As UKIP start gaining big in the local and European elections…

Farage Nigel Eating Cakes“The three main parties are today facing ‘Fallout Friday’ as they suffer the results of a Ukip surge in local and European elections. … Labour was braced to fall short of expectations, the Liberal Democrats were warned they face ‘meltdown’ in many areas and the Conservatives expected to lose hundreds of seats and finish third in the European Parliament elections. … In the first two wards to declare last night, in the Labour heartland of Sunderland, though the opposition clung on Ukip scored 30 per cent and 33 per cent, having previously registered almost no support in the area.” – Daily Mail

  • “The low turnout is expected to play to Ukip’s strengths – as the party’s supporters are more likely to brave the weather to cast their ballots.” – Daily Mail
  • “…one outcome seems safe to predict in advance – the electoral annihilation of the British National Party as a force in UK politics.” – The Independent

And comment:

  • “How to read between the lines of this election” – Philip Collins, The Times (£)
  • “The next European Parliament looks as if it could be stuffed with extremists, ranging from the virulently racist Jobbik party from Hungary, to the Far Right Golden Dawn in Greece.” – Alex Brummer, Daily Mail
  • “Our dismal EU ballot papers say it all: this electoral system is corrupt” – Polly Toynbee, The Guardian
  • “Who was the big election loser?” – John McTernan, The Scotsman

> Today:

> Yesterday:

…some Tories propose an electoral pact…

Tory-UKIP pact“Some Conservative backbenchers have called for an electoral pact with UKIP going into the general election, with Jacob-Rees-Mogg warning UKIP could split the ‘small c Conservative vote’ and let Labour in. … Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps rejected a formal deal between the two parties, saying there was ‘no question of a pact per se’. … UKIP’s chairman Steve Crowther also poured cold water on the suggestion.” – BBC

“A Tory backbencher has slammed the party for ‘smearing’ Ukip – and called for a 2015 Election pact with Nigel Farage. … Douglas Carswell said the relentless attacks on ‘basically good people’ by the Conservatives had backfired completely.” – The Sun (£)

  • “David Cameron is benefiting from the silence of his critics in the party – but it is not because of a newfound loyalty to their leader” – Isabel Hardman, Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday: Sunder Katwala on Comment: The Ukippers you can talk to – and those that you can’t

…and back May to succeed Cameron

MAY Warhol“Theresa May has been installed as the favourite to succeed David Cameron as her extraordinary confrontation with police leaders was hailed as one of the bravest political speeches of recent decades. … One senior Conservative woman said: ‘Theresa was already a contender to succeed David Cameron but some of my more boorish male colleagues haven’t taken the idea entirely seriously. That will now change.’” – Daily Mail

“Andrew Haldenby, director of the pro-market think-tank, Reform, sees Ms May as ‘the great reformer of this parliament’ on whose watch crime has fallen, even as she has coped with a 25 per cent budget cut over the life of the parliament.” – Financial Times

  • “Theresa May, the tiger woman who rips her enemies to shreds” – Fraser Nelson, Daily Telegraph
  • “Theresa May is right to challenge the police” – Chris Blackhurst, The Independent
  • “A defining moment for Theresa May and the police” – Daily Telegraph editorial
  • “Some of her  image-obsessed, bandwagon-jumping colleagues would do well to take notice.” – Daily Mail editorial

> Yesterday: WATCH: Theresa May – “The police must change, and so must the Federation”

There’s fallout on the Labour side as well: senior party figure attacks “weird” Miliband

MILIBAND Red Ed“Anger is growing among senior party figures who believe that a ‘lacklustre’ campaign failed to tackle the threat from Ukip, underplayed the party’s position on immigration, and was out of touch with people on the street. … Doubts were also growing over Mr Miliband’s image after a series of interviews and disastrous photographs. … One leading Labour figure told The Times: ‘The narrative around Ed Miliband, because it’s the truth, is that he looks weird, sounds weird, is weird.'” – The Times (£)

“A former Labour minister has attacked Ed Miliband for making a ‘professional mistake’ with his grocery bill gaffe, as he warned that the Labour leader lacks ‘an immediate appeal to the electorate’.” – The Guardian

