Monday, 18 June 2012

Morning briefing..


Greece has voted, handing a narrow victory to a pro-euro and pro-bailout coalition, leaving "the euro in balance," according to our splash. The Times has called the result a "Stay of execution" and the Guardian says that it's given the  "single currency a chance".

There are nervous eyes on the markets at opening, but short term relief will be tempered by a sense that Europe has once again kicked the can down the road without addressing the issue. The moment of catharsis that the EU - and even the Treasury - was privately hoping for is postponed yet again.

Hopes aren't high for the G20 Summit in Mexico today.  Larry Elliot in the Guardian says: "Anybody expecting the G20 to pull another rabbit out of the hat now simply hasn't been paying attention"  and that the G20 is set to become "as redundant as the G8 it was supposed to replace."

Likewise,  Boris Johnson warns European leaders against "dither" in his Telegraph column today, saying that we "will consign the continent to a democratic dark ages"  if action isn't taken - and in particular, a breakup of the euro.


David Cameron and George Osborne are there - and Dave's giving a speech today. Robert Winnett reports that he will encourage eurozone leaders to reform the union or break up, and warn against  "muddle-headed thinking that over-indebted governments can spend their way out of the crisis", concluding:

"The reality is that there are a set of things the eurozone countries need to do, and it is up to the eurozone countries to decide whether they are prepared to make the sacrifices these entail."

Patrick Wintour thinks this "will see David Cameron both supporting and opposing the direction of policy in the eurozone, demanding that eurozone leaders embark on an integrationist leap while insisting on guarantees that Britain is spared being roped into any parts of the new regime."  


Mr Cameron could, of course, turn to Tony Blair. On the World this Weekend, Tony hinted that he would like to be president of the EU, but not now, saying "When the European presidency came up last time I would have taken it if the job had been offered, but I've no thought of stepping back into politics, European politics, at this moment."  You can read more in our report here.


Perhaps that's why Dave's still so relaxed. We report  that he spent yesterday in a country pub with family and friends, but this time leaving his daughter Nancy at home.

This will not please Conservative Home's  Tim Montgomerie who has a column in the Times today, saying that the Tory Party is burning and needs a relaunch.


There will be no relaxing for those in Whitehall though. The Times (£)  reports that ministers are demanding new powers to hire and fire their permanent secretaries using a US-style system that would allow the top layer of officials to be replaced with each change of administration.

It says there is a Cabinet row over whether ministers should be able to pick their most senior officials and put them on fixed-term contracts. Michael Gove and others want to have the flexibility to appoint outsiders from business or the wider public sector.

Jill Sherman's analysis reveals that Michael Gove, Theresa May, Philip Hammond and Eric Pickles have difficult relationships with their civil servants and that they're keen for radical action. While Justine Greening, Andrew Mitchell, Ken Clarke, and Andrew Lansley are supportive of their officials.

Francis Maude will publish proposals for Civil Service reform tomorrow. In the Observer yesterday, it was reported that he plans to announce the streamlining of official's grades on Tuesday. 


The Tories are hitting out at the Lib Dems too. We report  that Lords reform will be watered down due to Tory fury at the treatment of Jeremy Hunt last week. Tory MP Eleanor Laing has said: "Why are we supposed to bend over backwards to support Nick Clegg's over something that only matters to Lib Dems when his party cannot support a fellow minister who has done nothing wrong?" 


Meanwhile, the Labour party is shredding itself to bits as the Left-wing of the party, headed by the GMB union, tries to throw out the Right-wing Blairite Progress group. Lord Mandelson is in the Times  saying that the unions are leading Labour down a blind alley. And the Guardian's Jackie Ashley uses her column to say that the last thing Labour needs is to settle its scores.  

That said, Saturday's Observer  had an interesting interview with Jon Cruddas. He revealed that he's replaced the Labour Party's 29 separate policy groups with just three – on the economy, society and politics -  and has some radical ideas for the Party. He gave a few hints: appointing union officials to company boards, an "in/out" referendum on the EU, and public services reform.


Jack Dromey MP illuminates what Labour's "the Good Society" message is all about:

"@JackDromeyMP: Tai chi with Elders with Attitude in the Erdington Perry Trees Centre!Run by the remarkable Jackie Dray, they are the good society in action"


Latest YouGov/Sunday Times results: Conservatives 32%, Labour 44%, Lib Dems 9%, UKIP 8%

Overall government approval rating: -39


In The Telegraph 

Boris Johnson: Dithering Europe is heading for the democratic dark ages

Dennis Sewell: How the BBC is dragging its feet on bias

Leader: The eurozone must bite the bullet to solve its crisis

Leader: Don't care, won't care

Best of the rest

Tim Montgomerie in the Times:  Cameron fiddles while the Tory brand burns

Andrew Adonis in the Financial Times:  A black and white view of Britain's economy

John Kampfner in the Independent:  Greece may be the epicentre – but this is a European crisis

Richard Layard in the Times: Ignoring mental illness is pure discrimination


Today: David Cameron at the G20 summit in Mexico

8am: Vince Cable gives a speech to the Centre Forum on Building Britain out of the Slump. Livery Hall, Guildhall, Basinghall Street, London

9am: Ed Miliband and Yvette Cooper launch Labour's Police and Crime Commissioners. Quinborne Community Centre, Ridgacre Road, Quinton, Birmingham

12.30pm: Bank of England Deputy Governor for Financial Stability Paul Tucker gives a speech.

2.30pm Education Questions

4pm: Conservative MPs Steve Baker and Matthew Hancock launch a Demos briefing on EU financial regulation. Palace of Westminster, London

4.30pm:  Francis Maude gives evidence to Commons Public Administration Committee on special advisers. Committee Room 15, Palace of Westminster, London

6pm: Parliamentary Labour Party weekly meeting. Committee Room 14, House of Commons, Westminster, London

6pm: Conservative MP Nick Boles attends the launch event of the book 'The Politics of Coalition: How the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Government Works' by Robert Hazell and Ben Yong. Grimond Room, Portcullis House, London