Juncker accuses Cameron of “blackmail”

EU Exit“Jean-Claude Juncker has described David Cameron’s campaign to block him from taking the European Union’s top job in Brussels as ‘blackmail’. The Prime Minister has led opposition to plans to install Jean-Claude Juncker, one of the last supporters of a United States of Europe, as president of the European Commission. ‘Europe must not allow itself to be blackmailed,’ Juncker told Germany’s Bild am Sonntag newspaper, expressing confidence that he would take the job this summer” – Daily Telegraph

  • David Cameron gets tough on job for EU fanatic – Daily Express

> Today:

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: How many heads does it take to demolish a brick wall?

Blair tells Europe to wake up to need for reform

“UKIP’s election victory is a ‘wake-up call’ on the need to reform Europe, Tony Blair is to say today. The former prime minister will warn that support for Eurosceptic parties across the continent had exposed ‘deep anxiety, distrust and alienation from the institutions and the core philosophy of Europe’. In a keynote speech, he will urge pro-Europeans to accept the need for change” – The Times (£)

>Today: ToryDiary: Party members’ response to last week’s elections is to oppose a UKIP pact more than ever before

May wants colleges to ensure that foreign students return home

MAY Theresa menacing“Theresa May is pushing for new rules that will force colleges to ensure foreign students go home after completing their courses, it was reported yesterday…A letter from Mrs May called for ‘decisive action to protect the integrity of the system and the reputation of our education sector’. However, her attempt to make universities and colleges responsible is understood to have met fierce opposition from vice-chancellors and Coalition colleagues” – Daily Mail

Tories to offer Scotland control of income tax

“The Conservatives will on Monday offer Scotland control of income tax in a rethink of decades of party policy that it hopes will persuade swing voters to reject independence in September’s referendum. The main findings of a report commissioned by Lord Strathclyde, the former leader of the House of Lords, for the Scottish Conservative party will call for Holyrood to be given more power to decide Scottish income tax bands and rates, according to a person familiar with the report” – Financial Times

  • Forsyth claims Tory plan will fuel “Yes” vote – Scotsman

Tyrie: IMF advice to Britain was wrong

TYRIE Andrew“In the past couple of years, the International Monetary Fund has given the British government some pretty robust advice, and publicly. A robust IMF has merit. But in this case, it would have done better to keep quiet…The economy has defied the IMF’s expectations” – Andrew Tyrie MP, Financial Times

Soubry: Some of my constituents are racists

“Some people who raise concerns about immigration are ‘frankly racist’, a Tory minister insisted yesterday. Anna Soubry, the defence minister seen as one of the most plain-speaking members of David Cameron’s team, said that most migrants came to Britain ‘overwhelmingly to work’. The intervention is a risk for Ms Soubry, MP for Broxtowe, Nottinghamshire; she won the seat from Labour by 389 votes at the last election” – The Times (£)

  • Ken Clarke set for axe in Cabinet reshuffle to make room for women – Daily Mail

NHS cost variations fuel ringfence debate

NHS“Taxpayers pay up to five times more for National Health Service operations in some hospitals than others, according to a Financial Times analysis…David Ruffley, a Tory member of the Treasury committee, said: ‘The ringfencing of the NHS budget is about politics, it is not about economics. Good economics would dictate that you drive down waste and unnecessary cost in all budgets and you are not going to get that unless you lift the ringfence’”– Financial Times

Cull expected of “soft” GCSE subjects

“GCSEs in ‘soft subjects’ such as film studies and leisure and tourism could face the axe in an overhaul of exams…Exams watchdog Ofqual is now drawing up rigorous guidelines which could cull ‘easier’ GCSEs in hospitality and catering and health and social care. It will publish a consultation paper this week on strict new criteria for subjects to attain GCSE status after 2016” – Daily Telegraph

Church of England opposes HS2

hs2new“The Church of England has announced its opposition to the Government’s HS2 proposals after warning that the line will desecrate thousands of graves and shatter the peace along the £43 billion route. The Archbishops’ Council, one of the Church’s most powerful bodies, has said it is opposed to the line because human remains will not be ‘treated in a decent and reverent manner’” – Daily Telegraph

Ridley: The poor are getting richer

“It is worth remembering that nowhere in the world, with the possible exception of North Korea and Somalia, are the poor getting poorer. The percentage of the world’s population living on $2 a day (corrected for inflation) has halved since 1990 — a truly unprecedented change. Any increase in wealth inequality or pre-tax income inequality in Britain or America is caused by the rich getting disproportionately richer, not by the poor getting poorer” – Matt Ridley, The Times (£)

  • Let’s try team spirit as a way of losing weight – Boris Johnson, Daily Telegraph

Montgomerie: Cut off aid to those who persecute Christians

“The UK is an aid superpower. We are the only large rich nation to give 0.7 per cent of national income to the treatment of disease, the education of women and the relief of hunger. This gives us influence in countries where persecution is often greatest. We should use that influence and cut off aid to regimes that persistently abuse religious minorities, gay people or democracy campaigners” – Tim Montgomerie, The Times (£)

  • Is the Sudanese government lying about its promise to release Meriam? – Daily Mail

Ashdown threatened to castrate Oakeshott

Lord Oakeshott“Lord Ashdown revealed that he had used crude terms to warn Lord Oakeshott not to engage in any plotting in advance of the local and European elections. He said he told him: ‘Matthew, you are famous for making difficult days for the party more difficult. If you do that again after 23 May I will first of all remove your head and then your testicles’” – Independent

  • Sir Albert Bore fights off challenge to his leadership of Birmingham City Council – Birmingham Mail

News in brief

  • Gas talks could help to end Ukraine crisis – The Times (£)
  • Republicans accuse Obama of endangering US troops by terror deal – The Times (£)
  • Pope said to be furious about luxury flat for top Vatican official – Guardian
  • NSPCC report says at least 500 children abused by Jimmy Savile – Guardian
  • Strip Qatar of 2022 World Cup, says FA chairman – Daily Telegraph
  • Boris Johnson seeks bike sponsor – The Times (£)
  • Lady Soames, last of Churchill’s children, dies – Daily Telegraph

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