Europe is back on the agenda today, with MPs preparing to wrangle over the finer points of the referendum bill as it enters committee stage. David Cameron is hoping to pacify backbenchers by promising to limit the amount of public money his government can spend putting its case for why Britain should stay in the EU, Ben Riley-Smith reports.
No 10 has made this move after reports that Tory backbenchers were far from gruntled about the Prime Minister's attempt to scrap "purdah" rules, which would have potentially allowed the government to use the full might of the Whitehall machine to campaign to keep the UK inside the EU. As many as 50 Tory MPs were set to back an amendment to stop this, confident that - with Labour and SNP support - they could overturn the Conservatives' majority of 12 in the Commons and give their leader a bloody nose.
Tory whips have been quick to reach out to potential rebels in order to avoid a "Maastricht moment", echoing the row that crippled John Major's premiership in the 1990s, just six weeks after an election victory. "In a party in which divisions between Right and Left have largely broken down, Europe remains the single issue that has party-splitting potential," warns Paul Goodman, executive editor of ConservativeHome. One senior Tory MP told Michael Fabricant that Cameron "will come back from Europe with some botched deal where we have regained little sovereignty". However, Professor Tim Bale says Cameron shouldn't "be too spooked" by the "better-off-outers on the Tory benches", citing polling showing that fewer than two in ten Tory members would vote to leave the EU.
Ministers have settled another question hanging over the EU referendum: when exactly it will be. The idea of holding a quick vote - as early as next May - initially gathered steam as some argued it would allow Cameron to capitalise on the public's goodwill before any "mid-term blues". However, BBC's Newsnight reported that the government has ruled out holding the vote as early as next May, with ministers tabling an amendment this morning to make it so. Eurosceptics previously feared that an early vote would give Cameron not enough time to renegotiate anything meaningful with EU partners. "All this faffing about over when we have the referendum just looked like a sign of weakness," a Tory MP told me. "Let's focus on having a proper renegotiation."
The Prime Minister is due to meet with the leaders of Italy, Luxembourg, Slovenia and Slovakia as he plans to speak to all member states ahead of an EU summit at the end of the month, where he is expected to launch the second phase - a "technical study" by UK and EU officials - of the reform he wants. In short, he's preparing to dig in, as this renegotiation may take a while.
THEY'RE SWARMIN' TO CORBYN
Jeremy Corbyn is in the Labour leadership race after reaching the necessary 35 nominations with just minutes to spare before the deadline, Michael Wilkinson reports. There were reports of MPs running into the nominations office with just two or three minutes until the noon deadline.
However, not everyone is happy about Corbyn's success. The decision of some Labour MPs to back Jeremy Corbyn so he made the ballot despite disagreeing with his politics triggered claims the party had not learnt from the election defeat, Ben Riley-Smith reports. "As long as the Labour Party continues to communicate to the British people that Jeremy Corbyn's politics are in some way its own politics, then Labour can never really hope to govern again," says Dan Hodges. "But today Labour has chosen to hold up a giant banner that says "Jeremy Corbyn's politics are our politics".
MY BIG FAT GREEK DREADING
Greece is on the brink of economic meltdown after Germany appeared poised to push the country out of the eurozone, Peter Dominiczak reports. With the embattled country set to default on a €1.5billion (£1.1billion) debt repayment, senior German politicians warned that "enough is enough". This comes as Greek premier Alexis Tsipras accused Europe's creditor powers of trying to subvert Greece's elected government after five years of "pillaging", warning in solemn terms that his country will defend its sovereign dignity whatever the consequences. Ambrose Evans-Pritchard has more.
LESS PHUBBING, MORE LEARNING
Ministers will order a crackdown on the "curse of low-level disruption" in the classroom which can lead to children losing up to 38 days of learning time every year, Peter Dominiczak reports. Nicky Morgan, the Education Secretary, will order a review of training programmes across the country to ensure that teachers are able to deal with disruptive children using mobile phones in the classroom or distracting other students.
IS IT AN MP YOU'RE LOOKING FOR?
Lionel Richie has been spotted about in Westminster. The Mirror's Dan Bloom reports that a starstruck school group asked for autographs, and the veteran crooner even waved 'hello' to the public gallery after he entered the House of Commons chamber behind Speaker John Bercow's chair. The soul legend was also seen sitting in the House of Lords gallery as Francis Maude was delivering a speech.
JANICE'S NEW FRONT
Janice Atkinson, the MEP expelled by Ukip over false expenses claims, has found some new friends in the European Parliament - the National Front. According to Politico's Florian Eder, she will now be vice-chair of the "Europe of Nations and Freedoms" grouping, which will be headed by FN leader Marine le Pen - someone who Nigel Farage has kept his distance from.
DAVE GETS BLATTERED
David Cameron is displaying Fifa-style levels of corruption by allowing the government to spend taxpayers' money campaigning to keep Britain in the European Union, Nigel Farage has said. The Ukip leader compared the Prime Minister's referendum approach to Sepp Blatter's troubled Fifa presidency and branded the move an "absolute disgrace", Ben Riley-Smith reports.
THE PRICE ISN'T RIGHTS
Boris Johnson has cast doubt on David Cameron's bid to scrap the Human Rights Act, warning that the Government will struggle to fulfil the manifesto pledge because it could lead to people having "less protection". The Mayor of London told LBC radio that he is yet to be convinced that the Conservatives can replace the legislation without breaking the European Convention on Human Rights, which he called a "very important document".
POLITICAL PUPPET PALS
People have noticed that the puppets in the new Travelodge advert look a lot like some familiar politicians, namely David Cameron. The Sun's Emer Martin has also pointed out an eerily Ed Miliband-ish puppet, and one that doesn't look too dissimilar to Plaid Cymru's leader Leanne Wood.
SIGNED, SEALED, DELIVERED (TO DENNIS)
Dennis Skinner, the veteran left-wing Labour MP, has admitted he has never sent an e-mail as he believes "in keeping the postman in work". Speaking to Buzzfeed's Jim Waterson, he also expressed bafflement about the number of people running tribute accounts under his name on social media, and said that he refuses to have a mobile phone because "there's phones everywhere".
Traditional Christian teaching could effectively be "criminalised" in some settings under David Cameron's plans for new anti-extremist banning orders, a top Anglican theologian and former Parliamentary draftsman has warned. The Rev Dr Mike Ovey, a former lawyer and now principal of Oak Hill Theological College in London, said proposals for new "Extremism Disruption Orders" could be a "disaster area" for people from all the mainstream religions. John Bingham has the story.
TOO MANY TWEETS
@MrGeorgeClarke: I'm sorry but the Labour leadership campaign is a joke!!! Burnham will win it but will never become prime minister..none are strong enough!
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16:00 Tony Blair to give a speech in Poland on globalisation. .
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TODAY IN PARLIAMENT
HOUSE OF COMMONS
11:30: Treasury questions (topicals at 12:15)
European Union Referendum Bill: Committee (Day 1)
HOUSE OF LORDS
14:30: Oral questions, to ask the Government:
9:30 - 11:00: Iran and the proposed nuclear agreement (Guto Bebb, Con, Aberconwy)
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