Jeremy Corbyn's leadership campaign is continuing to gather steam, but many senior Labourites are worried. David Cameron seems to be enjoying watching Labour tear itself up over its future, revealing to Conservative MPs that he advised the leftwinger to win by emulating how he became Tory leader in 2005, telling him: "You have got to be the change candidate – I was the outsider." Others share Cameron's support for Corbyn's campaign, with Rupert Myers arguing: "New Labour might not like the image which emerges, but at least Corbyn would turn the contrast button up to full and then rip it off the set."
Chuka Umunna has been trying his best to warn Labour off Corbyn, telling the New Statesman: "There are no free hits in this thing, we are not just selecting a Labour leader, we are selecting somebody who is a Labour prime minister." He told Newsnight that some of his colleagues were reacting to election defeat "like a petulant child", chiding them for "screaming at the electorate". One shadow cabinet minister told the Spectator's James Forsyth that Corbyn's candidacy showed Labour was "in real f***eroo territory now." The latest outpouring of rage comes as scores of rebellious MPs forced Harriet Harman to tone down support for George Osborne's benefit cuts, despite the acting leader warning that Labour lost the election because it was not trusted on welfare spending.
So where does Labour go from here? Ed Miliband isn't keen on the party moving on, with the Sun reporting his message to supporters that "our cause will win one day". Harman has been hamstrung in her bid to shape Labour's direction, while Corbyn's support from local Labour parties is growing, in a sign of his popularity among activists. "Even to have Corbyn as a serious contender inflicts huge damage on Labour," writes Fraser Nelson in today's Telegraph, "and this lack-of-talent contest will run until September". How long will Labour's infatuation with Corbyn last?
British pilots have carried out military air strikes on Syria for the first time, the Ministry of Defence has revealed. The UK personnel were embedded with the forces of Allied nations, including the USA and Canada, which have been conducting strikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) terror group. MPs voted against military action in Syria in 2013 and parliamentary authorisation has so far been given only to UK air strikes against Isil in neighbouring Iraq. Follow our liveblog for more updates.
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama's former top military intelligence official has warned that the Iraq war boosted Isil by "putting fuel on a fire". Retired US Lt. General Michael Flynn, who quit as head of the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) last August, told Al Jazeera's Mehdi Hasan that American intervention was a "strategic mistake".
'TIL THE MONEY RUNS OUT
Greece's banks may be able to reopen for the first time in three weeks on Monday, after eurozone policymakers handed them a much-needed lifeline, Peter Spence reports. The European Central Bank agreed on Thursday to raise the liquidity it provides to the country's banks by €900m (£630m), which should tide them over for a short time.
"Greece will continue to endure its long Calvary until somebody has the courage to tell the Greek people – and to keep telling them until the truth sinks in – that the drachma is their best hope of economic renewal," writes Ambrose Evans-Pritchard. "All they are being told now is that any discussion of the drachma amounts to "treason". If that is the level of intellectual debate, God help Greece."
DR. HUNT, MEDICINE MAN
The NHS is undergoing changes as radical as the Reformation, Jeremy Hunt has said, as he promised to put honesty at the heart of its culture, reports Laura Donnelly. The Health Secretary said that for too long, the treatment of the health service as a "national religion" meant that anyone who questioned its orthodoxy could be left "facing the Spanish inquisition".
"If Jeremy Hunt plays his hand right, the BMA may find that is has, at last, overreached itself and lost the battle for public opinion," writes Sean Worth, David Cameron's former special adviser on health policy, in today's Telegraph. "The real winners of such a victory would be the public themselves, who would be rewarded with a health service that matches their needs."
The Scottish Nationalists are to start regularly interfering in English affairs as part of a plan to use their new strength in the Commons to extend their power south of the Border, Simon Johnson reports. Angus Robertson, the SNP's leader at Westminster, said the ranks of new SNP MPs meant the party was no longer restricted to focusing on their traditional Scottish interests and they would now tackle issues affecting other parts of the UK.
This comes as the voting system at the House of Commons is to be changed after the success of the Scottish National Party filled the House with an unprecedented number of MPs whose surnames start with "Mc", Dillon Leet reports. Meanwhile, Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the SNP, has denounced a cover of the left-wing magazine New Statesman that suggests female politicians cannot be successful unless they are childless as "crass".
