BBC and Hacked Off attacked over Whittingdale story

BBC“Hacked Off have today been branded ‘rank hypocrites’ after a cabinet minister was forced to admit he unknowingly had a relationship with a prostitute he met through online dating. The BBC has also been accused of pursuing its own agenda against Culture Secretary John Whittingdale, who is currently pushing to reform the corporation and its licence fee. News of the MP’s 2014 relationship was made public last night by Newsnight in an interview with Hacked Off founder Brain Cathcart.” – Daily Mail

  • Culture Secretary tells friends that left-wing MPs plotted to expose him – The Sun
  • Downing Street backs Whittingdale ovre press regulation… – FT
  • …but claims not to have been told about relationship – The Guardian
  • Cabinet minister claims BBC is ‘pursuing agenda’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Public broadcaster accused of trying to ‘mortally wound’ Culture Secretary over reform row – The Sun
  • Whittingdale in row with Corporation over ‘top-slicing’ licence fee – Daily Telegraph
  • Labour lashes out at Culture Secretary over press regulation role – The Times (£)


  • Hacked Off argue themselves into the gutter – David Aaronovitch, The Times (£)
  • Grotesque hypocrisy from a mafia which hates the free press – Stephen Glover, Daily Mail
  • Hacked Off’s tinfoil hatters need to beam back to earth – Tom Harris, Daily Telegraph
  • Ignore ministers’ sex lives, focus on their incompetence – Simon Jenkins, The Guardian


  • The double standards of the BBC and Hacked Off – Daily Mail
  • Culture Secretary’s private life is no reason to jeopardise the free press – The Times (£)
  • Who gains most from this salacious tale? – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: LeftWatch: Hacked Off’s hypocrisy reveals their true nature

Brexiteers face fresh squabbling as Vote Leave wins official status

“Rival Brexit campaigners erupted into open feuding after the mainstream Vote Leave was designated as the official Out grouping for the June referendum on Britain’s EU membership. Insurance millionaire Arron Banks, a close ally of UK Independence party leader Nigel Farage and backer of Grassroots Out, said that Vote Leave’s application was “full of lies and misrepresentations” and that he was likely to seek a judicial review of its selection by the Electoral Commission.” – FT

  • Brexit loser will fight to delay referendum – The Times (£)
  • Farage and GO! snubbed as elections watchdog chooses rival – Daily Mail
  • UKIP loses out to Boris-backed Brexit group – The Sun
  • Crusade to quit EU take huge leap forward – Daily Express


  • Voters turn from EU as trust in Cameron slides – The Times (£)
  • Cameron warns that leaving would cost farmers years of growth – Daily Telegraph
  • Business leaders spark row by blaming inflation rise on Brexit fears – Daily Mail
  • Prime Minister booed by his own MPs after attacking eurosceptics – Daily Telegraph
  • European lobby groups to meet Cameron and back his case – FT
  • New poll warns that campaigns are failing to win women over – Daily Telegraph
  • ‘Enthusiasm gap’ could lead to Brexit – FT
  • Rees-Mogg raises £5,000 for Leave by auctioning tea with his nanny – Daily Mail


  • Why the Brexit crowd wants to silence Obama – Philip Stephens, FT


  • Corbyn ‘overwhelmingly’ supports Remain – FT
  • Leader of the Opposition to give first pro-EU speech – Daily Telegraph
  • EU fails on democracy but we must stay in anyway, claims Corbyn – Daily Mail
  • Islington MPs urges voters to back Brussels ‘warts and all’ – The Sun
  • Brussels crucial despite failings, according to Labour – The Times (£)
  • Opposition MPs attack leader for echoing Tory criticisms of pro-Remain mailshot – Daily Mail




Cameron and Corbyn clash on tax at PMQs

Tax Take“David Cameron has ridiculed ‘chaotic’ Jeremy Corbyn’s tax return blunders as the leaders faced off in the Commons for the first time since the Panama Papers row. The Prime Minister seized on the Labour leader’s failure to list thousands of pounds of pension income on his return and his £100 fine for filing the document late.” – Daily Mail

  • Islington MP’s £3 million in pay and perks – Daily Mail
  • Corbyn failed to declare third pension on tax return – Daily Telegraph


  • We’ve missed the real point of the Panama Papers – Jenni Russell, The Times (£)


  • A cultural ambush from the leader of the Opposition – Quentin Letts, Daily Mail
  • Cameron taxed by a smart bit of theatre – Patrick Kidd, The Times (£)
  • Prime Minister had to pay tribute to a famous playwright… he’d never heard of – Michael Deacon, Daily Telegraph

Dr Dan Poulter: Cameron’s pledge to fix ‘broken Britain’ remains unfulfilled

“The past year has shown me that Westminster too often feels a world apart from reality. It has also reinforced the belief that the state, and the people who work for it – in the NHS, in local councils and elsewhere – remains a tremendous force for good, that can touch vulnerable lives for the better.” – The Guardian

