Wednesday, 1 July 2015

It's Heathrow..


An almighty row on aviation has taken off this morning after Sir Howard Davies' Airports Commission judged that building a third runway at Heathrow is the "strongly, unanimously preferred option", arguing that it was the "best" way of adding long haul routes to new markets which it said were "urgently required".

Sir Howard insisted that it could only go ahead with strict noise and environmental controls, with night flights banned as well. But he has drawn the wrath of Heathrow sceptics like Boris Johnson, who declared that his report "will be filed vertically for years to come". Speaking earlier to Chris Hope, the London Mayor insisted further expansion was "undeliverable and not going to happen". Cabinet ministers like Theresa May, Philip Hammond and Greg Hands are also opposed, while David Cameron pledged "no ifs, no buts" in 2009 to stop it. Conservative London Mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith has previously pledged to leave the Tories if a third runway goes ahead. 

Faced with this opposition, the government isn't rushing to decide what to do, but it is playing down Sir Howard's report as "not a legally binding document or ruling" and "not definitive". Senior government sources have told the Telegraph that Cameron is unlikely to back a major expansion of Heathrow because he "does not want to break his promise to voters". Is the government preparing to quietly ignore the report? Heathrow may have come out on top, but Sir Howard also praised expanding Gatwick as "credible". "The decision to expand at Gatwick has already been made," a Tory MP told the Sun. However, if ministers opt for this, other Tory MPs will rise up, with a group describing the idea as a "disaster waiting to happen".  

Sir Howard's conclusion has come after three years, with business pressing for a swift decision in order to keep Britain economically competitive. As politicians keep bickering, how long will it be until something actually gets built?


#GREFAULT

Greece has become the first developed country in history to default to the International Monetary Fund, Mehreen Khan reports. The cash-strapped nation failed to make a €1.5bn payment to the IMF by an 11pm deadline on Tuesday, triggering an arrears process which was last suffered by Zimbabwe in 2001. 

Jeremy Warner sees echoes of Greece in Britain's growing reliance on debt-fuelled growth, writing: "Whereas the eurozone has forced the pace of fiscal adjustment, disastrously it should be said, Britain has responded with what may prove to be an unsustainable degree of policy accommodation." Meanwhile, Mary Riddell says it's time for Labour to stop standing idly by, writing: "The Greek debacle offers it a chance to demonstrate that it could combine a firm grip on the public finances with a human heart."

BURN' AFTER READING

Andy Burnham was caught using a crib sheet to answer questions about the cost of living during a Labour hustings, Steven Swinford reports. This came as the Labour leadership frontrunner and his rivals were asked a series of questions on the cost of everyday items and benefits rates, and he got the £20.70 rate of child benefit exactly right. Pointing out the notes, Kevin Maguire, the journalist hosting the event, said: "Pint of milk 50p, where do you pay that? I can get four pints for a quid at the supermarket."

"Even in Waitrose a pint is only 49p, so Mr Burnham must have highly sophisticated tastes in dairy," says our sketchwriter Michael Deacon. ""You can get four pints for a quid!" piped up Liz Kendall, ruthless as ever in her determination to seize the centre ground".

111's LIFE-OR-DEATH DELAY

Patients who call the NHS 111 service are being denied ambulances even if they are experiencing symptoms of a heart attack, a Telegraph investigation has found. The 111 service was set up as a non-emergency alternative to 999 to relieve pressure on the health system, with call centre staff expected to dispatch ambulances if patients describe symptoms of a serious illness. One call-centre mentor told trainee staff that "everyone in this room has killed someone". Lyndsey Telford has written more about what she saw when handling life-or-death calls.

A STUDY IN PINK

Children's television shows like Peppa Pig should feature more homosexual characters, one of the two contenders to lead the Liberal Democrats has said. Norman Lamb, who is battling with rival Tim Farron to succeed Nick Clegg, told PinkNews that it was not "out of bounds" that characters on the popular Channel Five programme should be homosexual. Christopher Hope has more.

MCMASTER BLASTER

Britain is "deluded" if it thinks that it can cut the number of soldiers while relying on new technology to bridge the gap, a senior US commander has suggested. Lieutenant General Herbert McMaster, the head of the US Army's Capabilities Integration Centre, said that the rise of "determined and increasingly elusive" there will be a "greater and greater" demand for manpower. Here are more details

FUELLING A NEW ROW

George Osborne may hit drivers in next month's Budget with a £4bn fuel tax hike, after keeping it frozen for five years, according to the Sun. A source told the paper: "When our economic plan says 'freezing fuel duty', we can't say, 'Oh, we meant in real terms not cash terms'."

