Cameron: I won’t cap EU migration

CAMERON EU fence“Britain will not ‘put up the barriers’ to stop migrants from other European Union countries coming here to work, David Cameron has said. … The Prime Minister said that EU rules allowing people to move freely between countries are ‘important’ and will remain in place, despite controversy over the immigration they allow. … Britain is seeking tougher rules to restrict welfare payments to EU migrants as part of that renegotiation process, Mr Cameron said.” – Daily Telegraph

  • “‘I will not become prime minster unless I can guarantee that we can hold that referendum,’ Cameron told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday. His comments suggest he would not be prepared to lead a minority government after the 2015 election, as he would not be able to secure a referendum on Britain’s EU membership from that position.” – The Guardian
  • “The frontrunner in the race for the EU’s top job has warned David Cameron against any attempt to limit freedom of movement across the union as part of the Prime Minister’s bid to renegotiate Britain’s relationship with Brussels.” – The Independent
  • “EU measures that would have required meat to carry labels declaring whether an animal had been stunned before it was slaughtered were blocked by the government, it emerged yesterday.” – The Times (£)

And comment:

  • “It’s vital people can come and help Britain build back to prosperity. But when there is no limit, in a time where many of our own kids struggle for jobs, concerns are understandable.” – Sun editorial (£)
  • “Mr Cameron needs to be clear and realistic about the chances of success – and also about the limits of his ambitions.” – Daily Telegraph editorial
  • “The Prime Minister just doesn’t get the point of Europe” – Independent editorial
  • “Vested interests blight Europe’s fig-leaf democracy” – Melanie Phillips, The Times (£)

> Today:

> Yesterday: WATCH – Cameron – I will leave Downing Street if denied an EU referendum

The Prime Minister warns against intervention in the Pfizer deal…

Pfizer“David Cameron has warned that Britain must not ‘pull up the drawbridge’ against foreign investors as Downing Street pushed back against pressure from the opposition Labour party to intervene in Pfizer’s proposed £63bn takeover of AstraZeneca. … The prime minister said the UK benefited ‘massively’ from its economic openness and insisted the government was making ‘very good progress’ in seeking job assurances from Pfizer, even without seeking new powers to intervene formally.” – Financial Times

  • “MPs will this week demand that the US drugs company Pfizer guarantee British scientists’ jobs for at least 10 years as its boss Ian Read flies in to face parliamentary scrutiny over his proposed £60bn takeover of AstraZeneca.” – The Guardian
  • “David Cameron has joined a chorus of criticism against Take That frontman Gary Barlow after a court decided he was part of a multi-million pound tax avoidance scheme.” – The Independent
  • “Trade union leaders reacted angrily after David Cameron said an incoming Conservative government would bring in new curbs on strikes in essential services.” – The Independent

…but is being urged to intervene in the Gove-Clegg row…

angry clegg pram“David Cameron was under pressure to intervene in a bitter row between Michael Gove and Nick Clegg last night, amid warnings it is overshadowing the Government’s record on education. … A Whitehall source said the Department for Education had become ‘completely dysfunctional’ following clashes between Mr Gove and his Lib Dem deputy David Laws.” – Daily Mail

  • “Michael Gove has been warned that the budget for free schools must be brought ‘back under control’ by Lib Dem chief Treasury secretary Danny Alexander and officials at the Exchequer, government sources have told the Guardian.” – The Guardian
  • “A senior Liberal Democrat has suggested that Michael Gove, education secretary, needs to be ‘reined back’ and that his free schools policy is ‘out of control’, in the midst of an increasingly bitter coalition row over education policy.” – Financial Times
  • “…the Deputy Prime Minister racked up a bill of more than £83,000 [on long-haul travel], to be picked up by the taxpayer.” – Daily Mail

And comment:

  • “At that point, when money is tight, it is reasonable to ask whether the money is being spent where it is most needed. Mr Gove could step around this problem easily enough if he consented to allow schools to turn a modest, regulated profit.” – Times editorial (£)
  • “Neither wing of this avowed austerity government is any longer prepared to accept the consequences of its own fiscal arithmetic.” – Guardian editorial

> Yesterday: ToryDiary – Gove fought the Laws, and the Laws won?

