Open at nights and weekends, Cameron tells GPs

NHS“The Prime Minister will unveil a £50m “Challenge Fund” package designed to stem anger over the failure of family doctors to provide round-the-clock appointments, with patients forced to book many weeks ahead or to compete with others for an emergency on-the-day consultation. At the heart of the plan is a “bespoke service” for more than 750,000 elderly patients, which is designed to ease pressure on hospitals; a large proportion of beds are being taken up with over-75s, one of the fastest growing age groups in the population.” – Independent on Sunday

  • Fury after ministers slash fines for hospitals where patients catch deadly MRSA – Mail on Sunday
  • Prime Minister accused of using public funds for Tory spin – Sunday Telegraph
  • Cameron no-frills flight to Canaries – Sun on Sunday (£)
  • Prime Minister to stretch out Easter at yoga resort – Sunday Times (£)
  • Muslim Brotherhood moves headquarters from London to Austria after Prime Minister announces terror investigation – Mail on Sunday

Gove to act over Islamist takeover of schools

“The education secretary has ripped up the rule book for inspectors so that they can fail schools where “religious conservatism is getting in the way of learning and a balanced curriculum”. This means that governing bodies and head teachers of schools judged inadequate on such grounds can be replaced. The move is primarily focused on Birmingham where claims that secular schools have been taken over by Islamic hardliners are already being investigated. Similar allegations have now emerged in Bradford and Manchester.” – Sunday Times (£)

Parliament and sex 1) Conservative Parliamentary Research Unit expenses and sex claims

Screen shot 2014-04-13 at 07.14.08“Messages the official exchanged with another man on Grindr, a gay dating app, refer to ‘cute boys’, ‘orgy’, ‘gay party’, ‘hottie MPs’ and ‘all in one bed’ said to be ‘on offer’ in a luxury hotel suite hired for Tory researchers at the party’s annual conference in Manchester. The messages name two top Tory MPs: one of the most senior Government Ministers and an MP tipped as a future Party leader.” – Mail on Sunday

Parliament and sex 2) Cleared Nigel Evans says: I feel like the Witches of Pendle

“He points at the window towards the hills on the horizon. ‘I live over there in the foothills of Pendle Hill which was known for one thing: witch-hunts.’ The word is stabbed not spoken. ‘The witches of Pendle were captured there, transported to Lancaster and executed in public. That is how I feel.’ His rage is understandable after becoming the latest public figure to be accused of sex crimes (some of which dated back a decade), to face personal and financial ruin – and to be declared totally innocent at the end of it all.” – Mail on Sunday

  • Grieve’s concern over “unworkable” cases – Sunday Telegraph
  • Pay back my £130,000 legal bill, says Evans – Evans interview, Mail on Sunday
  • “I was here at her invitation to talk frankly about how the Conservatives were prioritising human rights. Instead, I got what felt like a scripted dialogue on the “robust” work the Foreign Office was doing overseas” – Sayeeda Warsi interview, Independent on Sunday

Parliament and sex 3) 1922 Committee draws up own plans to deal with MPs’ complaints, warns that Tory Whips have a conflict of interest

Brady Cameron Clegg“Senior backbenchers are so alarmed at the party’s plan for handling complaints by MPs’ staff that they are drawing up rival proposals. They are being prepared by the Conservatives’ 1922 committee, the party’s most influential backbench group, in response to fears that staff could be put off coming forward if discipline was in the hands of party managers with political priorities. Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 committee, said: “We have taken independent advice and had preliminary conversations with Acas [the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service] about how an appropriate grievance procedure might best be structured.” – Sunday Times (£)

Parliament and sex 4) Andrew Bridgen says that woman alleged to be Farage’s mistress stitched him up

Andrew Bridgen says that claims of a woman alleged to be Farage’s ‘mistress’ wrecked his marriage
“Andrew Bridgen said that Annabelle Fuller, a Ukip spokeswoman, had ‘ruined his life’ after claiming she was groped on the balcony of his Westminster flat in June 2011. Police were told by an informant last month that Miss Fuller, 32, had concocted the claim after stealing his phone and later confessed she had ‘stitched him up’. Last week it emerged that detectives have launched a formal investigation into the matter, and Miss Fuller could face being prosecuted for perverting the course of justice if the claims are proven.” – Mail on Sunday

Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats disown child abuser Cyril Smith