TACKY TWITTER TIFF

Labour MP Simon Danczuk has taken to Twitter to criticise his "tacky" wife Karen for using their "family break-up to help a 'friend' promote his gym", after the pair announced their break-up this week. The 34-year-old former Labour councillor, who gained notoriety for posting a series of racy selfie pictures online, said that she could not ignore that she had gone from "fat, frumpy Karen to happy, confident and sexy Karen" thanks to the help of her married trainer. Michael Wilkinson has more.

PHWOAR-LIAMENT

Sexymp.co.uk, a website which rates MPs for their sex appeal was accessed nearly half a million times on parliamentary computers last year, making it the most popular banned website at Parliament, it has emerged. The next most popular banned adult website was the Urban Dictionary, with 155,000 attempted views, of which 8,180 were successful.

DUDE, WHERE'S MY FERRET?

A cautionary tale about the dangers of ferrets that like to explore up people's trouser legs left peers in the House of Lords in fits of laughter. Labour's Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton issued the message at question time in the Lords. Read more about her stark warning here.

SLACKS N' CRACKS ON FRACK  

A secret report into the impact of fracking on house prices should and will be published, energy minister Andrea Leadsom has said, opening up a rift with the environment department over the controversial issue, Emily Gosden reports.  The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), which commissioned the report, published parts of it last year in response to a request from campaigners but redacted 63 passages.


TOP OF THE CHARTS


This chart, by Electoral Calculus' Martin Baxter, shows how voters drifted from parties they previously backed in this May's election, charting their move from Labour and the Liberal Democrats to the Conservatives and to others like the SNP, Ukip and the Greens. 

(Read more here)

TOO MANY TWEETS 

@ReporterBoy: Long airport investigation recommends building new runway at existing biggest airport. Other shock news: July can be hot. Goes back to sleep

COMMENT

From The Telegraph

Mary Riddell - As the Greek economy crashes, the Left are standing idly by the road

Allison Pearson - We should demand military action against Islamic State

From the Politics blog

Stephen Booth - How David Cameron can use the Greek debt crisis to get what he wants from the EU

John Redwood - The UK either needs to dine √† la carte in the EU or leave the restaurant

From elsewhere

Jo Johnson - University tutors must sharpen up - or else

Richard Angell - Go to the dark places

AGENDA

09.00 Defence Secretary Michael Fallon speaks at the RUSI land warfare conference in London 
09:30 Education Secretary Nicky Morgan speaks at a Sutton Trust event 
09.30 ONS to publish labour productivity statistics for Q1 2015
10.00 Third annual BBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour Power List revealed
10.30 Bank of England's latest Financial Stability Report to be published
12.00 PMQs
12.30 Liberal Democrat leadership hustings hosted by British Future in London
Luxembourg to take over the rotating six-monthly presidency of the Council of the European Union from Latvia
Airports Commission final recommendations published
16.00 Lib Dem leadership contender Norman Lamb speaking at the Institute for Public Policy Research
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and acting Liberal Democrat leader Baroness Brinton (16:50) speak at the Local Government Association annual conference in Yorkshire

On this day:

1997 - Hong Kong handed over to Chinese control

TODAY IN PARLIAMENT

HOUSE OF COMMONS

11.30 Oral questions - Cabinet Office, including Topical Questions
12.00 Prime Minister's Question Time
Opposition Day Debate - (4th allotted day) - a) equal pay and gender pay gap b) tax credits
Adjournment debate - effect of corruption on economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa

HOUSE OF LORDS

15.00 Oral questions
Reintroducing a post-study visa for international students 
Review to examine all options for the future of RBS, including alternatives to reprivatisation
Publication of the Chilcot Report 
Government's role in discussions and negotiations regarding the Greek financial crisis 
Childcare Bill [HL] - Committee stage - Committee of the Whole House

Short debate - Tackling litter in both urban and rural areas 

WESTMINSTER HALL

9.30 - 11.00 English votes for English laws and North Wales - Albert Owen
11 - 11.30 - Treatment of fibromyalgia - Alok Sharma
14.30 - 16.00 Operational productivity in NHS providers - Dr Matthew Offord
16.00 - 16.30 Case of Colin Worton - Ian Paisley
16.30 - 17.30 Performance of the Tyne and Wear Metro - Mrs Emma Lewell-Buck