Terror in Brussels 1) Cameron proclaims that we stand with Belgium

Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 09.10.02“David Cameron has called a meeting of the government’s emergency COBRA committee, and said Britain would ‘do everything we can to help’…Mr Cameron said: ‘These are appalling and savage terrorist attacks and I’ve just spoken to the prime minister of Belgium to give our sympathies and our condolences to the Belgian people. ‘We absolutely stand with them at this very difficult time. These were attacks in Belgium; they could just as well be attacks in Britain or in France or Germany or elsewhere in Europe.” – Daily Mail

Terror in Brussels 2) He says that no link should be drawn between the ISIS attack and the Brexit debate…

“Mike Hookem, the party’s defence spokesman, released a statement within two hours of the attacks saying the “horrific act of terrorism shows that Schengen free movement and lax border controls are a threat to our security”…David Cameron was among those to criticise Ukip’s remarks. He said it was “not appropriate” to be drawing a link between the terror attacks and immigration on such a day…The Ukip leader, Nigel Farage, added: “I’m very upset by events in Brussels today and even more depressed for the future.” – The Guardian

Terror in Brussels 3) …But May declares that there are security reasons to stay in the EU

“Mrs May said yesterday that EU membership — and access to its intelligence — was “of benefit” in thwarting terror plots at a time of such serious threat.  Although she wavered before deciding how to campaign in the EU referendum, she said that it was the need to co-operate with other countries over security that convinced her to support the In campaign. “I think this is an issue people should look at more broadly, but on the security front there are good reasons for us to be members of the European Union,” she said.” – The Times (£)


  • At least two Brits killed – The Sun
  • Attackers named – BBC
  • The day the heart of the EU was attacked – Financial Times
  • Blair says ‘flabby liberalism’ is helping terrorists because elite feel too ‘guilty’ to take on the extremists – Daily Mail
  • Howard: the EU is a “flawed project” which is “failing to keep us safe” – Daily Mail
  • Trump declares that ISIS is winning – Daily Express
  • “I would be tough on terrorism and tough on the causes of terrorism. If they come we must shoot them dead.” – George Galloway, Daily Express
  • Ryanair charging British tourists in city £214 to get home – The Independent


  • With each new atrocity, ever more British voters will feel that we must reclaim control of our borders – John Bradley, Daily Mail
  • The EU aspires to be a state but fails to deal with the enemy within – Philip Johnston, Daily Telegraph
  • “Some commentators used the tragedy to argue for and against Britain staying in the EU. That was inappropriate. However, it would also be stupid to ignore the political context of these attacks.” – Daily Mail Editorial
  • “Europe helps us make Britain safer”, David Cameron told The Sun last month. How hollow that sounds today after the atrocities in the heart of Brussels.” – Sun Editorial
  • “The attacks in Belgium remind us that we can all be targets of jihadis. Only international cooperation and shared intelligence can reduce the risk” – Times Editorial (£)
  • “Too often a misguided commitment to multiculturalism has caused those in positions of power to look the other way as extremist Islam took hold of entire communities. Such a project goes hand in hand with ensuring that our national borders are secure.” – Daily Express Editorial

Today: Andrew Lilico on Comment – Unless Remain wins big, the future of its Conservative supporters in government looks doomed


Osborne responds to the Budget. It’s his first Commons appearance since IDS resigned – and “a display of almost rabid bravado”

Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 08.18.08“George Osborne has told MPs he was sorry that Iain Duncan Smith had resigned from government but refused to apologise for attempting to save £4.4bn through changes to disability benefit. In his first House of Commons appearance since the fiasco, the chancellor acknowledged the plans for cuts to personal independence payments (PIPs) were “a mistake” and would be withdrawn.
 But he struck a combative tone as he defended the core principles of his tax-cutting budget and overall economic strategy, which Duncan Smith attacked as “deeply unfair” after stepping down as work and pensions secretary.” – The Guardian

  • McDonnell attacked over IRA support by Tugendhat and Cartlidge during his Budget wind-up for Labour – Newsletter
  • Pressure mounts on Osborne as UK borrowing worse than expected – Financial Times
  • Crabb taking own constituents to court over housing benefit reforms as Work and Pensions Secretary – The Independent
  • Scotland to be subsidised by billions of pounds of English income tax, major report says – The Sun
  • Royal Bank of Scotland pays back £1.2bn to the Treasury –  The Guardian
  • Scotland’s higher earners to pay more tax – Scotsman


  • “The Chancellor hadn’t come to resign. He hadn’t even come to apologise. Indeed, he didn’t sound in the least contrite.  To listen to him, you wouldn’t think he’d been humiliated over his forced u-turn on disability benefits, or by the resulting £4bn hole in his Budget, or by the resignation of Iain Duncan Smith. Quite the contrary. This was a display of almost rabid bravado.” – Michael Deacon, Daily Telegraph
  • “A set-piece Commons debate on the Budget was only ever going to be partisan. The more he attacked Labour (as he did, by jingo, with an ear-denting barrage of yelling noise), and the more Labour attacked him, the more MPs’ loyalties became calcified.” – Quentin Letts, Daily Mail
  • “Rachel Reeves wanted a clarification about whether there would be more welfare cuts, so he asked why she wasn’t saying thank you for the money he’d just given to flood defences in her constituency. Call it arrogance, but a man’s got to play to his strengths.” – Patrick Kidd, The Times (£)

Rentoul: Chancellor doesn’t know what he’s doing

John Rentoul 27-07-15“I don’t know if [Osborne] had seen Nicky Morgan, the Education Secretary, confronted with the Institute for Fiscal Studies’ analysis of the effect of the Budget measures last night. The disability cuts were always, to be blunt, a small amount of money in relation to total spending, and the Budget measures that are planned for the next four years, and which have been planned since last year’s Budget, hit the poor and hardly affect the better-off at all…I am led to conclude that he doesn’t know what he’s doing. He doesn’t mean to be a hard-faced right-winger; he’s doing it by “mistake”.” – The Independent

