Friday, 19 December 2014

The ghost of Christmas future..

Christmas Day is still five days away but the European Court of Justice has allowed the Sun to open its presents early. Obesity can be considered a disability, the ECJ has ruled"Flab-bergasted!" is the Sun's take. The ECJ has ruled that the British government is unable to prevent Sean McCarthy, a British citizen, from bringing his Colombian wife, to the United Kingdom. (Mr McCarthy and his wife, Patricia Mccarthy Rodriguez, have two children, both of whom are British citizens.) "UK faces fresh wave of migrants after visa ruling by Euro judges" is the Mail's take. 

 "No wonder there is so much anti-EU outrage when you consider two insane decisions foisted on Britain in one day," the Sun growls in its leader. "A referendum in 2017 is the only way out. And only one party will offer it." 

About that referendum. Let's say that, when the dust settles, David Cameron is able to cobble together either a coalition or a workable minority and with it an In-Out referendum. You can make strong arguments that an EU citizen should be able to bring the mother of their children into the country with them, or that chronic obesity should be considered a disability - although in the latter case, the man at the centre of the dispute doesn't believe that his weight should be seen like that - but it's difficult to imagine a worse backdrop for the In campaign than this; even assuming that the PM is able to win the necessary concessions for renegotiation. We've heard lots this year from members of the putative Out campaign who fear they'll be defeated just as the change option in the AV and independence referendums were. But today's papers are a reminder than the pro-European side has as much, if not more, to fear from a referendum campaign as those who favour Brexit.


British job seekers will be the first to see tens of thousands of new vacancies after ministers demanded an end to blanket advertising across the EU. Previous Brussels rules had meant that any jobs posted by the Government on its Universal Jobmatch site would have to be cross-advertised on an EU site too. However, member states have agreed that that now domestic jobswill only be advertised outside of the UK if the employer themselves requests it. Read more here.  


Councils have warned that libraries will close and roads will degrade after the Government revealed its latest round of spending cuts. Local authorities will have to slash more than £2.5 billion from their budgets for next year, pushing many to "breaking point." Georgia Graham has the story"Will your bins now be collected once every FOUR weeks?" the Mail asks.


The Conservative Party are preparing a contingency plan in case of a second general election next year. With a hung parliament looking increasingly likely with every opinion poll, the Tories will launch extra fundraising to try and avoid another coalition. The Guardian reports


Ivan Lewis is on the warpath. David Cameron's "abrupt departure" from Northern Ireland talks "made a bad situation worse", the Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary says. Mr Lewis believes that the PM's swift exit could have been something to do with the Ibiza-themed rave that the PM held at Chequers to celebrate Samantha Cameron's 40th birthday, but Downing Street is denying the connection. Ben Glaze has the story in the Mirror. 


Nigel Morris interviews Alex Salmond in the Indy; "Salmond hints at Scottish votes for English laws" is their splash. The SNP would be prepared to rethink their normal practice of abstaining in English-only legislation in order to help support a minority Labour government, Mr Salmond suggested. 


The police have called for witnesses in their ongoing investigation into allegations of a paedophile ring in the 1970s and 1980s, including the alleged murder of three young boys. Martin Evans has the story.


The North Sea oil industry is "close to collapse", warns Robin Allan, chairman of the independent explorers' association, Brindex. His bleak prognosis comes after a volatile day of trading for crude, with oil prices down to around $60 per barrell. Kezia Dugdale, standing in Jim Murphy, during First Minister's Questions, accused the Scottish government of walking into the crisis due to "wishful thinking" around the oil price and its impact on independence generally. Simon Johnson has the story


If it's not one thing, it's the other. Tough immigration rules designed to prevent abuse of the EU's free movement laws by migrants from elsewhere must be changed, European judges ruled yesterday. In a bitter blow to government plans to try and curb free movement, the EU ruled that Britain cannot block non-EU family members who have settled in another member state entering the country without a travel permit. Richard Ford reports for The Times. 


Pension funds and other investments will suffer if Ukip continue their rise, according to a leading City firm. Panmure Gordon suggests that the party could stigmatize the British market as unstable, while opinion polls show that Nigel Farage is as unpopular as David Cameron. James Kirkup has the story.   


The bill for government SpAds has risen 17% to £8.4 million despite a Coalition pledge to reduce their numbers. Figures revealed yesterday show that there are now 107 SpAds; Nick Clegg has 20 alone, up from just four in 2010. "The Sick of It" is The Sun's take. It's George Osborne's chief of staff, Rupert Harrison, who is in the Mirror's sights. "Osborne Gives Mate 19% Pay Rise" is their splash. 


Nick Timothy, one of Theresa May's SpAds, has accused the Conservative Party of being "misleading" after he was blocked from standing to become a Tory MP. Grant Shapps says that Mr Timothy was removed from the Approved Candidates Listbecause he had failed to campaign in the Rochester and Strood by-election. But Mr Timothy, and another May SpAd, Richard Parkinson, who is in a similar predicament, say that to do so would have been in contravention of government regulations. The Cabinet Office say that backroom activity in personal time would not have had the same effect. Suspicons linger, however, that the decision might have more to do with the ongoing rift between Theresa May and Downing Street. Ben Riley-Smith has the story


I'll be back on the 5th. Justine Greening used the last Dfid questions of the year to encourage donations to support children orphaned by the Aids and Ebola epidemics, you can so here. Also helping to combat the spread of Ebola is the Masanga Mentor Ebola Initiative, one of the three charities the Telegraph Appeal is helping this year. You can learn about the others and donate to them here. A very happy Christmas to those of you that celebrate it. 

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.  



Ipsos Mori: Con 32% Labour 29% LD 9% Ukip 13% Green 9%

YouGov: Con 30% Lab 35% LD 6% Ukip 16% Green 8% 


@CairneyPaul: Aaron Sorkin should do universities next. It would be nice to think we were noble for one hour per week. 


From the Telegraph 

Dan Hodges - Nick Clegg has been a force for good in British Politics

James Kirkup - Sony vs North Korea: some companies are bigger than countries. So what? 

From elsewhere

Gaby Hinsliff - The Sony leak unearthed juicy gossip, but the blackmailers must not win (The Guardian) 

Phillip Collins - Welfare in Britain isn't fair, as Ukip knows (The Times) 


0815 BRUSSELS: David Cameron at European Council summit. Schedule (UK times): 0815: Leaders' arrival 0900: Working session Around lunchtime, press conferences, including by David Cameron. 

0930 LONDON: Public sector borrowing figures for November are published by the Office for National Statistics.

1000 LONDON: PCMH for David Cameron's former special adviser accused of making and possessing indecent images of children. Patrick Rock, 63, is charged with three offences of making indecent images of children and one offence of possession of 59 indecent images of children. Preliminary hearing. 

1230 LONDON: Stephen Greenhalgh launches bid to become London mayor - Interview and photo opportunity. Stephen Greenhalgh - Boris Johnson's deputy mayor for policing and crime has confirmed that he will be campaigning to secure the Conservative Party's nomination to become the next mayor of London