  • “Ed shouldn’t pretend to be poorer than he is” – Gaby Hinsliff, The Times (£)
  • “The real problem with benefits is not White Dee but Red Ed and the politicians who have encouraged people to believe the world owes them a living” – Richard Littlejohn, Daily Mail

> Yesterday: Andrew Lilico on Comment: I wish that Miliband really was a geek – like me

Away from the elections, Cameron and Clegg focus on the economy

“Senior Conservative and Liberal Democrats will seek to steady party nerves and demonstrate the Government has not run out of steam in the coming weeks, following what are expected to be poor results for the Coalition partners in the council and European elections. … David Cameron and Nick Clegg will mount a fresh attempt to turn the spotlight on the improving health of the economy and will set out the Coalition programme for the next 11 months in the Queen’s Speech.” – The Independent

Hunt warns about the NHS blunders that are costing lives

Hunt Jeremy 15“Up to 12,500 patients are dying needlessly every year on NHS wards because of blunders by staff, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt revealed last night. … He also said errors considered so serious they should never happen occurred six times a week. … Mr Hunt said: ‘These are utterly, utterly shocking things that are happening week in, week out in our NHS. … Every fortnight we put the wrong prosthesis on someone, every week we operate on the wrong part of someone’s body.'” – Daily Mail

  • “Jeremy Hunt is to issue new guidance making it clear to doctors that sex-selective abortion is ‘unacceptable and illegal’.” – Daily Telegraph
  • “Mental health problems including anorexia and recurrent depression are as deadly as smoking, research has found.” – Daily Telegraph
  • “Children with minor coughs and colds are being taken straight to accident and emergency units by their parents, a senior government advisor has revealed.” – Daily Mail
  • “A new HIV pandemic is ‘a real possibility’, one of the world’s leading authorities on infectious disease has said, warning that a rise of drug resistant strains of the virus could ‘reverse progress made since the 1980s’ in combating the disease.” – The Independent

Buoyant borrowing…

UK notes and coins“The Government borrowed £11.5billion in April – up £1.9billion on the same month last year. … Experts blamed a slump in tax receipts compared to 12 months ago. … Overall, Government borrowing in 2013/14 was £7.8billion less than in 2012/13. … The Office for Budget Responsibility has predicted that the deficit – the difference between what the Government raises and what it spends – will fall by 11 per cent this year. … But economists said the latest figures cast doubt on whether that will be achieved.” – The Sun (£)

  • “Households face a huge £150 billion bill from a spending spree on new infrastructure projects, a watchdog warned last night. … Which? urged ministers to review the ‘colossal’ costs of new roads, energy, water and communications networks slated for 2015-2020. … Its executive director Richard Lloyd said almost all of the cost will be passed back onto household bills.” – The Sun (£)
  • “An employment minister has come under fire after accepting a donation from the boss of a high-interest loan company that offers funds to customers with poor credit ratings.” – The Times (£)

…and immigration

“A massive 45,000 Romanians and Bulgarians registered to work in Britain in the first three months of 2014 after controls were lifted on them. … The number of National Insurance numbers issued to workers from the two new eastern EU countries also more than doubled in the year to March – from 29,000 to 65,000 – official statistics also revealed. … And total net immigration from everywhere soared to 212,000 for the whole of 2013.” – The Sun (£)

  • flag“David Cameron was tonight standing by his pledge to reduce net migration to Britain to tens of thousands by next year’s general election despite fresh evidence that his chances of hitting the target are increasingly remote.” – The Independent
  • “Conservative Immigration Minister James Brokenshire said that while net migration is down from its peak since the last government, he admitted that net migration levels are still too high.” – Daily Telegraph
  • “Labour seized on the new data, saying the Tory pledge was ‘in shreds’.” – Financial Times
  • “Hundreds of asylum seekers may have been wrongly deported from Britain due to the Home Office’s reliance on a Swedish firm to analyse their language, it was claimed last night.” – The Independent
  • “Some 975,000 youths aged 16 to 24 were not in education, employment or training – known as “Neets” – in the first three months of this year.” – The Sun (£)