Tory MPs attack academies plan…

School“Tory MPs lined up to savage plans to force all schools in England to become academies yesterday in the clearest sign yet of a looming rebellion against David Cameron’s reform. The prime minister defended proposals that will effectively end council responsibility for schools, insisting that the move would drive up standards. The scale of Tory unease became clear as Conservative backbenchers used a Commons debate to question why successful schools, particularly small rural primaries, should be forced to change status.” – The Times (£)

>Today: John Bald in Local Government: Councils can launch their own academy chains

…as Lords curb ministers’ ambitions on council house sales

“Ministers will be forced to seek parliamentary approval before they can make any changes to rules forcing local authorities to hand over the proceeds of council house sales to the Treasury, after peers inflicted a third defeat on Wednesday night to the government’s controversial housing bill.” – The Guardian

  • Government forced into series of climbdowns on housing bill – The Times (£)
  • Tories ease stance on sell-offs – FT

Hammond comes under fire over Libya

HAMMOND Philip white background“MPs have attacked the Foreign Secretary for being “less than candid” over Britain’s plans to send troops to Libya and accused him of being “wholly and deliberately misleading”. The Commons foreign affairs committee has angrily rejected Philip Hammond’s assurances that there is no imminent deployment to the turbulent north African state.” – Daily Telegraph

Labour accuse Goldsmith of turning campaign into ‘racist scream’

“Zac Goldsmith was today condemned for turning his London mayor campaign into a ‘racist scream’ against his Labour rival Sadiq Khan. Yvette Cooper, the former Labour leadership contender, slammed the Tory campaign for escalating his attacks from ‘dog whistles’ as polls show Mr Khan growing a lead in the race. Mr Goldsmith today insisted accusations of racism against him and his campaign were ‘absurd’ and ‘irresponsible’.” – Daily Mail

  • Tory candidate claims rival gave ‘platform, oxygen and cover’ to extremists – The Sun
  • Warsi claims Muslims are more progressive than Tories or the Church – Daily Mail

Tim Montgomerie: Khan must come clean about ‘extremist’ past

Sadiq Khan“Yvette Cooper, the former shadow home secretary, threw the left-wing thesaurus at Zac Goldsmith in an article for Tuesday’s Times Red Box. Yet Ms Cooper did not find any room to rebut the serious charges that senior Conservatives have made against Sadiq Khan, Mr Goldsmith’s Labour rival to be the next mayor of London.” – The Times (£)

Davis demands Chilcot be published

“Ministers must ‘honour’ Britain’s Iraq war dead by publishing the long-awaited inquiry into the controversial conflict by the middle of next month. In a Commons debate to be held tomorrow former shadow home secretary David Davis will say it would be ‘unconscionable’ to delay the report further and pile agony on the bereaved families.” – Daily Mail

Davidson pledges to take fight to SNP and defend Union

Scottish Conservatives“Ruth Davidson has pledged to start a new campaign highlighting the benefits of the Union as she set out a ten-point “programme for opposition” to the SNP instead of “pretending” that the Tories can win next month’s Holyrood election. Unveiling her party’s manifesto in Glasgow, the Scottish Tory leader promised to make the positive “counter case” for the United Kingdom after Nicola Sturgeon announced that the SNP plans to start a new campaign for independence this summer.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Conservatives unveil new pro-Union drive – The Scotsman
  • Scottish Tories aim to supplant Labour in Opposition – FT

>Yesterday: Henry Hill’s Red, White, and Blue column: Voters prefer Davidson to lead Scottish opposition

Liberal Democrats’ ‘Green Deal’ saved no energy and pushed up bills

“A flagship scheme to insulate homes cost taxpayers £240million but failed to deliver energy and carbon emissions savings and actually put bills up, a damning report has found. Ministers set up the Green Deal four years ago to encourage homeowners to save energy by installing loft and wall insulation and more efficient boilers at no up-front cost. But the National Audit Office said that while the ‘ambitious’ aim ‘looked good on paper’, it failed to deliver any meaningful benefit.” – Daily Mail

News in Brief:

  • A&E closes overnight as doctors reject limit on pay – The Times (£)
  • Fears that German army is ‘riddled with jihadists’ – Daily Mail
  • Map shows 2015 was Europe’s worst ever year for terrorism – Daily Telegraph
  • Sell RBS at a loss, says outgoing Treasury head – FT
  • Foreign aid spending reaches record high – The Times (£)
  • UK pays £1 in every £7 paid in aid by the rich world – Daily Express
  • Tusk warns of fresh wave of migrants heading to Europe – Daily Mail
  • Port Talbot rescuer claims keeping blast furnaces would ‘doom’ effort – FT
  • Seventeen Edinburgh schools could be closed until summer – The Scotsman

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