REFORM, EDUCATE AND ENTERTAIN
The BBC has become too big and can no longer justify trying to be "all things to all people" in the age of Netflix, the government has warned as it unveiled the biggest overhaul of the corporation for a decade, Steven Swinford reports. John Whittingdale, the Culture Secretary, suggested that the corporation should become "narrower and more focused" to help cut the price of the TV licence and reduce the impact it has on commercial broadcasters. "He said all this in a diplomatic, reasonable, even benign manner. But beneath his emollience the BBC will have detected menace," says our sketchwriter Michael Deacon.
Some of the BBC's stars seem dismissive of the government's proposed overhaul. "I think they should switch off the BBC for two months," Graham Norton tells Bryony Gordon. "Just put £24 into everyone's bank account, and switch the BBC off for two months, and people would s*** themselves."
Britain's biggest trade union, Unite, could campaign to leave the EU if David Cameron uses his renegotiation with Brussels to "water down workers' rights", its leader Len McCluskey has said. He told the FT: "The whole question about what Cameron does to workers' rights would require us to review fully our position."
NO BLARNEY FROM CARNEY
Interest rates could finally start to rise by the end of this year, the Governor of the Bank of England signalled on Thursday night, Szu Ping Chan reports. In the strongest signal yet that policymakers are preparing to act, Mark Carney said the decision to raise interest rate was likely to come into "sharper relief" by "the turn of this year". Allister Heath has written about why interest rates are about to start going up
FAR-RON FROM THE MADDING CROWD
Tim Farron has won the Liberal Democrat leadership contest, defeating Norman Lamb by winning 56.5 per cent of the vote, and will now have the task of trying to rebuild the party after its decimation in the general election. Dillon Leet has rounded up 24 things you didn't know about Farron, including his love of Doc Martens, his rockstar past and his karaoke song of choice. A former bandmate of the new Lib Dem leader said he would be good at the job because his days as a pop frontman means he doesn't fear rejection. If you're pressed for time, here's all you need to know about Farron in 60 seconds.
365 DAYS OF SUMMER
Parents of children with summer birthdays could be allowed to start school a year later, after official figures showed that August-born 11 year olds are 50 per cent more likely to be labelled "special needs", Chris Hope reports. The Government has launched the review because of concerns that summer-born children are being unfairly discriminated against at school and are falling behind solely because they are young for their year.
"Despite the data from a new study, teacher friends of mine are reassuring, and report that children – whatever their date of birth – do catch up in the end," writes Lucy Denyer. "If you don't believe them, and really are desperate for your offspring to become the next sports star or academic wunderkind, then there's always abstinence – a no-sex policy between the months of July and December. Every child deserves the best start in life, right?"
DAVE FIGHTS DIRTY
David Cameron has opened a new front in his war on porn after Brussels made Britain's "adult filter" illegal under new rules coming into force next year, the FT's Duncan Robinson reports. Britain will try to beat the EU ban by proposing national legislation to ensure the porn blocker remains intact, exploiting a loophole in new EU rules agreed last month
TOO MANY TWEETS
@AlexWhite1812: Finland signs up to Greek deal enthusiastically - 'Soini: There were no good options, we had to choose between plague and cholera'.
From The Telegraph
Judith Woods - Seven day shift patterns are a must and I should know
From Politics Comment
Atul Hatwal - What if Comrade Corbyn became Labour leader?
09.30 Justice Secretary Michael Gove speaks at a Prisoner Learning Alliance event in London on the state of prisons
Andrew Robathan, former Tory MP - 64
TODAY IN PARLIAMENT
HOUSE OF COMMONS
HOUSE OF LORDS
10:00: Second Reading of Private Members' Bills:
Friday, 17 July 2015
Thursday, 16 July 2015
What does the future hold for the BBC? Culture Secretary John Whittingdale will set the ball rolling on this question today when he publishes the government's green paper, laying out the "root and branch reform" the BBC will need to make as part of its royal charter renewal.
