Forthright Fallon 1) We won’t go back into Afghanistan, ‘under any circumstances’

Michael Fallon portrait‘’Michael Fallon said yesterday: ‘We are not going to send combat troops back into Afghanistan. We’ve made that very, very clear. Under any circumstances, combat troops will not be going in there.’ His comments came as British troops were forced to make one last assault on Taliban positions as they prepared for withdrawal from Camp Bastion.’ – Daily Mail


>Yesterday: WATCH: Fallon – “Afghanistan has every chance of a more secure future”

Forthright Fallon 2) We’re ‘swamped’ with immigrants

‘Defence Secretary Michael Fallon provoked a furious row yesterday after warning that communities were being ‘swamped’ by European immigrants. Last night he was reprimanded by No 10 for his use of the word and rival politicians lined up to criticise what they called his ‘excessive language’. Tory backbenchers, however, said it was appalling that a minister had been told to retract comments when all he had done was speak out frankly on immigration.’ – Daily Mail

  • Blunt, but true – Daily Mail Leader
  • Farage accused of exploiting Rotherham grooming scandal – The Independent
  • Labour Rochester candidate finds UKIP ‘upsetting’ – The Times (£)
  • John Mills wants Labour to back Cameron on borders – The Sun (£)
  • Monster Raving Loonies accuses UKIP of stealing their thunder – Daily Telegraph

>Today: ToryDiary: Immigration policy. How restrictive? An amnesty for illegals or not? Defy the EU? Take our monthly survey

Cameron and Osborne back HS3 line across Northern England

train‘David Cameron and George Osborne, who has championed the northern powerhouse concept in recent months, are to give their backing on Monday to develop HS3. The chancellor will also announce that a new body, Transport for the North, covering the region’s five main conurbations, will be created as a united voice for big transport decisions. An interim report on options, costs and timetable for an HS3 east-west rail connection is to be produced in March.’ – FT

EAW 1) Raab: Let’s have British, not Brussels, justice

‘Few of the 130 criminal justice measures add value to UK law enforcement – even the police only argue for Britain to opt back into 13.  The EU Commission is distracted by dreams of its own justice system led by an EU Justice Minister. It is fixated on harmonising laws, and trying to turn Europol and Eurojust – useful bodies for bringing national police and prosecutors together – into EU law enforcement arms, taking power from national authorities.’ – Dominic Raab MP, The Independent

>Yesterday: Scott Kelly on Comment: The rise of constituents and the fall of the whips

EAW 2) Damian Green rallies to May’s defence

GREEN Damian headshot‘Mr Green upped the rhetoric today, telling BBC One’s Andrew Marr show that refusing to sign up to the warrant would be ‘much more than a sop to Ukip, that would be really dangerous’. Rapists, murderers, child molesters and so on, would think ‘Britain is the place to go where you’ve got most chance of not being convicted for crimes you committed in the rest of Europe’. It would be very, very bad for the safety of our streets not to have the European Arrest Warrant.’’ – Daily Mail

  • Government uses cases of sex criminals to persuade rebels – The Times (£)
  • What will the child abuse inquiry reveal that we don’t already know? – Melanie Phillips, The Times (£)

>Today: Tory Diary: The best reason to vote Conservative. Tory reformers are delivering Grown-Up Government.

Bone: Cameron is channelling Thatcher in fighting the EU

‘Tory eurosceptic MP Peter Bone told the Daily Express: “People talk about Cameron as the ‘heir to Blair’ but he’s clearly the heir to Thatcher. He’s vetoed a treaty, got the EU to cut its budget and now he’s telling the EU it can get stuffed on this £1.7 billion bill. He’s got the backing of the British people.”’ – Daily Express

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Cameron, victim of Merkel’s problems…

Knives out in Scottish Labour

LABOUR dead rose‘The Labour party was plunged into an acrimonious civil war last night, with the parliamentary groups in Holyrood and Westminster in open conflict. As both sides moved to get their favoured candidates in place to replace Johann Lamont as leader of the Scottish Labour party, the infighting that has plagued the party behind the scenes for months emerged in public.’ – The Times (£)

>Today: The Deep End: What might a full realignment of the parties look like?

GPs paid £100,000 just to work weekends

‘GPs are being paid around £100,000 a year for working only weekends, it has emerged. Shifts, which include just a few hours on a Friday night, and all day Saturday and Sunday, can involve out-of-hours doctors simply answering non-emergency phone calls.’ – Daily Telegraph

>Today: Charlotte Leslie MP’s column: Our future. Will we be One Nation of engaged citizens…or a 111 Nation of disembodied announcements?

Wind farms are 90 per cent efficient for only 17 hours a year

Wind turbine‘Experts discovered that turbines break the 90 per cent efficiency mark for only 17 hours a year. Data showed wind farms generate below 20 per cent of supposed output for 20 weeks a year and less than 10 per cent for nine weeks. The statistics are in a report by the respected Adam Smith Institute think tank and Scientific Alliance.’ – Daily Express

  • Gazprom pipeline killed by sanctions – The Times (£)
  • Why does the WHO put climate change and e-cigarettes ahead of Ebola? – Matt Ridley, The Times (£)

>Today: Dr Capell Aris on Think Tank Central: Is our present wind fleet really fit for purpose?

Major European banks fail stress tests

‘Fourteen of Europe’s largest banks have failed “stress tests” designed to assess the ability of big lenders to withstand a financial crisis and have been ordered to raise nearly €10 billion to plug a shortfall in their balance sheets. Italian banks were found to have the most serious problems, with four being required to find €3.3 billion (£2.6 billion) to enable them to cope in the event of a sharp rise in unemployment and a contraction in western economies.’ – The Times (£)

Tony Benn helped his children minimise their inheritance tax bill

Tony Benn‘The former Labour Cabinet minister, who died aged 88 in March, left almost his entire fortune to his children. It is understood Stephen, 63, Hilary, 60, Melissa, 57, and Joshua, 56, will each receive around £1.2million before inheritance tax. Mr Benn also owned an eight-bedroom ancestral home called Stansgate Abbey Farm on the Blackwater estuary in Essex, which he left in a trust for his family. By placing the estate, understood to be worth millions, in a trust he is thought to have avoided his children having to pay inheritance tax on it.’ – Daily Mail

News in brief

  • Three die in Cornwall surfing accident – The Times (£)
  • South African football captain shot dead – Daily Mail
  • Fears of a sports gel bomb plot – The Sun (£)
  • Ukraine’s election shifts Kiev West – FT
  • Paul Daniels savaged by stage rabbit – Daily Mail
  • Six months on bail for spoof sex video – The Independent
  • Rousseff wins Brazilian election by tight margin – The Times (£)
  • Cracknell puts himself forward for Bexhill and Battle – Daily Telegraph
  • Elon Musk warns of dangers of artificial intelligence – The Independent
  • Lord Falconer loses five stone – The Sun (£)
  • Isaac Asimov’s secret Cold War mission – The Times (£)

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