And comment:

  • “The European election, which has seen the spectacular rise of Ukip, has been in large part about immigration. There are real difficulties over this that have to be dealt with, but politicians should proclaim the benefits.” – Times editorial (£)
  • “The debate about immigration to Britain is over” – David Goodhart, Financial Times

The Government’s exam reforms will cause a drop in grades, says watchdog

“GCSE and A-level results will fall at some schools this summer following a crackdown on resits, watchdogs are warning. … Ofqual, the exam standards watchdog, has disclosed that ‘greater variation’ in results across schools is likely this year because of sweeping reforms to public exams. … Teenagers taking GCSEs will be sitting all their exams at the end of the two-year course for the first time this summer after ministers acted to end a growing resitting culture.” – Daily Mail

  • “Spending watchdogs are to investigate claims that private colleges are letting thousands of students accept taxpayer-backed loans without turning up to classes.” – Daily Mail
  • “Michael Gove’s children have dealt with so much hatred directed towards their father in the playground that their mother considered moving them to Italy, it has been reported.” – The Guardian
  • “Students at Oxford University have voted to disaffiliate from the National Union of Students amidst claims that it is ‘no more than a training ground for wannabe Labour MPs’.” – The Independent

Clarke under fire over day release rules

Ken Clarke“New rules making it easier for prisoners to be granted days out from jail were pushed through two years ago. … The Coalition gave prison governors ‘exceptional’ powers to grant controversial temporary release licences to serious and violent criminals. … The bombshell memo seen by the Sun admits the changes will mean ‘an increase in the number of applications for overnight release’. The rules were changed due to capacity problems in Open jails.” – The Sun (£)

  • “Pressure is mounting on the Ministry of Justice to reveal the names of 18 convicted criminals on the loose in Britain who failed to return after temporary release from open prisons. … Nick de Bois, a Tory MP who sits on the justice select committee, attacked the ministry’s decision and has written to Chris Grayling, the justice secretary, demanding that he intervene.” – The Times (£)
  • “Con men who target the elderly and vulnerable are likely to receive longer jail sentences under new rules that give judges discretion to take a victim’s suffering into account.” – Daily Telegraph

And comment:

  • “We couldn’t understand how the Coalition could ever have signed off an edict allowing more dangerous prisoners to have days out from closed prisons. … With two words it became clear. … Ken Clarke.” – Sun editorial (£)

But he’s stirring it up in the Telegraph, saying we shouldn’t quit the EU

EU FLag“This is at odds with the rhetoric of those who would have the UK leave the EU tomorrow. What they fail to acknowledge is that the creation of the European Union and the single market was, in itself, one of the biggest deregulations in history. The separate regulatory regimes of 28 member states have in large part been swept aside in favour of a single body of regulations establishing common standards of food safety, health and environmental standards, consumer protection and so on. This makes the EU the most extraordinary platform for reducing regulation ever conceived.” – Ken Clarke, Daily Telegraph

Want to shop safely? Go to the High Street, says Lewis

“Shoppers should go to their local high street instead of using websites such as eBay if they want to ensure that their personal information is secure, a minister has said. … Brandon Lewis, the communities minister, said that while the internet offered ‘speed and convenience’, it lacked the security that dealing face to face with a shopkeeper would offer.” – Daily Telegraph

Boris decries the “political fix” around airport capacity

borisfringe“A ‘political fix’ is putting Gatwick airport in pole position to get a new runway, London mayor Boris Johnson claimed, as he appealed to the Airports Commission to take a longer view and reconsider building a new hub. … The mayor has submitted a new dossier to the commission, which had made its scepticism over his favoured plan of a Thames estuary airport project clear but revised its timetable to allow Johnson to address critical questions.” – The Guardian

  • “Britain must end the dither and opt for a Thames estuary airport” – Times editorial (£)
  • “London’s property boom is losing its fizz” – Jeremy Warner, Daily Telegraph

