Monday, 2 July 2012

Morning briefing..


Marcus Agius’s resignation from his job as the chairman of Barclays leads the news today (the board’s letter can be found here). He said that the Libor investigation has dealt a “devastating blow” to Barclays.

But the emerging detail of the Barclays scandal gets murkier after it was claimed the bank fixed the Libor rate after a conversation with Paul Tucker, the deputy governor of the Bank of England and leading candidate to succeed Sir Mervyn King. Could the deputy governor really be party to a fiddle?

It seems preposterous. But Larry Elliott in the Guardian points out that “neither King (nor Turner) called for heads to roll in bank boardrooms, despite being given ample opportunity to do so.”   The Mail’s leader says this takes things to a “sinister new level”.  

The atmosphere is heating up for Bob Diamond certainly. Patrick Jenkins in the FT  analyses the pressure the bank chief is under to quit. He suggests the board will back him up to a point, but more political intervention could leave his position untenable.

Meanwhile George Osborne holds out the prospect of prison for bank directors who fail in their duties. But the calls for a Leveson-style inquiry are likely to keep coming.  The Times leader warns against that idea:  “for the moment,” it argues  “there is a lot to be done with serious reform and the prospect of criminal inquiry.”


.. Reads the Mirror’s headline. The PM's strange flip-flop on a referendum - in a Sunday Telegraph article  yesterday - has not made things any clearer, to judge by the headlines. Our front page story on the confusion is here.

Meanwhile Liam Fox is harassing him from the sidelines by lasering in on the confused state of government thinking. The  FT chronicles just how vague Mr Cameron is being, while the Times  rehearses the John Major plea - don't bind my hands.

Mr Cameron knows that the referendum question - or lack of it - is causing him grief with his grassroots, and the voters to a lesser extent. He can see Ukip eating into his vote. Yet he is under intense pressure from City and business not to flirt with EU exit, and to provide certainty about the future of Britain's membership. This weekend has not left things any clearer, and we are back where I said we were in  my column last week.

Our leader says it’s hard to argue that a transformed relationship with the EU due to the eurozone crisis shouldn’t result in a referendum and “Mr Cameron, despite sending out confusing signals in recent days, seems to agree.”

The Guardian leader says Dave’s being “led by the noes once again” and that the whole saga is an attempt to appease the Right wing of his party.


The FT  has fascinating account of the way Mr Cameron has accepted that he can no longer oppose a third runway at Heathrow, but can't say so this side of the election. We've had strategic patience. Is this strategic timidity?


Labour is in for a rough ride too. The Indy  reports that Britain's sixth-biggest union, Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), has voted to fund anti-austerity candidates where it thinks the Labour candidate is not sufficiently opposed to spending cuts. This could see union-backed candidates standing against Labour.

The union insists they’re not starting a new political party, and they’ll only stand against Labour in “exceptional circumstances”. But oh dear - it looks like the heat of the battle between the Blairites and the Left just went up a few notches. Will Ed Miliband be able to get it under control?


Meanwhile, the Coalition is fighting over paternity leave. The Mail reports  that plans to allow parents to share leave after the birth of their child could be rewritten after pressure from businesses and campaign groups. Vince Cable is expected to respond to the consultation before the summer recess. Keep your eyes on George Osborne when it happens. He’s thought to oppose the plans.

The Coalition seem more united on cracking down on absent dads though. The Sun reports that dads on benefits will be asked to pay twice as much child maintenance under plans unveiled today. It sounds very similar to the proposals suggested by Policy Exchange suggested earlier this year . Wonder if they’ll include the measure that makes grandparents liable for maintenance payments too?


And finally, the Chipping Norton set were out at the Cornbury Music Festival in Oxfordshire on Saturday. Downing Street deny that the Prime Minister spoke to Andy Coulson. But a fellow guest in the VIP area said they were definitely together. At least nobody hid behind any trees. You can read our report  here.


Mike Smithson, Telegraph blogger and editor of, has spotted this interesting bit of polling:

“‏@MSmithsonPB: YouGov - Just 1% rate Osborne as best Chancellor in past 30 years. Brown top at 20%”



Latest YouGov/Sunday Times results: Conservatives 34%, Labour 43%, Lib Dems 9%, UKIP 6%

Overall government approval rating:  -40


In The Telegraph

Boris Johnson:  To swim, perchance to drown, is an undeniable human right

Liam Fox:  'Life outside the EU holds no terror for me'

Janet Daley:  The centre has moved Right, not Cameron

Allan Massie: 
She’s still our Queen for a’ that 

Leader:  The PM has to be ready to renegotiate on Europe

Leader:  Hong Kong powers on

Best of the rest

Douglas Alexander in the Guardian: Should there be a referendum on the European Union? It is too soon to say

Tim Montgomerie in the Times: Wanted: a Tory Wellington to see off the EU

Melanie Phillips in the Mail: Weasel words, broken pledges and U-turns. Why should this new talk of a vote on the EU be any different? 

Paul Mason in the Guardian: The graduates of 2012 will survive only in the cracks of our economy 


Today: David Cameron is expected to give a statement on the outcomes last week’s European Council meeting in Brussels

9.15am: Nick Clegg launches a careers advice scheme called “Inspiring the Future”. The Deputy Prime Minister will be joined by celebrities and employers who are backing the plans, including entrepreneur Karren Brady, actress Joanna Lumley, Glamour magazine editor Jo Elvin, radio presenter Margherita Taylor and head chef at The Ivy restaurant Gary Lee. Bishop Challoner School, 352 Commercial Road, Tower Hamlets

9.45am: Liam Fox gives a speech entitled “Britain, the Euro and the EU”. St. Stephen’s Club, 34 Queen Anne's Gate, London

9.45am: Briefing by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary on its latest adapting to austerity report. HMIC, 6th Floor, Globe House, 89 Eccleston Square, London

10am: A press briefing the embargoed Commons Education Committee report on 15-19 year-old exams in England will be held in. Report the Grimond Room, Portcullis House, London. (Embargoed to 0001 tomorrow)

11.30am: Tim Loughton, the Minister for Children and Families, will give an off-camera embargoed briefing on new measures for residential care homes and child sexual exploitation.  Department for Education, Sanctuary Buildings, Great Smith Street, London. (Embargoed to 0001 tomorrow)

2.30pm: Communities and Local Government Questions

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