Cameron and Boris team up for 2015

CAMERON & BORIS“David Cameron has asked Boris Johnson to help ‘reach parts of the electorate other Tories can’t’ in secret talks on the general election campaign. … The London Mayor – who yesterday appeared with Darcey Bussell on the South Bank in yet another slightly absurd photo opportunity – is understood to have agreed to play a leading role next year. … The two men, seen as the Conservative Party’s biggest rivals, made their peace over lunch at the Prime Minister’s country residence, Chequers.” – Daily Mail

The Prime Minister speaks out against Scotland’s nationalist bullies…

“David Cameron will today call on the ‘silent majority’ who reject Scottish independence to stand up against nationalist bullyboys. … The Prime Minister will insist the ‘noise of the nationalist few’ risks drowning out those with a quiet, deep belief in the future of the United Kingdom. … He is accusing the Scottish government of using ‘threats and warnings’ to try to prevent business chiefs speaking out about the dangers of voting for independence in a referendum due to take place on September 18.” – Daily Mail

  • Scottish flag“Holyrood committees are not willing to listen to critical evidence of the Scottish Government proposals for Scottish independence, a leading legal expert has claimed.” – The Scotsman
  • “Two convicted murderers have lost a bid to secure the vote for prisoners in the independence referendum later this year.” – The Scotsman

And comment:

  • “Without Scotland, England will be a weedy laughing stock” – James Forsyth, The Spectator
  • “Vote yes, Scots – and set the English free” – Simon Heffer, The Spectator
  • “This referendum is not, and cannot be, a choice between ‘Us’ and ‘Them’” – Bill Jamieson, The Scotsman

> Today: Brian Monteith’s column – Salmond’s Kryptonite is his almighty over-confidence

…as Germany bolsters his renegotiation plans

EU Exit“David Cameron’s mission to negotiate a better deal for Britain in the European Union was given a boost yesterday, as Germany backed plans to ban migrants sending child benefit abroad. … The Prime Minister has repeatedly vowed to clamp down on the £30million a year sent abroad to around 40,000 children whose parents live in the UK. … He has made clear this will be one of his key demands during the ‘renegotiation’ he will push for if he wins the next election and delivers an in-out referendum in 2017.” – Daily Mail

  • “Households face being fined for putting rubbish in the wrong bin and may be subject to ‘pay-as-you-throw’ charges under a European plan to set higher legally binding targets for recycling.” – The Times (£)

> Today: Benedict Rogers on Comment – Cameron is the modern-day Martin Luther

Fears of terror attack: Downing Street moves to increase security at airports

“Britain’s airports were put on a new terror alert last night amid fears of attacks from Islamist extremists. … The increased security warnings from the Department of Transport and Downing Street came as millions of holidaymakers prepare to embark on their summer breaks. … It is likely to lead to longer queues, delays and increased checks at airports, as well as an influx of sky marshals on some transatlantic routes, with passengers having to turn up earlier to clear enhanced security checks in time for their flights.” – Daily Mail

  • “A British jihadist fighting in Syria has signalled that the UK should be afraid of the terror skills he has learnt after posting a photo of apparent homemade bombs.” – Daily Telegraph

The Government’s visa curbs are harming Britain’s workforce, suggests study

Border“Government curbs on highly skilled migrants have shrunk the pool of international talent available to business and have also fallen short of their objective of controlling migration, new research indicates. … The study, carried out by the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, challenges David Cameron’s insistence that his party’s attempts to reduce net migration are still allowing the ‘brightest and the best’ overseas workers into Britain.” – Financial Times

  • “Vince Cable pledged £16m of funding to boost skills in Britain’s creative sector as Nicola Mendelsohn, the boss of Facebook in Europe, called for the Government to help the sector double exports by 2020.” – Daily Telegraph
  • “Children educated at private schools earn almost £200,000 more by their early forties than pupils who go through the state system, a new study has revealed.” – Daily Mail

And comment:

  • “I join a growing number of young people who are turning to self-employment and starting businesses.” – Ryan Shorthouse, The Independent

