May 1) Further coverage of ConHome’s story about the Home Secretary’s SpAds – will all the bad blood harm her leadership chances?

MAY Home Office big“Theresa May has been given an extraordinary warning that a toxic feud between the Home Office and Downing Street is damaging her chances of succeeding David Cameron as Tory leader. … A senior party source said support for the steely Home Secretary as the Prime Minister’s successor was being ‘seriously undermined’ by a row that has led to two of her senior advisers’ bids to become MPs at the general election being scuppered by Tory HQ and Downing Street.” – Daily Mail

  • “The Tory chairman, Grant Shapps, and Theresa May’s special advisers are guilty of allowing ‘a little spat between themselves’ to make the headlines, the former chancellor Ken Clarke has said.” – The Guardian

And comment:

  • “The Tories may change leader within days of the election.” – Tim Montgomerie, The Times (£)
  • “The other advice that any good coach will give a charge heading for the Olympic cauldron is to continue to do all the things that had got them so far with consistency and flawless execution. In other words, don’t get distracted.” – Seb Coe, Daily Telegraph

> Today: ToryDiary – Who is the Conservative Minister of the Year? The Parliamentarian of the Year? The B**tard of the Year?

May 2) Her plan to expel non-EU graduates comes under heavy fire

Border“Leading universities have criticised plans being promoted by the UK home secretary that would force students from outside the EU to leave the country at the end of their courses. … Higher education chiefs spoke out on Sunday after aides to Theresa May said she wanted to make non-EU students leave Britain and apply for a visa from abroad if they wanted to work in the UK after finishing their studies.” – Financial Times

  • “A senior Liberal Democrat source said the party had blocked a similar ‘silly idea’ at the start of the Coalition.” – The Independent
  • “Labour and the Conservatives could both break up because they have failed to recognise the scale of public feeling over immigration, a senior Labour MP has said.” – Daily Telegraph

May 3) The abuse panel could be disbanded and replaced

Police shield“An independent panel set up to investigate child abuse may be disbanded and replaced with a more powerful body that could force witnesses to give evidence, Theresa May has indicated. … The home secretary has reportedly written to members of the panel, which has been dogged by high-profile resignations, outlining plans for the inquiry to be granted new statutory powers. … She has outlined three options under consideration, only one of which does not require the current panel to be disbanded, raising fears the process could be further delayed.” – The Times (£)

  • “Police are investigating claims that at least five paedophile rings operating at the heart of Westminster were covered up. … Labour MP John Mann has submitted an explosive dossier to police naming 22 politicians – including three serving MPs and three serving members of the House of Lords – linked to historical child abuse.” – Daily Mail
  • “A police force is preparing to abandon round-the-clock monitoring of CCTV cameras and spend the money on ‘bobbies on the beat’.” – Daily Telegraph

> Today: Katy Bourne on Local Government – Find new ways to engage the public in fighting crime

One of May’s leadership rivals aims to win support as One Nation Boris…

Boris Johnson event“Boris Johnson is to launch himself back into national politics next year as a ‘One Nation Tory’ capable of wooing back voters lost to Labour and Ukip, with a focus on tackling low pay, revitalising England’s cities and transforming infrastructure. … He is calling for the promotion of the ‘living wage’ to be party policy. … ‘It should be front and centre of our programme,’ Mr Johnson has told colleagues. ‘It’s what the Conservatives do well.'” – Financial Times

  • “The poorest families suffer the biggest tax burden, a report has revealed. … The TaxPayers’ Alliance study says the burden for the poor is mainly due to indirect levies such as VAT, council tax, fuel, alcohol and cigs.” – The Sun (£)
  • “More women are getting into the best-paid jobs, according to an analysis of official figures which shows that the number of women paying the top rate of tax is growing at a faster rate than their male counterparts.” – The Independent
  • “Bankers, traders and City executives expect 2014 bonuses to grow by a fifth, despite political and public pressure to curb payouts, a survey has found.” – Financial Times
  • “Rich Russians are gaining entry to the UK in record numbers amid a worsening economic outlook in their home country.” – Financial Times

