EU 1) Cameron concedes his renegotiation is ‘unlikely’ to secure treaty change

EU Exit‘The Prime Minister – who will outline Britain’s demands for reform at a Brussels summit tonight – has consistently maintained that changes to the treaties which underpin the EU are needed in order to push through his proposals – including a clamp down on migrant benefits. However, in what will be seen as a major climb down, Mr Cameron is now prepared to accept that EU treaty change – which requires the ratification of every member state – is unlikely to be signed off until after Britain goes to the polls…he is now prepared to accept what officials call an ‘irreversible lock’ or a ‘legally binding’ guarantee that EU law will be changed at some future point to accommodate Britain’s renegotiation.’ – Daily Mail

EU 2) Farage attacks the Queen’s Berlin speech

‘David Cameron was yesterday accused of dragging the Queen into his efforts to keep Britain in a reformed EU, after the monarch made a plea for unity in the continent. Nigel Farage, the Ukip leader, said the Queen had been “very poorly advised” after a speech at a state banquet in Berlin in which she said that “division in Europe is dangerous”.’ – FT

  • The Palace denies making a political point – The Guardian

EU 3) The clock ticks down on Greek finances

Euro meltdown‘Greece has 24 hours to surrender to austerity demands by the eurozone and the International Monetary Fund or it will default on its debts and crash out of the euro on Monday. Angela Merkel has urged the government in Athens to capitulate before markets open next week, as the European Central Bank (ECB) prepares for capital controls and a Greek banking collapse. “We will not be blackmailed by Greece,” she told a meeting of centre-right leaders.’ – The Times (£)

  • The creditors’ proposals are leaked – FT

Major rail projects suspended

‘Hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money could also have been wasted on plans that will never see the light of day. A tranche of projects was put on hold yesterday after it emerged that a £38.5 billion investment programme overseen by Network Rail has been ravaged by chronic cost overruns and missed targets. In a sign of the severity of the crisis, Richard Parry-Jones, Network Rail’s chairman for the past three years, was replaced by Sir Peter Hendy, credited with the smooth running of London’s transport during the Olympics.’ – The Times (£)


>Today: Iain Dale’s Friday Diary: It’s scandalous that dozens of people at Transport for London earn over £100,000 a year

Lewis: Spend more than the NATO target on defence

LEWIS Dr Julian headshot‘Britain should be spending as much as 3 per cent of its national income on defence, an influential Tory suggests. Julian Lewis, the new Conservative chairman of the defence select committee, echoes comments by a former minister who will challenge the Treasury on the matter in parliament today. Sir Gerald Howarth’s proposals would enshrine the Nato 2 per cent GDP target into law.’ – The Times (£)

  • A manifesto to save the military – The Sun (£)
  • The Government’s policies leave me baffled – Julian Lewis, PoliticsHome
  • Defence spending, not aid, should be enshrined in law – The Sun Says (£)
  • MoD battles ‘thousands’ of cyber-attacks – FT
  • Foreign Office reviews its aid spending – FT
  • Forty-nine major Government projects are in trouble – The Times (£)


Duncan Smith: Labour have ‘egg on their faces’ over child poverty alarmism

‘They cannot accept our reforms of welfare, which they never did in their time, are working. The truth is they have egg all over their face today.’ Mr Duncan Smith accused Chris Leslie, the Shadow Chancellor, of ‘rank hypocrisy’. ‘They comprehensively failed themselves to meet their own targets despite dumping huge sums of money into the welfare system,’ he said. ‘Our fundamental belief is the most powerful way to change lives is to create a welfare system that makes work pay, writes no one off and supports people into work.” – Daily Mail

  • The Left have learned nothing – Daily Mail Leader
  • Work and Pensions Secretary ‘welcomes’ charitable people setting up food banks – Daily Mail
  • The apocalypse didn’t happen as expected, but it’s definitely around the corner – The Guardian Leader

>Today: The Deep End: Heresy of the week: A “lower-tax, lower welfare” society? Sounds like a job for the living wage

>Yesterday: Imogen Atkinson on Comment: More foodbanks – not a sign of a failing state, but a sign of a compassionate society