…as the Coalition runs aground

“The Coalition has been branded a ‘zombie government’ after it emerged MPs will take a 19-day break because there are not enough new laws to debate. … A basic lack of work means the Commons is likely to break up on Thursday and will not return until the Queen’s Speech in June. … David Cameron and Nick Clegg are at loggerheads on issues including free schools and knife crime, leading to fears the divided Coalition will simply limp on pointlessly until next May’s election.” – Daily Mail

  • “Is it any wonder the electorate is so disillusioned with Britain’s increasingly remote and self-serving political class?” – Daily Mail editorial

Gibb: Punishing traditional teaching has to stop

GIBB Nick smiling“Many of the new free schools and academy chains that have been established in order to adopt traditional teaching methods – which the most successful independent schools follow and which produce knowledgeable and well-educated children – live in fear of an Ofsted judgment that downgrades their school because of its failure to follow progressive methods such as group work, learning by self-discovery or a curriculum that emphasises skills rather than knowledge.” – Nick Gibb, Daily Telegraph

  • “Historic abuse disclosures have been ‘shaming’ for boarding schools but modern schools should not be judged by those in the Sixties and Seventies, the Boarding Schools Association has said.” – Daily Telegraph
  • “Oxford has lost out to Cambridge for the fourth year running in a new league table of universities.” – Daily Mail

Conservative ministers push to revive the “snoopers’ charter”

“The security services will be given new powers to spy on people’s Internet use under Tory plans following claims that they could have stopped the killers of Drummer Lee Rigby. … There is currently a “significant push” from Conservative ministers to revive the controversial Communications Data Bill – described by critics as as a ‘snoopers charter’ – in the Conservative manifesto.” – Daily Telegraph

Burrowes raises concerns about abortion loopholes

“Doctors who illegally pre-signed abortion forms could escape criminal action because of an ‘utterly preposterous’ loophole used by prosecutors to avoid bringing charges, an MP claims. … David Burrowes voiced fears that dozens of doctors found to have authorised terminations without knowing anything about the women concerned will be treated as if they are ‘above the law’.” – Daily Telegraph

Whittingdale says that the new BBC Trust chairman should be chosen on merit…

BBC“The head of a committee of MPs that will vet the next chair of the BBC Trust has warned David Cameron not to try to push through a female candidate for the post. … Responding to a report that said the prime minister was ‘determined’ to appoint a woman in the role, John Whittingdale, chair of the culture select committee, said the tough nature of the job meant that the widest field of candidates should be canvassed and Lord Patten’s successor chosen purely on merit.” – The Guardian

…as Boris attacks the broadcaster for its treatment of David Lowe

“It seems that over the weekend, the BBC forced a well-regarded 67-year-old DJ on Radio Devon to resign because he had been so careless as to play a 1932 recording of The Sun Has Got His Hat On. This contained a word that is now unmentionable. It is rude, offensive, and I would never use it; but this word has become so intensely haram that a miasma attaches to anyone using it, even inadvertently; and the prohibition is now enforced with a semi-religious fervour. … So they forced him out. I suppose David Lowe was less valuable to the Corporation than Clarkson, which only makes it worse.” – Boris Johnson, Daily Telegraph

Labour accused of covering up the NHS crisis in Wales

“Labour has been accused of trying to cover up warnings over high death rates and lengthy waiting times at hospitals in Wales. … An email written by Sir Bruce Keogh, the medical director in England, said mortality rates at six sites were ‘persistently high’ and criticised ‘worrying’ waits for cancer tests. … But it has emerged that officials in the devolved government tried to suppress the message’s release because the information it contained would ‘prejudice the conduct of public affairs’.” – Daily Mail

De Piero highlights the gender pay gap

“Women who work for themselves earn 58p for every £1 that their male counterparts get, figures reveal today. … Shadow Women’s Minister Gloria De Piero said: ‘More women who are self-employed should be something to cheer. … But the reality is that for too many of them this means lower wages and more insecurity.'” – The Sun (£)

  • “Zero-hours abuses must be stopped” – Financial Times editorial
  • “Unemployment will scar us for years” – David Blanchflower, The Independent

Alexander outlines Labour’s Scotland strategy

Douglas Alexander“The Labour heavyweight Douglas Alexander will today call on his party to offer hope in the lead-up to the independence referendum — and reconciliation afterwards. … In his first intervention for the Better Together campaign, the Scottish MP will also invite the SNP to take part in a ‘national convention’ on greater devolution in the event of a ‘no’ vote. … The speech signals a shift in strategy from Alistair Darling’s group following some evidence that the polls are narrowing.” – The Times (£)

