Cameron’s new plan for controlling immigration: make companies pay more

Cameron1“David Cameron has ordered companies to pay their immigrant workers thousands more in a bid to keep more jobs for Brits. … The PM has ordered officials to draw up plans to significantly hike the minimum annual salary businesses must pay foreigners before they are allowed into the UK. … The plan – drawn up by his new immigration taskforce – is the latest offensive as the PM tries to cut the number of migrants and their families coming to the UK from outside Europe.” – The Sun (£)

  • “Katja Hall, deputy director-general of the CBI, the employers’ organisation, told the Financial Times that targeting non-EU skilled migrants, who accounted for just 0.066 per cent of the UK labour market, was ‘not the answer’.” – Financial Times
  • “Ministers joined child protection campaigners yesterday in denouncing a judge’s suggestion that recently-arrived immigrant parents should be permitted to slap and hit their children.” – Daily Mail
  • “Grandparents could be allowed to use their children’s parental leave allowance so that they can help look after youngsters, David Cameron indicated.” – Daily Telegraph

And comment:

  • “The latest big idea from the Prime ­Minister to put the brakes on immigration is a real mind-boggler.” – Sun editorial (£)

The Prime Minister prepares to brief EU leaders about his renegotiation plans…

EU Exit“David Cameron is to brief fellow EU leaders on Britain’s proposals for renegotiating its membership terms in the formal setting of the European council in Brussels later this month. … As the prime minister left the door open to an early EU referendum on the same day as other elections next year, British officials confirmed that a slot has been set aside on the summit agenda for Cameron to outline his plans.” – The Guardian

  • “Harriet Harman, Labour’s acting leader, suggested that the party was preparing to oppose plans that would allow the Government to actively campaign for a Yes vote in the EU referendum.” – The Independent
  • “The BBC may be forced to deliver impartial coverage of the European Union referendum campaign. … Backbench MPs have called for an independent ‘impartiality adjudicator’ that would sniff out bias by the broadcaster. … The watchdog would report all allegations of bias within 24 hours and have the power to police all output during the in-out vote campaign.” – Daily Mail
  • “Nicola Sturgeon said on Wednesday there was “‘a palpable sense of concern’ in the US over the possibility that Britain might leave the European Union.” – Daily Telegraph
  • “Ukip MEPs sparked a protest that sent the European Parliament into chaos today after a crucial vote and debate on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) was suspended.” – The Independent
  • “Less than half of people in Britain and Nato’s other European members are prepared to back military action against Russia in defence of an ally.” – The Times (£)

And comment:

  • “Germany seeks to give Britain EU leeway — but not at any price.” – Charles Grant, Financial Times
  • “Europeans have to stand firm against Putin or he will strike again.” – Times editorial (£)
  • “The BBC must take its responsibility seriously.” – Daily Telegraph editorial

> Today: James Cleverly MP on Comment – On Europe, let’s fight hard – and then shake hands

> Yesterday:

…and defends the Falkands against an Argentinian diplomat

“David Cameron defended the United Kingdom’s claim to the Falkland Islands during a confrontation with Argentina’s foreign minister at a summit in Brussels on Wednesday, sources said. … ‘I can confirm that the prime minister defended the Falklands and their right to self-determination after the Argentine foreign minister raised the issue,’ a British diplomat told AFP.” – The Guardian

Tim Montgomerie: Cameron needs the radicalism of Thatcher

MONTGOMERIE Tim offical“Is Mr Cameron defeating the challenges of today? It’s a mixed picture. The housing crisis is getting worse but he’s probably winning the battle to get people off welfare and into work. But what about the two objectives that he has set for himself? On one — EU renegotiation — it’s too early to judge but on the second — deficit reduction — I’m anxious.” – Tim Montgomerie, The Times (£)

  • “The Prime Minister has no interest in trying to rewrite history to suggest that the Tories always knew they would win.” – James Forsyth, The Spectator
  • “Boris left hanging by Cam’s big return to No10.” – Kelvin MacKenzie, The Sun (£)

Quentin Letts: PMQs affords us a glimpse of the premier’s inner character

“PMQs brought out the PM’s inner ‘Flashman’ and we might not have seen that had it not been for the sheer theatrical din of the Commons. Parliament is not exactly over-exciting during the rest of the week. … Thirty minutes of argy-bargy is a small price to pay for a glimpse of a premier’s character. Yet still the anti-Cameroons complain about PMQs, as they have this week.” – Quentin Letts, Daily Mail

  • “Even the Tory benches are tiring of Cameron’s chorus of gloats and sneers.” – John Crace, The Guardian

