The Prime Minister’s tribute to the Queen, on her 90th Birthday

The Queen“The Queen was hailed as a ‘rock of strength’ by David Cameron tonight as the nation prepared to mark Her Majesty’s 90th birthday. … The PM will lead politicians from all sides in marking the celebrations tomorrow with a humble address in the Commons. … And speaking this evening he paid tribute to the Queen for remaining ‘steadfast’ throughout an extraordinary period of change. … Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn – a famed anti-Monarchist – will be forced to toast the Queen in reply to the PM.” – The Sun

  • “Plans are being drawn up for a radical change in the way the Queen arrives for the state opening of parliament to take account of her advancing years, The Times has been told.” – The Times (£)
  • “She is now Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, but a plot in Whitehall would have prevented the Queen from even ascending the throne in the first place.” – Daily Telegraph


  • “Through wars, recessions, disasters and her own family breakdowns and tragedies she has never faltered.” – Sun editorial
  • “It has been the Queen’s accomplishment to have kept the monarchy relevant at a time when it could have been overrun by the forces of modernism.” – Daily Telegraph editorial
  • “Her sense of duty has cast her forbears in unflattering perspective. It has further served as a masterclass for her heirs.” – Times editorial (£)
  • “Britain should not forever defer the need to think about the future of the monarchy.” – Guardian editorial

> Yesterday: ToryDiary – The Queen at 90. Her greatest merit of all is that she upholds our constitution.

Obama arrives to join the celebrations, but also wades into the Referendum row

obamacameron“Barack Obama is due to arrive in London on Thursday to enter the debate about Britain’s future in Europe, amid fresh warnings that leaving the European Union would jeopardise the special relationship with the United States. … The US president and his wife Michelle will attend a celebratory lunch on Friday to mark the 90th birthday of the Queen, with whom they are said to enjoy a warm rapport, but the president is also expected to add his voice to those calling for Britain to remain in the EU.” – The Guardian

  • “Speaking at Princeton University in the US, the former Deputy Prime Minister [Nick Clegg] warned quitting the EU would ruin Britain’s ‘special relationship’ with America.” – Daily Mail
  • “Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s far-right National Front, is to travel to Britain to campaign for Brexit, her party said yesterday.” – The Times (£)
  • “The Queen and the EU aren’t so very different.” – David Aaronovitch, The Times (£)

> Today: Crispin Tickell on Comment – Cameron and Obama have shown that co-operation on climate change works

Tim Montgomerie: Obama’s Brexit overreach is typical of his arrogance

MONTGOMERIE Tim offical“The timing of his visit, halfway through the EU referendum debate, is no accident. There is a longstanding international understanding that world leaders don’t visit during election campaigns — but such conventions were obviously designed for lesser mortals. Obama has no qualms and the Prime Minister has no shame: he needs every endorsement he can get.” – Tom Montgomerie, The Spectator

  • “On Brexit, Obama speaks for America.” – Anne Applebaum, The Spectator
  • “Bill should become Hillary’s voice of restraint.” – Tim Montgomerie, The Times (£)

Other Referendum news 1) “Simple-minded!” Lord King on the Treasury’s Brexit analysis

“The former governor of the Bank of England has dismissed the Treasury’s ‘simple minded’ assessment of the risks from Brexit. … Lord Mervyn King said the report, which predicted that leaving the EU could cost every houshold £4,300 was an example of the exaggerated rhetoric coming from both sides. … But Lord King said the issues in the referendum battle ‘cannot be reduced simply to the simple-minded level of a cost-benefit analysis’.” – Daily Mail

  • “By winning the economic argument, the Remain campaign believes it will win the EU referendum.” – George Eaton, New Statesman
  • “Every bad thing in the next nine weeks will be blamed on the ‘threat’ of Britain leaving the EU.” – Sun editorial

