Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Month of rain..

Tim Farron has just finished speaking on the Today program, and he appeared to blame Theresa May for Norman Baker's resignation, saying that "for the first three years, he served under three Conservative Secretaries". "What's changed?" he asked. It's "sensed around government" that the Home Secretary "behaves as if the Conservatives won the last election," Mr Farron said. The Coalition remains stable, however, he says, despite many disagreements, the partners "work in a collegiate fashion". He conceded that the Liberal Democrats face "a difficult election" in May.
Good morning. Has David Cameron found a way out of the £1.7bn bill from Brussels? The Times reports whispers from Italy - the current holders of the Council Presidency - that a deal may be struck on or before Friday's meeting of finance ministers. There's an understanding that the "unprecedented result" puts the PM in a sticky position.

What looks likely is that the government will be able to make the payment in installments without incurring a crippling rate of interest; some way short of the PM's words of defiance just a few weeks ago.

If a deal isn't reached, however Britain will be hit with hefty fines of close to £70 million a month next year, with Commission officials threatening to charge Britain an annual interest rate of 52% if the bill is not paid by the 1st of December. (Bruno Waterfield and Steven Swinford have the details.)

It all adds up to a month of misery for Mr Cameron; a large rebellion over the European Arrest Warrant - although, happily for Downing Street, the Sun sounds a note of support for that measure in its leader -defeat, very possibly by a large margin, in Rochester, and embarrassment in Brussels. The bigger problem is what it says about the larger picture and the battles to come over renegotiation after 2015.

In his column today, James Kirkup suggests that the PM may have misjudged his relationship with Angela Merkel, with possibly devastating consequences. His opponents scent blood, too. "He's reliant on a blackmail strategy which doesn't work and whose bluff has been called," Shadow Cabinet member and Miliband confidante Stewart Wood writes on LabourList today. He would, wouldn't he? The problem for the PM is that complaint is beginning to be voiced even in usually supportive circles.


Norman Baker has resigned from the Government, citing splits over drugs policy and a difficult working relationship with his Conservative colleagues in the Home Office, Alice Philipson reports. He's launched an attack on Theresa May in an exclusive interview with Nigel Morris in the Independent. Working as the lone Liberal Democrat in the department has been "like walking through mud", Mr Baker says. He's been treated as a "cuckoo in the nest" by Theresa May, and that the Home Office, unlike his previous berth at Transport, lacks the "goodwill" and "collegiate" discussion necessary to make Coalition work. In addition, it has squeezed the time he can spend with his family and on his music. Mr Baker's band, The Reform Club, is about to release its second album.


Liz Truss will today unveil a new strategy to save the nation's bees in a speech to Policy Exchange, Chris Hope reports. Gardeners will be encouraged to let their lawnmowers sleep peacefully in their sheds, letting their gardens become wilder, thus providing homes for bees and butterflies. Scientists warn that British bees are in serious decline, with 71 wild bee species under threat and more than 20 already extinct. The survival of bees is vital to food production, Ms Truss will say.

Women will effectively "work for free" for the rest of the year - 57 days - due to the gender pay gap, Radhika Sanghani reports. Due to an increase in the size of the gap, women "work for nothing" for an extra three days in 2014. Labour is calling for legislation to require large companies to reveal the size of their gender pay gap.


Owen Patterson will launch his new think tank, UK2020, today, and he's spoken exclusively to James Chapman at the Mail about his vision for Britain. On the To Do List: speedier increases to the 40 per cent threshold, which should now be over £75,000 if had risen in line with wages, cuts to stamp duty, capital gains and inheritance tax, scrapping entire government departments, potentially including Bis, Environment and Climate Change, as well as the DCMS.


Incoming director of GCHQ Robert Hannigan warns that social networks have become "the command and control networks of choice" for modern terrorists and criminals, and has called for a "new deal between democratic governments and the technology companies in the area of protecting our citizens" in a column for the FT, and has called for intelligence agencies - including GCHQ - to "enter the public debate about privacy". Steven Swinford has the story.

The Palace of Westminster is in such a state of disrepair it could burn down for a second time, senior officials have warned. On one occasion, maintenance work caused an MP to miss a narrow vote in the House of Commons, Chris Hope writes.


Lord Barnett, who as Joel Barnett was responsible for devising the Barnett formula which determines how much money the four nations of the United Kingdom receive from the Treasury, has died. You can read his obituary here.

You can get in touch with me by pressing "reply" or on Twitter. Our cartoon is the work of Christian Adams - a gallery of his work is available here.




Conservatives 32% Labour 33% Liberal Democrats 8% Ukip 17% (Ashcroft-Populus-YouGov, 28.10.2014-04.11.2014)


Ashcroft: Conservatives 30%, Labour 29%, Liberal Democrat 10%, Ukip 16%, Green 6%

Populus: Conservatives 34% Labour 35% Liberal Democrats 9%, 13%

YouGov: Conservatives 33%, Labour 34%, Liberal Democrats 8%, Ukip 15%


@stephenpollard: How will Britain ever recover from the loss of Norman Baker from Whitehall? We can ill afford to lose our conspiracy theorists.


From the Telegraph

James Kirkup - Cameron and Merkel: the end of the affair?

Bryony Gordon - The problem with those T-Shirts? Fashion, not feminism

Raziye Akkoc -

From elsewhere

Janan Ganesh - Ed Miliband's problem is his instinct, not his strategy (FT)
Mary Dejevsky -Angela Merkel has exposed David Cameron's gravest faling as a politician (Guardian)


1000 LONDON: Former Northern Ireland secretary Lord Mandelson gives evidence to the Commons Northern Ireland Affairs Committee on "on-the-runs".

1030 LONDON: Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards and chairman Dame Patricia Hodgson give evidence to Commons Culture, Media & Sport Committee.

1030 LONDON: The Bank of England gives evidence to the Lords Economic and Financial Affairs EU Sub-Committee on the EU Financial Regulatory Framework.

1235 LONDON: Treasury Minister David Gauke gives evidence to the Commons European Scrutiny Committee on the revised UK contribution to the EU budget.

1430 LONDON: Former Hong Kong governor Lord Patten of Barnes gives evidence to the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee on UK relations with Hong Kong.

1445 LONDON: Commons Home Affairs Committee takes evidence on the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.

1515 LONDON: Lords Communications Committee takes evidence on women in news and current affairs broadcasting. Cathy Newman and Miriam O'Reilly among the witnesses.

1530 LONDON: Elizabeth Truss speech setting out her vision for the environment.

1845 LONDON: Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond speech.

2000 LONDON: Nick Clegg takes questions live on BBC3's Free Speech.



Treasury Questions.

A Ten Minute Rule Motion: Abortion (Sex-Selection).

Modern Slavery Bill - Report stage and third reading.

A short debate on abuse on the internet of Members of Parliament.

Westminster Hall:

0930: Meat slaughtered in accordance with religious rites.

1100: Broadband in Cheltenham.

1430: Assessment of the second year of the badger culls.

1600: Gene testing for women diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

1630: Sentencing for dangerous driving offences.