“The party denounced Smith as “repugnant” after a book by the most recent incumbent as MP in Smith’s Rochdale seat, Labour’s Simon Danczuk, detailed repeated crimes by the late Liberal politician and drew similarities with serial sex offender Jimmy Savile. In a statement the party said: “Cyril Smith’s acts were vile and repugnant and we have nothing but sympathy for those whose lives he ruined. His actions were not known to, or condoned by the Liberal Party or the Liberal Democrats.” Party sources said there were no plans to launch further investigations.” – Observer

> Yesterday: ToryDiary – Browne turns a shade of Blue

Douglas Carswell and Zac Goldsmith: Time to give voters the right to sack bad MPs

CARSWELL Douglas“Faced with yet another expenses scandal, there have been calls to give more powers to independent regulators to oversee Parliament. We agree. But we don’t need to set up a new quango. That independent regulator already exists — the electorate. So instead of having the Sir Humphreys in Whitehall deciding on the suitability of those we elect, how about giving local constituents the right to recall their MP via a referendum? It’s not a new idea. Recall happens all over the world, from parts of the US and Canada to Switzerland and even South Korea.” – Sun on Sunday

  • Does Westminster have a problem with women? – Observer

Iain Martin: Cameron must get a grip

“If it was the job of the Prime Minister’s operation to provide studies in how not to handle a crisis, the team in No 10 would be doing brilliantly. As it is, what they served up over Maria Miller and her expenses succeeded only in creating an impression of weakness and bungling, at the very point when the Tories should have been trying to launch their European election campaign against a resurgent Nigel Farage. The swift removal of Mrs Miller 10 days ago would have allowed ministers to move on rapidly to more promising territory rather than becoming embroiled in a drawn-out farce.” – Sunday Telegraph

UKIP wins highest ever Comres poll total

FARAGE eating“The ComRes poll puts Ukip on 20 per cent, up four points from last month and its highest ever for this polling firm, while the Conservatives are down three to 29 per cent, their lowest rating in 2014. Worryingly for Ed Miliband’s attempts to set out to voters an alternative government, Labour remains unchanged on 35 per cent. The Liberal Democrats continue to struggle and are at their lowest rating on 7 per cent, down two points from last month.” – Independent on Sunday

  • Labour edges ahead in latest poll, as support for Conservatives slips and backing for UKIP climbs – Observer
  • Tories face coming third in Euro elections – Sunday Telegraph
  • With no EU reform, will David Cameron ditch the vote on membership? – John Rentoul, Independent on Sunday

Meanwhile, Labour keeps its head down

  • Miliband backtracks on “First Jewish Prime Minister” aim, says happy to leave Disraeli with the title – Independent on Sunday
  • Labour leader plays football with Palestinian children as emotional tour of Israel draws to a close – Mail on Sunday
  • Front bencher Lisa Nandy suggests that Miliband is “airy-fairy” – Sun on Sunday
  • Appeals over primary school places will be ‘meaningless’, says Labour – Independent on Sunday
  • McLuskey targets Labour MPs for new far left party – Sun on Sunday
  • Labour axes would-be MP who claimed on Twitter that the Conservatives want to ‘kill the sick and starve the disabled’ – Mail on Sunday

> Yesterday: Tory Diary – Jones presses public services attack against Welsh Labour

Salmond at SNP Conference: It’s time to say Yes to Independence

SALMOND on Marr “With voters in Scotland to decide the country’s future in just over five months time, Alex Salmond insisted the momentum was with those campaigning to leave the UK. “This is our moment to be a beacon of hope,” he declared. “In September it is time to say Yes.” He said the eyes of the world would be on Scotland when the referendum is held on September 18. Mr Salmond said after that crucial vote has taken place “let’s keep the eyes of the world on Scotland, not to see how we are voting but to watch in admiration at what we are building, building a new and better country”.” – Scotland on Sunday

Dominic Lawson: It’s time to build on the green belt

“I realise the green belt is some sort of British sacrament — and it is therefore heretical to question it. But like many sacraments, people pay it lip service without thinking deeply about what it is they are worshipping…Some of it is distinctly scraggy and even if you were perverse enough to want to leave your London tenement and walk through it of an evening, you would find that difficult: far from being a public amenity, it is almost all private land with rights of way hard to detect.” – Sunday Times (£)

Jeb Bush takes on the Republican Right: will he run for President?

BUSH Jeb“The speech was an act of defiance at hardline critics of the former Florida governor who were incensed by his description in Texas, earlier in the week, of illegal immigration as “an act of love” rather than a crime. It was also a retort to Karl Rove, top strategist to his brother, the former President George W Bush, who branded those remarks “inartful” and suggested he was “rusty” after last running for office in 2002.” – Sunday Times (£)

News in Brief