Javid plans the sale of the Green Investment Bank

JAVID Sajid black backgroundThe UK is poised to announce the sale of a large stake in the Green Investment Bank, set up by the former coalition government to invest in environmentally friendly infrastructure projects…Sajid Javid, business secretary, said: “The bank will still be green, still be profitable, still be a market-leader in financing environmentally sound infrastructure. But free from limitations on where it can borrow money and EU regulations on state aid, the bank will be able to access a much greater volume of capital.”’ – FT

Calls grow for Osborne to cut the top tax rate to 40p

‘The top rate of tax must be cut to 40p as soon as possible, a former Conservative chancellor has said. The call by Lord Lamont of Lerwick came as other prominent Tories, including Lord Lawson of Blaby, another Tory former chancellor, pressed George Osborne to reduce the top rate of tax within this parliament. Lord Lamont said he strongly favoured cutting the tax for those earning more than £150,000 at some point in the next five years.’ – The Times (£)

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: If Osborne cuts tax rates for the rich, he must also curb their tax privileges

Holyrood could gain income tax powers by 2018

Scottish flag‘The Scottish Parliament is on course to get control over income tax within three years, David Mundell has disclosed as he suggested the SNP is deliberately exaggerating potential glitches in legislation transferring a huge swathe of powers to Holyrood. The Scottish Secretary refused to give a cast-iron guarantee, but said he was hopeful that responsibility for income tax bands and rates on earning would be devolved for the start of the 2018/19 tax year.’ – Daily Telegraph

Free School outperforms top boarding schools

‘A flagship free school in a deprived area has outperformed leading private rivals in the toughest A-level subjects. Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said the sixth form college – which sent five pupils to Oxbridge – showed that ‘rigorous academic education needn’t and shouldn’t be the preserve of the rich or lucky’. The London Academy of Excellence in Stratford, East London, had more pupils score highly in two or more ‘difficult’ A-levels – such as maths, biology, chemistry and history – than Roedean, Marlborough College and Wellington College, which all charge more than £30,000 a year.’ – Daily Mail

Faith schools should be forced to teach about same sex relationships, says Burnham

Andy Burnham‘Faith schools must be forced to teach about gay and lesbian relationships on a par with heterosexual couples, the Labour leadership front-runner Andy Burnham has insisted. The Shadow Health Secretary said those who argue that requiring all schools to teach about same-sex unions would be a threat to religious freedom were “straightforwardly wrong”.’ – Daily Telegraph

  • Did he dye his hair for Question Time? – Daily Mail

The BBC Trust might be scrapped

‘The BBC Trust faces being scrapped and the Corporation placed under the control of industry regulator Ofcom, it was reported last night. This would mean the BBC being governed by an external body for the first time in its 92-year history. The move may come into force under the next charter.’ – Daily Mail

  • The Government denies a decision has been made – The Guardian

HMRC fail to answer 18 million phone calls

Telephone‘The bungling taxman failed to answer 18million phone calls from the public last year – more than a quarter of those it received. Shocking figures reveal that 10.5million calls to HMRC went to an answer machine or received a busy tone, while 7.4million more were terminated by frustrated customers fed up with waiting on hold. Critics will pounce on the figures, pointing out that many calls are being made because of blunders by the taxman in the first place.’ – Daily Mail

West Midlands police suppressed warnings about child abuse

‘A police force suppressed a report on how gangs were sexually grooming girls over fears that the findings would trigger racial tensions before the 2010 general election. West Midlands police had been warned that 139 girls, some as young as 13, were at serious risk of exploitation from groups of men mostly of Pakistani origin…Despite the warnings, police did not alert the public or appeal for information.’ – The Times (£)

News in Brief

  • The UK national age reaches 40 for the first time – Daily Mail
  • Arsonist arrested for setting fire to…a bonfire – Belfast Telegraph
  • The Royals should manage their finances better – Philip Collins, The Times (£)
  • Two spies sacked for data breaches – The Sun (£)
  • Bodies found in search for victims of the Troubles – The Guardian
  • Racist attacked dentist with machete – WalesOnline
  • America’s populist left gears up for a fight – Gillian Tett, FT
  • Patrick Macnee has died – Daily Mail
  • Miliband meets his own biggest fan – The Independent
  • Lancashire councillors reject shale gas development – FT
  • How our food tastes have changed in 40 years – The Sun (£)