  • Osborne clobbers the rich, not the poor – Ryan Bourne, Daily Telegraph
  • Cameron would do his party a great service if he found some humility (Ha ha! Some chance!) – Anne Widdecombe, Daily Express
  • What the poor need most is jobs, not welfare – Daniel Finkelstein, The Times (£)

> Today: Columnist Rebecca Coulson – Let’s raise a glass of wine to drink as Osborne hunts for sugar to tax

> Yesterday: ToryDiary – The Crabb and the Octopus

Chote: what the OBR really said about Brexit

“We made the point that lots of other people have done analysis of these things, and some are positive and some are negative … in both cases people don’t expect those effects to show up overnight. They would take quite a long time to show up – probably well beyond the five-year horizon we would be looking at. If we did assume we were leaving, it might not have as much effect, positive or negative, as people think.” – Daily Mail

  • Lawson rejects claims of trade reprisals post-Brexit – Financial Times
  • Miliband warns voters against Brexit ‘free market experiment’ – The Guardian
  • Boris to appear in front of Treasury Select Committee today over Brexit – Daily Telegraph

Fleet Street follows up ConHome’s interview with Nicholas Soames

Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 08.48.35“Asked if the referendum was a concession too far [to Brexiteers], Sir Nicholas said: ‘There are two ways in my view to deal with this. ‘If you have an Alsatian sitting in front of you, and it growls at you and bares its teeth, there are two ways of dealing with it. ‘You can pat it on the head, in which case it’ll bite you, or you can kick it really hard in the balls, in which case it’ll run away. Eurosceptic Tory Stewart Jackson suggested Sir Nicholas’ latest intervention would be more likely to help the Leave campaign.’” – Daily Mail

> Yesterday: Interview by Andrew Gimson – Nicholas Soames compares Brexiteers to an Alsatian that must be kicked “really hard in the balls”

Proctor: “Nick’s” lies have destroyed my life

“The impact on me of all of this was profound. I wrestled every day with an acute feeling of sadness. My reputation, carefully nurtured over 28 years following the events of 1987, when I was convicted of homosexual activity with rent boys then aged 17 and 19, has been left in tatters.  My life has been “devastated” in a manner where, through age, I have no time left to effectively restore it. I have lost my home and my job. I have lost my future — but I have lost my present too.” – The Sun

  • “Nick’s” complaints eat themselves: now a child abuse victim complains that Proctor’s accuser stole his story – Daily Telegraph
  • How efforts to tell police bosses about South Yorkshire child grooming ‘fell on deaf ears’ – Yorkshire Post
  • Child sex exploitation set to overwhelm us – The Times (£)

> Yesterday: ToryDiary – The innocent Proctor, the Rotherham victims – and a child abuse culture that upends innocence and guilt

Pass the poppers! Blunt’s campaigning helps to win ban reprieve

Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 08.59.17“In the latest Government u-turn, Crime Minister Karen Bradley today said experts believed poppers were not as harmful as other legal highs…The move comes two months after MPs voted in favour of a ban on poppers and a string of other psychoactive substances such as laughing gas. At the time, gay Tory Crispin Blunt stunned Parliament by making an impassioned plan for the party drug to be exempted – and admitting he was a regular popper user. The former Army captain told the Commons: “There are some times when something is proposed which becomes personal to you. And you realise the Government is about to do something fantastically stupid.” – The Sun

 Corbyn has his own Chief Whip on an enemies list

“A document leaked to The Times reveals that Labour MPs have been divided into five groups. It shows Mr Corbyn has more opponents than supporters. The list prompted one Labour MP to draw comparisons with Richard Nixon, the former US president who drew up lists of his enemies…Labour MPs said that the list had been drawn up by Katy Clark, Mr Corbyn’s political secretary, and dates from January. Several MPs said the list was over-optimistic on behalf of the leadership since several MPs who are listed as loyal have spoken privately of their unhappiness at Mr Corbyn.” – The Times (£)

  • Khan’s bizarre “Bullseye Goldsmiiiiiiiiith” outburst – The Sun

Trump and Clinton score big victories in Arizona

TRUMP hair“Mr Trump held an unassailable lead over Ted Cruz, the Texas senator, shortly after polls closed. The Associated Press projected that the New York mogul would win the western state, after early results showed him taking 46 per cent of the vote…Mrs Clinton was on course for an even bigger win over Vermont senator Bernie Sanders. She was projected to win after initial results showed her at 60 per cent. The former secretary of state has won 18 of the 28 states that have held Democratic contests. In the Republican race, Mr Trump has won 20 states, while Mr Cruz has claimed eight wins.” – Financial Times

News in Brief

  • Energy Committee Hinckley Point Commons hearing today – The Times (£)
  • Boss of Sports Direct could be summoned to the bar of the Commons over working conditions claims – The Independent
  • Hammond criticises judge for stripping diplomatic immunity from Saudi billionaire – The Guardian
  • UKIP on course for seven AMs in Wales – Wales Online
  • Business Growth Fund invests £8m in Midland software firm – Birmingham Post
  • More than 3.6 million people found to be missing out on married couples tax break… – Daily Mail
  • …As Tracey Emin announces that she has married a rock – Daily Telegraph
  • Majority of working mums discriminated against while pregnant and after giving birth claim – The Sun
  • Scarlet fever symptoms: a guide – Daily Express
  • Bank Holiday traffic expected to peak on Thursday – The Guardian