Brussels tussles 1) The EU says the UK should raise taxes

Euro meltdown‘Brussels has infuriated ministers with a provocative series of proposals to boost economic growth in Britain – including higher taxes, new levies on expensive homes, and more free childcare. The European Commission acknowledged the UK economy had roared back to life over the past year, but warned of ‘imbalances’ that required action from the Treasury.’ – Daily Mail


Brussels tussles 2) Cameron rejects calls for EU immigration controls

‘David Cameron has refused to back senior ministers’ calls to restrict migration from current EU member states – despite mounting pressure from Brits. Campaigning in Newark ahead of Thursday’s crucial by-election, the PM would only say he wants limits on future members.’ – The Sun (£)

>Today: ToryDiary: Theresa May storms to a 12-point lead over Boris in our future leader poll

>Yesterday: WATCH: Blair – “Keep us as part of Europe”

Brussels tussles 3) Callanan, Lansley and Willetts mulled for Britain’s EU commissioner

Martin Callanan“Mr Callanan has been praised by the ConservativeHome website for eurosceptic views that are “longstanding, deeply felt and real”. David Willetts, the science minister, is also said to be interested in the job. Richard Ottaway, who chairs the foreign affairs committee, said Mr Lansley would be a good choice to replace Lady Ashton, Britain’s current commissioner. “He is a safe pair of hands and he has the ability to help David Cameron with the reform agenda, yet not fall out with the rest of Europe.”” – FT

Brussels tussles 4) Hugo Rifkind: A referendum is inevitable

‘Increasingly, though, I find myself thinking that we will need a referendum on the EU regardless, and if there’s no good time to have it then we’ll just have to have it at a bad one. Because, if we don’t, then it’s not just the arguments for an exit that don’t get an airing. The longer the fight is dodged, the more vague, stalled, apologetic and defensive the case for “in” becomes. Gradually, “this is how it should sensibly be” turns into “that’s just the way people like Lord Mandelson of Almost Everywhere take it for granted that it is”. And who wants to vote for that?’ – Hugo Rifkind, The Times (£)

Scotland offered full tax powers inside the UK

Scottish flag‘With Monday’s announcement, the Conservatives hope to prove they have reversed their decades-long hostility to devolution and achieve three important short-term political goals. First, they aim to win themselves some space in the Scottish political debate, where they have been squeezed out by Labour and the Scottish National party. David Cameron has told friends that by tying together questions of devolution and low taxes, the Tories can once again win popularity north of the border as the party of fiscal discipline.’ – FT

Labour plan to raise National Insurance

‘Labour is considering plans to raise National Insurance contributions to fund a massive spending increase in the NHS, it has been claimed. The Shadow Cabinet is looking at  adding 1 per cent to National  Insurance bills for both employees and employers which would be ring-fenced for health spending.’ – Daily Mail

Ashcroft poll shows large Tory lead in Newark

Opinion Poll graphic‘The Conservatives are on course for a comfortable victory in a crucial by-election, according to a new poll that put the party 15 points in the lead. A survey of voters in Newark by Lord Ashcroft, the Tory donor, put David Cameron’s party on 42 per cent, with Ukip trailing on 27 per cent. Labour were in third place with 20 per cent, while the Lib Dems trailed on 6 per cent.’ – The Times (£)

>Yesterday: Lord Ashcroft on Comment: The Conservatives are ahead of UKIP by 15 per cent in Newark

New pooled pensions won’t qualify for Osborne’s flexibility reforms

‘A radical pooled pension proposal could prevent retiring workers using their funds as they please. Experts say ‘collective defined contribution’ schemes will not qualify for the reforms introduced by George Osborne that allow pension holders to use their funds as a ‘cash machine’.’ – Daily Mail

Crackdown on white collar gangsters

Police shield‘Lawyers and accountants who work for organised criminals will face five-year jail terms under a crackdown on white-collar professionals who profit from crime while turning a blind eye. Measures, to be introduced in Wednesday’s Queen’s Speech will include a new offence of “participation in an organised crime group” for those who write contracts, rent warehouse space or deliver packages on behalf of gangster networks.’ – FT

  • Osborne plans new oversight of Forex markets – FT
  • Woman who killed baby cannot be deported, due to right to family life – Daily Mail
  • Labour proposes to bring powers back to British courts – Sadiq Khan MP, Daily Telegraph

Cameron: England might bid for Qatar’s World Cup

‘England could bid to host the 2022 World Cup, David Cameron hinted yesterday, after pressure intensified on Fifa to strip Qatar of the tournament. “David Beckham, Prince William and I were the team that tried to win for Britain the 2018 World Cup,” he said. “Every single person we met, whether it was the head of the FA in this part of the world, or that part of the world, they all said, ‘Yes of course we’re going to vote for England to host the World Cup’, and then they voted completely the other way, and we ended up I think with one vote.”’ – The Times (£)

  • Now France is caught up in the scandal – Daily Telegraph
  • He plans to buy a new TV for this summer, too – The Sun (£)

Every Lib Dem MP has now rebelled

LibDemDead‘Liberal Democrat MPs have rebelled more times against their leader than those from the two other main parties. More than seven out of ten have refused to toe the line at some point this parliament, against barely half of Conservative MPs. There is now not a single Lib Dem MP who has been on the backbenches all parliament who has remained completely loyal to the party whip.’ – The Times (£)

  • Clegg keen to take credit for Queen’s Speech – The Guardian

Taxpayers fund food being turned into gas, instead of eaten

‘Supermarkets are wasting thousands of tonnes of surplus food because subsidies for green energy make it cheaper to turn it into biogas than to donate it to hungry families, according to a leading charity. The government is spending millions of pounds subsidising the construction and operation of anaerobic digestion plants that are converting up to 100,000 tonnes of edible food a year into biogas, FareShare said.’ – The Times (£)

News in brief

  • Mystery music man conducts mass sing-along on late-night train – Daily Mail
  • Spain’s King Juan Carlos abdicates – Daily Telegraph
  • Armando Ianucci supports subscription BBC – Daily Telegraph
  • Google pranksters inspire ‘murder’ investigation – The Times (£)
  • Alarm over global malware virus – FT
  • Former comrades accuse Bowe Bergdahl of desertion – Daily Mail
  • It’s the 25th anniversary of Tiananmen – Timothy Garton Ash, FT
  • Pro-Russian separatists attack Ukrainian border post – FT
  • Ofsted inspector involved in Trojan Horse scandal – Daily Telegraph

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