Day Three of the Fleet Street follow-up to ConservativeHome’s exclusive over Downing Street’s war with May’s SpAds…

MAY Warhol“Another high-profile Tory MP said: ‘This is an attempt to screw Theresa. It’s not Cameron who’s responsible but the man next door, George. What they’ve done to her advisers is quite wrong and will backfire badly’. And a former Minister, who was a member of the Government until earlier this year, said: ‘Make no mistake, this was a cold, calculated effort to destroy Theresa May’s leadership prospects.’ Allies of Osborne angrily rejected claims that he was involved.” – Mail on Sunday

…But the Home Secretary seeks to change the subject.  She wants foreign students out when their courses end.

“The home secretary wants a future Conservative government to “move towards zero net student migration” by sending home those who come to Britain on student visas. The plan is likely to bolster May’s support from the Tory right amid a feud between her closest aides and Conservative high command. In a move that will be seen as an attempt to burnish her credentials as a future leader, May is demanding that the party’s next manifesto include a pledge to force non-EU students to leave the UK and apply for a fresh visa from abroad.” – Sunday Times (£)

James Forsyth: The dangers of being a future leadership front-runner

FORSYTH, James“Nine years on, she is – according to the Conservative Home poll – the activists’ choice to succeed Cameron. She has been propelled to the front with the help of a loyal team who, as one Tory Minister observes, ‘would die in a ditch for her’. But their tactics – and sharp elbows – have infuriated No 10 and Cabinet colleagues. They feel May’s team have put promoting her interests above the good of the party.” – Mail on Sunday

John Rentoul: Conservatives were wrong – about special advisers, AV, Lords Reform…

“They would now be happily counting up those Ukip second preferences that could give them, according to Michael Ashcroft’s poll, an extra four percentage points in share of the vote. As enjoyable as seeing the Tories realise that they should have let Clegg have his reform of the House of Lords, because then they would have new constituency boundaries in return, possibly worth 20 seats to them. As the bloke in the red suit said, ho, ho, ho.” – Independent on Sunday

  • Enjoy the Christmas truce – Andrew Rawnsley, The Observer

Boris wants Coe to be the next Mayor of London

Coe“Johnson told friends last week that he would like to see the man who oversaw the London Olympics in 2012 take over from him and believes he can be persuaded to run. Lord Coe, 58, who won plaudits for his stewardship of the 2012 Games, has previously said he has no interest in running for mayor. Instead, the double Olympic champion plans to seek the presidency of the International Association of Athletics Federations, the governing body of world athletics, which comes free next year.” – Sunday Times (£)

  • Hundreds of MPs and peers will escape Johnson’s £10 fireworks fee – Sunday Times (£)

Grayling bids to cut the number of former servicemen in prison…

“All prisoners arriving in custody will be asked if they have been a member of the Armed Services, and prisons will be given new guidance about helping them. The change follows a review earlier this year by Stephen Philips QC under the Armed Forces Covenant, the moral obligation the Government and the nation owe to the Services. The review was sparked by Ministry of Defence figures which showed former service personnel make up about 3.5 per cent of the prison population.” – Sunday Express

…As it emerges that there will be no pre-election legislation on votes for prisoners

VOTES for prisoners“A report from the Ministry of Justice states that there will be no legislation to give voting rights to prisoners before the general election in May next year. Until now the Government has said it is “reflecting” on its options and “actively considering” whether to bring forward a Bill to overturn the blanket ban on votes for prisoners. However, in an annual update to MPs as the Commons broke up for Christmas, the MoJ report said ministers “will not be able to legislate for prisoner voting in this Parliament”.” – Sunday Telegraph

Cameron pays tribute to Philip Bradbourn

“The Prime Minister said the West Midlands MEP had a ‘truly admirable’ dedication to public service and was a ‘well-respected’ politician. Mr Bradbourn, who had served in the European Parliament since 1999, was diagnosed with bowel cancer shortly after being re-elected in May and died last night. Mr Cameron said: ‘Philip’s dedication to public service was truly admirable – he was a well-respected and effective MEP.” – Mail on Sunday

  • Cameron to visit White House next month – Sunday Times (£)
  • “Nearly a third of donations to the Conservatives’ key marginal and target seats have been provided by the Leader’s Group” – Independent on Sunday
  • Cameron’s trade envoy sued over ‘hidden cash’ – Sunday Times (£)
  • Labour accuses Cameron of breaking off Northern Ireland talks early so that he could attend his wife’s 40th birthday party – Mail on Sunday

