Monday, 8 June 2015

Walk the line..

David Cameron has laid down the law on Europe, telling his cabinet that any minister who wants to campaign to leave the European Union in his promised referendum will have to resign to do so. 

"Cabinet told: Vote for Europe or resign" is our splash, while other papers - including the Express, Guardian, FT and Times - report the Prime Minister's message on their front pages. "If you want to be part of the Government, you have to take the view that we are engaged in an exercise of renegotiation, to have a referendum, and that will lead to a successful outcome," Cameron told reporters at the G7 summit in Germany. 

Ministers have so far towed the line, expecting their man to renegotiate a better deal for Britain with fellow EU leaders. If they decide to campaign to leave the European Union, the argument goes, that is tantamount to saying the Prime Minister hasn't negotiated a good enough package. This is a somewhat risky move because he knows there are Cabinet ministers who are, at very least, open to voting to leave. Iain Duncan Smith and Chris Grayling are both true sceptics, while Business Secretary Sajid Javid has said he's not "afraid" of leaving. Some may wonder, could he use a dramatic departure to launch a leadership campaign? Chris Hope has pointed to six cabinet ministers who could resign over the issue

Cameron's position stands in marked contrast to Harold Wilson, the last Prime Minister to give Britain a vote on Europe. During the 1975 referendum, the then Labour premier gave his cabinet free rein to campaign to leave, leading to the likes of Tony Benn, Michael Foot and Barbara Castle being on the same side as Enoch Powell.

Graham Brady, chair of the 1922 committee, previously called for "collective responsibility" to be suspended, so that any cabinet minister can campaign freely to leave the EU and keep their job. Refusing to do so, he said, risked creating the appearance of a "great rancorous split" in the party. Any ministers who do resign over the issue will find easy allies on the backbenches, with more than 50 Tory MPs said to be backing the nascent "out" campaign. Cameron is betting that when push comes to shove, his cabinet and his party will stay loyal to him, the great majority-winner.  

The Prime Minister is also betting he can get a very good deal in Europe. However, the real risk is that he's looking like a man who has already decided to stay, and that could undermine his negotiating position. Surely he only gets what he wants if Angela and the rest think he's serous about leaving? Mr Cameron is rarely accused of lacking self-confidence, but this is a bold assumption indeed.



David Cameron has refused to meet demands by Barack Obama that Britain commits to spending 2 per cent of its national income on defence for the next five years, Peter Dominiczak reports. The Prime Minister used a meeting with the American President at the G7 summit in Germany to make clear that no decisions will be taken on Britain's funding of the Armed Forces ahead of the spending review in the Autumn.

He also is understood to be considering using millions of pounds of British foreign aid spending to prevent migrants fleeing Africa for a better life in Europe. Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has indicated that the UK could site American new nuclear missiles on British soil amid heightened tensions with Russia.


Liz Kendall, a leading contender for the Labour leadership, has suggested she supported removing tax credits to migrant workers from other European Union countries and refused to condemn billions of pounds of spending cuts unveiled by George Osborne. Kendall said the policy of removing tax credits to migrant workers is "definitely something we should look at" but called for a wider debate on Britain's future in the EU, Chris Hope reports. Kendall also suggested she could support the Chancellor's plans to raise £5billion through a combination of selling a 30 per cent stake in Royal Mail and cutting spending. 

Responding to suggestions from leadership rival Yvette Cooper that she had "swallowed the Tory manifesto" - she added: ""The only thing I've swallowed is the sheer scale of defeat that we faced at the election and the huge changes we need to win again." However, others disagree. "They are all now parroting the Tory manifesto and babbling about "aspiration"," wrote Boris Johnson in his latest Telegraph column.


David Cameron has threatened a Government crackdown on pension providers that are failing to offer all of the freedoms promised by the Conservatives ahead of the general election, Peter Dominiczak reports. The Prime Minister pledged to keep a "careful eye" on the companies afterThe Telegraph disclosed that most over-55s were unlikely to be able to access their retirement funds as easily and cheaply as George Osborne, the Chancellor, had promised.  Cameron said that the pensions providers must not use the reforms simply to find "a new way of charging people". 


Harriet Harman, Labour's acting leader, has told the Independent that even people who supported Labour at last month's election were privately relieved afterwards that the party did not win power. She revealed there were widespread doubts about the party's leadership, as the party had the "wrong message". "People tend to like a leader they feel is economically competent," she added.


Sol Campbell today officially throws his hat in the ring for the race to be London Mayor – telling the Sun's Steve Hawkes: "I'm in it to win it." The former Arsenal and Spurs star has decided to try and become the Tory candidate to succeed Boris Johnson in 2016.

He will likely face competition from Zac Goldsmith, who will "probably" stand for London mayor, according to's Adam Bienkov, and could announce his candidacy within weeks.


David Cameron has made a final plea to Parliament's independent pay body to shelve plans to give MPs a 10 per cent salary increase. The Prime Minister called on Ipsa to "think again" over its bid to increase MPs' pay by £7,000 to £74,000. Here is the story


Lorry drivers should light barbecues at motorway 'sit-ins' to protest against the Government's cuts' plans, according to a leader of one of Britain's biggest unions. Steve Turner, an assistant general secretary of the Unite union, urged people to be "imaginative about how they take their argument against austerity and cuts". Here are more details.


@DPJHodges: Can people please stop saying "no-one knew what Labour was for". They did. They just didn't like it.


From The Telegraph

Boris Johnson -  David Cameron must drive on with EU reform 

Charles Moore  - The big question for the Euro referendum

From elsewhere

Matthew D'Ancona - It's high noon for Britain over Europe. Make no assumptions

Chris Deerin - It may terrify Old Etonians, but at last a Scottish burr is a badge of pride


Prime Minister David Cameron in Germany for final day at G7 summit

Tim Farron MP speaks at the National Liberal Club on his vision for the future of liberalism (7:00pm)

Nicola Sturgeon visits U.S. this week with 'Daily Show' appearance 'possible' 



14:30pm: Defence questions (topicals at 15:15pm)

Scotland Bill: Second Reading
Presentation of public petition: Protection of green spaces at Capstone Valley and areas around Ottherham Quay Lane (Gillingham and Rainham) (Rehman Chishti, Con, Gillingham and Rainham)
Adjournment debate: Inward investment in Southend (Sir David Amess, Con, Southend West)


14:30pm: Oral questions, to ask the Government:
- Lord Wigley (Plaid) to ask Her Majesty's Government whether they regard the implementation of the recommendations of the Smith Commission as an adequate response to the outcome of the general election in Scotland.
- Lord Haskel (Lab) to ask Her Majesty's Government what action they will take to increase productivity as compared to that forecast in Table 5b of the Bank of England May inflation report.
- Lord Hunt of Kings Heath (Lab) to ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the current deficit position of NHS Trusts and NHS Foundation Trusts on the ability of the National Health Service to move to seven-day working.
- Lord Naseby (Con) to ask Her Majesty's Government what is the anticipated timescale of the new deal for Greater Manchester.
Motions to appoint committee members

Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill: Second Reading