Many have the Beeb's £145.50 annual TV licence fee, which provides most of its income, in their sights. Ministers are considering bringing in a Finnish-style means tested broadcasting levy to pay for the BBC, which will mean middle class families will have to pay more than poor households. Whittingdale will also have to consider the Perry report, which is expected to recommend decriminalising non-payment of the licence fee. Should the BBC ditch the licence fee entirely? Allister Heath argues it should be forced to compete for its audience, writing in today's Telegraph: "The BBC could have a great future in this brave new world, selling British programming all over the world, but for that it needs to embrace truly radical change."
The government's BBC reform drive will not go unopposed, with a host of celebrities writing to the Telegraph yesterday to defend the corporation. In a warning to BBC-sceptics, former Tory minister Damian Green writes: "Britain benefits from a strong BBC, and we have the prospect of maintaining that in the years ahead." Auntie's supporters may hope Whittingdale's proposed reforms will be limited, taking comfort from his remarks - back when chair of the Commons Culture Committee in February - that "profound changes" to the licence fee should not be rushed, and that the "possibility of change" would only come in the "2020s". Tory backbenchers, by contrast, will hope for quicker progress.
WORKING FOR THE WEEKEND
Hospital consultants will be have to work at weekends under a seven day NHS, the Health Secretary will say as he suggests that their refusal to do so is contributing to 6,000 deaths a year, Steven Swinford reports. Jeremy Hunt will tell the British Medical Association to "get real" as he announces plans to remove an "opt out" from doctors' contracts which means they do not have to work on a Saturday or Sunday. Laura Donnelly explains what deal is on offer for doctors. Follow what happens over today as Hunt goes to war with doctors on our liveblog.
NO MORE HERAS
The Greek parliament has approved a bill of tough reforms demanded by the country's creditors in return for a new bail-out, as protests in the country turned violent. Mehreen Khan has chronicled how this panned out on our liveblog. The debate saw tempers run high, with one lawmaker from the extreme right-wing Golden Dawn party lashing out at the Greek government over the new economic measures meant to secure a bailout for the cash-strapped country. Among those voted against the package of reforms was Alexis Tsipras's former minister, Yanis Varoufakis, who likened the measures to a "Treaty of Versailles" for Greece, Colin Freeman reports from Athens.
"Yanis Varoufakis, the ex-finance minister, said all along that they wanted "ritual subjugation", and that is how it looks to great numbers of people across Europe," writes Ambrose Evans-Pritchard. Angela Merkel may be pilloried over her seeming lack of sympathy towards Greece, but as I point out, her voters have an even more hardline stance towards their Hellenic friends.
Meanwhile, British taxpayers will not be left exposed for another Greek bailout, George Osborne hopes, under a compromise struck with Jean-Claude Juncker. The Chancellor is prepared to back the European Commission president's controversial plan to revive a mothballed bailout programme that draws in the entire EU, in exchange for guarantees that British liabilities will be underwritten to protect UK taxpayers, Matthew Holehouse reports.
10% THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU
MPs will get a pay rise of up to 10 per cent despite furious protestations from David Cameron and other ministers, Parliament's expenses watchdog is set to announce. The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority has rubber stamped a plan to increase MPs pay from £67,000 to as much as £74,000 a year. Chris Hope has the details.
VLAD THE NEGOTIATOR
Russian-American cooperation on the Iran nuclear deal could pave the way for an agreement on Syria, Barack Obama has said, despite the current confrontation between Moscow and the West over Ukraine, Roland Oliphant reports from Moscow. Mr Obama praised Vladimir Putin for his role in the agreement and said there could now be an "opening" for further detente in the worst crisis in American-Russian relations since the Cold War.
THE OPPOSITION...TO THE OPPOSITION
Labour faces an open split over the government's planned cuts to benefits spending after one of its MPs - former shadow welfare minister Helen Goodman - tabled an amendment to the legislation to reject the bill, the BBC reports. This comes after acting leader Harriet Harman warned that if Labour "opposed everything" it would "succeed on nothing". Meanwhile, David Cameron admitted to his own MPs that he is deliberately trying to pass his most controversial policies while Labour is in disarray. Chris Hope has more.
