Tory activists back Boris to become their next leader

BORIS union flag“Boris Johnson has opened a substantial lead over George Osborne in the race to be the next Tory leader, according to the first poll of Conservative party members. The mayor of London was the choice of 43 per cent of the 1,005 party members surveyed by YouGov. This put him 21 points ahead of the chancellor on 22 per cent of the vote. Theresa May, the home secretary, was third on 19 per cent” – The Times (£)

  • Clear blue water for front-runner – Stephan Shakespeare, The Times (£)
  • London will thrive in or out of the EU, report for Boris finds – Daily Mail

Queen’s Speech delayed to boost referendum campaign

“David Cameron is to postpone the Queen’s Speech and scale back cuts to funding for opposition parties to boost his campaign to keep Britain in the EU. Ministers have been told the launch of the coming year’s legislation, scheduled for May, will not take place until after the referendum on June 23. Downing Street has also ordered a retreat from deep cuts to taxpayer funding for Labour and other opposition parties whose help Mr Cameron needs to win the poll” – The Times (£)

  • Rival Brexit campaigns compete for official backing – Financial Times
  • Britain has lost 101 out of 131 cases in the European Court of Justice – Daily Express
  • Cameron quotes Monty Python’s Life of Brian – Daily Mail
  • Brexit-supporting ministers regain access to official figures – Independent
  • Surly Sir Cover-Up takes a tonking on telly from MPs – Quentin Letts, Daily Mail
  • Brexit is the left-wing choice – Gisela Stuart, Prospect
  • The EU has its flaws, but calling it anti-democratic is falsifying reality – Hugo Dixon, Guardian


Outside the EU you would pay more for food, Cameron claims

David Cameron 29-01-16“Downing Street will claim today that food prices could rise and exports suffer if Britain left the European Union, triggering accusations that David Cameron is talking Britain down. The Cabinet Office’s latest report claims that alternatives to EU membership ‘would damage Britain’. It examines the arrangements used by countries outside the EU such as Norway, Switzerland and Canada, as well as what would happen if the UK relied on World Trade Organisation rules — and concludes that all such deals are worse” – The Times (£)

  • Tyrie warns that Cameron’s deal could extend EU powers – The Times (£)
  • MoD mandarin says Brexit could help British manufacturers – Daily Mail
  • Cameron may win the EU vote, but lose half his party – Rafael Behr, Guardian
  • Cameron wants to vet world leaders’ speeches for referendum content – Daily Mail
  • Cameron may win this referendum, but at the cost of a divided nation – Philip Johnston, Daily Telegraph

Lamont backs Brexit

“Lord Lamont, the former Tory chancellor, has backed the campaign to take Britain out of the European Union and says that Downing Street’s warnings about the alternatives to membership are ‘irrelevant’… He says that ‘like others, I have found it extremely painful deciding which way to vote in the EU Referendum, not least out of respect for the Prime Minister’ but warns that there is ‘no economic case’ for current levels of immigration” – Daily Telegraph

Oakeshott: Cameron and Feldman ignore Tory activists

Lord Feldman“Thanks to the fat-cat donors Cameron and party chairman Lord Feldman cultivate at glittering London fundraisers like the Black and White Ball (which can raise more than £2million in a few hours), big bucks continue to roll into the Conservative party coffers. But while the pair are brilliant at glad-handing dubious celebrities and billionaires, they display a lack of interest bordering on contempt for the army of ordinary activists toiling away in constituencies. These are the unpaid, unsung volunteers who keep the party alive outside Westminster” – Isabel Oakeshott, Daily Mail

  • Cameron backs down from grassroots cull after outcry from Conservative backbenchers – Daily Telegraph

Osborne says revenue rise justifies cut in top rate

“George Osborne has hailed a £8 billion rise in tax revenues from the UK’s highest earners as a vindication of his decision to cut the 50p rate. The chancellor told MPs on Tuesday that the increase in tax take ‘completely defies the predictions’ made by the Labour party when he reduced the 50p rate for those earning more than £150,000 to 45p in April 2013. He said that newly published income tax data for 2013-14 ‘shows that what we have are lower, competitive taxes that are paid by all’” – Financial Times

  • Tory MPs urge Osborne to make further cuts – Daily Mail
  • Millions of people could be forced to work until they are 75 – Daily Telegraph
  • Life is unfair for young people, but there are ways that we can fix that – David Willetts, Independent

Brussels tax hike to send e-cigarette price soaring

cigarsmoke“Electronic cigarettes are set to soar in price under plans by Brussels to tax them at the same punitive rate as tobacco. Vaping will be brought into line with cigarettes and cigars as the EU tries to help governments to raise more money. Experts say that a tax rise will damage public health because higher prices will discourage smokers from switching to vaping” – The Times (£)

Police snooping powers extended

“The police are to be given greater powers to hack into electronic devices and to access people’s web browsing history under the government’s new surveillance legislation. The strengthening of snooping powers was widely regarded last night as a tacit admission by the authorities that they were powerless to combat the increasingly sophisticated commercial encryption installed on smartphones” – The Times (£)

  • Spy hackers foiled seven UK attack plots since 2014 – The Sun


Fallon denounces “lackey” Khan

Sadiq Khan“Labour’s candidate for Mayor of London has been described as a ‘lackey who speaks alongside extremists’ by Defence Secretary Michael Fallon as the race to replace Boris Johnson turned nasty. Mr Fallon stepped up the attack on Sadiq Khan, who is expected to beat Tory rival Zac Goldsmith in May’s election to City Hall. Using the strongest words of the campaign so far, the Defence Secretary said reports of Mr Khan’s links with controversial individuals made him unfit to ‘protect’ London against a terrorist threat” – Daily Mail

  • Muslim Council of Britain accuses Fallon of smearing Khan – Independent
  • If a moderate like Sadiq Khan shouldn’t stand for London mayor, which Muslim can? – Mehdi Hasan, Guardian

Lewis the only MP who will not accept e-mails

“He is either a bluff old traditionalist who is obstinately ignoring the basic advances of modern technology or a genius who has found a way to resist one of the great curses of modern life. Either way, Julian Lewis, the Tory MP for New Forest East, will not be accepting any emails, thank you very much. Should any of his constituents wish to get in contact, they can do so by telephone or by letter” – The Times (£)

  • Former Tory MP banned from driving – Daily Mail

News in brief

  • Super Tuesday brings sweeping wins for Trump and Clinton – Financial Times
  • Omagh bombing case collapses – Daily Mail
  • Nato accuses Russia of “weaponising” immigrants – Financial Times
  • Osama bin Laden left $29 million fortune in his will – The Times (£)
  • Doctors urge ban on tackling in school rugby – Independent
  • Scientists discover why people go grey – Daily Mail