Billions of barrels of oil discovered under the South of England

“The government is expected to announce on Friday that the Weald Basin in southern England contains billions of barrels of shale oil, delivering a potentially huge boost to an embryonic industry in the UK. … The announcement will set the scene for a stand-off between Britain’s small band of domestic shale explorers and the well-heeled residents of one of the Tories’ traditional heartlands.” – Financial Times

  • “Villages are to get close to £1million payouts if land deep under their homes gets fracked, ministers will announce.” – The Sun (£)

SNP accused of stifling criticism of Salmond’s EU plan

Scottish flag“The SNP used its parliamentary majority to water down crucial concerns about an independent Scotland’s membership of the European Union, The Daily Telegraph can disclose. … Nationalist MSPs on a Holyrood committee examining the issue softened criticisms of the Scottish Government’s stance in a major report to be published today, against the will of opposition members.” – Daily Telegraph

  • “With fewer than four months to go until Scots vote on whether or not to stay in the UK, Alistair Darling warned that politicians of other nations were watching events in Scotland to see how the campaign is conducted.” – The Scotsman
  • “Scientific research in Scotland will be best served by staying in the UK, a group of the nation’s leading professors has warned. … A letter from 14 eminent scientists from across the country voices concerns about the effects on research funding if Scotland votes for independence.” – The Scotsman

AstraZeneca urged to go to the negotiating table with Pfizer

“AstraZeneca is facing mounting pressure from its shareholders to do a deal to sell itself to US rival Pfizer, it emerged last night. … Days after it rejected a £69billion bid for the company, the British drug maker’s largest investor has urged it to return to the negotiating table. … US mega-fund Blackrock, which owns a 7.8per cent stake in the company, has told the board it was wrong to walk away from talks.” – Daily Mail

  • “Royal Mail could be forced to increase the price of stamps unless the ‘unfettered’ rollout of rival postmen by TNT Post is brought under control, it was feared last night.” – Daily Mail
  • “British companies that bribe foreign officials to win contracts, commit fraud, or launder money, face fines of up to 400 per cent of their illicit profits, under new penalty guidelines.” – Financial Times

And comment:

  • “AstraZeneca beware – those asset strippers haven’t gone away” – Michael White, The Guardian
  • “Britain’s takeover rules have held up well” – Financial Times editorial

Prince Charles versus Russia: the battle continues

Prince Charles“Russia yesterday lashed out at Prince Charles for comparing Vladimir Putin to Hitler, publicly questioning his fitness to be king. … As controversy continued to rage around the world, Russia’s foreign ministry said his remarks were ‘unacceptable, outrageous and dishonourable’ and ‘not worthy of a future British monarch’. … Russian diplomats insisted on meeting counterparts in London, where they are understood to have demanded an official explanation.” – Daily Mail

  • “Russia and China have united to block a UN investigation into Assad’s war crimes in Syria.” – Daily Mail
  • “David Cameron has appointed one of Tony Blair’s closest advisers to lead the government’s efforts in trying to restore order to Libya.” – Financial Times

And comment:

  • “I seldom agree with Prince Charles. And I’m not about to start” – Nigel Farage, The Independent
  • “Vladimir Putin craves his own ‘Nixon in China’ moment” – David Blair, Daily Telegraph
  • “It is Mr Putin, not Prince Charles, who should apologise” – Times editorial (£)

News in brief

  • Thailand’s Army seizes control of the country and suspends its constitution – The Guardian
  • BBC stars and staff could be rated from 1 to 5 under appraisal plan – The Guardian
  • A year after his death, Lee Rigby’s mother is fighting for a memorial where he was murdered – Daily Mail
  • Former Manchester United manager David Moyes questioned by police over bar-room scuffle – The Sun (£)

And finally: True blue Herbert

HERBERT Nick“A Tory MP stunned telly viewers by saying “f******” live on air. … Former police minister Nick Herbert turned the air blue on BBC2’s Daily Politics during a discussion on the Police Federation. … He was quoting from a tweet about Theresa May by former Met officer Peter Kirkham, who was also a guest on the programme.” – The Sun (£)

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