Friday, 3 July 2015

More Greece..

Greece's economy is still sinking into an economic quagmire, as Ambrose Evans-Pritchard reports on this morning's front page that the country could be out of cash by the weekend. Lenders are down to their last €500m, while the Greek treasury is rationing foreign funds for companies on a top priority basis - as business leaders plead for assistance. "We are on a war footing in this country," said finance minister Yanis Varoufakis.

As Greece starts to run out of money, the daily allowance of cash from many ATM machines has already dropped from €60 to €50. Varoufakis told Bloomberg TV that he has not had to use any Greek ATM since capital controls came in over the weekend, insisting it would be "inappropriate" - although he divulged that he was living a "very frugal" life.  He also promised to quit government if Greeks voted "Yes" in the referendum to accept the current bailout proposals, which he said he'd rather cut his arm off than enact. 

The International Monetary Fund has given a stark take on Greece's economic crisis, concluding that it needs at least another €50bn to keep it afloat for the next three years and substantial alleviation of its debt burden. This has been seized upon by Varoufakis as proof that Greece's debt is unsustainable, and that Greeks should vote "no" to get a better deal with debt relief. Will they agree? Public support is swinging between the "Yes" and "No" sides in the polls like a pendulum, so predicting the way Greeks will vote is practically a coin toss.


The BBC has been condemned by the government after claiming that it has to be impartial when reporting on Isil, Steve Swinford reports. Lord Hall, the head of the BBC, has rejected calls from a cross-party group of 120 MPs to stop using the name Islamic State and because it would "gives the impression of support" for its opponents. "By refusing to the word Daesh because it is pejorative, Lord Hall exposes a BBC mindset so wrapped up in its own rectitude that it has lost all touch with reality and with the real meaning of impartiality," writes Stephen Pollard

Our sketchwriter Michael Deacon, who watched MPs try to decide what to call them, wrote: "Several MPs agreed it should just be Daesh. They couldn't, however, agree how to pronounce it. We heard Dye-eesh, Dye-ish, Dye-esh, Dayshe and Dyshe. Clearly this is not a satisfactory state of affairs. Something must be done. To meet the BBC's need for impartiality while recognising the Prime Minister's concerns about Islamist propaganda, I propose that from now on the terrorists be referred to as The So-Called Islamic-But-Not-Truly-Islamic State-But-Not-Truly-a-State. Or TSCIBNTISBNTAS for short."

Meanwhile, Britain could launch air strikes against Isil in Syria within months after Labour signalled that it is prepared to back the Conservatives in the wake of the Tunisia terrorist attack. The Conservatives are preparing to put the issue to a vote despite a backlash from some Tory back-benchers, who have warned that military action could bolster the regime of Bashar al-Assad, the Syria dictator. Read more here.


The SNP has reacted with fury to the government's plans for English votes for English laws, condemning them as "constitutional bilge" and warning that they will help break up the Union, Steve Swinford reports. Chris Grayling the leader of the Commons, said that English MPs will have their voice "recognised in our great Union of nations" for the first time under the plans, adding that the government's plans will "answer the West Lothian question".

Writing in today's Telegraph, Grayling said: "We need a fair devolution settlement. We need a new relationship with the European Union. We need a fair system of electoral boundaries. We need to give back to British citizens who have chosen to live for long periods overseas the right to vote and influence the future of the country that they and their children may one day return to...Now it is time to consider England and reddress the balance of fairness throughout the UK."

Some are puzzled why the SNP, led in the Commons by Angus Robertson, are so outraged. "He just wants to maintain the right for Scottish MPs to interfere in English-only laws as a weapon in his armoury, while at the same time repeating the age-old lines about how the nasty Westminster Tories are attacking the poor old Scots again," writes Julia Hartley-Brewer.


Could Labour be on its way out of Westminster? According to Estates Gazette's Chris Berkin, the party is vacating its headquarters at Brewers Green, SW1, and is considering moving south of the river - as part of a range of options - in its search for 10,000 sq ft of new office space. Meanwhile, Ukip is looking for a new 1,000 sq ft office in Westminster, and the Liberal Democrats are considering whether they need to vacate their HQ - with a source suggesting that the party could sub-let some of its existing office space.