Other Referendum news 2) Downing Street accused of gagging Patel

Patel Union Jack“Downing Street was last night accused of ‘gagging’ Jobs Minister Priti Patel as a Brexit row exploded over a shock rise in unemployment. … Ms Patel – the darling of the Brexit campaign – was kept off the airwaves as official figures revealed a 21,000 increase in the jobless rate. … Instead, the pro-EU Work and Pensions Secretary Steve Crabb went on the air and said the economy was suffering from the uncertainty caused by the Referendum.” – The Sun

  • “David Cameron reassured Eurovision fans today by saying Britain will still be in the European Song Contest even if we vote to leave the EU.” – Daily Mail
  • “Another of David Cameron’s closest allies and oldest friends has refused to back his stance on Europe. … Former Downing Street ‘guru’ Steve Hilton told the BBC today he was not ‘going to get into the argument’ on the EU referendum.” – The Sun
  • “‘Brexit’ is expected to be the main item on the agenda of the prime minister’s business advisory group, which has its regular quarterly meeting to brief David Cameron on Thursday.” – Financial Times


  • “David Cameron is heading for a hollow victory in the EU referendum.” – James Forsyth, The Spectator
  • “The ‘leave’ campaign is right not to lay out a plan for Britain’s future.” – Charles Moore, The Spectator
  • “Brexit may break Britain’s Tory party.” – Philip Stephens, Financial Times
  • “We’re so used to EU rule that we’ve forgotten how to do it for ourselves” – Allister Heath, Daily Telegraph
  • “Brexit means blood, toil, sweat and tears.” – Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Daily Telegraph
  • “‘Can you go back to your seat please?’ asked Andrew Tyrie, chair of the Treasury select committee as Dominic Cummings hovered menacingly over his shoulder.” – John Crace, The Guardian
  • “Nigel Farage may be over but Ukip is here to stay – whether we vote to leave Europe or not.” – Andrew Grice, The Independent

Other Referendum news 3) Voters would like to see our European contributions spent on the NHS instead

EU Exit brexit“But, in a ComRes poll for the Mail and ITV News, voters rejected the idea that the EU is good value for money. … Some 56 per cent think that Britain’s net contribution is bad value for money. Less than a third think it is good value for money. … If the money were not spent on the EU, an overwhelmingly majority of the public – 57 per cent – would most like to see the money spent on healthcare and the NHS.” – Daily Mail

> Yesterday:

The migrant crisis and Britain

“The number of refugees granted asylum in Britain soared by 26 per cent last year as the migration crisis engulfed Europe. … A total of 17,920 people were given sanctuary in the UK – or nearly 50 a day. It was up a quarter on the 14,065 who successfully applied for refuge the previous year, and thought to be the highest recorded since 2002. … The increase coincided with a record 1.25million asylum seekers arriving in the EU last year.” – Daily Mail

  • “Five hundred migrants died when a packed ship heading for Europe capsized in the Mediterranean, officials believe.” – The Times (£)
  • “Taxpayers forked out more than £4million to pay foreigners who were unlawfully held in immigration detention centres last year, figures revealed today.” – Daily Mail
  • “Nearly 40 children under 18 have been deemed to be at risk of forced marriage in West Yorkshire since June 2014.” – Daily Mail


  • “Poor EU border controls put Britain in danger.” – Dominic Raab, Daily Telegraph
  • “Our borders must be made more secure.” – Daily Telegraph editorial

Senior politicians have allowed the intelligence services to access personal data for years

Computer“Senior British politicians have secretly known for at least 15 years about wide-ranging security service access to personal data that could amount to mass surveillance, according to newly-disclosed documents. … From the late 1990s on, successive home and foreign secretaries have been aware of and in some cases signed off on intelligence agencies’ access to large-scale databases of personal information, the files disclosed to campaign group Privacy International show.” – Financial Times

  • “About 70 of the 350 British jihadists who have returned to the UK after fighting for Islamic State represent a ‘high risk’, a senior Home Office official said yesterday.” – The Times (£)
  • “One in three jihadi terrorists convicted on plotting attacks on British soil were able to slip into the UK after training abroad, The Telegraph can disclose.” – Daily Telegraph