> Yesterday: Andrew Gimson’s PMQs sketch – Harman scores off Cameron by telling him to stop gloating

Sell-off squabble 1) Osborne to sell off RBS at a £7 billion loss

George Osborne“The taxpayer’s massive stake in Royal Bank of Scotland is to be sold off at an estimated £7 billion loss, George Osborne announced tonight. … The Chancellor used his annual Mansion House speech in the City to confirm that the sale of the crippled bank will begin within months. … Some of the shares could eventually be offered directly to the public in a 1980s-style privatisation. But initial sales will go to big City institutions. The sell-off will be done in stages over a number of years.” – Daily Mail

  • “There are, however, numerous hurdles to an early RBS share sale by the government. First, the bank is this year expected to suffer its eighth consecutive year of losses and it is in the midst of a radical restructuring of its investment bank.” – Financial Times
  • “The full lobbying power of the City of London has swung into action, as bankers, insurers and asset managers seek to persuade George Osborne to loosen the tax and regulatory regime.” – Financial Times

And comment:

  • “George Osborne talks tough on debt – so why not on the banks?” – Simon Jenkins, The Guardian
  • “Why I’m glad the rich will always be with us.” – David Aaronovitch, The Times (£)

> Yesterday: Cameron Penny on Comment – The Good Cop Chancellor and Bad Cop Governor prepare for this evening’s Mansion House speech

Sell-off squabble 2) £770 million of Royal Mail shares up for grabs – but not for the public

“More than £770 million of Royal Mail shares were due to be sold off by the Government last night – but the public was barred from buying them. … Ministers put half of the Government’s 30 per cent stake up for sale overnight, but in a move likely to anger taxpayers, the shares were sold to targeted companies, rather than private individuals. … Labour said it was ‘disgraceful’ that only City speculators would be able to buy up the lucrative shares.” – Daily Mail

  • “More than 100,000 savers have already discovered they face a fee if they take advantage of the new pension freedoms.” – Daily Mail

And also from Mansion House: Carney battles irresponsible bankers

Banks Face 6 Billion Of Libor Litigation“The Governor of the Bank of England launched a crackdown on City cowboys and rogue traders last night and vowed: ‘The age of irresponsibility is over.’ … Mark Carney unveiled plans to extend the maximum prison sentence for cheats found guilty of financial market abuse from seven years to ten years as his war on foul play in the City intensified.” – Daily Mail

  • “The truth is we haven’t seen any effective banker bashing yet. Let this be the start of it – not the end.” – Daily Mail editorial

Tyrie re-elected as chair of the Treasury select committee

“Andrew Tyrie, the Conservative MP who has at times made life awkward for both George Osborne and the British banking sector, has been re-elected unopposed as chairman of the powerful Treasury select committee. … Mr Tyrie selection was confirmed on Wednesday evening as nominations for all of the cross-party committees closed. Mark Garnier, a fellow Tory who had said he might stand on a ticket of ending ‘banker-bashing’, decided not to launch a challenge.” – Financial Times

  • “David Tredinnick, advocate of alternative medicines, wants to chair House of Commons Health Select Committee.” – The Independent

> Yesterday: From Reggie to Dessie – Soames’s latest wheeze. Nominating Philip Davies to chair the Women and Equalities Committee

The ministry of Justice will proceed with legal aid cuts for solicitors

Scissors“The UK government is going ahead with legal aid cuts for solicitors, though barristers have escaped further reductions in advocacy fees. … Shailesh Vara, the undersecretary of state for courts and legal aid, said the Ministry of Justice would cut solicitors’ fees by 8.75 per cent and make changes to reduce the number of contracts awarded to duty solicitors representing clients at police stations.” – Financial Times

The Government vs the Internet giants, round 257

“Islamic fanatics are using encrypted computer software to avoid detection by the security services, the Government’s terror expert will warn today. … A landmark 300-page report by David Anderson QC will pave the way for a ferocious battle between the Government and internet giants such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter. … Ministers will seize on the comments by the independent reviewer of terror laws to justify the introduction of a new ‘turbo-charged snoopers’ charter’.” – Daily Mail

  • “Unmanned drones could follow trains across Britain to ensure passengers have phone signal, the government has revealed as they pledged to stop calls cutting out while travelling.” – Daily Telegraph
  • “More than 20 ‘intrusive’ fake mobile phone towers that eavesdrop on public conversations have been found active in the UK, the first time the technology has been detected in the country.” – The Independent
  • “Broadband and mobile phone customers will now be able to switch provider without unfair penalties.” – Daily Mail

