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?


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." 


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.
"The dramatic deterioration in debt sustainability points to the need for debt relief on a scale that would need to go well beyond what has been under consideration to date," said the IMF in a confidential report. This comes as Alexis Tsipras said banks could stay closed in Greece for a month.


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".


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.


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".


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.


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."


@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

Con Coughlin - Iran nuclear deal: Peace in our time? Not with this shoddy agreement

Jason Cowley  - England is changing and the Labour Party desperately needs to change with it

Alan Cochrane - Nicola Sturgeon's retreat from pinciple will spark surge in anti-Scottish sentiment

From Politics Comment

Louise Guinness - Why I hunt: Nothing comes close to the thrill of chasing a live quarry

Miriam Gonzalez - The Treasury is about to get tougher on businesses who break EU sanctions

Cathy Newman - David Cameron - a compassionate Tory feminist after all?

From elsewhere

Owen Jones - The left must put Britain's EU withdrawal on the agenda

Daniel Finklestein - As Greece shows, threats will get you nowhere

Chris Deerin  - Hypocritical, shameless, unprincipled: And Sturgeon's stance on hunting is just the start of her war on England


09.15: Michael Gove at HoC Justice Committee
09:30 UK monthly unemployment figures to be published by ONS
10.00 Shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt speaks at a Policy Network event in London on responding to rising populism 
10:30 Andy Burnham is to give a speech at Rusi on 'keeping Britain safe in an unsafe world'
11.00 Nick Clegg giving evidence to Lords committee on social mobility
12:00 PMQs – the last before the summer break
13.30 Defence Secretary Michael Fallon speaks at Chatham House in London on the future of the British-American naval alliance
13.35 Chief of Defence Staff Sir Nicholas Houghton speaks at Rusi air power conference
14.00 Voting closes for Lib Dem leadership contest

14:45 Treasury Committee evidence session on George Osborne's Summer Budget with Citi's chief UK economist Michael Saunders and IFS director Paul Johnson among witnesses
15.00 Ukip leader Nigel Farage speaks at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington DC on the EU referendum 
15.30 David Cameron meets Ukranian PM at No 10
16.00 Opening ceremony of Parliamentary Education Centre
16:05 Airports Commission chairman Sir Howard Davies is to give evidence to the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee
22:00 'Dispatches: Escape from Isis' to be broadcast on Channel 4.
MPs to debate the government's plans for English votes for English laws
Greece's parliament is to vote on reforms as part of Monday's bailout deal


David Miliband - 50
Alistair Carmichael - 50
Gareth Thomas - 48
John Denham - 62
Crispin Blunt - 55



11:30: Oral Questions - Scotland
12.00 - PMQs
Ten minute rule motion: Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education (Statutory Requirement) Bill (Caroline Lucas, Green, Brighton Pavillion)

Main business
Proceedings on the Supply and Appropriations (Main Estimates) Bill
General debate on English votes on English laws (Day 1 of 2)
Adjournment debate: London's licensed taxi trade (Charles Walker, Con, Broxbourne)


9:30 - 11:00: Housing supply in London (Dr Rupa Huq, Lab, Ealing Central and Acton)
11:00 - 11:30: Future of the UK steel industry (Tom Blenkinsop, Lab,  Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland)
14:30 - 16:00: Regional support for the arts (Robert Jenrick, Con, Newark)
16:00 - 16:30: Bank closures in Northern Lincolnshire (Martin Vickers, Con, Cleethorpes)
16:30 - 17:30: The future of Barking , Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (Mike Gapes, Lab, Ilford South)


15:00: Oral questions, to ask the Government:
- Baroness Cox: What is their response to the Day of Remembrance on 14 July for victims of dishonour-based violence, and what steps they are taking to prevent such violence against girls and women.
- Lord Beecham: What is their assessment of the impact of the £200 million reduction in the public health budget on local authorities in the current financial year.
- Lord Harries of Pentregarth: When they intend to implement the amendments to section 9 of the Equality Act 2010 that requires the introduction of secondary legislation to incorporate caste as a protected characteristic.
- Lord Dubs: What assessment they have made of the impact of their proposed amendments to the Hunting Act 2004 on efforts to protect animal welfare.

Main business
Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill: Report (Day 1.5 of 1.5)
Police Federation (Amendment) Regulations 2015: Motion to regret