David Cameron has met with fellow EU leaders for dinner in Brussels to kick off the next phase of his renegotiation plans, reassuring them that he would end "the widespread unease of the British people" by reshaping Britian's relationship with the European Union.
The Prime Minister secured agreement for "technical" talks between British and European officials over the next six months on the UK's concerns about its membership, with topics like welfare, an opt-out from the goal of "ever-closer union" and greater powers for national parliaments likely to arise. What does each EU leader think about Britain's demands? Matthew Holehouse has summarised their positions here.
However, he didn't get this far without compromise. The Prime Minister was forced to admit that he will be unable to secure the treaty before the referendum, scheduled before the end of 2017, despite previously saying that "proper full-on treaty change" was necessary. European Council president Donald Tusk stressed that the "fundamental values of the European Union are not for sale and so are non-negotiable". In response, Ukip MP Douglas Carswell went through Cameron's 2013 Bloomberg speech, mercilessly pointing out his past promises of "big institutional change" that require a "new Treaty".
Instead of treaty change, Cameron will ask voters to decide based on a "legally binding" promise from Brussels for treaty changes at a later date after the referendum. Cameron was pressed for time when he set out Britain's referendum plans, with Greece's debt crisis leaving him just a brief window to address his counterparts before dinner."The great British referendum, hard fought for over so many years, is just an insignificant amuse bouche for the rest of Europe," wrote Julia Hartley-Brewer.
European Parliament president Martin Schulz was of little help to Cameron, warning that he will "face a lot of problems" if he tries to placate his Tory backbenchers. Given that the Parliament can derail Cameron's reform by killing off any secondary legislation he wants, Schulz's remarks have added menace. Cameron also rebuffed attempts by European leaders to force Britain to take quotas of refugees from the Mediterranean, a topic of furious debate.
Despite the heated disputes, Cameron later said he was "delighted" that renegotiation is "properly under way". EU leaders will get to discuss his reforms more today for day two of the summit. Cameron now has months to thrash out the new vision for Britain's membership he has promised.
GREECE IS (STILL) THE WORD
Last-ditch debt talks between Greece and its international creditors collapsed for the second time in less than 24 hours raising the prospect of imminent bank closures as the country spirals towards default in five days, Mehreen Khan reports. Greece's creaking banking system is now facing the prospect of a devastating run on its assets after Athens failed to give ground on an ultimatum presented by its paymasters.
NOT MCLAUGHLIN NOW
Network Rail bosses have been stripped of their bonuses as Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin announced a major shake-up over "absolutely unacceptable" problems in train services over the last year. No executive director is to be given a bonus after thousands of passengers were left stranded at King's Cross and London Bridge stations in Boxing Day travel chaos, he announced. Read more here. "Network Rail needs market forces applied," we say.
Meanwhile, McLoughlin revealed that the government would shelve vital upgrades to major railway lines between the North and the South. The announcement was embarrassing for the government, which had described the programme as the largest "since Victorian times" and a key part of its plans to build a "Northern powerhouse", Steven Swinford reports.
The BBC Trust will be axed and its powers handed to the communications regulator Ofcom, Christopher Williams reports. For the first time in the broadcaster's nearly century-long history, it will be governed by an external body, as part of the renegotiation of the BBC Charter. The move is expected to be signalled in a Green Paper that will formally trigger Charter renewal negotiations within weeks.
RISE OF MIDDLE BRITAIN
Britain has reached middle age with the average age of people living in the UK hitting 40 for the first time, according to official figures which also show the population surging to a new record fuelled mainly by immigration, John Bingham reports. Wondering how high is immigration is in your area? Laurence Dodds and I have mapped it all out.
SNP'S CRUDE OIL NUMBERS SPILL
SNP ministers have dramatically downgraded by tens of billions of pounds their predictions for the tax revenue generated by North Sea oil compared to their claims before the independence referendum, slipping out updated figurs on the day MSPs left Holyrood for their two-month summer break, Simon Johnson reports.
This comes as Scottish Secretary David Mundell said the Scottish Parliament is on course to get control over income tax within three years, as he suggested the SNP is deliberately exaggerating potential glitches in legislation transferring a huge swathe of powers to Holyrood.