Boris’s latest Daily Telegraph column:

  • “Come on Sony; come on America. It’s time for everyone to come to their senses, get a grip, have some guts, rediscover the spirit of John Wayne, and give us the Hollywood ending that free speech demands.” – Boris Johnson, Daily Telegraph

…and from those affected by HS2

high-speed rail“The compensation offered to people living along the HS2 route is ‘measly and pathetic’, Boris Johnson has told friends. … The Mayor London said that the Government had to be ‘like the French’ and increase the sums paid to homeowners to ensure that the high speed rail line was completely in a timely fashion. … He has told friends that he cannot understand why the Government is not ‘throwing money’ at homeowners on the route.” – Daily Telegraph

But could the current Tory leader get a boost from Merkel?

Cameron & Merkel“EU migrants in Britain would no longer receive benefits to support children back in their home country, under a plan being discussed by the European Commission. … Commission sources told The Independent the proposal has been discussed by Mr Juncker and Angela Merkel, who are close allies. The fact that Mr Juncker is considering the proposal, despite Mr Cameron’s bitter opposition to his appointment, is seen in Brussels as an attempt by the German Chancellor to boost Mr Cameron’s prospects at the general election.” – The Independent

  • “Yvette Cooper has warned that trying to reduce immigration by cutting benefits could lead to a ‘race to the bottom on social security’ as European countries compete to lower the welfare available for new immigrants.” – Daily Telegraph
  • “David Cameron is to spend a night at the White House next month as President Obama hosts a visit that the prime minister hopes will burnish his credentials as a figure on the world stage in the run-up to the election.” – The Times (£)

And comment:

  • “Cameron is beginning to earn small victories in Europe.” – Andrew Grice, The Independent

Cameron urged to hold a judge-led inquiry into torture allegations

CAMERON PPB Jobs“David Cameron was last night under intense pressure to deliver on his promise to hold a judge-led inquiry into British complicity in torture. … As the clamour for an independent investigation mounted, the Prime Minister was condemned for insisting a Westminster committee should do the job even though it presided over an alleged whitewash in the treatment of terror suspects. … An alliance of nine human rights groups said only a judicial probe could get to the truth of the disturbing questions raised by an explosive US Senate report which laid bare the barbaric treatment of detainees by the CIA.” – Daily Mail

  • “The Al-Sweady affair has highlighted the government’s growing frustration with the legal claims originating from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.” – Financial Times
  • “A British soldier was investigated for possible war crimes for thrusting a piece of paper at a Taliban fighter, it has emerged.” – Daily Mail
  • “Former members of the Armed Forces who end up in prison will be given specialist rehabilitation as part of the ‘huge debt of gratitude’ owed to them by Britain, the Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has announced.” – Daily Telegraph
  • “Intelligence chiefs have lost track of some of Britain’s most dangerous criminals after US whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed its tactics.” – Daily Mail

And comment:

  • “The longer David Cameron delays, the more it looks as if the Establishment has something terrible to hide.” – Daily Mail editorial
  • “The damage caused by Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked the organisation’s secrets on to the internet, continues to grow.” – Daily Telegraph editorial

> Today: The Deep End – There is no such thing as ethical torture

Hunt hits back at “scaremongering” stories about ambulance waiting times

HUNT Doctor Carla Millar“The Health Secretary described the claims as ‘scaremongering’, but a leaked NHS memo revealed proposals to increase maximum permissible waiting times for some serious calls from eight to 19 minutes. … Senior doctors said the plans ‘risked lives’ and Labour accused Mr Hunt of making a ‘panic decision’ in the face of a winter NHS crisis. … But last night it emerged that Labour and the Liberal Democrats had been informed of the plans up to three months ago and had not raised any objections.” – Daily Mail