MPs accuse the Government of “creative accounting” to meet defence spending targets

“Britain met the Nato target of spending two per cent of national income on defence because of ‘creative accounting’, senior politicians said last night. … MPs suggested the Government had ‘shifted the goalpost’ when it came to calculating how much money is spent on protecting the nation. … They added an extra £2.2billion to its total figure by including war pensions, peacekeeping missions and security elements for the first time, it was revealed.” – Daily Mail

  • “David Cameron has heralded Britain’s ‘debt of gratitude’ to Help For Heroes founders Bryn and Emma Parry as they step down after 10 years.” – The Sun
  • “It would have been ‘impossible’ for army recruit Pte Cheryl James to have killed herself at the controversial Deepcut barracks, an inquest has heard.” – Daily Mail

> Today: Garvan Walshe’s column – Can Mosul be liberated from the Islamic State?

> Yesterday: ToryDiary – The Government, ground troops, the Commons – and war in Libya

Cameron vs Khan

Cameron PMQs“The Prime Minister launched a fierce attack on Labour’s London Mayor candidate for sharing a platform with an Islamic extremist on nine separate occasions. … Mr Khan’s links to Sulaiman Ghani have been raised repeatedly by Zac Goldsmith, Mr Khan’s Tory rival, leading to claims his campaign has racist undertones. … But the Conservatives have insisted the repeat appearances raise real questions about Mr Khan’s judgement.” – Daily Mail

  • “Conservative election strategists appear increasingly sure that attempting to link Sadiq Khan to radical Muslims will win Zac Goldsmith votes in the London mayoral election on 5 May.” – The Guardian


  • “For a man who once talked of letting ‘sunshine win the day’, David Cameron is quick to kick an opponent in the sweetbreads. Aim low, aim often.” – Quentin Letts, Daily Mail
  • “At last, Corbyn wounds Cameron in the Commons cockfight.” – Patrick Kidd, The Times (£)

> Yesterday:

“This isn’t personal with me.” IDS speaks to Fraser Nelson

IDS“As the election campaign drew near, Cameron further narrowed the options: pensioners would be protected, winter fuel payments would not be touched. Anything that affected pensioners (the group most likely to vote) was exempt from austerity. Duncan Smith says he considered resigning after the election. ‘The reason I decided to stay was that I felt I had to somehow ameliorate this process.’ He negotiated down the cuts, and extended the two-year deadline. But in doing so, he shortened his own life expectancy in government.” – Fraser Nelson, The Spectator

Ministers consider new plans to curb tax evasion

“Offshore companies buying UK property could be forced to reveal their ultimate owners under plans being considered by ministers to crack down on tax evasion and money laundering. … The proposals would shine a spotlight on the foreign firms that hold billions of pounds in British property without having to declare who is behind them. It could also require foreign companies bidding for public sector contracts to do the same.” – The Guardian

  • “Face it, Britain’s corporate fatcats will party until we turn the music off.” – Owen Jones, The Guardian

The Government puts brakes on its idea to turn all schools into academies

School“The government is putting the brakes on its plan to force all schools to become academies after running into strong opposition from its own backbenchers and grassroots Conservative party members. … Legislation to implement the plans will not be brought forward in the coming weeks or months, a senior Tory aide said on Wednesday after David Cameron came under fire from Jeremy Corbyn for the plans.” – Financial Times

  • “The government’s drive to boost apprenticeships through a tax on business payrolls may damage employer-sponsored degrees, education experts have warned.” – Financial Times
  • Teenagers in a deprived borough will soon have nowhere local to do A-levels because the area’s only sixth form is being axed.” – Daily Mail

> Today:

