UKIP MEP defects to the Conservatives

ukip-cover“Nigel Farage was rocked last night as one of his Euro MPs defected to the Tories, saying: ‘Ukip is pointless.’ In a major coup for David Cameron, Amjad Bashir jumped ship less than a year after he was elected as a Ukip MEP. But last night, Bashir’s decision descended into a tit-for-tat battle between the parties. Just hours before news of his defection was due to be made public, Ukip announced they were ‘suspending’ him pending investigations into ‘extremely serious’ allegations.” – Mail on Sunday

Amjad Bashir: UKIP has become a vanity project for tyrannical Farage

“I have decided to leave Ukip because it has become a vanity project for Nigel Farage and because many of the criticisms made of the party are true. David Cameron famously said that Ukip was a party of ‘fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists’. Certainly, I have experienced racism in Ukip.” – Mail on Sunday

Farage aide: ‘We speak for bigots’

UKIP glass“Britain has “hundreds of thousands of bigots” and Ukip is proud to stand up for them, one of Nigel Farage’s most senior aides has said. Matthew Richardson, the party’s secretary, dismissed claims that Ukip candidates with bigoted views would alienate voters, boasting that the party will speak up for those with hardline views.” – Sunday Time (£)


Cameron attacks ISIS as criticism of Saudi tribute continues

“David Cameron has slammed the ‘murderous barbarity’ of ISIS while facing fresh criticism for paying his respects to the former king of Saudi Arabia who did little to fix his country’s shameful human rights record. His decision to visit the desert kingdom was met with furious condemnation, with former Conservative MP Louise Mensch saying the Saudi regime is ‘no worse than ISIS’.” – Mail on Sunday

James Forsyth: The Prime Minister’s debate strategy is working

Cameron1“The broadcasters know what the Tories are up to, hence their threat to ‘empty chair’ Cameron.But the Tories won’t be browbeaten into turning up. They know a TV debate without Cameron slugging it out with Miliband will make a mockery of the format. The Tory strategy appears to be working. After Friday’s meeting, one of those who desperately wants these debates to take place, grimly conceded that the Tories look like hitting the jackpot: ‘They’re killing the debates without getting the blame.’” – Mail on Sunday

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: The DUP excluded themselves from the debate long ago

Shapps casts Conservatives as the party of aspiration

“The Conservatives want to cut inheritance tax because it is the “aspirational” thing to do, the party’s chairman has said. In an interview with The Telegraph, Grant Shapps warns that Labour would “screw your family’s income” because Ed Miliband thinks people earning £40k “are wealthy and should be taxed more”. The Conservatives, by contrast, believe people who have worked hard should be able to keep more of their wealth in order to pass it on to their children and grandchildren.” – Sunday Telegraph

Osborne takes the fight to Labour in the Sun

OSBORNE Horatius“The IMF have already said that in 2014 Britain grew faster than any other major economy. That growth is not just a number — it means more jobs, bigger pay cheques and a brighter future for all of us. But all of that is at stake at the election. Thanks to the work of the British people our economy will be in a much better state at this election than it was at the last one in 2010. Labour had left sky-high unemployment and the biggest deficit in our peacetime history.” – George Osborne, Sun on Sunday (£)

…as evidence emerges of an anti-May pact with Boris

“Boris Johnson will be offered a cabinet job immediately after the general election if the Conservatives win, under a plan drawn up to boost his chances of denying Theresa May the Tory leadership. Allies of the chancellor, George Osborne, have sounded out Johnson’s team about handing him a role as minister without portfolio while he serves out his term as mayor of London. Until now, senior Tories have said Johnson would not become a minister until he leaves City Hall in 2016.” – Sunday Times (£)

Warsi attacks Gove over Trojan Horse schools…

michael-gove“The former cabinet minister Baroness Warsi accused the former education secretary Michael Gove of having refused to work with a cross-departmental group to tackle Islamophobia. Warsi revealed last night that as minister for faith and communities she tried to get Gove to co-operate on a working group at the height of the “Trojan Horse” crisis, in which state schools were accused of radicalising pupils. Gove left her requests unanswered.” – Sunday Times (£)