> Yesterday: MPsETC – Conservative MEP Philip Bradbourn has died

Adam Boulton: The Prime Minister wants TV election debates to happen

CAMERON POINTING“Gordon Brown and Cameron had the courage to make the debates happen last time and Cameron sees them as part of his brand. He is not so far ahead in the polls that he has a lot to lose by debating…Tory strategists are also confident that the more the public see of Miliband the less they will like him. In the unlikely event that all else fails, a single three-way debate in the middle of the short campaign, chaired by David Dimbleby like last time and as currently proposed by the BBC, seems unavoidable.” – Sunday Times (£)

Douglas Alexander: The next Labour Government will appoint an Ambassador for Religious Freedom

“An incoming Labour government will appoint a Global Envoy for Religious Freedom, reporting directly to the Foreign Secretary. This is an issue beyond party politics, so if the Government takes this step sooner, as the Opposition, we will support them. There is no time to waste. The voice of Government is vital and the work of politicians remains key, but this Christmas the leadership that is most evident is coming from within the religious community itself.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Labour takes seven point poll Opinium lead – Observer
  • Miliband backed down after Chris Bryant threatened to quit the Shadow Cabinet – Mail on Sunday
  • Keir Starmer: Labour’s silky smooth mover – Sunday Times (£)
  • Allow drinking at football matches, says Jim Murphy – Scotland on Sunday
  • Labour’s sexism – Guido Fawkes, Sun on Sunday (£)
  • “A large, dark pool of sweat appeared suddenly under Blair’s armpit when I asked him about Wendy Deng” – Ann McElvoy, Mail on Sunday
  • Danczuk flirts with Farage and UKIP in carefully-arranged pub photo-op – Sun on Sunday (£)

> Today: ToryDiary – Could Labour steal a march on the Conservatives over religious freedom?

UKIP civil war: latest

Farage as Santa1“The Ukip leader was accused by senior party figures of ‘abusing his power’ to try to help Kerry Smith become MP for Basildon South in Essex. The Mail on Sunday can also disclose a leaked email shows Mr Farage urged Ukip chiefs to ignore protests about Mr Smith’s ‘rough and ready’ style and ‘unsubstantiated rumours’ about him.” – Mail on Sunday

Iain Martin: Rocky road ahead for the UKIP bandwagon

“Eventually, the licence that an insurgent party is allowed when it is on the rise will run out and the incoherence of the party’s position on economics and public services will become more apparent. This is a party that is for much lower public spending and taxes while shamelessly Hoovering up the votes of older voters who rely on state spending and the NHS. The Ukip leader himself is also far from guaranteed to win a seat in the Commons in May.” – Sunday Telegraph

The media gears up for an NHS Winter Crisis: “Secret plan to double ambulance waiting times”

“The current target is for an emergency vehicle to reach those in life-threatening situations within eight minutes. But a document seen by this newspaper reveals that the target time to get to those suffering a range of serious problems including strokes and seizures is to be increased to 19 minutes. Last night leading doctors said the scheme – designed to make it easier for ambulance services to hit targets they have missed for months – risked lives.” – Mail on Sunday

> Yesterday: Dr Teck Khong on Comment: Is Better Care Together a political platitude?

New plot to oust Bercow

John Bercow“MPs across the main parties are privately plotting to replace him with a new Speaker after the general election in May. In a dramatic move, they plan to change Commons’ procedure to introduce a secret ballot for any motion to sack Mr Bercow. Under current rules, a motion to challenge the Speaker must be ‘recorded’ – meaning the names of all MPs who voted to remove him would be made public. One plotter said last night: ‘The rule now is a huge advantage for Bercow – it makes people afraid to oppose him as if we lose, he’ll know who defied him.'” – Mail on Sunday

Cities call for the right to set and spend their own taxes

“The largest and most successful cities outside London will seek to raise and keep their own taxes, establishing a US-style system of governance where they have full power over their finances and local public services. Ten cities – Bristol, Sheffield, Glasgow, Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool, Nottingham, Cardiff and Newcastle – have joined together to form the Core Cities group, which has already convinced the Chancellor, George Osborne, and the Treasury to grant Greater Manchester new funding and freedoms and a new, directly elected mayor.” – Independent on Sunday

Liam Fox: We shouldn’t apologise for the Christian Christmas

Screen shot 2014-12-21 at 09.01.18“The truth is that banning a school nativity play or instructing civil servants not to use the word Christmas in official greetings cards, as we saw last week, is not just small-minded and petty. It is part of a conscious attack by a self-defined and self-righteous minority on the freedoms of the rest of us. When, in Ed Davey’s energy department, at the heart of Whitehall, the “C-word” was prohibited, it was a sign of where we might be heading.” – The Sun on Sunday (£)

News in Brief

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