The SNP is more interested in "stunts and sound bites" than serious plans for increasing Holyrood's powers, the Scottish Secretary has said as he promised to make major improvements to legislation extending devolution. David Mundell confirmed to MPs that the Government will table substantive amendments to the Scotland Bill and would consider "serious" changes submitted by opposition parties, Simon Johnson reports.
Jeremy Corbyn is ahead in the Labour leadership contest by more than 15 points, private polling by his rivals suggests, Michael Wilkinson reports. The left-wing MP, who was a last minute entry into the contest, now looks set for victory according to a poll which will come as bitter news for his rivals Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall. Want to help lumber Labour with the bearded socialist voter-repellent as leader? Follow our simple five step guide on how to help him win.
Theresa May, the Home Secretary, has refused permission for water cannon to be used for the first time on the British mainland. The controversial equipment required authorisation from the Home Office before it could be deployed but Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, has already called for them - and bought three second-hand cannon from Germany at a cost of £218,000. Read more here.
Tim Farron, the favourite to win the Liberal Democrat leadership, wants to send all of the party's staff back to work for charities to learn how to campaign again, Chris Hope reports. Farron is tipped to beat Norman Lamb in the LibDem leadership contest on Thursday, and take over the running of the party and its eight MPs in the House of Commons. If you're wondering who exactly Farron is, Rosa Prince has written an insightful profile of the man who could be the next Lib Dem leader.
RED-FACED LETTER DAY
A lack of funding led to UK stamps being put on postal ballot papers for overseas voters ahead of the general election in May, the Electoral Commission disclosed in a report. A flood of complaints came in from Britons living around the world that they were unable to vote, despite being registered to do so, Elizabeth Roberts reports.
JUSTICE ON THE MOVE
Magistrates' courts could meet in town halls or even hotel suites in a bid to save money, the Justice Secretary has said. Michael Gove confirmed there will be a new programme of court closures but the minister stressed he was keen to retain the way justice is dispensed at a local level, David Barrett reports.
This comes as criminal barristers are set to refuse to take on new cases in an unprecedented protest at the Government's cuts to legal aid. Barristers in England and Wales voted to back the "strike" in a poll by a majority of 55 per cent in favour and 45 per cent against. Read more here.
A mayor has refused to apologise for joking that all women in a town he represents have fat bottoms. Francis Purdue-Horan provoked outrage with a comment he made just before Queen tribute act Mercury was about to perform at a music festival in Bingham, Nottinghamshire. Here's the full story.
TOO MANY TWEETS
@GerriPeev: Bit of a risk for Home Sec to ban water cannons without knowing how the trade union reforms will play out
From The Telegraph
Allister Heath - Ditch the licence fee and force the BBC to compete for its audience
Norman Tebbit - Trade unions need putting back in their place
George Papaconstantinou - Alexis Tsipras gambled away Greece's future. Now he must make amends
From Politics Comment
Tom Harris - Labour cannot afford to look like a party of protest
Douglas Carswell - The luvvies praising the BBC are like bankers praising their bonuses
Justin Welby - Faith must be strong enough to take offence
08:00 Defence Minister Michael Fallon is to give a speech at the Chief of the Air Staff's Air Power conference in London
Sir George Young, former Tory MP - 73
TODAY IN PARLIAMENT
HOUSE OF COMMONS
9:30: Transport questions (topicals at 10:15)
HOUSE OF LORDS
Wednesday, 15 July 2015
The Conservatives are channelling the spirit of Margaret Thatcher today, with Business Secretary Sajid Javid unveiling a crackdown on strike laws that will infuriate the trade unions. "Unions will be banned from strikes based on old ballots", we say on our front page, the Mail trumpets "Cameron's war on strike bullies", while the Guardian reports: "Tories launch biggest crackdown on trade unions for 30 years".
Following public anger over last week's tube strikes, the government's bill will be formally published today, with MPs expected to first debate it in early September. However, this will not stop battle lines being drawn, with one union leader - Aslef's Mick Whelan - comparing the proposals to those enacted in Nazi Germany. The GMB and Unite unions are said to be considering legal action, while Unite's Len McCluskey provocatively revealed that his members are no longer advised to carry out strikes "so far as may be lawful". "It is absolutely right that the Government is acting to impose some order", says the Sun.
