadsom will fight against HS2…

Screen shot 2014-04-26 at 07.57.24“David Cameron’s new Treasury minister has called for a “dramatic rethink” of the High Speed 2 rail project. Andrea Leadsom has warned that the £50 billion scheme does not represent value for taxpayers’ money. The economic case for the rail line was “questionable and rapidly deteriorating”, she said, promising to “fight against” the project. Before she became a minister she sent a series of letters to rail executives, saying that the line would cause severe and irreversible damage to wildlife habitats, heritage sites and areas of natural beauty along the route.” – Daily Telegraph

…or will she? Critical comments removed from her website

“A newly appointed Treasury minister has previously called for a “dramatic rethink” of the Government’s proposals for a high-speed rail line across Britain. Andrea Leadsom, whose South Northamptonshire constituency is severely affected by the High Speed 2 route, has been one of the project’s most vocal critics while on the backbenches. However, with a crucial vote in the Commons over the project on Monday, her website, which contained comments critical of the scheme, appears to have been taken offline.” – The Times (£)

> Today: ToryDiary – HS2 and Ministers: when whips pull one way and constituents the other

> Yesterday: Cheryl Gillan MP on Comment –  The case for HS2 has collapsed

Press will choose way ahead over regulation, says Javid

“Sajid Javid, the new culture secretary, has sought to draw a line under the controversy over press regulation by saying that the government has “no further role” in the issue. In his first interview since his promotion, Mr Javid said it was a “decision for the press” whether they agreed to be governed by a controversial royal charter agreed by the three main political parties following the Leveson inquiry. Going further than his predecessor Maria Miller, Mr Javid gave the clearest indication yet that the Conservatives have no interest in reopening the debate over press regulation, despite the newspaper industry’s refusal to accept the charter because of concerns about political interference.” – The Times (£)

New mortgage rules could delay house price recovery

Osborne New Year speech“Executives within the lending industry and economists have warned that the impact of the new rules, devised and enforced by the new City regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, could be enough to strangle a nationwide recovery in the property market, which has been driven by demand in the South-East. Prices in London are rising at nearly 18pc a year.” – Daily Telegraph

Cameron accuses Russia of sabotaging peace with airspace violation

“Russian fighter jets have flown into Ukrainian airspace, US officials claimed yesterday — as Moscow was accused of trying to start “a Third World War”… The purpose of the flights was not clear, but the anonymous officials said the aircraft could have been testing Ukrainian radar or making a show of force. Fresh sanctions were agreed by the West on Russia last night, with Prime Minister David Cameron among leaders who claimed Moscow was sabotaging a peace deal to end the stand-off between separatists and the Kiev government.” – The Sun (£)

  • Simon Heffer: How can we stop Blair sucking up to tyrants? – Daily Mail

> Yesterday: Andrew Foxall on Comment – The UK should take the lead when it comes to sanctioning Russia

Computers will take middle class jobs next, claims former Prime Ministerial adviser

SILVA Rohan“Middle-class jobs are under threat from advances in technology, a former top adviser to the Prime Minister believes. White collar posts in areas such as law, medicine and accounting are increasingly being replaced by computers, according to Rohan Silva, an ex-No 10 strategist. Politicians are failing to address the actual causes of the squeeze on the middle classes, he added.” – Daily Mail

Matthew Paris: If it’s a ‘yes’, they’ll be after Cameron’s head

“David Cameron would have one hope. Short of political hara-kiri his best way of salvaging honour would be to do what he does so well: fight his way out of the corner. He would have to show immediate grip and have a clear plan ready: and it would surely have to include calling an early general election, in which (I’m afraid to say) the Conservative party would have to promise to impose a very tough deal indeed upon Scotland; a promise that Labour couldn’t match. It would be the England v Scotland election of November 2014. The Tories would probably win such a contest, on English votes. And how sad if things should come to that.” – The Times (£)

  • From Cornwall to Scotland, the UK is in dire need of defenders – Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph

> Today: Lee Rotherham on Comment: My guide to being English in the midst of Scotland’s debate

Graeme Archer: Make the young a housing offer and the Tories could be home and dry

Homes For All Big“The Conservative problem is that some obvious offers (cutting the top rate of tax) play up the Labour “toff” narrative. But there is one area which is recognisably “Tory”, which speaks to a real need, and doesn’t involve fiddling around with gas bills or train timetables… That area is housing, or rather, its ownership. This week we saw signs that mortgage applications are becoming even tougher. That makes sense. But young people in too many areas are already effectively denied the chance to own their own home – because there aren’t enough, and because those that exist are too expensive.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Wordsworth would be ‘having fits’ over countryside building, claims former Poet Laureate – Daily Mail

Axelrod’s number one priority: Miliband’s ‘weirdness’

“Ed Miliband’s new American election guru will focus mercilessly on the Labour leader’s weaknesses as one of his first acts as he tries to replicate the success of the Obama campaigns, according to US analysts. David Axelrod, hired for his expertise in crafting a sharp message and developing an election strategy, will place Mr Miliband at the core of a compelling personal and political narrative. First, however, he is likely to take a leaf out of the Obama campaign playbook and confront Mr Miliband’s image problem: voter perception that the Labour leader is a “weird” north Londoner who stole the Labour leadership from his brother.” – The Times (£)

  • Will Labour’s crackdown on zero-hours contracts actually increase unemployment? – Daily Mail
  • Labour’s ‘stealth raid’ on pension funds laid waste to final salary pensions – Daily Mail
  • Watson blasted for spoiling Spider-Man 2 on Twitter – The Sun (£)

> Yesterday: LeftWatch – Another reason why Labour shouldn’t lecture anyone about borrowing

Clegg fails to understand Church’s role, say clerics

Curse of Clegg 2“Nick Clegg fails to “understand” and “appreciate” the concept of establishment, the Church of England has suggested. In a sharp response to the Deputy Prime Minister’s call for a separation of Church and State, the Church said proponents of the move often failed to comprehend the amount of charitable work it carries out as part of its constitutional “duties”, as well as its role defending all faiths.”  – Daily Telegraph

  • We may not go to church, but we still need the rituals of Christianity – Christina Patterson, The Guardian

Farage’s unconventional interview technique

“When it comes to Ukip policies already on the record, if he can’t defend them then he says they’re simply nothing to do with him. For example, the party now requires all candidates to confirm that they have no skeletons in the closet that could cause embarrassment to the party, but what does that actually mean? “I’ve no idea.’ ” – The Guardian

> Yesterday: Columnist Iain Dale – UKIP’s European election posters are disgusting

News in Brief

  • Screen shot 2014-04-26 at 09.21.31Jon Snow meets Jon Snow – The Sun(£)
  • Hostile press blamed for lack of women MPs – Financial Times
  • NHS right not to buy hugely expensive cancer treatment – Deborah Orr, The Guardian
  • South London reacts to UKIP posters (warning: bad language) – The Independent
  • Chaotic asthma care ‘is costing millions and putting lives at risk’ – The Times (£)
  • The victims of Assad’s new chemical weapons – Daily Telegraph
  • Search for missing airline “will drag on and on” – Daily Express
  • Are voicemails still being hacked? – Daily Mail