Europe: Boris nails his colours to the fence

BORIS angel devil“…for the last couple of years I have argued that we would be – on the whole – better off in a reformed EU, but that Britain could have a great future outside. In deciding how to vote I (and I expect a few others) will want to know whether we have genuinely achieved any reform, and whether there is the prospect of any more. So let’s look at the Tusk proposals, in turn, and ask some hard questions.” – Boris Johnson, Daily Telegraph

  • Mayor gives Cameron a deadline on sovereignty- Daily Mail
  • Patel to be the face of the ‘Leave’ campaign – Daily Mail
  • Backlash over Thatcher aide’s claim she’d back EU deal – Daily Mail


  • Davis claims deal will lead to ‘migrant surge’ – The Times (£)
  • Brexit will bring Calais ‘jungle’ to England, warns Cameron – Daily Telegraph


  • Furious local Tory chiefs pile pressure on the Prime Minister – Daily Mail
  • Grassroots anger ‘understandable’, says Cleverly – Daily Telegraph
  • Cameron told he has no ‘divine right’ to rule – FT



  • Will Dave face a Euro ear-bashing from rich donors at the Black and White Ball? – Andrew Pierce, Daily Mail
  • Tip-toeing Tories are In-Out of order on the EU – Trevor Kavanagh, The Sun
  • Would Thatcher have backed Brexit? – Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph
  • Thatcher would never treat voters like idiots – Tim Montgomerie, The Times (£)
  • Would Maggie have backed this feeble deal? No! No! No! – Dominic Lawson, Daily Mail
  • Thatcher supposed views will fire up the right – Matthew d’Ancona, The Guardian
  • There is a Scottish case for Brexit – Brian Monteith, The Scotsman




Prime Minister to unveil plan to jail criminals at weekends only

“Thousands of inmates would be allowed out of jail during the week under plans to be announced by David Cameron today. The radical scheme for prisoners near the end of their sentences would see them behind bars only at weekends. It is one of a raft of reforms Mr Cameron will reveal today while condemning the ‘scandalous failure’ of the justice system to rehabilitate criminals.” – Daily Mail

  • Cameron wants jail reform amongst his legacies – The Times (£)
  • Tory leader launches prison league tables – FT
  • Prime Minister to tackle re-offending scandal – The Sun


  • Cameron is right to focus on gaols, but must be bolder – Danny Kruger, Daily Telegraph

Osborne to boost workers’ pensions

MANIFESTO money“Workers could get bigger retirement pots under a “pension bonus” being considered by George Osborne. The Chancellor is weighing up a new flat rate for pensions tax relief that will add up to £300 per year to average savings.” – The Sun

  • Tyrie presses Osborne on bank tax details – FT
  • Government faces Lords revolt on council house cost-cutting – The Times (£)


>Today: Local Government: Tory MPs threaten to rebel over local government funding settlement for rural areas

Ministers: Lewis hints at using EVEL to pass Sunday Trading reform

“A Tory minister has indicated controversial Sunday trading laws could be forced through by barring Scottish MPs from voting after admitting the core changes only apply south of the border. Brandon Lewis, the communities and local government minister, said that the “liberalisation” of Sunday trading laws is “only applicable in England and Wales”.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Gibb wants children taught facts, not ‘joyless processes’ – The Independent
  • No child should be excluded from our cultural inheritance – Sam Gyimah, Daily Telegraph

Health 1) Hunt accuses doctors’ union of misleading public

NHS_Logo“Jeremy Hunt today accused the doctors union of ‘spreading misinformation’ and behaving in a ‘totally irresponsible way’ over the on-going junior doctors dispute. The Health Secretary acknowledged the low morale and anger among junior doctors but blamed the British Medical Association (BMA) for making medics feel ‘devalued’.” – Daily Mail

  • Health Secretary claims BMA chiefs lied to striking doctors – The Sun
  • NHS locums exploit crisis to extract higher pay rates – The Times (£)
  • SNP try to lure English doctors to Scotland – The Independent
  • New Zealand Prime Minister attacks NHS charges – The Guardian

Health 2) Wollaston speaks up for charity lobbying

“A senior Conservative MP has waded into the row about charities being banned from using taxpayers’ money to lobby government. Sarah Wollaston, the Tory chairwoman of the health select committee, warned that the move would have serious consequences for public health and that the “balance [of lobbying] is already distorted in favour of industry”.” – The Times (£)

