Ministers force Cameron to back down on Europe

CAMERON Europe fence“David Cameron has been forced into announcing early that he will allow ministers to campaign to leave Europe after being confronted by senior cabinet members… It emerged last night that he brought forward the announcement after meeting Chris Grayling, the leader of the Commons, and having a telephone conversation with Theresa Villiers, the Northern Ireland secretary” – The Times (£)

  • A victory for honesty in the big EU debate – Daily Mail editorial
  • Cameron had no choice but to allow ministers a free vote – Financial Times editorial
  • Cameron has wisely ignored Major by freeing ministers – Jacob Rees-Mogg, Daily Telegraph
  • Dave has seen sense but there will still be blood on the walls – Peter Oborne, Daily Mail
  • Cameron vows to remain Prime Minister if he loses referendum vote – Guardian
  • We can’t stick with the status quo on the EU, because there isn’t one – Daniel Hannan, Daily Telegraph
  • Cameron dismisses SNP call to guarantee Scotland will not be dragged out of EU against its will – Herald





May under fire over UK citizens joining ISIS

“The home secretary has rejected criticism that Britain is not doing enough to prevent UK citizens from travelling to join ISIS in Syria, after media reports suggested the main suspect in the terrorist group’s latest video had left the country in 2014 after being released on police bail… Siddhartha Dhar, who left for Syria from Britain while on bail… was identified by the BBC as the chief suspect in a new film showing the killing of five men” – Financial Times

  • Suspect was arrested six times before fleeing Britain – Daily Mail
  • Grandmother of “Jihadi Junior” tells of her despair – Daily Mail
  • New ISIS weaponry could be capable of shooting down passenger jets – Independent
  • MPs will debate petition calling for Trump to be excluded from UK – Daily Mail

Home Office takes control of fire service

PENNING Mike ruins“The Home Office is taking control of fire and rescue policy in advance of plans to work more closely with the police. Ministerial responsibility for the services will be transferred from the Department for Communities and Local Government… Mike Penning will assume responsibility for the portfolios, becoming minister for policing, fire, criminal justice and victims” – The Times (£)

Thomson: No 10 won’t shed a tear if Zac loses London

“Zac Goldsmith calls his chances this spring ‘possible but not probable’ (poker is his favourite game). He may yet pull it off if he wins the second preference votes of Lib Dems and the Greens but No 10 might not mind too much if he loses… The Tory high command, though they would never admit it, also wouldn’t mind boosting Jeremy Corbyn” – Alice Thomson, The Times (£)

Whitehall to pay higher salaries for business staff

HANCOCK Mathhew“Hundreds of skilled specialist staff are to be recruited into government departments on salaries of at least £300,000 in an attempt to make Whitehall more businesslike. Matthew Hancock, the cabinet office minister, is to introduce higher pay bands into the 3,600-strong senior civil service amid concern that Whitehall lacks commercial nous. The new recruits in IT, finance and other business specialities would be hired to help to run major projects” – The Times (£)

Ellwood defends UK’s approach to Saudi human rights

“Saudi Arabia’s attitude to human rights cannot be changed overnight, the government’s minister for the Middle East has claimed, arguing that any progress would need to ‘move at a pace that is acceptable to [the country’s] society’. Tobias Ellwood, who is parliamentary under-secretary of state for foreign and commonwealth affairs, said the Saudi government was well aware of the British government’s disapproval of human rights abuses by the country” – Guardian

Kurdish protesters storm Tory headquarters

CONSERVATIVE logo“Scores of Kurdish protesters have stormed the Conservative party’s campaign headquarters in Westminster in an attempt to highlight the suffering of civilians caught up in fighting in south-east Turkey. The Metropolitan police confirmed that protesters had broken into the building in Matthew Parker Street, near the Palace of Westminster. Officers were sent to the scene shortly after 2pm on Tuesday” – Guardian

BMA doctor likened Burns to Goebbels

“A leading figure behind the doctors’ strike likened Conservative policies to Nazi propaganda, and is among several supporters of Labour and Jeremy Corbyn on the British Medical Association’s council, it can be disclosed. Dr Kailash Chand said that Joseph Goebbels, Adolf Hitler’s propaganda chief, would be ‘proud’ of Tory policies on education, health and the economy under the Coalition.He separately nicknamed Simon Burns, the then health minister, ‘Goebbels’” – Daily Telegraph

Corbyn spares Benn, promotes Thornberry

Emily_Thornberry_2111“Emily Thornberry, a critic of the Trident nuclear deterrent, has been appointed as Labour’s shadow defence secretary in the most significant change in Jeremy Corbyn’s first reshuffle. The Labour leader shifted Maria Eagle, the previous defence spokeswoman, to the culture brief as he seeks to take Labour back to its 1980s position of unilateral nuclear disarmament. At the same time Mr Corbyn has abandoned an attempt to demote Hilary Benn as shadow foreign secretary” – Financial Times

  • Corbyn’s shambolic reshuffle continues – Daily Mail
  • Labour descends into civil war after Dugher is sacked – Sun
  • Corbyn branded “vindictive” for sacking McFadden – Daily Telegraph
  • Comrade Corbyn doesn’t believe in Parliament – Daniel Finkelstein, The Times (£)
  • Sacking Dugher has cost Corbyn one of his lives – John McTernan, Daily Telegraph
  • Labour’s war of attrition must end, or the Tories will keep running amok – Owen Jones, Guardian


SNP hit by another MP investigation

An independent watchdog for standards in Westminster is investigating a Scottish National party MP, in the latest problem for Nicola Sturgeon’s party to be caused by a politician elected at last year’s general election. Kathryn Hudson, the parliamentary commissioner for standards, is probing whether Phil Boswell, MP for Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill, breached parliamentary rules on the registration of his financial interests” – Financial Times

  • Sturgeon “confident” of second referendum – Scotsman


Columnists: Henry Hill: Davidson pushes for Scottish school reform


News in brief

  • North Korea tests first hydrogen bomb – Financial Times
  • Tearful Obama tightens gun control – Guardian
  • Migrant mob blamed for sex assaults in Cologne – The Times (£)
  • Marine Le Pen questioned in fraud probe – Daily Mail
  • Court victory pastor tells Muslims he loves them – Belfast Telegraph
  • Suspect in EastEnders murder flees to Africa – Sun
  • Woman arrested after finding body of neighbour’s husband – Wales Online

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