Monday, 29 June 2015

Existential crisis..

With Greece hurtling towards the financial brink, Westminster politics seems to have been put on hold. Alexis Tsipras' government has announced that Greek banks would be closed for more than a week, we report, as the country faces bankruptcy tomorrow. 

This comes as Greece faces a debt default within 48 hours after the government made clear it will not repay a €1.5bn loan to the IMF that expires tomorow. After talks on a €12bn bail-out deal collapsed, Greece is holding a national referendum on Sunday on whether to accept the conditions for further bail-outs. However, the country is so cash-strapped that it doesn't have enough money to organise the vote, according to German newspaper FAZ.

"This may all seem to be of peripheral interest to the UK since we are not members of the euro," we say. "But the economic impact of a Greek default, were it to happen, will adversely affect this country." Things are scarcely more encouraging outside of Greece, with the Bank of International Settelements warning that the world will be unable to fight the next global financial crash as central banks have used up their ammunition trying to tackle the last crises. 

Panicking Greeks have already emptied many of the country's ATMs, placing greater faith in the Bank Under The Bed. Trading on Greece's stock market has been suspended, while cash machine withdrawals across Greece have been capped at €60 as banks began to run out of money, with capital controls now in place to keep money in the country's financial system. Markets are now braced for the worst period of turmoil since the height of the eurozone crisis four years ago. Sinking Asian stock markets, with more than $35bn wiped off the Australian stock market in the first hour of trading today, have given us a sense of the full mayhem to come.

Could Greece crash out of the euro? "If Greeks think the Europeans are cutting them off, that could push them to vote 'No' and reject the bail-out deal," writes Mehreen Khan. "On the other hand, the prospect of life under capital controls could scare many into voting Yes, for fear of things to come should they leave the euro." 

With Greece nearing the edge, the rest of Europe will be looking on. As Charles Moore writes: "This may not be a win-win situation for Mr Tsipras, but it is a lose-lose one for the EU – the worst it has yet experienced."



Britain must become "intolerant" of extremist Islam and "be stronger at standing up for our values", David Cameron has said, as it emerged that more than 30 Britons were killed in the Tunisian beach massacre. Writing exclusively for The Telegraph, the Prime Minister said Britain is "united in shock and in grief" following the deaths of at least 38 tourists after a gun and grenade rampage by Isil militant Seifeddine Rezgui. Camilla Turner has rounded up what we know so far about the victims.


Up to 160 Conservative MPs want the top rate of income tax cut to 40p in the next Budget, senior Tory MPs have said as George Osborne faces mounting pressure to make the move. Liam Fox, the former cabinet minister, and Steve Baker, the influential backbencher, became the latest voices to publicly call for the cut. Ben Riley-Smith has the story


David Mundell has delivered an ultimatum to the SNP to make clear whether they support the UK Government's plans to transfer a swathe of new powers to Holyrood by warning they are facing a "deal or no deal moment", Simon Johnson reports. The Scottish Secretary said MPs will be faced with a "no-brainer" decision in the Commons today when they choose between the Scotland Bill devolving £15 billion of tax powers or Nationalist plans for full fiscal autonomy (FFA) that would cost Scotland £10 billion a year.

Meanwhile, the SNP's leader in Westminster, Angus Robertson, has suggested that Scotland could vote to become independent before the next election. Speaking to the Observer, he said there would be a referendum "when the public wants it on independence and that there will be a Yes result".


Meg Hillier, the new chair of Parliament's public accounts committee, has admitted that it may be lower-profile than in recent years, in a change from its reputation as the scourge of big business under chairwoman Margaret Hodge. Speaking to the FT's Jim Pickard, she said people were "entitled" to think it would be lower-profile, adding: "Things do move on."


Alison Saunders, the Director of Public Prosecutions, is under mounting pressure to resign after it emerged her decision to drop legal action against Lord Janner of Braunstone for child sex abuse is to be dramatically reversed, David Barrett reports. Alleged victims of the Labour peer have been notified by specialist police officers over the weekend that a case will finally be brought against the 86-year-old Labour grandee.