The Conservatives failed to declare £38,000 of election spending

“The Conservative Party failed to declare nearly £40,000 of General Election expenses, it emerged last night. Some £38,000 worth of hotel costs for activists were not revealed to the Electoral Commission, party officials admitted. … Conservative Central Office blamed an ‘administrative error’ for the failure to declare costs related to the Battlebus 2015 project. … The revelations, uncovered by a Daily Mail and Channel 4 News joint investigation, are the latest of a series raising questions about the veracity of the Tory spending return for the May 2015 election.” – Daily Mail

  • “David Cameron’s party blamed an ‘administrative error’ for the problem and denied claims the receipts would have broken local spending limits.” – Daily Mail

Tax havens to attend Labour’s conference

Tax Take“Ministers from Jersey and Guernsey have been given the green light to attend the Labour party’s annual conference this year, despite Jeremy Corbyn’s criticism of offshore tax havens. … That has prompted accusations of double standards after Labour banned McDonald’s from taking a stand at the conference in protest at the burger chain’s refusal to recognise union rights and its tendency to use zero-hours contracts.” – Financial Times

  • “Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party outsnobs the Tories easily these days. It seems to actively hate the working class, the very people it was set up to represent” – Rod Liddle, The Sun

The mystery of Corbyn’s recruitment advert

“Jeremy Corbyn is recruiting for a new spin doctor but the job advert states the role is ‘only’ for as long as he remains Labour leader – ‘or until December 31, whichever is sooner’. … The advert – which was distributed internally among party staffers – has been described by Labour insiders as ‘bizarre’ and has sparked speculation about Mr Corbyn’s future. … Mr Corbyn already employs two spin doctors – the Guardian journalist Seumas Milne and Kevin Slocombe.” – Daily Mail

  • “A woman facing accusations of antisemitism and who blocked criticism of Islamic State has been elected president of the National Union of Students, heralding a sharp left-ward shift in student politics.” – The Times (£)

Sturgeon launches the SNP’s manifesto

Nicola SturgeonNicola Sturgeon launched the Scottish National party’s manifesto to a packed crowd in Edinburgh, calling it the ‘most ambitious programme for government that the SNP has ever published’. … But despite a promise to transform health and education, the party programme included little change to income tax rates and confirmed the SNP would keep council tax rates as they are … Ms Sturgeon was also cautious on a second independence referendum, choosing to keep her options open rather than issue a demand for another vote.” – Financial Times

Carmichael escapes punishment for memo leak

“Alistair Carmichael was today cleared of breaking Commons rules by leaking an official memo about Nicola Sturgeon’s views on the general election after a standards watchdog chief ruled she was powerless to intervene. … Former Liberal Democrat Scotland Secretary admitted authorising a special advisor to leak the memo, which wrongly claimed Ms Sturgeon wanted the Tories to win the general election.” – Daily Mail

GP practices to gain a further £2.4 billion a year

NHS“GP practices will be given a further £2.4bn a year to cope with the burden of an ageing population and to alleviate pressure on hospitals. … Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, will announce the extra funding, which will kick in by 2020-21, on Thursday. … The money — part of a settlement agreed with the Treasury in last year’s spending review, rather than additional cash — will mean a 14 per cent real-terms increase, from £9.6bn in 2016-17 to more than £12bn by 2021.” – Financial Times

  • “Patients will be told to see pharmacists and therapists rather than GPs under major reforms for crisis-hit surgeries. … The proposals are part of a rescue package for surgeries struggling to cope with soaring levels of migration, the ageing population and an exodus of retiring GPs.” – Daily Mail
  • “A government pledge to bring mental health services up to the standards of those for physical ailments will struggle to be met, the government’s official spending watchdog has concluded.” – The Guardian

News in brief

  • Mitsubishi faked mileage figures for 600,000 of its vehicles – Daily Mail
  • MPs unanimously declare Yazidis and Christians victims of Isis genocide – The Guardian
  • “We must build on the green belt to end this housing crisis. Will any politician have the guts?” – Juliet Samuel, Daily Telegraph
  • Prisons foster family ties in bid to curb reoffending – Financial Times
  • Victoria Wood, RIP – The Sun

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