…as press criticise him over ‘zombie Parliament’

“Taxpayers face an £8m bill for running a “zombie” parliament after Michael Gove, the Tory chief whip, put MPs on notice to work only a three-day week. Gove told Conservative MPs before Christmas that there will be no major legislation on Thursdays until after the general election so they are unlikely to be needed in Westminster.” – Sunday Times (£)

Ministers 1) Greening describes how DfID won her round

World-shield“When Justine Greening was appointed secretary of state for international development, she was underwhelmed. If reports are to be believed, she had a stand-up row with the prime minister, telling him she had not gone into politics to distribute money to people in the Third World. A year into the job, however, and Greening, 44, seems to have gone native. Not only does she love what she is doing; she now believes the Tories should renew their foreign aid spending commitment in the party’s 2015 general election manifesto.” – Sunday Times (£)

Ministers 2) Official anger at Hammond over case of ‘Ethiopian Mandela’

“An explosive row has erupted between diplomats and Ministers over their reluctance to help a British man on death row in Ethiopia. A series of extraordinary emails, obtained by The Mail on Sunday, reveal officials’ increasing frustration at political inaction over Andargachew Tsege. Tsege, 59, a father-of-three from London, was snatched at an airport in Yemen last June and illegally rendered to Ethiopia. There are concerns he may have been tortured.” – Mail on Sunday

Tory MPs accuse Europe editor of bias

Biased BBC“Tory MP Andrew Bridgen tells People: “This apparent cosy relationship between the BBC’s new Europe editor and the European Commission is a big cause for concern and calls into question the BBC’s impartiality on the issue of Europe.” In a letter, Conservative Philip Davies urges Rona Fairhead, chairman of the BBC Trust, and Lord Hall, the corporation’s director-general, to investigate.” – Sunday Telegraph

Four-fifths of councils defying Government tax freeze request are Conservative

“Three-quarters of county councils are set to raise council tax in the run-up to the general election, defying government pleas to freeze the charge. Four-fifths of counties planning an increase are Conservative-run, but have turned down the offer of grant funding from central government equal to a 1 per cent rise, in return for a freeze. The move demonstrates concern among Tory council leaders over the impact of wider cuts on council services.” – Independent on Sunday

Sex abuse enquiry panel wastes tens of thousands of pounds…

money“Tens of thousands of pounds have been ‘wasted’ on the Government’s inquiry into historic child abuse and key figures are set to be sacked even though it has barely begun. The controversial eight-strong panel has had seven meetings, as well as ‘listening meetings’ with survivors, putting their bill at well over £25,000 already – despite Theresa May being poised to give them the boot.” – Mail on Sunday

…as Watson accuses Brittan

“A former Minister last night took the sensational step of stating that Leon Brittan stood accused of ‘multiple child rape’. Tom Watson, a Defence and Cabinet Office Minister under Labour, said he had spoken to a man who said the former Home Secretary raped him as a child, and a woman who said he raped her in 1967. He added that he knew of two other similar cases.” – Mail on Sunday

  • Brittan was a fine man and vital Thatcher ally – Bruce Anderson, Sunday Telegraph

Blairite Kendall signals her intent to challenge Miliband if he loses in May…

Miliband Odd and Red“Liz Kendall has emerged as the favourite candidate among Blairite MPs to succeed Ed Miliband if he loses the general election. The shadow Health minister gave an interview to The House magazine last week in which she said there was a role for the private sector in the NHS and that “what matters is what works”… MPs from all wings of the Labour party saw her remarks as a clear “signal of intent” that she is considering standing in a future leadership contest on a Blairite ticket.” – Independent on Sunday

…as Mail on Sunday print seconds extract of his ex-housemate’s excruciating diary