FALKLAND FAKERS GONNA FAKE, FAKE, FAKE
The Argentine foreign minister has accused David Cameron of living in a "fake reality" and knowing so little about the Falkland Islands that he "yelled at an assistant to write something" as he renewed verbal hostilities that broke out at a meeting in Brussels this month. Hector Timerman made his derisive comments in an interview with Philip Sherwell, before addressing a United Nations meeting on the islands - where he repeated his attack on the Prime Minister. Here are more details.
ELECTION? TIS BUT A SCRATCH
"I haven't destroyed my party," Nick Clegg has insisted as he said there were no "regrets" about entering coalition in his first interview since the Liberal Democrats' disastrous election night. Speaking on LBC radio, the former Deputy Prime Minister claimed voters did not mean to punish the party so harshly for joining the Tories in government and now regretted throwing the Lib Dems to the "bottom of the stairs". Ben Riley-Smith has more.
LAST MILIFAN STANDING
Ed Miliband met his biggest fan on Thursday when he took Abby Tomlinson, the 17-year-old who started the 'Milifandom' movement, to lunch in the Houses of Parliament, Emily Gosden reports. Tomlinson, a student from St Helens in Merseyside, shot to prominence during the general election campaign when she started a Twitter campaign to back the then-leader of the Labour party.
This comes as Miliband's former policy chief Jon Cruddas appeared at a Westminster seminar to warn that Labour will be "in the dead zone" if it continues to treat Tony Blair as a pariah to be booed at Labour party conferences. The Guardian has more.
New research suggests that the more conservative you are, the easier you'll find it to lose weight, Saffron Alexander reports. Research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science found that there appears to be a link between political ideology and how much self control we have.
One in four of the government's major projects is in danger of failing, including an army recruitment scheme and a scheme to bring back and rehouse troops from Germany, according to the Times. A report from the government's Major Projects Authority said that of 188 large projects worth £498 billion, 49 were either unachievable or needed urgent changes.
EVERY CLOUD, A SILVA LINING...
David Cameron's former tech guru Rohan Silva is paying a "big six figures" sum to buy the 2015 Serpentine Pavilion, and he plans to take it to Los Angeles to turn it into an arts venue.He told Business Insider's Oscar Williams-Grut: "We want to show that small companies can support the arts. It shouldn't just be the BPs or the Goldmans."
TOO MANY TWEETS
@JWoodcockMP: The Rampant Blarite sounds like a particuarly niche sex toy. A wipe-clean Alan Milburn or something - OK I'VE STOPPED
(In response, Ann Summers tweeted: "Thanks Woodcock! Our buyers are working on it as we speak... #ItsComing")
From The Telegraph
Jon Moynihan, Andrew Allum, Matthew Elliott, Luke Johnson, Mark Littlewood, John Mills, Helena Morrissey and Viscount Ridley - Britain can only control who comes in if we leave the EU
Lord Sterling - Britain's Jews stand proud, ready to serve Queen and Country
From the Politics blog
Asa Bennett - Labour's leadership race is boring the public stiff
Julia Hartley-Brewer - Europe's solution to any crisis will always be the same: ever-closer union
Franziska Augstein - Angela Merkel – is the Greek crisis too big for Europe's most powerful woman?
Owen Bennett (no relation) - How I learnt to stop worrying and enjoy reporting on Ukip
EU Summit continues as Greek debt crisis and Cameron's reforms discussed
Lancashire Council could give landmark ruling on fracking application
18.30 Sandi Toksvig hosts her final edition of BBC Radio 4's 'The News Quiz'
20.00 'Any Questions?' on Radio 4 with guests set to incl Nigel Farage, Norman Lamb and Anna Soubry
Bank of England Governor Mark Carney and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby are to address a conference on inclusive capitalism at the Guildhall in London
Scottish Labour leader candidates hustings in Aberdeen
Scottish Parliament rises for summer recess
On this day
1945: The first 50 countries signed the Charter of the United Nations
1963: President Kennedy delivered his "Ich Bin Ein Berliner" speech to the citizens of West Germany in defiance of the Soviet Union
Tory MP Caroline Nokes turns 43, while Labour MP David Winnick turns 82.
TODAY IN PARLIAMENT
No business today
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