Cameron 1) Crackdown on rip-off apprenticeships

Cameron1“Rip-off companies trading to pass off poor training courses as apprenticeships are to be targeted in a government crackdown set to be launched this week. David Cameron has promised to create three million more apprenticeships by 2020. But there are fears that the entire plan could be undermined by cowboy providers trying to pass off basic, low quality courses as a high standard qualification. Ministers will announce plans to define an apprenticeship in law this week, with providers committing an offence if they use the term to describe low grade courses.” – Daily Mail

Cameron 2) Aid spending ambition ‘skewing budgets’, warn MPs

“Some insiders fear that David Cameron’s ambition to meet the aid target is already skewing budgets. Government departments have been told by the Treasury how much they should contribute. The OECD has a list of valid recipients of aid, which excludes some Commonwealth nations such as Barbados that Britain would traditionally have helped but includes China and India. Mr Cameron’s law, which came into effect this summer, requires 0.7 per cent of national income to be spent on aid. This target was adopted by the United Nations in 1970 but few countries have ever hit it. However, the figure for national income is only finalised after each year is complete. Jacob Rees-Mogg, a Conservative member of the Treasury select committee, said: “You don’t know how much you have got to spend until you are supposed to have spent it.”” – The Times (£)


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Osborne points the way to an early EU referendum…

George Osborne“George Osborne wants to wrap up negotiations with Brussels by Christmas in a sign that ministers are preparing for an early EU referendum. The chancellor has told friends that he would like to strike an agreement with fellow member states when heads of government gather for a meeting of the European Council in December. The admission highlights the appetite in government for a speedy negotiation on the four target areas of British sovereignty, fairness for non-eurozone members, competitiveness and immigration set out by David Cameron.” – The Times (£)

  • Chancellor faces a tough diplomatic test in Paris – Financial Times
  • Cameron calls in pro-EU business leaders – Daily Mail
  • Tory MEP urges EU to urge end to Fresh disruption – The Sun (£)


  • Time to get tough with Paris over chaos in Calais – Peter McKay, Daily Mail

…as businesses rally behind devolution plans…

“Two in three business leaders support plans to devolve more powers to England’s regions — but more than half are concerned it could lead to higher taxes, according to a poll by the Institute of Directors. George Osborne has given regions until September to deliver proposals for taking powers back from Whitehall and the government is in advanced discussions with Sheffield, Leeds and Liverpool about having directly elected mayors. This follows the decision last year to devolve £7bn plus of annual spending to Greater Manchester. Boris Johnson, London mayor, is also seeking the transfer of more powers.” – Financial Times


…and he’s accused of ‘accounting trick’ over defence budget

DEFENCE cuts“Britain will only hit the Nato target of spending 2 per cent of national income on defence because of accountancy tricks, a key report reveals today. Chancellor George Osborne has made ‘significant changes’ to how Britain calculates its military budget to reach the benchmark, according to the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI). For the first time, war pensions, contributions to UN peacekeeping missions, payouts to retired civil servants and Ministry of Defence income have been included.” – Daily Mail

John McTernan: How to inject a little radicalism into this unimaginative spending squeeze

“George Osborne last week prompted howls of anguish when he asked government departments to say what spending they would cut if told their budgets would fall by 40 per cent. Many called it radical. It was not. For one thing, the gentler 25 per cent cuts that Mr Osborne also asked departments to map out are probably the ones that he will end up choosing. If he manages to stick even to that, it will be a first — he has yet to keep a long-term plan he has set. More to the point the chancellor’s ideas for cutting spending and services have been unimaginative and tame. Truly radical ideas usually seem crazy at first, and often after scrutiny too. But among them are epiphanies that improve the public sector dramatically. Here are some truly radical proposals — among them, perhaps, one or two that will work.” – Financial Times

Johnson returns fire on May in water cannon row

boris-johnson“Boris Johnson has refused to admit he was wrong in his battle with Home Secretary Theresa May over the use of water cannons, accusing her of talking ‘absolute nonsense’. Mrs May banned the London Mayor earlier this month from ordering police to use the weapons against protesters. But now Mr Johnson has revived the row, pointing out that police could already use other weapons including Tasers and clubs.” – Daily Mail


Hunt faces committee grilling over elderly care u-turn

“Jeremy Hunt will be hauled before a Commons committee to explain why he sneaked out a U-turn over elderly care fees. Dr Sarah Wollaston, the Tory chairman of the health select committee, said it was ‘regrettable’ that the decision to drop a pledge to impose a cap of £72,000 on care costs by next April was made when Parliament was not sitting. She said the announcement of the delay on the plan should have been made in an oral statement by a minister in the Commons, allowing MPs to hold him to task.” – Daily Mail

  • NHS spends £11.8bn on staff redundancies after restructuring – The Independent

Morgan warns teachers against marking late

MORGAN Nicky headshot“Teachers should not be expected to answer emails or spend hours marking schoolwork after 5 pm each day, the Education Secretary has suggested in an attempt to solve a recruitment crisis in Britain’s schools. Nicky Morgan said teachers were spending too much time marking or writing up lessons plans instead of focusing on teaching. Mrs Morgan has looked at evidence from schools spending less time on these activities to ease the growing levels of bureaucracy for teachers so they can do “what they feel passionate about” and attract more teachers. The teachers’ unions have argued a growing workload is partly to blame for putting people off teaching.” – Daily Telegraph