  • “Alex Salmond has already started assembling the team that will negotiate Scottish independence in the event of a Yes vote in September’s referendum.” – The Scotsman
  • “The Scotch whisky industry has added to the wave of business concern about independence by warning that the consequences of leaving the UK could be ‘damaging and difficult to manage.'” – Daily Telegraph
  • “A lottery-winning couple accounted for almost 80 per cent of the £3.15 million donated to the campaign for Scottish independence in the past year, organisers have revealed.” – Financial Times

And comment:

  • “Given that David Cameron signed off the Edinburgh Agreement with Alex Salmond that fixed the timing, the wording and electorate for the referendum – and cannot escape his leading role in the strategy he can hardly complain if senior Conservatives feel he should take the ultimate responsibility if Scots reject the UK.” – Brian Monteith, The Scotsman
  • “It’s not worth talking about reconciliation after the referendum – what’s needed is real debate now” – Lesley Riddoch, The Scotsman

John McTernan remembers John Smith, 20 years after his death

John smith“Would he have been a good prime minister? Certainly. He would have come into No 10 as an experienced cabinet minister who had learned his trade in the difficult days of the Callaghan government. The ethos would have been a very Scottish Christian – Presbyterian, even – socialism, but with that sparkle of wit and humour that Smith gave to everything. Blair and Brown would have shone, but in a different way – Tony as a fine, reforming home or education secretary and Gordon, without the torture of thwarted ambition, more able to use his undoubted talents fully.” – John McTernan, The Guardian “…is the Scottish parliament that we’ve had for the past 15 years, the one that John Smith envisaged?” – Alan Cochrane, Daily Telegraph

  • “”A new centre dedicated to rehabilitating the image of public service has been launched at Glasgow University as a lasting tribute to the life and work of John Smith, the former Labour leader.” – The Scotsman

The Left should stand up for individualism, says Owen Jones

“There is a long tradition of individualism on the left waiting to be reclaimed. At the beginning of the 20th century, the French socialist leader Jean Jaurès wrote about how capitalism alienated workers from their “very individuality”. Indeed, the individual needs to be defended from more than the state. Poverty strips individuals of their freedom, imposing limitations on every aspect of their lives, from what they can eat to how they spend their leisure time.” – Owen Jones, The Guardian

Anger at the Guardian’s grim predictions for the North East

“The North East last night presented a united front after a national newspaper suggested the region could become the UK’s Detroit. … Across the North East people have reacted angrily to an article in the Guardian newspaper in which the region was described as being ‘on the brink’. … It comes as The Journal prepares to relaunch our popular 100 Reasons Why It’s Great Up North list, celebrating the economic and cultural highlights enjoyed by some 2.5 million people.” – The Journal

Farage: Most over-70s are “uncomfortable” about homosexuality

UKIP glass“…he risked an electoral backlash by defending Ukip’s Newark  by-election candidate Roger Helmer, who has described homosexuality as abnormal and undesirable. Mr Farage said: ‘If we asked the 70s and over in this country how they felt about it [homosexuality], most of them still feel uncomfortable.’ … His intervention came as a poll suggested controversy about Ukip’s candidates may be denting the party’s popularity in the run-up to next week’s European Parliament elections.” – Daily Mail

  • “Last night Ukip’s hopes of winning its first Westminster seat received a major boost as it emerged that Labour is to make little more than a token effort in the Newark by-election on 5 June.” – The Independent
  • “Nigel Farage has denied ever saying that Ukip’s ‘bubble would be burst’ if he stood in the Newark by-election and lost.” – The Times (£)
  • “The mother of the murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence has distanced herself from a campaign group accused of violence against Nigel Farage and the UK Independence Party.” – Daily Telegraph

Political uncertainty is risking the recovery, claim business leaders

“In its regular assessment of UK plc’s prospects, the CBI raised its growth forecast for this year from 2.6 per cent to 3 per cent. … But it also highlighted concerns that the recovery could be derailed by uncertainty around the General Election, urging politicians to push ahead with boosting the supply of homes and taking decisions on major infrastructure projects.” – Daily Mail

  • “Britain has become the super-rich capital of the world – with more than 100 billionaires living in the UK for the first time.” – Daily Mail
  • “Mortgage applicants are being asked astonishingly intrusive questions including whether they play golf or eat steak, it emerged last night.” – Daily Mail