Eric Pickles’ explanation for the rise of UKIP – Thatcher

PICKLES Eric 2009“Margaret Thatcher is to blame for the growing popularity of UKIP, Tory Cabinet minister Eric Pickles has claimed. … The Local Government Secretary said the former Tory Prime Minister was ‘such a phenomenal leader’ that today’s leaders are just ‘shades of monotone’. … He said Nigel Farage’s party were just ‘a mirror image’ the the main political parties – and should not be treated as radical outsiders.” – Daily Mail

Eustice rejects report about bovine TB

“The only sure way to stop the spread of bovine tuberculosis would be to kill all cattle in infected herds, according to a comprehensive study into how TB spreads between British farms. … George Eustice, farming minister, rejected the findings. ‘What this paper proposes would finish off the cattle and dairy industry in this country,’ he said.” – Financial Times

Tories urged to come clean about their friends

Champagne“Senior Tories must publish details of their ‘secret trysts’ with foreign billionaires and party donors, the former head of Britain’s sleaze watchdog warned last night. … Sir Alistair Graham said revelations about senior ministers mingling with Russian oligarchs, hedge fund billionaires and lobbyists at private Tory fundraising dinners were having a ‘corrosive effect’ on public trust. … Sir Alistair, former chairman of the independent Committee on Standards in Public Life, said the issue was a problem for all three parties.” – Daily Mail

  • “Yes, the Tories have rum friends. But they don’t pull the strings like Ed’s union paymasters” – Stephen Glover, Daily Mail
  • “Tory fundraising parties are a sad sight. Are rightwing people more uncultured?” – Suzanne Moore, The Guardian
  • “After Harris and Coulson, isn’t it about time for a historic banking crime investigation?” – Andreas Whittam Smith, The Independent
  • “Celebrities trivialise politics – so why must politicians court them?” – Tanya Gold, The Guardian
  • “With the home secretary, defence secretary and communities secretary all among the guests, this – as Labour has charged – looks indistinguishable from cash for access.” – Guardian editorial

Grieve: Prosecuting more rape cases could backfire

“Prosecuting more rape cases could backfire and lead to a lower conviction rate, the government’s chief law officer has warned. … Dominic Grieve, QC, the attorney-general, cautioned that bringing more cases to trial would mean more acquittals, as jurors are faced with deciding harder cases. His comments immediately drew fire from anti-rape campaigners, who accused him of putting obstacles in the way of prosecutions.” – The Times (£)

Brittan faces questions over sex abuse dossier

Leon Brittan“A dossier detailing explosive claims of sex abuse by paedophiles within Westminster has gone missing. … Given to Home Secretary Leon Brittan in 1983, the files allegedly exposed a vile network at Parliament and Whitehall. … But there is no record of any subsequent criminal inquiry and the Home Office yesterday admitted the dossier is either lost or destroyed.” – Daily Mail

“The home of an MP who compiled a dossier alleging paedophile activity within Westminster was burgled twice in suspicious circumstances around the time he took it to the authorities, his son has said.” – Daily Telegraph

  • “The BBC should be forced by a public enquiry to reveal what it knew about the child abuse carried out by its celebs, a top Tory claims.” – The Sun (£)
  • “A Liberal Democrat activist who accused Lord Rennard of molesting her quit the party in disgust last night after it decided not to censure him.” – Daily Mail

And comment:

  • “Hunting down dirty old men is not a challenge to the current culture” – Charles Moore, The Spectator

Lib Dems promise a cash bonus for carers

“A million carers would be given a £250 bonus from the Government, to allow them to take short respite breaks, under plans set out by Nick Clegg. … The Deputy Prime Minister and Liberal Democrat leader said his party will fight next year’s general election on a promise of extra money for people who care full-time for elderly or disabled relations. … The extra money would be paid annually to help carers cope with sometimes unbearable burdens.” – Daily Telegraph

