Hague urges protection of defence spending

HAGUE Marr“William Hague has urged Britain to protect its military spending commitments in the face of a ‘systemically less stable world’ as the former foreign secretary wades into the debate on defence funding. Mr Hague, who is quitting politics after a 40-year career that has included leading the Conservative party, used a valedictory interview with the Financial Times to warn that Britain must maintain a powerful military, intelligence and diplomatic presence to deal with new threats. Prime Minister David Cameron is under pressure from senior MPs to continue to meet a Nato spending target of 2 per cent of economic output on defence” – Financial Times

  • Osborne warns Cameron over “blank cheque” for military – The Times (£)
  • Tories “ditch Nato defence spending pledge” – Daily Mail
  • Putin threatens to turn off Europe’s gas supply – The Times (£)

Kirkup: how Osborne’s Northern Powerhouse could help the Tories

“The north-west is possibly the biggest battleground of the general election… The Osborne team insist that the Northern Powerhouse plan is about a lot more than electoral politics. But no one denies that looking and sounding like they actually care about the north can’t hurt the Conservatives’ chances in May…the Powerhouse agenda has a notable appeal to non-Tories” – James Kirkup, Daily Telegraph



Montgomerie: UKIP is heading for the scrapyard

Nigel Farage“If UKIP wins between six and a dozen seats and Nigel Farage loses in Thanet, it will be difficult for him to retain his leadership. The centre of gravity of Ukip will have moved to Westminster and away from him. Without Mr Farage to keep the lid on things the fight for UKIP’s soul will then boil over” – Tim Montgomerie, The Times (£)

Immigration higher than in 2010

“Immigration is now higher than when the Tories came to power in 2010, figures are expected to reveal today. The annual net influx was last night predicted by experts to top 260,000. That compares with 244,000 when David Cameron took over at No10 in May 2010. The figure — the last before May’s General Election — will be a huge blow to the PM and Home Secretary Theresa May” – The Sun (£)

  • Britain’s brightest leaving in brain drain and replaced by low-skilled migrants – Daily Telegraph

MPs say BBC licence fee should be decriminalised, then scrapped

BBC logo“The BBC’s licence fee is becoming ‘anachronistic’ and should be decriminalised and ultimately scrapped entirely, a committee of MPs has said…It recommended that ultimately it should be replaced with a German-style ‘broadcasting levy’ which would apply to every household in Britain regardless of whether they have a television” – Daily Telegraph

HSBC scandal caused horrible damage, chairman admits

“The chairman of HSBC has admitted his shame at the ‘horrible reputational damage’ the bank has suffered following the revelations of the systematic aiding of tax avoidance at its Swiss subsidiary, but has refused to take personal responsibility for the failings. Douglas Flint, who was finance director at the time HSBC took over the Swiss subsidiary, infuriated members of the Treasury select committee on Wednesday by blaming the failings at the Swiss unit on local” – Guardian

Greece risks fresh euro clash by stopping privatisations

Euro meltdown“Greece’s Left-wing Syriza government has vowed to block plans to privatise strategic assets and called for sweeping changes to past deals, risking a fresh clash with the eurozone’s creditor powers just days after a tense deal in Brussels. ‘We will cancel the privatisation of the Piraeus Port,’ said George Stathakis, the economy minister” – Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Daily Telegraph

Stoke Mandeville “ignored complaints about Savile”

“Staff at Stoke Mandeville Hospital received ten complaints about Jimmy Savile, but victims’ statements were ignored, a damning report will reveal today. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt will apologise to dozens of hospital patients amid new revelations about the extent of abuse, described as ‘horrific’. An official report will publish allegations that Savile assaulted and raped more than 50 victims at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire” – Daily Mail

Footballer urged by Tories to stand for London Mayor

LONDON-ASSEMBLYEx-footie star Sol Campbell has revealed senior Tories are urging him to stand for London Mayor. The former England defender told The Sun he was ‘definitely’ interested in a role that would turn politics on its head. He said: ‘We’ll see what happens. A few more conversations have to take place.’ The process to replace Boris Johnson in 2016 begins after the General Election in May” – The Sun (£)

Cameron: my wife buys my holiday clothes

“He has often been mocked for his bland casual clothes. But David Cameron today reveals that his outfits are chosen for him by his wife Samantha…Cameron has worn his favourite navy blue polo shirt on every summer holiday for several years, and was accused of a fashion faux pas by teaming it with black shoes with no socks on. In an interview with Woman and Home magazine today, the Prime Minister says he is ‘not really interested in clothes’ and is happy to wear whatever his wife selects for him – provided it doesn’t make him ‘stand out’” – Daily Mail

News in brief

  • Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey awarded VC – Daily Mail
  • Austria bans foreign funding for its mosques – The Times (£)
  • Lee Kuan Yew, first Prime Minister of Singapore, on life support – Guardian
  • Head could be sewn on new body, Italian surgeon says – Independent
  • Houses in Oxford more unaffordable than in London – Financial Times
  • No charges against driver of Glasgow bin lorry which killed six people – Scotsman
  • Universities told to double intake of poor students – The Times (£)
  • Two of King John’s teeth to go on display alongside Magna Carta – Daily Mail
  • Madonna falls backwards down a set of steps – Daily Mail