“Winter, with whom Miliband lived while campaigning to become an MP, described how the future Labour leader told him a year before the financial crash of 2008 that the ‘economy was about to fall off a cliff’ – and how Labour planned to hold a snap Election before voters found out, but had to abandon the idea. It also disclosed how Miliband set fire to Mr Winter’s office and bought a Muslim prayer mat to replace the burnt carpet.” – Mail on Sunday

Academic behind UKIP study examines how the ‘Green surge’ wounds Labour

green20party (1)“This has generated a lot of concern among Labour commentators, who worry that rising Green support will split the left-leaning vote and further complicate a path to victory already made more tortuous by the SNP surge in Scotland and the Ukip surge in traditional working-class seats. There are good reasons to worry: the Greens draw their strength primarily from younger, socially liberal and economically leftwing university graduates, a group who do indeed tilt heavily towards Labour at present.” – Rob Ford, The Observer

  • Greens could hit Labour in 22 key battlegrounds – The Observer

Wannabe MP apologises for anti-Army tweets

“A would-be Labour MP has apologised over offensive messages he posted about the Armed Forces. A series of tweets emerged in which Russell Whiting blasted the “warped pseudo-worship” of war heroes and said army tradition was to “kill lots of people”. Whiting also attacked the Duchess of Cambridge over her pregnancies and said Remembrance Sunday was too politicised and announced he would not wear a poppy.” – Sun on Sunday (£)

Health 1) Labour owns up to planned NHS cuts

NHS_Logo“Labour was accused of “rank hypocrisy” over the NHS last night after admitting it would cut hospital bed numbers. And it could even close some hospitals — despite Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham’s scaremongering over “Tory cuts”. Both policies form part of Labour’s flagship plan for the NHS, due to be unveiled on Tuesday. It centres on merging health and social care — which Mr Burnham admits will lead to beds being axed and even hospital closures.” – Sun on Sunday (£)

Health 2) Labour’s drive to diesel a major public health risk, concedes shadow minister

“The drive by the previous Labour government to encourage millions of Britons to opt for diesel cars in a bid to save the planet was “wrong” and a “massive problem for public health” Barry Gardiner, shadow Environment Minister, has admitted. Ten million Britons drive diesel cars, in a trend which was encouraged by tax breaks given by Gordon Brown when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer.” – Independent on Sunday

Adam Boulton: Cameron is boosting parties who aid only Labour

CAMERON knives“The best any of the insurgents is offering is “confidence and supply” to let a minority government win votes in parliament — until they turn on it, having extracted concessions in the meantime such as a second Scottish independence referendum. Flexing their socialist muscles, the SNP and the Greens rule out even this arm’s-length relationship with the Tories — only Labour need apply.” – Sunday Times (£)

Clegg claims to have averted a Greek tragedy in the UK

“As Greece slipped into chaos, the markets were looking at us and wondering if we would be the next domino to fall. It could have been us, but it wasn’t because the Liberal Democrats stepped up to the plate. We took a deliberate decision – at some political cost – to put the national interest first and form a new kind of government. A strong, stable coalition government capable of rescuing the economy.” – Nick Clegg, Sunday Telegraph

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Clegg: lame duck or dead parrot? Why his weakness makes a second coalition unlikely

News in Brief

  • Thirteen SAS soldiers face trial over “shoot to kill” IRA deaths – Mail on Sunday
  • Tailor welfare to local conditions, claims Citizens’ Advice – Independent on Sunday
  • Internet filters block sites of sexual abuse charities – The Observer
  • Farage and Sturgeon’s most outrageous comments – Sunday Telegraph
  • First Japanese hostage feared executed by ISIS – Sunday Times (£)
  • Lancashire council poised to greenlight two controversial fracking sites – Independent on Sunday
  • German plan to open swimming pool in the middle of the Thames – Mail on Sunday
  • Gravitas for hire… Ashdown joins voiceover company – The Observer