After concentrating on the NHS in PMQs, Miliband returns to the economy

Miliband coffee“In a bid to regain the party’s lost economic credibility, Mr Miliband will unveil more of his long term vision for the country in a speech today. … He will say: ‘We cannot succeed by carrying on as we are or with big spending by government. … But with reform – reform of the way governments work and reform of the way markets work.’ … Mr Miliband will also announce Labour will set up an independent National Infrastructure Commission if it wins power next May.” – The Sun (£)

“Ed Miliband will celebrate profit and wealth creation and laud the ‘great, dynamic businesses of our country’, in a speech on Thursday that marks a sharp change of tone towards corporate Britain.” – Financial Times

  • “What happened to the ‘cost of living crisis’? Has it been resolved to Labour’s satisfaction? … We have to ask, now that the NHS and ‘reform’ are central to their campaign to win the next election.” – Sun editorial (£)
  • “Ed Miliband’s scare tactics will not cure the NHS” – Daily Telegraph editorial
  • “Mr Miliband’s NHS sallies shored him up for at least another week. He did not exactly beat Mr Cameron but he did not lose and this, Houston, is progress.” – Quentin Letts, Daily Mail
  • “Ed Miliband’s key problem: he’s an insider when voters want outsiders” – Martin Kettle, The Guardian
  • “Ed and his team would be a disaster at No 10” – Jenni Russell, The Times (£)
  • “The real struggle in Labour isn’t between factions, but between Red Ed and Moderate Miliband” – George Eaton, New Statesman
  • “Today’s opposition leader, Ed Miliband, is suffering from exactly the same treatment as Kinnock, Major and Hague.” – Peter Oborne, Daily Telegraph

> Today: The Deep End – Ignore the headlines, the Labour Party is freakishly united

> Yesterday:

But the NHS will remain a heated subject: warnings of a £4 billion-a-year black hole…

NHS“The NHS faces a £4bn funding black hole each year as it struggles to cope with growing numbers of people suffering from multiple health problems, according to a parliamentary inquiry. … The cross-party health select committee said that 15m NHS patients in England with long-term conditions such as diabetes, arthritis and asthma account for 70 per cent of annual health expenditure. … However, the health system ‘is overwhelmingly set up to address single diseases’, said the committee.” – Financial Times

  • “Healthcare workers, patients’ groups and the country’s biggest union are urging the Prime Minister to exclude the NHS from a ‘monster’ new EU-US free trade deal they claim could make it impossible for botched privatisations ever to be renationalised.” – The Independent
  • “Cancer care in the NHS could be privatised for the first time in the health service’s biggest ever outsourcing of services worth over £1.2bn.” – The Guardian
  • “The Welsh Affairs committee has appealed for evidence as part of an inquiry into cross-border health arrangements between Wales and England.” – WalesOnline

…and a gathering debate about assisted suicide

BMJ“Doctors should be allowed to help terminally ill patients to die, one of Britain’s most influential medical journals says today. … But the BMJ’s call for assisted suicide to be legalised provoked immediate alarm and anger in the profession. … In an editorial, the publication – formerly the British Medical Journal – says the terminally ill must be allowed to ‘call time on their lives’ when it is in their best interests.” – Daily Mail

  • “The failure of successive governments to protect vulnerable girls from female genital mutilation is an ‘ongoing national scandal’, according to a report by MPs published on Thursday.” – The Guardian
  • “The elderly are still being denied life-saving operations by the NHS despite new laws to prevent age discrimination, leading surgeons warn.” – Daily Mail

And comment:

  • “…there can be no place in the healing profession for licensed killers.” – Daily Mail editorial
  • “It’s not patients’ fault if antibiotics have lost their power to save lives” – Jane Merrick, The Independent
  • “Drug-resistant pathogens are the world’s biggest health crisis” – Jeremy Farrar, Daily Telegraph

Balls rejects Unite demands for an EU referendum

BALLS "Couldn't give a toss"“It would be ‘silly’ for Labour to offer voters an in/out referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union, Ed Balls said, accusing the head of the country’s biggest trade union of supporting a Tory policy that would be bad for jobs. … The shadow chancellor dismissed a warning from Unite general secretary Len McCluskey that the party risked being “boxed in” at the 2015 general election unless it dropped its opposition to matching David Cameron’s promise to allow voters a say.” – The Guardian

