Cameron sets out his mission for the year – as voters want him to stay until 2020

Cameron1‘David Cameron insists today that Britain is in the middle of one of the “great reforming decades” as a poll by The Times reveals that voters want him to remain in Downing Street until 2020. The survey comes as the prime minister sets out his longterm vision for transforming Britain, saying that he will seek to alleviate poverty, increase social mobility, tackle extremism and promote home ownership…Mr Cameron will use a new-year article on the ConservativeHome website to say that he has not given up on the need for reform. “I genuinely believe we are in the middle of one of the great reforming decades in our history — what I would call a ‘turnaround decade’.’ – The Times (£)

  • The referendum doesn’t seem to be one of his priorities – Daily Mail
  • He faces a year of living dangerously – Francis Elliott, The Times (£)
  • The Prime Minister is out to seize the banner of social renewal – FT
  • Cameron tells of his ‘outrage’ at the young being unable to afford homes – The Sun (£)



Osborne faces a battle with Boris for the Tory leadership

‘George Osborne faces a huge battle to convince the country that he should take over as Tory leader, as a new poll puts him third behind Boris Johnson and Theresa May to succeed David Cameron. A YouGov poll for The Times found that Mr Johnson, the mayor of London, emerges as a clear favourite among the wider electorate. The race is almost neck and neck among Tory voters, however, who are less keen on Mr Johnson or Ms May than the public.’ – The Times (£)

Lord Baker: Ministers and MPs must be free to campaign as they wish in the EU referendum

EU Exit‘If Tory MPs and Ministers are whipped to support the Government line to stay in, then the broad church would fall apart. Tory whips would start twisting arms, begging or bullying recalcitrant MPs to persuade them to vote against their own convictions – in effect, to lie in public. This would create a storm of bitterness which would crystallise for a very long time the split in the party…I believe firmly that MPs and ministers should be allowed to vote and campaign as they wish for this Referendum. That is also the view of the Chairman of the 1922 backbench committee, Graham Brady, and in situations like this, his view should be heeded.’ – Lord Baker, Daily Telegraph

Brussels’ ban on dredging made the floods worse

‘Controversial rules on dredging rivers imposed by the European Union have contributed to the flooding which has wrought devastation across the UK, it was claimed last night. Brussels bureaucrats, driven by green ideology, have effectively banned dredging which might have prevented rivers bursting their banks, say critics. Dredging, which took place for centuries on Britain’s waterways, removes silt that builds up at the bottom of rivers and deepens the channel – allowing water to drain away more efficiently. But anti-EU campaigners and farmers have complained that the European Water Framework Directive, passed into law by Tony Blair’s government in 2000, has outlawed such activity.’ – Daily Mail

  • Engineer who built his own flood defences – Daily Mail
  • It has been one of the ten wettest winters since 1910 – FT
  • Corbyn explains his absence from flooded areas – Daily Telegraph

Immigration is voters’ top concern

Border‘Immigration remains the biggest concern for Britons, the Times/YouGov poll suggests, with six out of ten voters putting immigration and asylum in their top three troubles facing the country. This was followed by health, which was selected by four out of ten voters. It has overtaken the economy as an issue of concern, eight years after the financial crisis. Finance slipped from second to third place in the four months to December and was nominated by a third of voters.’ – The Times (£)

Osborne is urged to restart the FCA probe into banking culture

‘George Osborne is coming under pressure to revive a review of banking culture after it emerged the UK’s financial watchdog had dropped its examination, in a sign that “banker bashing” was waning. The Financial Conduct Authority had ditched its probe into the culture of retail and wholesale banks operating in the UK just months after it launched, based on the view that each business was unique and therefore could not easily be compared, the Financial Times revealed on Wednesday…Mark Garnier, a Conservative MP who sits on the Treasury select committee, described the FCA’s decision as “disappointing”.’ – FT

  • There is a cast iron case for an inquiry – The Sun Says (£)
  • HMRC angers taxpayers by hailing ‘best year ever’ – Daily Telegraph

Mandelson: ‘Divisive’ Corbyn risks devastating the Labour Party

MANDELSON Peter Sky‘We have a leader who is revealing himself to be an intentionally divisive figure, abetted by organisations outside the party’s democratic structures and intent on splitting the party between the hard left and its centre ground. For Corbyn, pursuing his own far-left agenda and risking Labour civil war is a higher priority than taking on the Tories. Through him, the hard left is beginning to exert a more suffocating grip on our party.’ – Lord Mandelson, The Guardian

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: ConHome readers’ Gaffe of the Year is, of course, the EdStone

Danczuk suspended over sexual messages sent to teenager

‘The Labour party has suspended Simon Danczuk MP, an outspoken campaigner against child sexual abuse, after allegations that he sent explicit messages to a teenage girl…The Labour backbencher took to Twitter to apologise for his actions. The newspaper’s story was “not entirely accurate” and related to “an extremely low point in my life”, he said. “My behaviour was inappropriate and I apologise unreservedly to everyone I let down,” he tweeted. “I was stupid and there’s no fool like an old fool.”’ – FT

  • Police investigated but no crime was committed – Daily Mail
  • For once the Labour leadership will have liked something in The Sun – The Sun Says (£)

Pollsters think they’ve worked out what went wrong

Opinion Poll graphic‘A systematic bias in the way people were selected to take part in opinion polls before the general election is emerging as the most likely reason why the industry failed to predict an overall majority for David Cameron in May’s general election. Analysis undertaken by polling companies, including YouGov and ICM, of what went wrong in May has found that that a relative over-representation of politically engaged young voters produced a forecast that flattered Ed Miliband. Conversely, the over-70s – who broke heavily for the Tories – were under-represented in YouGov’s internet panels.’ – The Guardian

Petrol prices could fall further

‘Petrol prices are set to tumble to less than 90p a litre, it was reported last night. Motorists are expected to save an average of £176 in 2016 as oil giants, led by Saudi Arabia, battle each other in a price war. The cost of a barrel has already plunged to an 11-year low of $33.05 (£22.37). But Goldman Sachs and the International Monetary Fund predict it could fall as low as $20 (£13.54) a barrel early next year.’ – Daily Mail

Expert warns of ISIS cyberattack threat

Computer‘Terror groups such as tech-savvy IS will launch online attacks against the West in the coming year, a leading expert predicted last night. David Ferbrache, technical boss of KPMG’s cyber security practice, said it “seems inevitable” that jihadists and others will develop cyber weapons. But it came as it emerged a Brit-educated IS cyber expert had been killed in Syria by a US drone strike on December 10. Cardiff businessman turned militant hacker Siful Haque Sujan, 31, died less than 18 months after he left Britain to join the death cult.’ – The Sun (£)

  • Munich, Paris and Brussels struck by terror alerts – Daily Mail
  • BBC website brought down by DDoS attack – Daily Telegraph

News in Brief

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