Britain's unions are determined not to take this quietly, so Sajid Javid has a major fight on his hands. This Thatcherite drive will allow Javid, who proudly hangs a portrait of the Iron Lady on his office wall, to burnish his Conservative credentials. Could it help him become her eventual successor as Tory leader?
CAREER OF EVEL
Evel (English votes for English laws) is on the agenda today, with Tory MPs wanting David Cameron to strengthen the government's plans in order to stop the SNP from having an effective veto over proposals that only matter south of the border. This comes after Nicola Sturgeon forced the government yesterday to delay a vote on relaxing the ban on fox hunting by threatening to have SNP MPs vote on an issue that only matters to England.
Sturgeon's threat has been met with disbelief, after she said in February that the SNP's "long-standing position" was not to vote on "matters that purely affect England - such as foxhunting". "This demonstrates the untrustworthiness of the SNP but at least it is consistent in wanting to destroy the Union," we say. Could derailing the foxhunting vote backfire? "The truth is now out in the open: the SNP will be happy to stick their oar into all things English and Welsh," writes Charlie Brooks. "This lust for class warfare has effectively provided precisely the justification needed to pass the legislation required to ban the SNP from voting on English and Welsh issues in the future."
IMF TO THE GRESCUE
The International Monetary Fund has set off a political earthquake in Europe, warning that Greece may need a full moratorium on debt payments for 30 years and perhaps even long-term subsidies to claw its way out of depression, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard reports.
America and Iran overcame generations of mistrust and rivalry on Tuesday to reach a comprehensive agreement designed to settle the confrontation over Tehran's nuclear ambitions, David Blair reports from Vienna. President Barack Obama hailed a step towards a "safer and more secure" world as Iran formally promised to curb its nuclear programme in return for the lifting of sanctions.
However, not everyone is happy. Con Coughlin writes: "Mr Obama might have convinced himself that the deal cuts off all of Iran's "pathways to nuclear weapons", but that is certainly not how the deal will be viewed by those who have more intimate knowledge of the Iranian regime's devious tactics, such as the Saudis and the Gulf states. If he believes his "historic" deal is going to bring peace to the region, then he needs to think again." Meanwhile, former Iranian President Abolhassan Bani-Sadr described it as "capitulation".
LOVE OF LABOUR'S LOST
Tony Blair has held secret meetings with new Labour MPs and told them to do the same "hard work" he and Gordon Brown did to win back voters, Ben Riley-Smith reports. The former prime minster has been inviting groups of new MPs for "informal" chats at his private office and telling them to adopt a "big vision" to changing the party.
"George Osborne told me recently that he spent his early years in Parliament watching and learning from Tony Blair: how he seized and then held the centre ground of British politics, forcing the Tories to the Right," writes New Statesman editor Jason Cowley in today's Telegraph. "Osborne is doing something similar to Labour, by forcing the party to the Left. Whoever ends up leading Labour in September ought to watch and learn."
This comes as Mhairi Black, Britain's youngest MP, has savaged Labour for abandoning its traditional left-wing politics in a powerful maiden speech in the House of Commons. You can watch her debut here. Meanwhile, Tristram Hunt, the shadow education secretary, will urge Labour to "wrap itself" in the St George's Cross to win back voters. He will also tell the party to embark on a "relentless" drive to rebuild its economic credibility if it hopes to win back power, and back the idea of an English Labour party.
THE MEN FROM AUNTIE
Daniel Craig and Sir David Attenborough are among the star names today warning David Cameron that his plans to reform the BBC will damage Britain's global standing, Anita Singh reports. In an open letter to Downing Street, more than two dozen figures from the world of arts and entertainment claim that "a diminished BBC would simply mean a diminished Britain".
DOWN AND OUT IN CALAIS
At least 35,000 illegal immigrants were discovered trying to breach security measures at Calais to reach Britain in the last six months, David Barrett reports. Over a three week period during French ferry workers' strikes, numbers rocketed to at least 540 a day - or 23 an hour - attempting to break through fences or stow away in lorries, MPs heard.