Report criticises expansion of soft justice

Prison bars“Nearly one in three prison terms handed down by courts is now a suspended sentence, shocking research reveals today. … an explosion in their use after Labour relaxed the law means nearly 45,000 criminals received suspended terms in a single year – up from just 2,500 in 2002. … The figures emerged in detailed analysis published by a prominent think-tank, the Centre for Crime Prevention, which is calling for the suspended sentence to be abolished.” – Daily Mail

  • “Prisoners are at ‘significant’ risk of being radicalised behind bars, the boss of the prison and probation service says.” – The Sun (£)
  • “A steep decline in the number of financial crimes prosecuted has underscored a problem with the way white-collar crime is tackled in the UK…” – Financial Times
  • “A pilot scheme to ban smoking in prisons in the south west has been abandoned because it was feared that it could provoke disturbances.” – The Times (£)

And comment:

  • “Here we see the usually hidden hand behind proposals to empty the prisons — Her Majesty’s Treasury. It has nothing to do with justice or even penal reform.” – Dominic Lawson, Daily Mail
  • “There is a way to cut knife crime – the Tories just aren’t delivering it” – Chris Huhne, The Guardian

Pensioners may have to pay £140,000 before the cap on care costs kicks in

“Pensioners who require long-term care could end up paying double the much-vaunted cap on costs because there are so many hidden charges, a report claims. … The Coalition has pledged that no one will have to pay their care costs if they spend more than £72,000 – with the state stepping in to foot the bill after that. … But the pledge does not cover the full bill for elderly care.” – Daily Mail

Ian Birrell: What can be done about Boko Haram?

Ian Birrell“…there is something significant Britain could do to help this fast-growing west African state and dampen support for Boko Haram’s child traffickers and killers. Nigeria is a wealthy nation, the world’s 24th-biggest economy, with lucrative deposits of oil. Instead of pumping money into a corrosive political system that fails to deliver decent public services and allows poverty to fester, how about taking steps to stop the crooks in charge from stashing their stolen loot in our banks, our cities and our tax havens?” – Ian Birrell, The Independent “To sort out Boko Haram we need the Americans” – David Aaronovitch, The Times (£)

  • “David Cameron said on Sunday that Islamic extremism has to be ‘tackled’, as he held a ‘#Bring Back Our Girls’ sign calling for the rescue of over 300 Nigerian girls kidnapped last month.” – Daily Telegraph
  • “The Archbishop of Canterbury has called for negotiations with the ‘utterly merciless’ Islamic extremists who kidnapped 276 girls from their school in Nigeria, amid reports that some have already been sold as ‘brides’ for £8.” – The Times (£)

> Today: ToryDiary – Anti-Muslim prejudice – inflamed by Islamists

News in brief

  • Australia is now the most expensive G20 country to live in… – Daily Mail
  • …and faces a new round of public sector job cuts – Daily Mail
  • Self-rule polls fuel Ukrainian instability – Financial Times
  • “We have the weaponry to paralyse Russia without firing a shot.” – Trevor Kavanagh, The Sun (£)
  • Number of Afghanistan veterans seeking help for mental health problems increased by 57 per cent in 2013 – The Guardian
  • Iran claims it will soon test a copy of a captured US drone – The Guardian
  • Cocaine use in Britain so high that it has contaminated our drinking water – The Independent

And finally 1) Cameron’s new set of wheels

Lawnmower“The Mail’s diarist Sebastian Shakespeare reported recently that David Cameron has bought himself a ride-on mower. Prime Minister, welcome to this most British of clubs. I cannot think of a better way for you to escape the cares of high office. … Once you are sitting on top of that throbbing beauty, all those worries about Ukraine, Afghanistan and next year’s General Election will fade to the back of your frazzled mind. … All you will be able to think about is your choice of cutting height and the curse of molehills.” – Quentin Letts, Daily Mail

And finally 2) Wining and dining

“George Osborne buys booze at Britain’s oldest wine merchant. … Bottles can cost £6,000 at Berry Bros & Rudd, founded in 1698. … The Chancellor spent £480 on four cases before flunkeys put them in his Land Rover in London.” – The Sun (£)

  • “Greedy MPs are blowing £213,000 tarting up the smartest restaurant in Parliament. … The heavily-subsidised Strangers’ Dining Room will undergo refurbishment of features including oak panelling, the fireplace, curtains and carpet.” – The Sun (£)

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