  • “Young Britons are heading straight to overextended Accident & Emergency departments because they are unable to get suitable appointments with GPs, according to a new report.” – Daily Mail
  • “The National Health Service has launched centres that will discover the genetic sequence of 100,000 patients with rare diseases or cancer in the hope that personalised or preventive treatments can be developed.” – Financial Times
  • “More than 80,000 people a year could be saved from dementia by lifestyle changes to protect the brain, according to a major global report.” – Daily Telegraph
  • “An ‘alarming’ number of pre-school children are being prescribed drugs to treat hyperactivity.” – The Guardian

And comment:

  • “Doubling the waiting time for NHS patients in urgent need of an ambulance would be madness.” – Sun editorial (£)
  • “The NHS crisis needs a serious response.” – Daily Telegraph editorial
  • “What a sorry mess the political class has made of Britain’s GP service.” – Daily Mail editorial

Heywood stands up for public sector whistle-blowers

Whistle“Sir Jeremy Heywood, the Cabinet Secretary, said the ‘appalling treatment’ suffered by some Government workers who exposed malpractice had compounded the scandals they uncovered. … And he warned that in future senior civil servants would be personally ‘held to account’ for how whistleblowing cases were dealt with in their departments.” – The Independent

Villiers: It’s “make your mind up time” in Northern Ireland

“Northern Ireland cannot afford another failure to reach agreement on contentious marches, flags and the legacy of its violent past, the centrist Alliance party said on Sunday. … Northern Ireland secretary Theresa Villiers underlined the importance of the talks when she warned on Sunday night that it was ‘make your mind up time’. … ‘These talks finish tomorrow, even if it takes all night. If there’s no agreement tomorrow, there isn’t going to be one, and the process ends in failure.'” – The Guardian

Mandleson urges Miliband to come clean about the cuts…

MANDELSON Peter Sky“Peter Mandelson has warned Labour’s shadow cabinet to be more honest with the public and spell out the scale of cuts that would have to be imposed if the party wins the general election in May. … As a poll suggested that Labour has opened up a seven-point lead over the Tories, the former business secretary said that George Osborne’s ‘sharp step to the right’ in the autumn statement has created an opportunity for Labour.” – The Guardian

  • “Greece’s radical left could kill off austerity in the EU.” – Owen Jones, The Guardian

…and will join Clarke and Alexander in defence of the European Union

“Britain’s pro-Europeans are gearing up for the possible referendum on Britain’s European Union membership by drafting in former ministers Kenneth Clarke and Peter Mandelson plus the chief secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, to act as the main figureheads of their campaign. … As a pan-European opinion poll found that Britain was the only country that would vote to leave the EU, Mandelson announced that the trio had agreed to become joint presidents of the British Influence group.” – The Guardian

UKIP 1) Danczuk’s (mitigated) praise for Farage

UKIP glass“UKIP leader Nigel Farage is the most successful politician of the year, Labour’s Simon Danczuk declared yesterday. … But he added: ‘That doesn’t mean he qualifies to run the country — quite the contrary. You don’t want Peter Kay in Downing Street.’ … The Sun on Sunday revealed how Mr Danczuk spent an hour with Mr Farage at a London pub – but he insisted: ‘There’s no intention of me defecting.'” – The Sun (£)

UKIP 2) Yet another expulsion from the party

“Ukip have expelled a prominent local councillor who is understood to have links with a far-Right group, it emerged last night. … Rozanne Duncan was dropped with immediate effect for associating with an organisation which ‘clearly brings the party into disrepute’ while serving on Thanet District Council in Kent. … Her allegiance with the group came to light after comments she made in an unbroadcast television interview, which have been described as ‘jaw-dropping’.” – Daily Mail

  • “Cracking down on honesty could be Ukip’s last bad idea.” – Zoe Williams, The Guardian

The councils dimming street lights to save money

“A dramatic rise in the number of street lights being switched off to save money has sparked fears of an increase in crime and road accidents. … Three-quarters of councils are dimming or extinguishing lights, a survey reveals. The number of lamps being turned off or set to shine less brightly has risen to 1.36million, compared with just 148,000 in May 2010 when the Coalition came to power. … The rise has come as councils seek to cut costs and reduce carbon emissions.” – Daily Mail