  • Celebrity chef to dedicate himself to ousting Tories if they don’t pass sugar tax – The Times (£)
  • Childhood obesity is a national crisis, claims Hunt – The Guardian
  • Pre-watershed junk food TV ad ban wins Scots’ support – The Scotsman
  • Advisor warns that cutting benefits to help people lose weight ‘would not work’ – The Independent

Libby Purves: Fat cat charities are over-dependent on the taxpayer

Charity“…it is not sensible for an elected government to hand over taxpayers’ money to groups that promptly use it to argue expensively against it. In Australia, the state of Queensland has ruled that any group receiving half of its funding from government agencies “must not advocate for state or federal legislative change”, but concentrate entirely on outcomes.
What our government is proposing is not as strict.” – The Times (£)

  • Charity watchdog examining ‘serious’ concerns over Help for Heroes – Daily Telegraph
  • Flynn has reservations over committee’s Kids Company verdict – The Guardian

Corbyn told to prepare for 2016 general election…

“Jeremy Corbyn has been told to prepare for a snap General Election later this year amid fears that David Cameron could quit as Prime Minister following the EU referendum. Toby Perkins, Labour MP for Chesterfield, warned that Labour would be ‘hurtling towards catastrophe’ if it faced an election soon – pointing to the Lib Dems as an example of the ‘scale of devastation’ that the party could face.” – Daily Mail

  • Labour MPs join seven-party campaign for PR – The Guardian

…as Momentum draws up blueprint for ‘takeover’

Momentum“Momentum wants to attract 20,000 members, win affiliation from local Labour groups and fight Blairites for key internal positions, a document leaked to The Telegraph has revealed amid fears it is planning a “Militant-style” takeover. In proposals that will alarm centrist Labour MPs, the hard-Left group backed by Jeremy Corbyn has put battling moderates over internal party positions as one of its top prioritises in the next three months.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Khan faces backlash for sharing platform with extremists – Daily Telegraph
  • Corbyn to review claims of ‘systematic misogyny’ against Muslim council aspirants – The Independent

>Yesterday: Benedict Rogers in Comment: Why the Commons should support this Bill to liberate Muslim women

Chris Deerin: Certain defeat gives Labour the space for renewal

“Labour is done for a generation… But if there is an upside to all this, it is that the pounding received in 2015 was a pounding it badly needed. In the certain knowledge that they will also lose at the next general election – the Tories could stand a prize marrow against Corbyn and still walk it – Labour’s smarter elements finally have space to think, to favour philosophy and strategy over tactics, and to wrestle with the question that currently has no good answer: what, in the 21st century, is Labour for?” – Daily Mail

SNP could climb down on power negotiation deadline

SNP logo white background“The Scottish Government could climb down on its ­Friday deadline to strike a historic deal on sweeping new powers for Holyrood as fraught negotiations with Westminster resume today. Finance Secretary John Swinney had previously indicated that a deal would need to be struck by February 12 – the end of this week. But his SNP colleague and party ­deputy leader Stewart Hosie said both sides should be ready to talk a “little longer” if it means securing a settlement.” – The Scotsman

  • Swinney vows to reveal details before Holyrood break – The Scotsman

Farron urges Welsh voters to reject ‘English nationalists’ of UKIP

“If you plan to make a protest vote against the Tories or Labour in the May Assembly election, Tim Farron wants you to back the Liberal Democrats and not the ‘English nationalists’ of Ukip. The UK Lib Dem leader would not say he was 100% certain that his party will see any AMs elected to the Assembly – but he claimed people predicting a wipe-out could have “egg on their face”.” – Wales Online

  • Liberal Democrat leader’s pitch decoded – David Williamson, Wales Online

News in Brief:

  • Use drink and drugs as child poverty yardsticks, says Centre for Social Justice – Daily Mail
  • Beleaguered Clinton tries to shore up black vote – The Times (£)
  • Trump and Cruz alarm corporate America – FT
  • Slow death of Schengen risks new crisis for Europe’s battered economies – Daily Telegraph
  • MSPs call for BBC Scotland to be given commissioning power – The Independent
  • Special Branch officer denies RUC had foreknowledge of Shankill bomb – Belfast Telegraph
  • Anger as MPs demand arrest secrecy – Daily Mail

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