Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Ben Brogan's morning roundup..

Parliament might be in recess and politics put aside for the Jubilee, but the eurozone crisis still rages across the continent, giving David Cameron something to be busy with.

Yesterday he had a telephone call with Barack Obama about preparations for this month's G20 summit in Mexico. No wonder - things are getting hairy. Yesterday Spain admitted for the first time that it can no longer raise money on the global markets or roll over its sovereign bonds.

And manufacturing and jobs data in the US and China came in weaker than expected. You can read more in Ambrose Evans-Pritchard's  report.

Meanwhile, George Osborne had his own teleconference with G7 finance ministers on the euro crisis. The Mail  reports that a deeper eurozone fiscal union was called for - edging us ever closer to a European superstate, it says.

Of course, the Tory party is giving George a hand. In a paper for the Centre for Policy Studies think-tank, the chairman of the Treasury Select Committee, Andrew Tyrie, has called on the IMF to develop contingency plans for Greece to leave the eurozone.  He told the FT (£):  

"To paraphrase Wilde . . . to be caught out by the collapse of Lehman might be construed as a misfortune. Not to be prepared for a Greek exit would be carelessness."

Dave is due to visit Berlin later this week, where he is expected to urge Angela Merkel for tougher fiscal governance in the eurozone. His challenge is to avoid appearing impotent, a bit player on the sidelines.


Mr Osborne should also take note of Bruno Wakefield's feature  in today's Telegraph. He warns that despite the "Yes" vote on the EU fiscal pact and some encouraging signals in the economy, we should be careful not to make Ireland an austerity pin-up. The positive picture masks some serious economic challenges - high unemployment, weaker economic activity than anticipated and eurozone contagion, of course.

In a column for today's Telegraph, Daniel Hannan argues that Eurocrats are treating the tumour instead of the patient. They see the survival of the euro as more important than the prosperity of the people using it.

Whereas Ambrose Evans-Pritchard argues that the Germans aren't really doing anything at all, saying:  "Almost everything Angela Merkel is talking about already exists. She has dressed up an old arrangement as if it were new." They've firmly said no to any possibility of debt pooling so far.


And closer to home, David Cameron has a new mess in the making. He's decided that, unlike Jeremy Hunt, Baroness Warsi should be referred to the standards watchdog. He claimed that her dealings with her business associate were "very different" from Mr Hunt's conduct on Marr.

This is, of course, despite the fact that Sir Alistair Graham, the former chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, said otherwise:

"The case is very strong. If there is found to be no substance to the allegation then that is fine, but at least people will have seen that in an important case that due process has been observed."

James Kirkup has the details. The  FT (£) has some great analysis, pointing out that she's faced growing criticism in recent weeks from Tory Right-wingers who believe she is not tough enough or visible enough in defending the party.  

In the  Guardian, Ken Clarke is offering his own view, accusing the press of acting like a "lynch mob" towards Mr Hunt and Lady Warsi.

In a column in today's Telegraph, Conservative Home's Paul Goodman  argues that Mr Cameron created Lady Warsi, put her in a difficult position by confining her to immigration control and integration policy, and may now be forced to destroy her. He explains:

"the architect of this mess isn't so much Lady Warsi as David Cameron. There is a terrible circularity in the story of their relationship. Her original appointment protected the Conservative Party from accusations of racism. However unfairly, her plight exposes the Prime Minister to precisely that charge.  In 2007, Mr Cameron rushed into the politics of ethnicity to get his party out of a tight spot. He may now have the opportunity to repent at leisure."

Paul Goodman isn't the first to hint at the race point.  James Macintyre in Guardian does too.

Dave might be reluctant to sack her though. The Mail's Ephraim Hardcastle column quotes a Tory source, saying: " Warsi is something of a loose cannon which is part of her appeal but makes her a dangerous enemy. She won't go as quietly as Jeremy Hunt. 'Don't mess with the Baroness' is what her colleagues say"

There are some great cartoons on the topic, check out Brookes in Times.


John Prescott has just been on the Today programme calling for an inquiry into a security firm's use of unpaid jobseekers to steward the Queen's diamond jubilee celebrations in London. The full report is available in the Guardian. He said:

"This government is exploiting this for cheap labour. Is this the standard going to be used for the Olympics"


Unlike every other paper, the Independent  hasn't splashed on the Jubilee. Instead they report that the Chancellor has told Treasury officials to find ways to persuade savers to transfer billions of pounds held in bank accounts, building societies and investment funds to new government "growth bonds".

The money would be invested in infrastructure projects such as toll roads, green energy and housebuilding. Savers could be offered tax breaks, similar to those available in ISAs.


And the Sun has a little political surprise too. It reports that Iain Duncan Smith has picked a fight with Dave on pensioner benefits, claiming that the two are "at war" over the issue.

IDS wants £5 billion cut from OAP benefits, but that would break Dave's election promise to leave the giveaways untouched - No 10 have said no.


"‏@edballsmp: Standing room only at our Morley Diamond Jubilee lunch - turns out I am a dab hand with a big teapot"

Now that's not fair on Ed Miliband.


In The Telegraph

Paul Goodman: Cameron created Warsi – will he be forced to destroy her? 

Daniel Hannan: The euro now equals poverty and deflation

Harry Mount: This great Jubilee had a missing ingredient

Leader: It is we who should be humble, Ma'am

Best of the rest

Simon Jenkins in the Guardian:  A royal jubilee of bread and circuses, maybe, but the country needed it

Martin Sorrell in the Financial Times:  Mea culpa – I act like the owner I am

Matthew Norman in the Independent:  After 60 years, at last the country seems at ease with itself

Alex Brummer in the Daily Mail: Not such diamond years: How the Queen's reign has witnessed the decline of British industry


Today: David Cameron talks with Norwegian prime minister Jens Stoltenberg in Oslo

11am: The EU announces second estimate figures for GDP for the first quarter of 2012, following last month's flash estimate figures, Q1