Skinner voted off Labour’s national executive committee

“Dennis Skinner, the scourge of Tory prime ministers from Ted Heath to David Cameron who was dubbed the ‘Beast of Bolsover’, has been voted off Labour’s governing national executive committee, prompting an outcry from across the party. … Hours after the veteran MP for Bolsover had taunted the prime minister as a member of the Bullingdon Club responsible for wrecking the NHS, the party announced he had been unseated.” – The Guardian

Brown calls for military action to help rescue the kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls

Nigeria flag“Gordon Brown has called for British forces to be deployed to Nigeria to aid the rescue of more than 200 schoolgirls being held captive by Islamic militants. … The former Prime Minister told MPs last night the failure to rescue the girls, who were kidnapped by the terrorist group Boko Haram two months ago, demanded an ‘international and domestic response’.” – Daily Mail

  • “Tony Blair has offered to advise the new president of Egypt, who came to power in a military coup, on how to boost his country’s economy.” – Daily Mail

And comment:

  • “Moderate Muslims – it’s time to be outraged” – David Aaronovitch, The Times (£)
  • “Blair embodies corruption and war. He must be sacked” – Seamus Milne, The Guardian

> Yesterday:

The National Audit Office versus the BBC

BBC“The BBC is too secretive and has stopped official investigators from probing its huge pay deals and IT fiascos, the head of the Government spending watchdog said yesterday. … The National Audit Office (NAO) blamed BBC ‘gatekeepers’ for stopping it from viewing key documents about financial scandals, delaying one crucial report by eight months. … The watchdog’s director, Sir Amyas Morse, called for statutory powers to force BBC bosses to hand over evidence about how it uses its annual £3.5billion licence fee revenue.” – Daily Mail

  • “Highly sensitive and confidential information relating to the secret British Army unit, the Military Reaction Force, which is alleged to have shot unarmed civilians in Northern Ireland has been ‘lost’ by the BBC’s investigative team on the Panorama programme.” – Belfast Telegraph

And comment:

  • “The BBC licence fee is superb value for money” – Simon Kelner, The Independent

“We’re only about halfway there” – Tim Montgomerie on the spending cuts to come

“Our deficit as a percentage of GDP is still about 6 per cent. France’s is half that size and Germany’s has almost been eliminated. In terms of getting rid of one of the largest deficits of any European nation we’re only about halfway there. … With Ed Miliband you’ll get a bit more tax and with Mr Cameron a few more cuts but neither will be able to escape decisions that will be at least as tough as those made in this parliament.” – Tim Montgomerie, The Times (£)

  • “UK households and businesses paid a record £43 billion in green taxes last year, new official figures show.” – Daily Telegraph

And further comment:

  • “Yet since we borrow the money for the aid, we are asking our children to fund our philanthropy. Where is the morality in that?” – Daily Telegraph editorial
  • “Cyclical forces should drag up the performance of productivity” – Chris Giles, Financial Times

> Today: ToryDiary – Being pro-aid doesn’t mean putting a target into law

News in brief

  • Andy Murray is out of Wimbledon – Daily Mail
  • Homes in London now £200,000 more than the UK average – Daily Mail
  • The Sun campaigns to cut VAT on holidays – The Sun (£)
  • Killing of Palestinian teenager prompts riots in East Jerusalem – Financial Times
  • 53,000 civilians have been killed by IEDs in the past three years – The Guardian
  • US helicopter gunships fly again over Baghdad – The Times (£)
  • I’m the victim of a witch-hunt, claims Sarkozy – Daily Telegraph
  • Peston joins the race to succeed Paxo – Daily Telegraph

And finally: Osborne looks on the bright side of life

OSBORNE blue tie“We even had chancellor George Osborne clapping along — could he see the irony? — to that Python crowd-pleaser The Bright Side Of Life. … Why wouldn’t my funny bone respond? Why was I struggling to find this quite as irresistible as some of the T-shirted oldies around me?” – Quentin Letts, Daily Mail