YES WE CAM
Barack Obama has described Britain as America's strongest ally after David Cameron agreed to increase defence spending to two per cent of national income, Chris Hope reports. The US President said the decision was "a significant signal from their primary partner on the world stage, in comments which will underline the UK's historic special relationship with America.
Treasury minister David Gauke has been accidentally married to Education Secretary Nicky Morgan by the Evening Standard. The Tory MP noticed that a picture in the paper of the pair described him as her husband Jonathan, and tweeted: "A little surprised to learn from the Evening Standard that I am married to @NickyMorgan01 and called Jonathan."
TOO MANY TWEETS
@ChristopherHope: So far David Cameron has performed three U-turns under pressure from MPs (EVEL, EU ref and now fox hunting). His Government is 67 days old.
From The Telegraph
From Politics Comment
Louise Guinness - Why I hunt: Nothing comes close to the thrill of chasing a live quarry
Cathy Newman - David Cameron - a compassionate Tory feminist after all?
Daniel Finklestein - As Greece shows, threats will get you nowhere
09.15: Michael Gove at HoC Justice Committee
David Miliband - 50
TODAY IN PARLIAMENT
HOUSE OF COMMONS
11:30: Oral Questions - Scotland
9:30 - 11:00: Housing supply in London (Dr Rupa Huq, Lab, Ealing Central and Acton)
HOUSE OF LORDS
15:00: Oral questions, to ask the Government:
Wednesday, 8 July 2015
George Osborne will present his first true-blue Conservative Budget today, unrestrained by his former Lib Dem coalition partners, and so he can afford to set out a bold Osbornite vision for Britain. So what are we in for?
The Chancellor's plan to raise the 40p threshold, giving a tax cut to middle class families, leads our front page. The Mail leads on this too, but highlights the "sting in the tail on child tax credits", which are set to be limited to the first two children in any family. "Gordon Brown's tax credits monster must be slain," says Frank Field, Labour chair of the Work and Pensions select committee. It's all part of Osborne's vision for a "lower welfare, lower tax" Britain, as the FT puts it, although he is making his planned £12 billion in welfare cuts more slowly, dragging them out into the second half of this parliament. Freed from Lib Dem influence, Osborne is also set to announce the scrapping of student maintenance grants (which the Independent leads on), and curbs to green levies (as the Sun reports). Make sure to follow what happens on our liveblog.
The Chancellor is just over halfway through his plan to eliminate the deficit, so still has more to do. "Some people close [to him] reckon this will be his most consequential budget," writes James Kirkup. "It certainly should be: he comes to the Commons today with political capital to burn, an opposition in disarray and a five-year Parliament stretching out before him. If he is going to make the move next door one day, today's the day we get our first real glimpse of Prime Minister George Osborne."
HERE'S LOOKING AT EUCLID
The European Union faces "the most critical" moment in its 64-year history, after leaders warned they had five days to prevent Greece from careering out of the euro and into a full blown humanitarian crisis, Mehreen Khan and Matthew Holehouse report. Creditors were openly exasperated after new finance minister Euclid Tsakalotos arrived empty-handed in Brussels following Greece's momentous No vote against their lenders' bail-out conditions. "The two sides are talking past each other, clinging to long-entrenched narratives, no longer willing to question their own assumptions. The result could be costly," writes Ambrose Evans-Pritchard.
Brussels has now convened a full emergency summit of all 28 European leaders on Sunday to thrash out an deal to keep Greece in the single currency. "Despite such determination, it does seem that sooner or later their ambition of ever-closer union will be wrecked on the rocks of financial reality," we say. What does this mean for Britain's political parties? "If the Greek revolt proves contagious, then Labour is the certain loser," argues Mary Riddell
THE EVEL THAT MEN DO
Tory MPs have warned the government that it is pushing through plans for English votes for English laws too quickly raising concerns that the government could face a rebellion, Steven Swinford reports. Senior back-benchers said that the future of the Union is "hanging by a thread" as they called for more time for debate ahead of a vote later this month. It came as Labour and the SNP joined forces to secure a symbolic victory over the government by winning an emergency vote which it tabled. The government opted to abstain.
