May plans “British values” test for visa applicants

MAY Theresa menacing“Overseas visitors seeking to work, study or attend business meetings in the UK would have to demonstrate they respected ‘British values’, under Conservative proposals to make this commitment an integral part of any visa application. The plan — put forward by Theresa May, the home secretary — would form part of the government’s strategy on countering extremism. A draft report, seen by the Financial Times, suggests the strengthening of border controls to prevent the entry of foreign nationals who may seek to radicalise others” – Financial Times



Tories cut tax for couples to woo defectors

“Married couples will be able to apply from today for a controversial tax break that could save them up to £212 a year. The Tories claim that the £600 million policy will benefit more than 4 million married couples and 15,000 in civil partnerships when it comes into force from April. The party hopes that the policy will win back voters who have defected to UKIP… Labour and the Lib Dems have opposed the plans, described by Nick Clegg as ‘patronising drivel that belong in the Edwardian age’” – The Times (£)

  • Cameron says it is right to recognise marriage in the tax system – Daily Mail
  • I can barely raise one cheer for this paltry tax break – Tom Utley, Daily Mail
  • Married couples tax cut should be extended soon – Daily Express editorial
  • Farage says Tories will be biggest party after the general election – Daily Telegraph
  • Lib Dems will prove to be the great survivors – Philip Collins, The Times (£)

Cochrane: Scottish Tories at long last look relevant again

DAVIDSON Ruth new“David Cameron arrives in Edinburgh today where, for a change, his Scottish party is not in the doldrums. No, it doesn’t have any more than the one MP it won in 2010 and, yes, it still languishes a fairly distant third in the opinion polls. However, what is different is that the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party is at long last beginning to look like a relevant political party” – Alan Cochrane, Daily Telegraph

  • Poll shows Labour still far behind the SNP – Scotsman


Daily Telegraph defends its coverage of HSBC

“This newspaper makes no apology for the way in which it has covered the HSBC group and the allegations of wrongdoing by its Swiss subsidiary, allegations that have been so enthusiastically promoted by the BBC, the Guardian and their ideological soulmates in the Labour Party. We have covered this matter as we do all others, according to our editorial judgment and informed by our values…We will take no lectures about journalism from the likes of the BBC, the Guardian or the Times” – Daily Telegraph editorial

  • HSBC lent £250 million to Telegraph owners – Guardian

Cameron defends Bomber Command

CAMERON straight at you“David Cameron made an impassioned defence of Bomber Command yesterday, putting him on another collision course with the Archbishop of Canterbury, who expressed ‘regret and deep sorrow’ this week over the Dresden bombings… In response, Cameron said that Bomber Command had played an ‘absolutely vital role in our war effort’ and they were ‘heroes of our country’” – The Times (£)

Russia condemns Fallon’s warning…

“World leaders were scrambling to salvage the ceasefire between Russia and Ukraine last night as pro-Putin rebels claimed to have killed thousands of troops… A war of words also erupted between Russia and Britain after Michael Fallon, the defence secretary, said there was a ‘real danger’ that President Putin could destabilise the Baltic states as he had done in Ukraine. Russia’s foreign ministry accused Mr Fallon of violating ‘diplomatic ethics’ and said that his characterisation of Russia was ‘completely intolerable’ – The Times (£)

…as peers condemn “catastrophic misreading” of Ukraine crisis…

Putin hunting“The UK is guilty of sleepwalking into the crisis in Ukraine and has not been as active or visible as it should, according to a damning report into the British and European approach to the crisis by the main Lords committee on foreign affairs. The report – the fullest evaluation of the Ukraine crisis to emerge from parliament – also finds that expertise within the Foreign Office towards Russia has diminished significantly, and according to the committee chairman, Lord Tugendhat, ‘led to a catastrophic misreading of the mood in the run-up to the crisis’” – Guardian

…and former RAF chief says Britain is at Russia’s mercy

“Britain ‘is at the mercy’ of Russian aircraft because its air defence system has been halved since the end of the Cold War, according to a former head of the RAF. Air Chief Marshal Sir Michael Graydon’s intervention came after British warplanes scrambled to intercept a pair of Russian long-range bombers flying off the coast of Cornwall yesterday. David Cameron said he thought that the Russians were trying to make ‘some sort of a point’” – The Times (£)

  • Time for the Germans to raise two new Panzer corps – Allan Mallinson, The Times (£)


Labour donor is “tax dodge specialist”

Miliband Natural“Labour’s biggest private donor is the accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, the Electoral Commission has revealed — a company that a senior Labour MP accused of ‘selling tax avoidance on an industrial scale’. A PwC ‘forensic accountant’ worked in the office of Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, according to parliamentary records, and a manager of PwC’s capital markets division worked with Chuka Umunna in the Labour business team” – The Times (£)

Farage had posed with suspended Chelsea fan

“Chelsea suspended three supporters last night in response to a race row engulfing the football club after fans prevented a black man from boarding the Paris Metro. Josh Parsons, 21, a former public schoolboy identified as one of those on the Metro carriage, went into hiding amid widespread condemnation…Pictures emerged yesterday of UKIP’s leader, Nigel Farage, posing with Josh Parsons outside a London pub” – The Times (£)

British soldier “has joined Kurdish forces”

“A serving British soldier has joined Kurdish rebels fighting Isis after disappearing while on leave, it was reported last night. The 19-year-old man is believed to be a private from the 2nd Battalion, The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment, currently based in Cyprus. He told relatives that he was going to join Kurdish rebel forces two days ago, according to Sky News, allegedly writing to them to say: ‘These guys need our help’”- The Times (£)

Germans rebuff Greek bailout request

Euro meltdown“Athens’ chances of finding itself without an EU financial backstop in one week will come down to a bitter face-off in Brussels on Friday between the Greek and German finance ministers after Berlin rejected Greece’s request to extend its €172 billion rescue by six months. The German rebuff came just hours after Yanis Varoufakis, the Greek finance minister, reversed his government’s long-held promise to kill the current bailout” – Financial Times

  • Greek finance minister says cuts are “punitive” – Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Daily Telegraph
  • Don’t panic: the sky won’t fall in if Greece decides to leave the euro – Allister Heath, Daily Telegraph

Tory MP campaigns in the wrong seat

“Ruth Rosenthal was surprised when a campaigner for David Burrowes, the Tory MP for Enfield Southgate, knocked on her door to ask if she would support him. Not only is Ms Rosenthal’s street not in Enfield Southgate, but being married to the Labour MP for Edmonton she has a better reason than most not to vote against him in May…Mr Burrowes, who had been at the house next door, said he had taken a ‘wrong turning,’ bringing him half a mile into the wrong constituency” – The Times (£)

News in brief

  • Stephen Hawking says survival of the human race depends on space travel – Daily Mail
  • ForAmerica says Jeb Bush is unelectable – Independent
  • Sally Bercow breaks leg in nine places while skiing – Daily Mail