Cameron hints at u-turn on sugar tax…

Camerons thinking copy“David Cameron today revealed a tax on sugary drinks could be back on because Britain’s obesity ‘crisis’ should be treated as seriously as smoking. The Prime Minister hinted at an extraordinary U-turn amid growing public support for a 20 per cent levy and because a 5p charge on plastic bags has changed the habits of millions almost overnight.” – Daily Mail

  • Prime Minister suggests sugary drinks face imminent levy – The Times (£)
  • Cameron threatens tax to tackle ‘obesity crisis’ – The Independent
  • Hunt seeks curbs on junk food TV advertising – Financial Times
  • Health chiefs attacked over ‘nanny state’ alcohol guide – Daily Telegraph


  • It’s time we took some sensible risks with our health – Chris Smyth, The Times (£)

>Today: ToryDiary: Alcohol, guidance, risk – and a modest proposal for the Freedom Association

…as Hungarian leader signals support on welfare restrictions

“The Hungarian prime minister told David Cameron not to treat his citizens like “parasites” yesterday, as he signalled that key eastern European countries were willing to sign up to a clampdown on EU benefits. Viktor Orbán said that Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia were ready to agree tougher rules for accessing Britain’s “special” benefits.” – The Times (£)

  • Prime Minister closing on on four-year welfare freeze deal – Daily Telegraph
  • Hungarian Premier insists UK change tax credit rules on EU citizens – The Guardian
  • Boris claims Britain could have a great future outside the EU – The Sun
  • Who wants to Leave, and who Remain? – Daily Telegraph



  • Over a quarter of UKIP voters actually want to Remain – The Independent


  • EU referendum: is there something the Prime Minister isn’t telling us? – Michael Deacon, Daily Telegraph
  • Cameron’s easy ride in Hungary fails to materialise – Tom Peck, The Independent

Martin Kettle: I’ll back Osborne’s project fear if it keeps us in Europe

OSBORNE penknife“Today, as distinct from last November, it suits Osborne to emphasise insecurity, because that, he appears to calculate, is the best backdrop for winning the referendum argument and ensuring the continued British membership of the EU that he desires. The “creeping complacency” about the economy against which he warned in Cardiff would be the leave campaign’s best friend.” – The Guardian

  • Chancellor ditches his upbeat tone – Larry Elliott, The Guardian
  • Our burgeoning current account deficit is the real threat to the UK economy – Jeremy Warner, Daily Telegraph
  • Is the Chancellor’s knot of fear and optimism unravelling? – Polly Toynbee, The Guardian


Fraser Nelson: The Tories are gearing up for war, but aim to reconcile quickly

“With Labour in a crisis so deep that it could last a decade, the Tories could govern for the next 15 years if they manage to pull themselves together. And even now, the leaders of the “leave” campaign (which has a 35 per cent chance of success, according to bookmakers) are discussing reconciliation.” – Daily Telegraph

>Today: Syed Kamall MEP’s column: 2015 was a bad year for the EU. Will 2016 really be any better?

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Cameron urges EU to show flexibility

Hunt accused of politicising Paris attacks in dispute with doctors

HUNT Doctor Carla Millar“Jeremy Hunt has been accused of trying to politicise the Paris terror attacks after it emerged his officials helped orchestrate a letter from the NHS chief medic questioning whether striking junior doctors would be available to help in the event of a major incident in the UK. Junior doctors were outraged in November when Prof Sir Bruce Keogh, medical director of NHS England, wrote to the British Medical Association asking what would happen if a strike coincided with a terror attack on the UK.” – The Guardian

  • How Whitehall officials built misleading ‘hard edged’ case against strike – The Independent

Tyrie lambasts lamentable state of official statistics

“Official statistics ministers rely on to make decisions about where to spend taxpayers’ money are “scarcely fit for purpose” and need urgent reform, the head of the Commons Treasury Select Committee has warned. In a scathing assessment, the Conservative MP Andrew Tyrie said that the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which compiles and publishes economic data such as productivity figures, “lacked intellectual curiosity” and was “prone to silly mistakes”.” – The Independent

Livingstone adds to Labour woes by floating NATO withdrawal…

Labour holes“The Labour leadership was forced to rebuke Ken Livingstone yesterday after he said that the party would review Britain’s membership of Nato. Mr Livingstone, a close ally of Jeremy Corbyn and the joint head of Labour’s defence review, put the western defence alliance on the table hours after his party leader had completed a chaotic and protracted reshuffle that has left Labour more fractured than ever.” – The Times (£)

  • Former Mayor says policy review will reconsider anti-communist alliance – The Sun
  • Labour officially denies defence review will assess case against NATO – The Guardian
  • Mutiny in the ranks over Thornberry’s appointment – The Times (£)
  • Shadow Chancellor and pro-Trident MP stun onlookers with Commons row – The Sun

…as Abbott branded ‘sell-out’ by departing shadow minister

“Diane Abbott has been branded a ‘total sell-out’ for sending her son to private school as open warfare continued at the top of Labour today. Miss Abbott, the shadow international secretary, caused fury when she wrongly dismissed MPs who quit the shadow cabinet as career politicians.” – Daily Mail

  • Reshuffle overran because the leader let people talk for too long – Daily Telegraph
  • Corbyn finally concludes… by text – Daily Mail
  • Reshuffle branded ‘pat on the head’ for women – The Guardian


Phillip Collins: Labour needs a new Wilson

wilsonpipe“When the MPs do manage to stir themselves, it will be a Wilson, rather than a Blair, that the Labour party needs. Wilson has the prototype career path of the smart Labour leader. A leap to the left to win the party, then a creep to the right to win the country. The effective use of political power in the Labour party is like reading a book. It can only be done by going left to right.” – The Times (£)

  • The Brownite machine reunites in disgust – Damian McBride, The Times (£)
  • Why I won’t shut up about misogyny and the left – Jess Philips MP, The Guardian

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Can we have an Opposition, please?

Labour consider major devolution to town halls

“Labour is to consider radical options on devolution that would include giving local authorities some power over VAT and income tax, a shadow minister for communities and local government has said. Steve Reed said there was a clear financial case for faster devolution of powers, including greater local control over taxation. In a speech to the Local Government Association, Reed said Labour would look at devolution of education, welfare, housing, health, and infrastructure.” – The Guardian

>Today: Chris Walker in Comment: The local support we found for the garden villages Britain needs

News in Brief:

  • EU considers scrapping ‘Citizens Initiatives’ after anti-gay marriage petition passes – Daily Mail
  • Outcry as Assad starves besieged Syrians – The Times (£)
  • Syrian regime to allow aid into encircled town – The Guardian
  • Capital flight pushes China to the brink of devaluation – Daily Telegraph
  • Gaddafi accused Blair of supporting terrorists at height of Libyan revolution – The Sun
  • Moroccan ISIS sympathiser tries to storm French police station with knife – Daily Mail

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