Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Morning briefing..

The week remains dominated by Leveson, and the prospect of David Cameron giving evidence. No 10 has been boning up on the regulatory issues Lord Justice Leveson is particularly interested in. Mr Cameron has also been rehearsing his account of the hiring of Andy Coulson.

Today's papers are laced with a significant degree of scepticism about Gordon Brown's 'I know nothing' evidence. The Times, as you might expect, points out in its headline that he was under oath ("I didn't declare war on Murdoch, says Brown under oath"), the Guardian says he was emotional, and Quentin Letts demolishes his performance on 'Radio Loonshire'.

George Osborne emerges intact, his session attracting little comment and broadly favourable headlines. Downing Street will feel relieved that a difficult week has got off to a good start. In my blog , I've written about how Gordon helped him achieve this (angry men don't disguise their resentment well on TV). George in contrast looked at all times at ease – perhaps a little too much. He sounded as if he was having no difficulty giving straight answers.

Michael White's account in the Guardian is interesting, particularly on the publicity of Gordon's son's illness. He suggests that Gordon's appeal to "what any parent in the land" would have felt about the publicity was undermined by his subsequent admission that he later had 30 meetings with the Murdochs and their henchfolk, including parties and weddings.

In the Times, Hugo Rifkind writes that Gordon's evidence appears near crazy:

"In Gordon's world, papers decided they fancied a Tory government and then went hunting for stories about him throwing mobile phones at people. As though there were stories about simply everybody throwing phones at people, if you looked hard enough, but the Murdochs, Rothermeres and Barclays had just decreed that the ones about David Cameron ought to be hushed up."


And as ever the backdrop of the eurozone crisis continues. Yesterday's relief at the Spanish bailout has already subsided with Asian markets falling this morning.

In the Telegraph, Jeremy Warner isn't surprised, in his column, he's said that this latest solution will come apart in less than a month.

The FT (£) has splashed on an interview with José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, saying that all 27 EU countries should submit their big banks to a single cross-border supervisor as part of a banking union to be enacted next year.

Bad, but can George keep blaming the eurozone for Britain's problems? The FT tackles this in its leader column, saying:

"In part, the debate is academic. Eurozone woes surely make things worse. UK spending cuts, taken by themselves, are a drag on growth too, as are high commodity prices. None of this suffices to conclude an argument about the best policy to pursue. Politicians should not pretend that it does."

You can keep up to date with events in the eurozone throughout the day on our live blog.

It's not just George who's looking to make decisions about Europe. In the Times (£), Rachel Sylvester reports that a Conservative Cabinet minister has said that "Europe is now in play in a way it hasn't been for a long, long time... All options are on the table and clearly withdrawal is one of the options."


In the Telegraph, Philip Johnston celebrates this new mood, focusing particularly on Theresa May announcement on immigration rules yesterday - as well as Eric Pickles's view on problem families.

He argues that "With its robust new policies, has the Tory party got over its fear of being portrayed as heartless?... That's more like it: the firm smack of a proper Conservative government."

And keeping this up is the best way to win the next election.


And of course, Cameron leaving his daughter, Nancy, in the pub has attracted lots of comment. The Guardian has a story summarising the scorn and sympathy here. It turns out an awful lot of journalists have also forgotten their children...


The Telegraph, Times and the Guardian have all splashed on the Church's warning that it could split from the state. The church fear that government assurances about church protections will be ripped up by the European court.

You can read our report here.


A dissenting voice on regional pay has emerged from the Tory benches. We report that Guy Opperman, the only Tory MP in the north-east of England, has said the Chancellor's proposals would be unfair on public sector staff and not help the UK economy.


Pay and conditions are also a problem at the Treasury. Lord O'Donnell has warned that it is in "danger of being swamped by the pressures placed on it" and should consider receiving funding from the financial services industry.

In his first speech since being given a peerage, he warned that the Treasury is struggling to address the problems caused by the ongoing global financial turmoil. He said that the rate of staff turnover was "far too high and their pay levels too low". You can read more in our report here.


And finally, it's worth noting that Eric Pickles's view on problem families yesterday has attracted a lot of attention from the Guardian. Polly Toynbee has dedicated her column to the " Tory vilification campaign against the poor" and the paper's leader column discusses his "poverty of argument".

I'm not sure Mr Pickles will be bother - I don't think he expected the Guardian to agree.


"@SarahBrownUK: Personally I am delighted that I did not go flying on the slippery, wet court steps on arrival #levenson #highheels"

She must also be delighted that Gordon didn't slip up either.


Latest YouGov/The Sun results: Conservatives 31%, Labour 45%, Lib Dems 9%, UKIP 9%

Overall government approval rating: -38


In The Telegraph

Mary Riddell: For one day only at the Leveson Inquiry, the Iron and Rubber Chancellor double act

Philip Johnston: Be truly Conservative and the votes will come

Jeremy Warner: This latest euro fix will come apart in less than a month

Leader: Church and state collide over same-sex marriage

Best of the rest

Rachel Sylvester in the Times: It's mad: a euro vote with no clear question

Philip Stephens in the Financial Times: Cameron bids Europe a Churchillian goodbye

Dominic Lawson in the Independent: You can accuse the banks. But politicians should also be in the dock

Polly Toynbee in the Guardian: Tory vilification campaign against the poor is so clever


Today: David Cameron chairs weekly coalition Cabinet meeting

Today: Children's Minister Tim Loughton sets out proposals to free social workers from pointless bureaucracy to help them keep children safe from harm

Today: Caroline Lucas gives a speech at GMB Annual Congress. Brighton Centre, Brighton

9.30am: Nick Herbert and Tom Winsor, the Government's preferred candidate for the next Chief Inspector of Constabulary, will speak at a policing conference. Central Hall, Westminster, London

9.30am: Lynne Featherstone is to outline the results of the age discrimination consultation

9.45am: Ed Miliband, Sir John Major and Harriet Harman before Leveson Inquiry. Royal Courts of Justice, The Strand, London

10am: Remuneration experts give evidence to Treasury Select Committee on City pay. Committee Room 16, House of Commons, London

10.30am: Anne Milton appears before the Health Select Committee to discuss the Government's alcohol strategy. Committee Room 5, Palace of Westminster, London

10.30am: Former special advisers give evidence about the role to the Commons Public Administration Committee. Witnesses include Michael Jacobs (10 Downing St 2007-10), James O'Shaughnessy (10 Downing St 2010-11) and Duncan Brack (DECC 2010-12). Room 8, House of Commons

11am: Business, Innovation and Skills Committee takes evidence from David Willetts. Committee Room 6, Palace of Westminster, London

1pm: Proposals for backbench debates. Boothroyd Room, Portcullis House

2.15pm: Caroline Spelman appears before the Environmental Audit Committee to discuss the Rio+20 Summit. Thatcher Room, Portcullis House

2.30pm: Health Questions

Today: Financial Secretary to the Treasury Mark Hoban, Europe Minister David Lidington, and Lloyds Banking Group Chairman Sir Winfried Bischoff discuss the big challenges of the future. Nomura, 1 Angel Lane, London

4.45pm: Boris Johnson joins the Team London Ambassadors in a lifesaving training session. City Hall, London

5pm: Gus O'Donnell and his former counterpart in Australia Terry Moran debate 'Lessons from Leaders of Reform'. Institute for Government, 2 Carlton Gardens, London

5.30pm: Peers and MPs take part in the charity match of tug of war. The College Gardens, Great College Street, Westminster

6.05pm: Bank of England Deputy Governor for Financial Stability Paul Tucker gives a speech at the Investment Property Forum