Farage bottles the Newark by-election

UKIP glass‘UKIP leader Nigel Farage has said he will not stand in the forthcoming Newark by-election…he said a defeat in the by-election would mean he was finished and that “the bubble is burst”.’ – BBC News

>Today: ToryDiary: Mercer prepares the timer on his Claus Von Stauffenberg memorial briefcase

Annual growth rises to 3.1 per cent

‘Britain is growing at a pace not seen since the early days of the financial ­crisis, according to official figures. Annual GDP growth for the three months to March hit 3.1 per cent, the Office for National Statistics said ­yesterday, the fastest rate since the final quarter of 2007…George Osborne argued that the figures proved “the foundations for a broad-based recovery are now in place. For the first time in a decade, all three main ­sectors of the economy — manu­facturing, services and construction — have grown by at least 3 per cent over the last year.”’ – The Times (£)


>Yesterday: Dan Watkins on Comment: Growing self-employment is a good thing

£100m a day ’spending splurge’ to hit aid target

aidgraphic‘Ministers may have blown billions of pounds on foreign aid projects in “rushing” to meet the UK’s controversial target, MPs have warned. In a damning report, they found that the Department for International Development (DFID) spent a whopping 40 per cent of its overseas aid budget in the final two months of 2013.’ – The Sun (£)

  • A snub to taxpayers – Daily Mail
  • The mosquito is the world’s most deadly animal – Daily Mail

Proof Assad is using chemical weapons against civilians

‘President Bashar al-Assad is still using chemical weapons against civilians, a scientific analysis of samples from multiple gas attacks has shown. In the first independent testing of its kind, conducted exclusively for The Telegraph, soil samples from the scene of three recent attacks in the country were collected by trained individuals known to this news organisation and analysed by a chemical warfare expert.’ – Daily Telegraph

MPs angered by Cameron’s HS2 no-show

CAMERON POINTING‘David Cameron’s failure to turn up for a critical Commons vote on the High Speed 2 rail project has angered Tory MPs made to support the expensive and controversial project. Downing Street offered no explanation for the prime minister’s absence from Monday’s divisions, the subject of a three-line whip, fuelling the resentment of Conservatives made to defy local opposition to the new line.’ – The Times (£)

>Yesterday: MPsETC: A list of Conservative MPs backing the Gillan amendment on HS2

Grayling battles to stop ‘ridiculous’ compensation payments to prisoners

‘Chris Grayling last night ordered an urgent review into ‘ridiculous’ compensation claims by prisoners. The Justice Secretary commissioned the inquiry amid fury over pay-outs to a triple murderer, Kevan Thakrar, for lost or damaged property including a set of nose hair clippers and long life milk. Civil servants will examine whether government is doing enough to fight claims in court – and if more can be done to block unmerited taxpayer-funded payments.’ – Daily Mail

Labour plans to undo Gove school reforms

Labour Big Govt‘Labour has vowed to wipe the slate clean of Michael Gove’s “Kafkaesque” education system in which Whitehall oversees thousands of atomised schools, and is promising to introduce a new system of local school commissioners. The plan, devised by Tristram Hunt, the shadow education secretary, and the former education secretary David Blunkett, is for commissioners to be responsible for raising standards, for handling failing schools and for deciding on proposals for new schools.’ – The Guardian

MigrationWatch challenges claims that migrants pay lots of tax

‘Hundreds of thousands of Eastern Europeans are making little or no contribution to the Exchequer despite working full-time, a report claims today. The UK’s generous tax credits system means 150,000 migrants without partners or children, who earn the minimum wage, pay just £1-a-week net tax, including National Insurance.’ – Daily Mail

Tube unions ‘don’t have the clout they used to have’

On strike‘Londoners have defied the RMT’s ‘farcical and pointless attempt to hold the city to ransom’ with a tube strike, by instead taking buses, cycling and driving to and from work today.  Conservative vice-party chairman Bob Neill told MailOnline that the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union ‘doesn’t have the clout it used to have’ after nearly 90 per cent of the usual number of Oyster cards were used in London today.’ – Daily Mail

Soubry’s concern about drinking in the Armed Forces

‘Defence Minister Anna Soubry warned there was a “culture of heavy drinking” within the forces. She announced that military guidance on alcohol would be updated in the light of new research out soon…Mark Wallace from website ConservativeHome said: “History if Anna Soubry was in charge. A tot of anti-oxidant smoothie for every man before going over the top at the Somme.”’ – The Sun (£)

  • Brewdog apologises for “not giving a sh*t” about alcohol “killjoys” – The Metro

Barker plans to cut solar farm subsidies

money‘In a further sign of the Conservative shift from away from green politics, sources confirmed that Tory Energy Minister Greg Barker will announce a review of solar industry subsidies in the coming weeks. The current system of subsidies mean large landowners can scoop up to £50,000 a year from a solar farm, a large chunk of which is paid for through household bills.’ – Daily Mail

Judge gives go-ahead to forced caesarian

‘Doctors have been given the go-ahead to perform a caesarean section on a mentally-ill woman who is 36 weeks pregnant. High Court judge Mr Justice Hayden ruled that the woman could lawfully be sedated – and restrained if necessary, following a hearing at the Court of Protection in London.’ – Daily Mail

David Steel defends his handling of Cyril Smith’s offences

‘The ex-Liberal Party leader has dismissed claims he should have investigated abuse allegations against a former MP, saying that he ran “a political party, not a detective agency”. Lord Steel of Aikwood, who led the party from 1976 until it became the Liberal Democrats in 1988, said that he confronted Cyril Smith over the allegations. However, he took no further action against him.’ – The Times (£)

News in brief

  • Stabbed teacher was in her last term before retirement – Daily Mail
  • Judge calls for divorce to be taken out of court – Daily Telegraph
  • More restrictions on betting machines – FT
  • Prince Harry and Cressida Bonas split up – The Times (£)
  • Coulson: Cameron wouldn’t have hired me if he’d known about hacking – The Guardian
  • Chairman of the new press regulator appointed – The Times Leader (£)
  • Botched US execution – FT
  • Abusive Wikipedia edits posted from Government computers – BBC News
  • Meet the Ilfracombe beach attendant who punched the young Kaiser on the nose – Daily Mail