The Government agrees to change the EU referendum question…

EU Exit‘The Electoral Commission said that the present question, which asks whether Britain should “remain a member of the European Union” with the option of a yes or no response, raises concerns about the “potential legitimacy” of the referendum result. It said that the question should set out the alternative option of Britain “leaving the European Union”, while giving people the option of choosing whether they “leave” or “remain” rather than a simple “Yes/ No”. Within half an hour of the announcement a Downing Street spokesman confirmed that the government will table an amendment changing the question in line with the commission’s proposals.’ – Daily Telegraph


…and Number Ten is planning to reintroduce the purdah period…

‘In a second blow for the Government, it also emerged No10 is preparing a climbdown to see off a backbench rebellion over whether ministers should respect a 28-day “purdah” period. MPs are angry there will be no traditional ban on big announcements that could influence views before the vote.’ – The Sun (£)

  • Boris calls the renegotiation ‘very disappointing’ – The Sun (£)
  • Austria threatens to scupper the whole process – Daily Telegraph

…but perhaps with some mystery ‘exceptions’

downingst‘BBC deputy political editor James Landale said the changes – set to be tabled later – were “designed to reassure the government’s critics”. He added: “The changes are expected to restore the restrictions on ministers, with some exceptions.”‘ – BBC News

Germany turns on Cameron over migration crisis

‘Germany has rebuked David Cameron over Britain’s failure to take its fair share of migrants entering Europe, threatening to dash his plans to win back powers from Brussels. One of Berlin’s leading politicians warned yesterday that the prime minister was jeopardising relations with Germany by ignoring Angela Merkel’s calls to take in more people. Mr Cameron was told that German sympathy was drying up for Britain’s “out-of-the-club” mentality.’ – The Times (£)

>Today: ToryDiary: If Britain is to be more generous to refugees, that has to be a British decision

>Yesterday: Garvan Walshe’s column: We must rediscover British hospitality, and welcome in those fleeing Syria

Osborne keeps his lead as May and Boris lag in the ConHome leadership survey

OSBORNE red and blue‘George Osborne will be the frontrunner in any future bid to replace David Cameron as Conservative leader, new polling has suggested. For the second month running, a poll of Conservative members by the ConservativeHome website has found the Chancellor well ahead of his nearest rival Sajid Javid, the Business Secretary. Theresa May, the Home Secretary, and Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, who were both once seen as rivals of Mr Osborne now appear to be lagging in the polling of membership support.’ – Daily Telegraph

  • He is nailed on as the next Prime Minister – The Independent
  • Fully flexible ISAs wont be available until next year – Daily Mail


Mordaunt meets Afghan interpreter campaigners

‘Ministers finally bowed to pressure yesterday and met former military chiefs to discuss the plight of Afghan interpreters ‘abandoned’ to the Taliban. Armed Forces Minister Penny Mordaunt spoke to ex-defence heads who have voiced fears about Britain’s hardline policy on the translators. The talks marked a major breakthrough for the Daily Mail’s Betrayal of the Brave campaign.’ – Daily Mail

The Free School revolution rolls on

School‘David Cameron vowed he will “not waver” in pushing through his free schools revolution as 18 more are given the green light today. More than 50 schools will open this month, taking their numbers to at least 500 by 2020. The PM says the aim is to give parents “real choice for their children”.’ – The Sun (£)

  • Morgan tells ‘coasting’ schools to up their game – Daily Telegraph
  • A quarter of families move house to access a better school – Daily Mail

Hague: I wish I had faced Corbyn instead of Blair

‘Blair was a Tory leader’s worst nightmare: appealing to the swing voter and reassuring to the Right-leaning, it was hard to find a square on the political chessboard on which he did not already sit…[but] Blair’s ability to win elections was not accompanied by a coherent philosophy…Seen in this context, the agony of Labour’s leadership election is easier to understand. This is a tribe lost in a desert with no star to follow, and no inspirational leader to point to a new one.’ – William Hague, Daily Telegraph

>Today: Rakib Ehsan on Comment: How Corbyn could make the Conservatives the natural party of Indian-origin voters


NHS staff get an extra health service to try to cut sick leave

NHS_Logo‘NHS staff are to be offered health checks, yoga and Zumba classes while at work as part of a major drive to improve the wellbeing of the country’s biggest workforce. Health professionals will also be given the option of having a session of physiotherapy or a talking therapy for psychological problems. The initiative is designed to cut the £2.4bn annual cost of sickness absence.’ – The Guardian

  • Crackdown on junk food outlets in hospitals – Daily Mail

Last ditch attempts to save Stormont Government

‘An independent programme monitoring the IRA could be launched by the British and Irish governments to stop the main unionist party, the DUP, from joining the Ulster Unionists in walking out of the power-sharing assembly. Peter Robinson, the DUP leader, is still pushing for an emergency suspension of the Stormont parliament while crisis talks are held. He met David Cameron last night.’ – The Times (£)

Sturgeon presents her programme

Scottish flag‘Nicola Sturgeon used Holyrood’s equivalent of the Queen’s Speech yesterday to launch a broadside against Westminster plans for trade union reform, austerity and the Trident nuclear deterrent. The Scottish first minister accused the government of trying to undermine the rights of unions to represent their members, and of imposing austerity on the vulnerable.’ – The Times (£)

>Today: Henry Hill’s Red, White and Blue column: Osborne and Sturgeon exchange fire over Trident

News in Brief

  • Taliban heir apparent spied on his colleagues – The Times (£)
  • Clinton emails reveal David Miliband’s heartache – The Sun (£)
  • Cabbies start competing with Uber, not just moaning – FT
  • Boris’ barber speaks out – The Times (£)
  • The search for Madeleine McCann has cost £11 million – The Sun (£)
  • University in Tim Hunt row admits discriminating against female staff – The Times (£)
  • The libertarians taking on the online Social Justice Warriors – Jason Wilson, The Guardian