  • “The perils of leaving voters in the dark.” – Daily Mail editorial

Trevor Kavanagh: The joy of cheap oil (unless you’re Salmond)

Scottish flag“The crash in pump prices is giving the UK economy — already Europe’s strongest — a shot in the arm which will benefit every household in the land. … All this will give the Tories a happy New Year as tax revenues flow and the deficit finally starts tumbling. … And it will give Chancellor George Osborne room for manoeuvre in his pre-election spring budget. … Yet the very basis for Mr Salmond’s reputation as a political prophet has been shattered by the crash in oil prices.” – Trevor Kavanagh, The Sun (£)

  • “Important as the economic consequences could be, the environmental effects could be more profound.” – Guardian editorial

And related news stories:

  • “Scotland’s North Sea revenues would have slumped to one fifth of Holyrood’s preferred forecasts in its first year of independence if Scots had voted Yes in September, according to an Office for Budget Responsibility simulation using current oil prices.” – Financial Times
  • “The leader of the Scottish Labour party, Jim Murphy, has been criticised by women’s organisations working with the victims of domestic abuse after he suggested that the ban on alcohol at Scottish football matches should be lifted.” – The Guardian

Dominic Lawson pays tribute to John Freeman…

“On Saturday morning, in a military nursing home, two months before his 100th birthday, John Freeman died. If he had anything to do with it, my article would end at this point; indeed, he would have regarded the last three words of its first sentence to be the ideal obituary notice. … For Freeman, despite having become one of the most famous men in Britain through the medium of television, had an almost pathological distaste for celebrity.” – Dominic Lawson, Daily Mail

…and the FT pays tribute to Justin Welby

WELBY, Justin“…nearly two years after he was appointed the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, the spiritual leader of the Church of England, is becoming an increasingly respected moral voice. An energetic and plain-speaking figure who spent most of his early adult life as an oil industry executive, he is righty gaining in appeal not only among Anglicans but also with people outside the Christian faith.” – Financial Times editorial

  • “The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said he is trying to heal the split in the Anglican church over same-sex marriage.” – The Guardian

News in brief

  • North Korea threatens strikes against the US – The Guardian
  • British university trained North Korean elite in computer security – Daily Telegraph
  • Sony says that still intends to distribute The Interview, after all – The Independent
  • The first Western journalist given access to ISIS speaks about his experience – The Independent
  • ISIS has sold hundreds of girls into sex slavery – The Times (£)
  • “America rewards another enemy of freedom.” – Melanie Phillips, The Times (£)
  • Facebook accused of bowing to Putin – Daily Mail
  • Former RBS trader arrested on suspicion of rigging the foreign exchange market – Daily Mail
  • House prices falling in a third of UK, study shows – Financial Times
  • Record online shopping forecast for Christmas Day… – Financial Times
  • …as consumer confidence hits a four-year high, according to research – The Guardian
  • Actress Billie Whitelaw dies, aged 82 – The Independent
  • Elton John and David Furnish have married – The Sun (£)
  • Ben Haenow is this year’s Christmas number one – Daily Telegraph

And finally 1) Miley Cameron

Miley Cyrus“David Cameron twerked during a frenzied Chequers Christmas bash, it was claimed last night. … Guests revealed the PM shook his booty on the dance floor of his grand country residence last week with the Ibiza-style party doubling up as a belated 40th birthday for wife Sam.” – The Sun (£)

  • “Some images you don’t want in your head. David Cameron twerking is among them.” – Sun editorial (£)

And finally 2) Lost property

“Westminster officials will be scratching their heads at this year’s list of mislaid items picked up by the House of Commons lost property office. … Fifty-two phones were lost, including 28 iPhones, along with six laptops, ten iPads and a mystery test tube with unknown contents.” – The Times (£)

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