A decision on airport expansion may take until next year

Takeoff“Business groups reacted with anger yesterday after it emerged that a decision on expanding Britain’s airports could be delayed until next year. … The long-awaited commission into airport capacity will report within weeks whether it backs expansion at either Gatwick or Heathrow. … But the issue could be kicked into the long grass by ministers who could take until Christmas to respond in detail, and may even put it out for further consultation.” – Daily Mail

Plans to axe subsidies for onshore windfarms also face delay

“Plans to implement David Cameron’s manifesto pledge by shutting down a key subsidy scheme had been expected as early as last week but were postponed following threats from the wind industry to sue the Government and complaints from the Scottish National Party that it was being ‘frozen out’ of the decision. … An announcement had been rescheduled for this week but Whitehall sources said it had now slipped again as officials tried to draw up plans that would not leave them vulnerable to legal challenge.” – Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday:

Backbenchers call for more money for rural schools

School“Schools in London, Manchester and Birmingham could see their funding cut and diverted to schools in rural and shire areas under proposals for a national funding formula supported by a group of backbench Conservative MPs. … The group of MPs – centred on the f40 education funding campaign group – is calling for radical changes to the way that school funding is calculated, which currently sees inner city schools receiving £2,000 or £3,000 more per pupil each year than schools in more rural regions.” – The Guardian

Streeter suggests that gypsies are better off than MPs

“Most travellers are wealthier than MPs, it has been suggested. … Conservative MP Gary Streeter (South West Devon) told a parliamentary debate he was baffled travellers are treated as vulnerable when they have ‘far greater wealth’ than those present in the room. … Around 10 MPs were in attendance at the Westminster Hall discussion along with people watching in the public gallery and parliamentary officials.” – Daily Mail

Voices from New Labour 1) David Miliband has more criticism for his brother’s leadership

David Miliband“David Miliband has warned that Labour ‘turned the page backwards’ under the leadership of his brother Ed and called for a return to the approach adopted by Tony Blair. … The former Foreign Secretary’s strongest criticism of Labour’s performance at last month’s general election prompted fresh speculation at Westminster that he might seek to make a comeback in British politics.” – The Independent

  • “Labour mustn’t fall for the myth of David.” – Jenni Russell, The Times (£)
  • “The culture wars of the left have contributed to Labour becoming unelectable.” – John Bew, New Statesman
  • “Labour’s campaign was fine. It’s the party that Britain rejected.” – Matthew Parris, The Spectator

> Today: Graeme Archer’s column – Who will win the Labour leadership election? Patricia Hewitt.

Voices from New Labour 2) Blair advises his party to move towards the centre ground

“Mr Blair — the Labour leader who won three elections in a row in 1997, 2001 and 2005 — insists that there is only one route to victory: returning to the centre ground. ‘The public always looks for a leader who is going to lead the country and can rise above their party,’ he says. ‘If you retreat into your comfort zone, you lose — that’s the lesson of 100 years of our history.'” – The Times (£)

Voices from New Labour 3) Campbell warns that he’ll oust the new leader if they flop

alcampbell“Alastair Campbell will ‘happily lead the charge’ to oust the next Labour leader should they fail to make an impact, he has pledged. … Tony Blair’s former communications chief, who was heavily involved in attempts to improve Ed Miliband’s performance, also called on the new leader to hold a confidence vote before 2020 to prove they still had the party’s backing.” – The Times (£)

Voices from New Labour 4) Straw urges Scottish Labour to set up a separate party

“Labour would have to create a separate party in Scotland in order to rebuild after the catastrophic loss of seats to the SNP at the last election, a former cabinet minister has warned. … Jack Straw, who served as home and foreign secretary under Tony Blair, said that the party may have to copy the arrangement of the Christian Democratic Union and the Christian Social Union in Germany, which are sister parties.” – The Times (£)

  • “The government is right to move quickly on English votes for English laws. Avoiding it would stir up rebellion in the Commons and threaten the Union.” – Times editorial (£)

Kendall: I have no problem with aiming for a budget surplus

Liz Kendall Leader“Liz Kendall has become the first candidate for the Labour leadership to say she is willing in principle to sign up George Osborne’s new fiscal rules requiring a government to aim for an overall budget surplus in normal times. She added, however, that more detail was needed on what precisely the chancellor was proposing. … She said: ‘Labour should never be in favour of budget deficits for the sake of it. I have no problem aiming for a surplus.'” – The Guardian

  • “George Osborne’s plan to make budget deficits illegal could change the rules of politics forever.” – Allister Heath, Daily Telegraph
  • “Osborne’s budget law is political gimmickry.” – Financial Times
  • “Osborne’s mix of high ideals and low politics.” – Daily Mail editorial

