Brexit 1) Cameron considers May 2016 date for the EU referendum

CAMERON EU fence‘David Cameron has cleared the decks for a referendum on Europe as early as May 5 next year. He overruled advice from the Electoral Commission that the vote should not be held then because it would clash with English local elections and major elections in Scotland, Wales and London. Tory whips have also told MPs that Mr Cameron is considering a referendum campaign that could last as little as 16 weeks.’ – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: Syed Kamall MEP’s column: It’s been a good month for Tories, and our allies, in the European Parliament

Brexit 2) Blair and Farage are the least trusted voices on the issue

‘Pro-Europeans should think twice before giving Tony Blair a leading role in the campaign to keep Britain in the bloc, a survey has found. The public regard the former Prime Minister as the least trusted politician in the debate over the merits of European Union membership…The research, released on the 40th anniversary of the 1975 referendum on Britain’s membership of the Common Market, found the Ukip leader, Nigel Farage, was the second most distrusted figure in the Europe debate…Sunder Katwala, British Future’s director, said: “Both Nigel Farage and Tony Blair appear to be rather more likely to harm their cause than help it, when preaching beyond the already converted.”‘ – The Independent


Deficit reduction 1) Osborne announces £3 billion in new savings – including £500 million from defence

DEFENCE cuts‘Britain’s defence budget faces a £500million cut as the Chancellor yesterday pressed the accelerator on a sweeping programme of cuts. George Osborne said the savings would form part of a £3billion package of cuts this year designed to ease the pain later on. Wielding the axe, he also announced plans to trim the amount of cash going to universities and colleges, transport and public health – leaving only schools, hospitals, foreign aid and police and security services unscathed.’ – Daily Mail


Deficit reduction 2) The state’s remaining 30 per cent stake in Royal Mail will be sold

‘George Osborne is flogging off the Government’s remaining 30 per cent stake in Royal Mail for £1.5 billion — to pay down Britain’s mammoth debts. The Chancellor sparked union fury yesterday by saying that a full privatisation of the 500-year-old postal operator was the “right thing to do” for the business — and taxpayers. The terms of the sell-off will be rubber stamped in the coming months.’ – The Sun (£)

Grayling writes to IPSA to oppose the MPs’ pay rise

commons‘A 10 per cent pay rise for MPs is “not appropriate” at a time of continued austerity, the government has told the Westminster expenses watchdog. David Cameron this week dropped a threat to overrule the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) over plans to raise MPs’ pay from £67,060 to £74,000 amid anger among his own backbenchers.’ – The Times (£)

The licence fee is ‘regressive’, says Whittingdale

‘The BBC licence fee was yesterday branded a “regressive” levy on the poor by the Culture Secretary — sparking talk he will radically reform the payment. John Whittingdale told MPs that charging a £145.50 flat rate meant Britain’s poorest households were forced to pay a “greater proportion” of their income.’ – The Sun (£)

Welfare reliance hits 35-year low

growth flag‘Britain’s culture of welfare reliance has been transformed, with the proportion claiming out-of-work benefits at its lowest for 35 years, according to an analysis of official data. The data prepared by the Resolution Foundation, a London think tank that focuses on low to middle-income earners, show that receipt of three key out-of-work benefits — unemployment benefit, income support mainly for single parents and disability support — has been on a steady downward trend since the mid-1990s.’ – FT

Changes to ‘perverse’ NHS waiting time targets

‘Two key NHS waiting time targets are to be abandoned after the government said that they distorted patient care. Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, said yesterday that it made no sense to penalise hospitals for dealing with patients who had endured long waits for operations, as he announced the abolition of targets that focused on how long treated patients had waited. Instead he will retain a target that looks at how many patients are still waiting to be seen.’ – The Times (£)

  • Prince Charles’ concern about hospital food – FT

Miliband’s back (the other one)

David Miliband‘David Miliband fuelled speculation over a return to frontline British politics after agreeing to give the keynote speech at the annual convention of the Institute of Directors, an influential business group. The former foreign secretary, who retreated into the political shadows after losing the Labour leadership election five years ago to his brother, Ed, will address 2,000 business leaders in October.’ – The Times (£)

>Today: Iain Dale’s Friday Diary: The Left thinks the voters are stupid. No wonder Labour lost.


Salmond called out for his Soubry put-down

‘Alex Salmond has been accused of holding a 19th-century attitude to women after telling a Conservative minister to “Behave yourself, woman”. The former SNP leader, who was elected to Westminster last month, issued the rebuke to Anna Soubry in the House of Commons chamber on Wednesday night.’ – The Times (£)

  • The SNP could de-rail shale gas, warns Carswell – The Sun (£)
  • Osborne tells Holyrood to use its own powers if it’s so worried about his spending measures – Daily Telegraph

FIFA scandal grows, and grows, and grows…

ball‘Fifa paid more than £3 million in “hush money” to the Football Association of Ireland when the country lost a play-off for the 2010 World Cup finals after a handball by Thierry Henry, the France striker. The secret payment — designed to stop Ireland suing over the unfair result — was revealed yesterday as the corruption scandal at football’s governing body grew. One former executive admitted accepting World Cup bribes and another promised to reveal an “avalanche” of secrets that would engulf Sepp Blatter.’ – The Times (£)

  • England could host the 2022 World Cup, says Whittingdale – Daily Mail
  • We should host it in 2018 – The Sun Says (£)

Collins: Kennedy’s legacy will lead the Lib Dems nowhere

‘Charles Kennedy did what he did rather brilliantly, with style, wit and warmth and politics would be better for more people of his stamp. But what he did can only take you so far. Mr Kennedy’s Liberal Democrats climbed all the way to the summit of the mountain he set out to climb. The trouble with that is that when you reach the top you cannot help but wonder at the point.’ – Philip Collins, The Times (£)

News in brief

  • My 95.1 per cent chance of living to 2020 – Tom Utley, Daily Mail
  • New pressure on the White House to release details of who financed 9/11 – The Times (£)
  • China blamed for huge US government data hack – Daily Telegraph
  • Caffe Nero boss says questions about his boycott of milk over the badger cull are ‘pathetic’ – Daily Mail
  • The youth worker who blew the whistle on the Rotherham abuse scandal – The Times (£)
  • Former All Blacks player dies in car crash – WalesOnline
  • ‘Moron’ ISIS militant’s selfie led to US bombing raid – Daily Telegraph
  • Charlotte Church says she’d be happy to pay more tax (but then doesn’t) – The Guardian
  • New evidence busts anti-fracking myth – FT
  • The Andy Coulson case shows the need for justice to be reformed – Fraser Nelson, Daily Telegraph