>Today: Alex Burghart in Comment: The children growing up in a pinball machine

Bercow faces fresh expenses scrutiny

“John Bercow, the Commons Speaker, has come under fresh scrutiny after charging the taxpayer almost £1,000 for alcohol. Among the claims was £476 spent on drinks at a dinner for MPs at his official residence in Westminster. Guests were served ten bottles of House of Commons sparkling chardonnay costing £18 each, as well as 11 bottles of merlot and seven bottles of sauvignon blanc, according to information revealed under the Freedom of Information Act. MPs paid for their own food at the dinner for members of the panel of chairs dinner, the heads of special Commons committees. They were told that the Speaker, who did not attend, would pay for the drinks as an expression of gratitude for their work.” – The Times (£)

Corbyn faces immediate coup if he wins Labour leadership

Labour holes“Senior Labour MPs are plotting to oust Jeremy Corbyn if he is elected party leader, amid growing fears that the leadership contest has been hijacked by far-Left infiltrators. Shadow cabinet sources have told The Telegraph that Mr Corbyn would never be allowed to remain in the job long enough to fight the 2020 general election, if he is elected on September 12. A coup could be launched within days of the result, which would plunge the party into even deeper crisis and division, but would be necessary to prevent an electoral “disaster” under Mr Corbyn’s leadership, senior figures said.” – Daily Telegraph

The fallout:


  • It isn’t surprising anti-austerity MP is a contender – Joseph Stiglitz, The Guardian
  • Corbyn is only exploiting his disillusioned party – Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph
  • Radical leftie is too clapped out for the rigours of elections and government – Trevor Kavanagh, The Sun (£)
  • Tories must not be smug about Labour’s Corbyn-mania – Matthew d’Ancona, The Guardian


  • Would-be leaders must stand up to this left-wing mutiny – The Times (£) editorial

Tim Montgomerie: An opinion poll might end up saving Labour

“Labour has this opportunity to pull back from the brink because of an opinion survey. Polls have not had a good press in recent months. Their suggestions of an SNP-Labour alliance weren’t a near sideshow in the general election — they may have produced significant tactical voting in favour of the Tories. The pollsters’ post-election inquest must succeed if they are to enjoy a full return to favour but imagine if YouGov hadn’t had the gumption to get back into the arena over the Labour leadership. We wouldn’t have had a month of fightback by Labour moderates. The Tories might have ended up effectively unopposed as a Corbyn-led Labour party entered a period of protracted infighting.” – The Times (£)

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Is Jeremy Corbyn a Marxist?

Blair obtained Government papers before private business trips to China

BLAIR Europe“Tony Blair has been obtaining sensitive government documents to help him on private business trips to China, The Telegraph can disclose. The former prime minister has been provided with briefings, including diplomatic cables, by Foreign Office officials for regular visits to Beijing and Shanghai. The documents include sensitive information from the British Embassy in Beijing which had to be handed over in London to avoid possible interception by China’s security services. Last month the Telegraph disclosed how Mr Blair has made China a key plank of his business empire, acting as a broker between the country and Abu Dhabi.” – Daily Telegraph

Lord Sewel faces calls to resign from the Lords over cocaine revelations

“A peer filmed snorting cocaine with prostitutes was facing calls last night to stand down from the House of Lords. Lord Sewel, 69, was reported to the police and quit as deputy speaker of the Lords after the video emerged. Until yesterday he chaired a committee on the conduct of peers and has said: ‘The actions of a few damage our reputation. Scandals make good headlines.’ Outraged watchdogs and politicians say the married father of four should be booted out of Parliament. New laws brought in on July 16 now allow peers to expel colleagues for misconduct.” – Daily Mail

Comment and Editorial:

Salmond claims second Scottish referendum ‘inevitable’

“A brazen Alex Salmond has boasted a second referendum is ‘inevitable’ less than a year after being rejected by more than two million Scots. The former First Minister, who failed in his separation bid last year, issued a list of moans he claims are pushing Scotland towards another vote. And he contradicted Nicola Sturgeon’s claim that the Scottish people will decide when and if there’s another referendum – by admitting the decision rests with the First Minister herself.” – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Mhairi Black is wrong, Parliament’s traditions are something to cherish

News in Brief:

And finally… ministers pledge crackdown on cat poisoning

“MPs have complained that not enough is being done to deter offenders. Only one in 10 of the 752 people found guilty “of causing, permitting or failing to prevent unnecessary suffering to animals” were jailed in 2014. Andrew Selous, a justice minister, pledged to “reflect” on whether the current sentencing guidelines were working effectively. He said: “I am more than happy to do so. I meet the Sentencing Council regularly reasonably regularly.” Earlier this month a cat belonging to Graham Jones, the Labour MP for Hyndburn in Lancashire, was poisoned with anti-freeze.” – Daily Telegraph