The Airports Commission will "fudge" the decision on where to locate Britain's new runway by leaving all options on the table – paving the way for ministers to oppose expansion at Heathrow. While the independent body is likely to recommend Heathrow as the site for expansion it is understood the group will not rule out building at Gatwick. Here are more details.


New guidelines are being unveiled for doctors, nurses and midwives across the UK on being honest and open with patients when things go wrong, the BBC's Dominic Hughes reports. The guidelines, known as a "duty of candour", make clear that patients should expect a face-to-face apology.


David Cameron's aides have put ministers and officials on a tight rein since the general election as the Prime Minister aims to capitalise on his election victory. "We have a real opportunity to set the narrative and get on the front foot. We are trying to keep everyone very 'on message'," an aide told the FT's Elizabeth Rigby


Labour MP Simon Danczuk and his Councillor wife Karen have separated, the Sun newspaper has reported. The Rochdale MP said: "I am very sad to say my wife and I are separating. Our main concern is for the wellbeing of our two children. I am absolutely devastated, but that's life."


The RSPCA must purge radical animal rights activists from its board or face "disaster", a government source has told Ben Riley-Smith amid fears the charity could be taken over by hardliners. In a clear warning shot, the Environment Department source told this newspaper the charity risks "eroding its credibility" by prioritising contentious political campaigns over animal welfare.

(To mark our redesign for our 160th birthday, here's a note from our editor, Chris Evans.)


@sundersays: It was good that @ukiplgbt took part in Pride anyway, imho. But I can't believe they missed open goal of taking a "Better Off Out" banner!


From The Telegraph

David Cameron: We must be intolerant of Isil intolerance

Boris Johnson - Islamic State? This death cult is not a state and it's certainly not Islamic

Charles Moore - It's lose-lose for the EU whichever way the eurozone jumps

From the Politics blog

Dan Hodges - Yes, the pollsters lied - and here's the proof

Michael Fabricant - Bring back Britain's swank, let the Queen and ministers travel in style

From elsewhere

Matthew D'Ancona -  With Tunisia, David Cameron faces his first real test on terror

Dominic Lawson - Why Branson and Co are the LAST people we should trust on Europe


09.30 Statistics on the effects of taxes and benefits on household incomes to be released by ONS
12.45 Mayor of London Boris Johnson MP makes an announcement on buses
15.30 Policy Exchange hosts 'The Future of Digital Government' discussion with Shadow Cabinet Office Minister Chi Onwurah and Conservative MP Matt Warman
18.30 Jon Cruddas MP speaks about the Labour Party at a Compass event in London

MPs debate Scotland Bill amid SNP calls for full fiscal autonomy
MEPs decide fate of 116 amendments to EU/U.S. trade deal
MigrationWatch founder Lord Green leads debate on non-UK households after population leap
PM to give statement on EU summit in House of Commons

'Cost of Government Day' in the UK – the Adam Smith Institute calculate that this is the day when average taxpayers stop working for the government and starts earning for themselves
Lancashire Council votes on landmark fracking bid
Scottish Labour Party leadership candidates hustings in Dundee
Transport Minister Andrew Jones launches Greener Journeys' Catch the Bus week

Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships begin



14:30: Communities and Local Government questions (topicals at 15:15)

Main business

Ministerial statement - European Council
Scotland Bill: Committee (Day 2)
Adjournment debate: Postmasters and postmistresses and the Horizon system (Andrew Bridgen, Con, North West Leicestershire)


14:30: Oral questions, to ask the Government:
- Lord Touhig (Lab) to ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the effectiveness of the Access to Work fund and what plans they have to help people with disabilities into work.
- Lord Brabazon of Tara (Con) to ask Her Majesty's Government whether they plan to change the basis on which Vehicle Excise Duty rates for new cars are calculated by carbon dioxide emissions alone.
- Lord Green of Deddington (Crossbench) to ask Her Majesty's Government what was the increase in the number of households in England and Wales between 2010 and 2014; and, over that period, what were the number and proportion of households where the head of the household was not born in the United Kingdom.
- Baroness Deech (Crossbench) to ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of the performance of the Advertising Standards Authority.

Main business
Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill [HL]: Committee
Question for short debate on the current situation in Sierra Leone and plans to assist in its recovery from the effects of the ebola outbreak (Baroness Hayman, Crossbench)