Scores of Conservative Government ministers have "almost certainly" tried illegal drugs, according to a senior Liberal Democrat MP. Speaking at an event organised by the Institute of Public Policy Research thinktank on Wednesday evening, Norman Lamb, the MP for North Norfolk, said that more half of ministers in this Government had smoked cannabis, Chris Hope reports


Families in most of the country could see their annual cap on benefit claims cut to £20,000, the Mail's Tamara Cohen reports. This comes as the Chancellor considers whether to cut state benefits paid to thousands of sick and disabled people by £30 a week as part of the £12bn of planned welfare cuts, according to the Independent's Andrew Grice.


Paddy Power has been accused of a crass stunt mocking the Calais immigration crisis as Ben Riley-Smith found that the acting Labour leader's son was part of the team that created the poster. Harry Dromey, the son of Harriet Harman, works for the advertising team which took a lorry to Calais carrying a poster urging foreigners to "jump in the back" if they were good at sport. This comes as a major new study by the OECD found that foreigners are more likely to have jobs in the UK than British workers, as Britain is one of the most attractive countries in the world for migrants. Matthew Holehouse has the story.


Nigel Farage has been backed as the head of the 'No' campaign for EU withdrawl by an unlikely source - the head of Labour's "Yes" campaign, Alan Johnson. Speaking to the Huffington Post UK, the former shadow chancellor said: "He would be the very person you would want to lead a [No] campaign. This has to be about the future. Young people in particular have to be galvanised about this because it is their future as well...I think Nigel puts them off."


Conservative MP Stephen Phillips has offered to team up with SNP colleague Martin Docherty to protest in the House of Commons the ban on taking a manbag into debates, claiming that it "perpetuates stigma and gender stereotypes". 'We will both bring in our bags and see whether we are upbraided by the Chair and receive some sort of censure for doing so," Phillips threatened. You can read their remarks here.


British intelligence spied on German leaders as they discussed how to bailout Greece in 2011, newly released cables by Wikileaks purport to show. British officials passed intelligence to the US National Security Agency on proposals by Germany to ask developing nations to help rescue Athens. Matthew Holehouse has more


Liz Kendall has promised, if she wins the Labour leadership, not to shut out newspapers that are critical of Labour like the Sun from her events, reversing what happened under Ed Miliband during the election campaign. She told the Sun's Tom Newton-Dunn that she would let him attend, but warned: "If you stripped naked and ran in front of me, Tom, I might have second thoughts about it."


The Cabinet Office is refusing to provide more funding to Kids Company, the high-profile London children's charity, unless its chief executive Camila Batmanghelidjh - dubbed the "South London Sepp Blatter" by a former employee - steps down, BBC Newsnight and BuzzFeed has found.


Liberal Democrat MPs are set to be out-numbered by journalists from the BBC at this party's conference in September by a ratio of 25 to one, Chris Hope reports. The LibDems said that 200 BBC staff have registered to cover the four day conference in September, despite the party having just eight MPs.


Criminals convicted of a second knife offence will face jail as David Cameron enacts one of the Conservative's flagship pledges later this month. Adults convicted of an offence involving a knife for a second time will face minimum sentences of at least six months, while those aged 16 to 18 will get at least four months detention or a training order. Here are more details.

Meanwhile, the government has been told to increase litter fines because the middle classes no longer see stigma with dropping rubbish. The calls came as peers criticised the piles of "rubble and rubbish" left behind at the Glastonbury music festival as "symbolic" of the scale of the problem. Read more here.


@IainMartin1: 30 Britons murdered on a beach in Tunisia. And the argument is over what to call the terrorists who did it. Really?


From The Telegraph

Chris Grayling - Keep Scottish MPs out of English issues

Fraser Nelson - Strikes in Syria are meaningless if we keep slashing our military

Stephen Pollard - The BBC is worried about upsetting terrorists. How disturbing

From the Politics blog

Asa Bennett - Why are the polls on Greece's referendum so crazy?

James Kirkup - What if Ken Clarke had become Conservative leader?

Damian Collins - The French government must be forced to stop the chaos at Calais

From elsewhere

Natalie Nougayrède - Tsipras can turn away, or help Europe reinvent itself

Iliana Magra - The past five days have been worse than all that has gone before

Mark Leonard - Why even Scandinavia is moving to the right


12.00 UK observes one minute's silence to remember Tunisia terror victims
19.00 Tim Farron MP and Norman Lamb MP participate in a leadership hustings in Stratford-upon-Avon 
20.00 'Any Questions?' features Chris Grayling, Khalid Mahmood and Vicky Pryce 
Labour leadership hustings at Unison

Labour MP Stephen Pound turns 67, while Labour MP colleague Katy Clark turns 48
Michael Martin, John Bercow's predecessor as Commons speaker, turns 70


No business today