> Today: ToryDiary – In Osborne’s debt

Burnham is a phoney, says his former campaign chief

“Andy Burnham’s former campaign chief has branded his lurch to the Left a cynical ‘creation’ to win the Labour crown. … PR guru Stuart Bruce also predicted the move will end in disaster in a Facebook rant. … Mr Bruce, who ran the shadow health secretary’s failed leadership bid in 2010, said: ‘I just wish we could see the real Andy. … The real one I’d vote for in a flash.'” – The Sun (£)

  • “Labour can no longer afford to take Scottish voters for granted if it is to regain power in Britain, Andy Burnham will declare.” – The Independent

Farron establishes his red lines for any future coalition negotiations

LibDemDead“‘We have to pick a number of seats and we have to go for it. We have to be part of a movement that seeks to remove a Conservative government from office,’ he says. Nonetheless, he does not rule out forming a future coalition with the Tories on the grounds that doing so would make the Lib Dems ‘weak in negotiations’ and that ‘the arithmetic’ may demand it. However, for the first time, he announces that the introduction of proportional representation would be a prerequisite for a deal with either the Conservatives or Labour.” – Interview by George Eaton in the New Statesman

Deposed UKIP adviser: the party is “a bunch of ragtag, unprofessional, embarrassing people”

“So what is [Kassam’s] verdict on eight months at the heart of Farage’s empire? ‘I totally regret it. Every minute,’ he says. ‘I don’t mean it was a horrible experience. But I’ve taken a big hit for nothing. The only good thing that’s come out of this are friendships … But have I got anything else apart from looking at much of Ukip and thinking you are just a bunch of ragtag, unprofessional, embarrassing people who let Nigel down at every juncture? No.'” – The Guardian

Aid watchdog says that short-term targets are getting in the way of good results

Aid shield“A focus on short-term targets means British aid is not being spent as well as it could be, according to analysis by the independent watchdog on aid spending. … Two reports from the Independent Commission for Aid Impact, released on Thursday, show that taxpayers’ money could go further in some of the poorest parts of the world, if those handing it out were better at deciding how to spend it.” – Financial Times

> Yesterday: The Deep End – How to stick to the 0.7 per cent aid target without funding corruption

Damian Thompson: On current trends, Christianity will die in Britain in 2067

“It’s often said that Britain’s church congregations are shrinking, but that doesn’t come close to expressing the scale of the disaster now facing Christianity in this country. Every ten years the census spells out the situation in detail: between 2001 and 2011 the number of Christians born in Britain fell by 5.3 million — about 10,000 a week. If that rate of decline continues, the mission of St Augustine to the English, together with that of the Irish saints to the Scots, will come to an end in 2067.” – Damian Thompson, The Spectator

  • “The religious extremism sweeping the Middle East has deep roots. It will take much more than military action to wipe it out.” – Rabbi Lord Sacks, Daily Telegraph

News in brief

  • British gap-year girl held in Malaysia after posing topless – The Times (£)
  • The first prosecution under the forced marriage law – The Independent
  • Obama is dragged closer to boots on the ground in Iraq – The Times (£)
  • How Isis crippled al-Qaida – The Guardian
  • First American volunteer dies whilst fighting ISIS in Syria – Daily Mail
  • Leaders fail to reach deal on Greek aid – Financial Times
  • Growth in developing nations is slowing, warns World Bank – Financial Times
  • The number of homes for sale has fallen to its lowest level since 1978 – Daily Telegraph
  • Robin selected as Britain’s national bird in vote – BBC
  • Benedict Cumberbatch to be awarded a CBE – The Sun (£)
  • Homer and Marge to separate in new series of The Simpsons – The Sun (£)

And finally 1) Lord Ashcroft offers £100,000 for the Ed Stone

ASHCROFT blue shirt“Cash-strapped Labour have been offered £100,000 for the notorious Ed Stone by a billionaire Tory peer. … Tycoon turned pollster Lord Ashcroft tweeted: ‘If the @UKLabour Party would like to auction the ‘EdStone’ may I start the bidding at £100,000.’ … A Labour source said: ‘We don’t have any plans at the moment, but of course any offer from Lord Ashcroft has to be seriously considered.'” – The Sun (£)

And finally 2) SNPee

“Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP was mocked today after one her MPs locked himself on the toilet during a key vote on Europe. … Angus MacNeill found himself in the wrong corridor as MPs lined up to vote on staging an in-out referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU. … To avoid being forced to vote with the Tories, he hid in the gents toilets until voting had finished.” – Daily Mail