"The SNP certainly sound outraged with the Government about EVEL," writes our sketchwriter Michael Deacon. "The trouble is, they've sounded identically outraged with the Government about pretty much everything else, too – and the sheer relentlessness of their outrage is starting to make it hard to tell how authentic that outrage is. Is it always real, or sometimes merely for show – or even just force of habit?"
PAPA DO PREACH
Immigration is helping to bring Britain back to its Christian roots and reviving religion in a "weary, western" culture, the country's most senior Roman Catholic cleric has insisted, John Bingham reports. Cardinal Vincent Nichols said an influx of new arrivals was not simply boosting flagging congregations but encouraging the British-born population to rediscover its own "wellsprings of faith".
NAUGHTIE STEPS OFF
James Naughtie is leaving BBC Radio 4's Today programme in January after 21 years, the corporation has announced. "It is quite big news when we hear that someone is leaving. We had a nice meeting after the programme. The debrief is usually 10 minutes, but this morning we learned that Jim was leaving. There were a few tears shed, I can tell you," his former co-presenter John Humphrys told the Telegraph.
"Fans of his Aberdeenshire tones can be reassured that he will not depart today. Or indeed tomorrow," we say. "In fact Today can count on his political expertise until next year, by which time he will have completed more than two decades in the job. It is time well spent."
MERCER MAKES A SPLASH
Newly-elected Conservative MP Johnny Mercer has appeared half-naked in a Dove advert in which he lathers himself in a bathroom, Michael Wilkinson reports. The 38-year-old was able to pull off the role in the American TV advert after building an impressive physique during his distinguished career as a commando captain.
WHARTON HEARS A WHERE
Ask any number of people 'where is the north?' and you will almost certainly get a different answer every time. Anywhere north of Watford? Only when you get to Crewe? James Wharton, the new minister in charge of George Osborne's much-heralded 'northern powerhouse' project, may therefore be forgiven in his admission that he doesn't exactly know where the north is. Read what happened here.
Commons Speaker John Bercow told an MP who asked a long-winded question not "to argue the toss with the Chair". When Liberal Democrat Greg Mulholland complained, he shouted: "Don't shake your head mate." You can watch their exchange here.
HOTEL WESTMINSTER (YOU CAN NEVER LEAVE)
Dozens of former MPs, including Jack Straw and Sir Malcolm Rifkind, ex-ministers under investigation for lobbying allegations, have been granted privileged access to Parliament since the general election. Some 381 former members are in possession of passes that allow them to roam the Westminster estate and use the subsidised facilities. Here are more details.
YVETTE'S PARENT TRAP
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper has been accused of highlighting the fact her Labour leadership rival Liz Kendall does not have any children to win votes as the contest descended into acrimony. This comes after shadow media minister Helen Goodman wrote in a blog for the Huffington Post UK that the fact Cooper was a "working mum" had convinced her to back the shadow home secretary's leadership campaign.
Lord Patten, the former chairman of the BBC Trust, has accused the Culture Secretary of being an "adolescent ideologue" after he announced "awful" plans to make the corporation pay for pensioners' free TV licences, Steven Swinford reports. John Whittingdale said on Monday that the corporation will bear the £650million cost of the free licence fee for those over the age of 75 from 2020. This comes as the corporation's director general Lord Hall did not deny that the corporation has now become "a branch" of the welfare state. Here are more details.
TOO MANY TWEETS
@MikeySmith: If the BBC rebranded economic coverage as "George Osborne's Budgie" and "George Osborne's Awesome Statement", loads more people would watch
From The Telegraph
James Kirkup - Introducing Prime Minister George Osborne
From the Politics blog
Asa Bennett - How many more cuts does George Osborne have to make?
Frank Field - Gordon Brown's tax credits monster must be slain
Mark Littlewood- Cutting £12bn in welfare should only be the start, Chancellor
Daniel Finklestein - Thatcher shows why we must keep on cutting
09:30 European Council President Donald Tusk to give a speech on Greece to the European Parliament
TODAY IN PARLIAMENT
HOUSE OF COMMONS
Main business - Budget statement
9:30 - 11:00: Performance of Southern railway (Nick Herbert)
HOUSE OF LORDS
15.00: Oral questions, to ask the Government: