Obama blames ‘distracted’ Cameron for the situation in Libya

obamacameron‘President Obama launched an extraordinary attack on David Cameron last night for allowing Libya to deteriorate into lawlessness and become a haven for Islamic State. In highly unusual criticism of a serving British prime minister from his American ally, Mr Obama claimed that Mr Cameron stopped paying attention soon after the 2011 military operation because he was “distracted by a range of other things”. Mr Obama also made clear that he forced Mr Cameron to sign up to Nato’s benchmark of spending 2 per cent of GDP on defence. “Free riders aggravate me,” Mr Obama told The Atlantic magazine.’ – The Times (£)

  • Leaked ISIS files reveal pipeline of UK jihadis – The Times (£)
  • Trump’s message has echoes in Europe – FT

The Prime Minister will stay on as an MP after 2020

‘David Cameron intends to stand for election as a MP in 2020 although Downing Street insists he will honour his commitment to step down as prime minister. Mr Cameron, 49, told BBC Radio Oxford on Thursday that a further term as MP for Witney was “very much my intention”. He said: “I love being MP for Witney and am very keen to continue. I draw huge strength from being a member of parliament in Oxfordshire.” Downing Street said the remarks were not a sign he was intending to reverse his decision to leave No 10 by 2020.’ – FT

  • We applaud his decision – Daily Mail Leader
  • Allies press him to continue as Prime Minister, too – Daily Mail
  • Human Rights Act changes are delayed until after the referendum – The Times (£)

Farming fears are the latest focus for the pro-EU campaign

EU Exit brexit‘The prime minister will warn that Britain’s exit from Europe would harm lamb and beef farmers, costing them an extra £330m a year to export their goods. “If we left this single market and, as some suggest, relied on World Trade Organisation rules, the extra costs of exporting British beef would be £240m a year. An extra £90m would be added to the cost of British lamb exports,” he will say on Friday. British agriculture, British farmers and British jobs could suffer enormously if we were to leave the single market.”’ – The Guardian

  • Grayling says Cameron’s job warnings are untrue – The Times (£)
  • World’s largest sovereign wealth fund will keep investing after Brexit – Daily Mail
  • Even eurofanatics are growing concerned about the Turkey deal – Daily Mail
  • Ankara may be exaggerating how many migrants it is host to – The Independent
  • Soames suggests Gove could be beheaded for treason – Daily Telegraph



Nelson: People vote based on arguments, not celebrity endorsements

‘You can look in vain across European referendums campaigns for any example where the intelligentsia or celebrities persuaded anyone to vote with the government in a referendum. If anything, the reverse is true. The Cameron strategy of lining up everyone he possibly can behind a pro-Euro vote was tried in Sweden in 2003. The glitterati, every trade union, every employers’ union all urged Swedes to adopt the single currency while the “No” campaign was reduced to a few cranks and fringe parties. But they still triumphed. And for a simple reason: the “Yes” side had used endorsements as a substitute for proper arguments.’ – Fraser Nelson, Daily Telegraph

It’s wrong to dismiss immigration concerns as racist, says Archbishop of Canterbury

Border‘The country’s most senior churchman said it was ‘absolutely outrageous’ to dismiss the public’s legitimate concerns as racist. Archbishop Justin Welby warned: ‘There is a genuine fear. And it is really important that that fear is listened to and addressed. There have to be resources put in place that address those fears.’ He added: ‘What happens about housing? What happens about jobs? What happens about access to health services?’’ – Daily Mail

Osborne: Low oil price justifies a hike in fuel duty

‘An increase in fuel duty of up to 2p a litre is justified in the wake of the collapse in world oil prices, George Osborne has warned MPs. The Chancellor told a private meeting of Conservative MPs that he could not be expected to extend the five-year freeze on fuel duty if oil prices remain below $50 a barrel. With oil now trading at just $40, Tory MPs expect Mr Osborne to impose a 2p hike in fuel duty in next week’s Budget, to help compensate for a sharp drop in revenues from the North Sea.’ – Daily Mail

  • Saudi begs for loans as oil money dries up – The Times (£)
  • Britain closes the gap in the attractive tax system stakes – FT

>Today: ToryDiary: Ten things to look out for in next week’s Budget

The Mail investigates allegations over Conservative campaign spending

conservativetree‘An investigation by the Daily Mail and Channel 4 News has uncovered what appears to be significant undeclared expenditure by the Tories in key constituency battles; tens of thousands of pounds spent almost exclusively on hotel rooms for electioneering experts parachuted in by Conservative Party headquarters in London. Crucially, had that expenditure been fully declared, it would have taken the local candidates’ spending way beyond the legal limit.’ – Daily Mail

  • PAC warns of little progress to protect public sector whistleblowers – Daily Mail
  • Labour press Javid over Deutsche Bank bonus scheme – Daily Mail

New concerns over viability of Hinkley Point power project

‘The French state auditor has raised fresh doubts about plans to build the world’s most expensive nuclear power plant in Somerset by urging EDF, the energy company, to ask “serious questions” before going ahead. The Cour des Comptes rang alarm bells over the complexity of both funding and carrying out the £18 billion project at Hinkley Point. It urged Paris and EDF, which is 85 per cent owned by the French state, to think hard about whether it should proceed, citing “financial stress”.’ – The Times (£)

McDonnell: We’ll borrow more

Labour Big Govt‘Labour will borrow more to fund public investment projects, John McDonnell will say today as he tries to restore its reputation for economic competence. The party will not add to the nation’s debt pile by borrowing to fund day-to-day expenditure, the shadow chancellor says. However, he is likely to loosen the definition of what counts as investment spending that can be funded with borrowed cash.’ – The Times (£)

>Today: Lewis Baston’s column: The 1966 election – Labour’s big win, 50 years ago this month

Bath & North East Somerset referendum overwhelmingly rejects directly elected mayor

‘Voters have rejected plans for an elected mayor in Bath and North East Somerset with a 79% no vote. Thursday’s referendum saw 30,557 votes to retain the cabinet system and 8,054 in favour of a directly-elected mayor. The turnout was 29%. Council leader Tim Warren said the result showed people were “happy-ish with what they have “. Philip Raby, who campaigned for a mayor, said it had been a “David and Goliath” fight.’ – BBC News

  • The Chancellor’s devolution revolution meets resistance in the Shires – FT
  • Sheffield drops objection to mayoral system – FT
  • Councils’ unwise experimentation with exotic loans backfires – FT
  • Council tax rises 4 per cent – The Times (£)

>Yesterday: To The Point: From public to private sector jobs – how are the regions doing?

Wilshaw opens fire on ‘weak’ academy chains

Michael Wilshaw‘England’s largest academy chains have “serious weaknesses” as bad as the local authorities they were intended to replace, Sir Michael Wilshaw has told the education secretary, Nicky Morgan, in strong criticism of the government’s flagship school improvement programme. In a memo to Morgan published on Thursday, the Ofsted chief inspector singled out seven of the worst-performing multi-academy trust (MAT) chains, citing weak leadership, poor performance and lack of oversight as among the concerns found by his inspectors.’ – The Guardian

News in Brief

  • Brits are the most honest people in the world – thanks in part to our MPs – Tom Utley, Daily Mail
  • Further controversy over parliamentary ethics body – FT
  • Putin plans to bring back Russia’s giant 1980s battleships – Daily Mail
  • Hypersensitive Cambridge students call off fancy dress party – The Guardian
  • Easyjet gives hero doctor a free coffee, then charges him £1.20 for a KitKat – The Independent
  • The BBC and the badger lobby – Mark Hedges, The Times (£)