Friday, 27 June 2014

Come back a winner..

Come back with your shield - or not at all." That's what Spartan mothers used to say to their sons before they went off to battle. Barring a miracle, David Cameron is on course to lose his shield and the battle to block Jean-Claude Juncker. He still looks likely to come back, if not to cheering crowds, but to a united party and a country broadly in support of his approach.
That's despite the fact that the negotiations have, been, quite plainly, a disaster. It is clear that the PM went in too hard and too early, and, as Douglas Alexander's put it yesterday, "turned a Europe divided over Jean-Claude Juncker into a Europe apparently united against David Cameron". 
Does it matter? Public opinion in Britain increasingly favours David Cameron's stance of renegotiation then a referendum, softly Eurosceptic, not Better-Off-Out. In any case, what matters is that his party is no longer hopelessly divided on the Europe issue, that Labour's lead - up to five in our poll of polls today - is not big enough by historical standards and that no-one much cares about the European Union anyway.
My colleague Tim Stanley, however, pointed out to me yesterday that, while the politics may be good for David Cameron, his is the one policy that has been discredited by recent weeks. The pro-European case that a more collegiate, less detached approach would secure reform in Europe is still intact; the "they'll never change, let's leave" case is still standing. What no longer appears tenable is the PM's approach of seeking reform from the sidelines. It remains to be seen whether the conflict between popular politics and effective policy-making on the European stage will cause the PM further grief. 

Mark Carney's measures to prevent the housing market from overheating are widely reported. No more than 15% of new mortgages are to be given to people borrowing more than 4.5 times their income, while banks will have to stress test the ability of borrowers to pay back their mortgages if their mortgage rate were 3% higher than the rate at the time the loan was approved. Meanwhile, George Osborne has announced that Help to Buy will not cover any new loans larger than 4.5 times income. Jeremy Warner isn't sold: "in principle and practice, credit rationing is a bad idea whose unintended consequenes we can at this stage only guess at", is his take. You can read the full story from Szu Ping Chan here
The Cybernats who abused JK Rowling after she endorsed Better Together may have been "secret service plants", an SNP MSP has claimed. Writing for her local paper, the Hamilton Advertiser, Ms McKelvie wrote that the attacks were "down to a very few people whose accounts no one could track back to having anything to do with the Yes campaign". She continued: "Whoever made them - there are interesting conspiracy theorists who think it might all have been down to secret service plants - should be totally condemned." Meanwhile, the Nationalist campaign has been thrown into disarray after Professor Patrick Dunleavy, an academic repeatedly quoted by Alex Salmond, suggested that the cost of setting up a new state could reach up to £1.5 billion. Mr Salmond had previously cited a much smaller figure of £200m - Professor Dunleavy now estimates that it would be at least three times that amount. 
Abu Qatada - the radical preacher who was once dubbed "Bin Laden's European N0. 2" - has been acquitted of terrorism offences by a court in Jordan, Damien McElroy reports. The deportation of Qatada is one of Theresa May's greatest triumphs at the Home Office; Nick Clegg confirmed yeterday that he won't be coming back. Jonathan Miller explains that the acquittal reveals how troubled the kingdom of Jordan has become; with Isis threatening the border and tension with the country's Salafist Muslims, a guilty verdict could have stirred trouble. 
Labour will mount a summer campaign to dispel perceptions that the party is anti-business, the FT reports. Ed Miliband will appear with hundreds of business people next week at the Science Museum alongside Lord Sainsbury and Ed Balls, while a more pro-business speech is also being planned.
The number of people who get more in benefits and public services than they pay in tax is at record levels, according to the Office of National Services. Around 52% of households, or 13.8 million families receive more in benefits and public services. In 1977, only 40% of households received more than they contributed.  It's all the result of "unbridled spending and unchecked socialist dreams" of the Labour years, our leader says
People in civil partnerships will be able to convert them to full marriages from December, Sajid Javid has announced.  Here's a lovely Matthew Parris piece on the question of whether to hold a second party to celebrate the "upgrade". 
The Morning Briefing is written by Stephen Bush. You can follow him on Twitter or Instagram.
A new dawn, etc:
@IanAustinMP: Oh dear. Humiliating: Absolutely no applause on @BBCQuestionTime for Paul Nuttall's rallying cry to leave the EU. #bbcqt
Poll of polls 20th to 27th June (Populus-Opinium-YouGov) Labour lead by five points
In the Telegraph

Fraser Nelson - Cameron and his gang haven't learnt their lesson
Tim Bale - The youth of today will probably never vote Ukip - great news for the Conservative Party?
Isabel Hardman -Honourable Members have no reason to be camera-shy
Jeremy Warner - Stop meddling, Mark Carney, and bite the bullet on interest rates 
Best of the Rest
Rafael Behr - David Cameron's weaknesses are his greatest strength...for now

Philip Collins -Petulance will get you nowhere, Mr Cameron
0845 BRUSSELS: European Council summit of EU leaders, including David Cameron.