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Newslinks for Wednesday 23rd January 2013

Screen shot 2013-01-23 at 21.24.369.15pm International: "Britain’s scepticism, its non-conformism and its liberalism were always the engine for Europe. Nothing is final. What is needed today is a German-British axis. It is now a question of Europe’s future, not its past" - Die Welt. Reaction abroad to Cameron's Europe speech.

6pm ToryDiary: Who deserves most credit for today's Cameron speech?

5pm LeftWatch: Has Polly Toynbee actually read what Tim Montgomerie writes?

4pm Over on Comment, Ian Birrell—a former speechwriter to David Cameron—has annotated a copy of the PM's Europe speech

2pm Christopher Howarth on Comment: The Conservative tribes should—and should be able to—unite behind Cameron’s speech

PMQs1.30pm ToryDiary Ed Miliband issues the Anti People’s Pledge in PMQs

12.45pm UPDATE: The ConservativeHome Jury in response to David Cameron's speech now includes the thoughts of Bernard Jenkin MP

11.45am UPDATE: The ConservativeHome Jury in response to David Cameron's speech now includes the thoughts of Daniel Hannan MEP

11.30am ToryDiary: Cameron bets the farm on the kindness of strangers (and, more perilously still, his party)

10.30am The ConservativeHome Jury—including the MPs Nadine Dorries, Andrea Leadsom, Mark Reckless and Laura Sandys—gives its take on David Cameron's Europe speech

9.45am MPsETC: Full text of David Cameron's Europe speech

9.15am Lord Ashcroft on Comment: So we've got a Europe policy – now all we need is a Tory government

Britannia UngaggedToryDiary: Four reasons why Cameron's In/Out pledge could be very good news for Conservative chances at the next election

And a ToryDiary post from midnight: Cameron's historic pledge to Britain --- Vote Conservative and you'll get an In/Out referendum on Europe

Our columnist Stephan Shakespeare says that people are now slightly more likely to vote for Cameron's re-election, but they won't vote to leave the EU: "...it should come as no surprise that the majority for an 'out' vote that we've been recording in our in/out EU referendum tracker should have suddenly collapsed. (As my colleague Peter Kellner noted, from 51-30 to 34-40. That's a 27% swing in favour of EU membership in just eight weeks)."

Nick Pickles on Comment: European justice can be strengthened by a Home Affairs opt-out

Also on Comment, Emil Agazade responds to Daniel Hamilton's post from yesterday: Why single out Azerbaijan?

Local Government: Who will monitor the Monitoring Officers?

The Deep End: How the rise of the robots could give socialism a second chance

David Cameron pledges an In/Out referendum on Europe

Papers

"Voters will have the chance to leave the European Union before the end of 2017, David Cameron will pledge today as he sets Britain on course for a momentous referendum. ... The Prime Minister will commit himself to winning an 'in-out' vote even if the campaign puts him at odds with much of his party or even if the EU remains largely unreformed. But he will seek to give the referendum unstoppable momentum by publishing a draft Bill before 2015 and setting a deadline of November 2017 before which it must be held." - The Times (£)

  • "So that’s that. Vote Tory and you’ll get an in-out referendum on Europe. ... Just what The Sun’s been asking for. ... David Cameron deserves considerable credit for going where his predecessors would not." - Sun leader
  • "....Mr Cameron’s speech perhaps sets a benchmark for the most pro-European speech by a self-proclaimed eurosceptic Tory leader" - George Parker, Financial Times (£)
  • "...ministers will be ringing round big inward investors after the speech reassuring them that everything will be fine. 'We will explain that it is all about the backbenchers,' says one minister, with a refreshing honesty." - David Wighton, The Times (£)

> Today:

> Yesterday, by Laura Sandys MP on Comment: In Europe, who would want to be the Odd Man Out?

"The largest cull of the army in two decades"

Defence cuts"Members of Prince Harry’s flying wing will be among 5,300 soldiers facing the sack in the largest cull of the Army in two decades. ... Threatened troops face five months of uncertainty after the planned redundancies, announced yesterday, caused dismay in the ranks." - The Times (£)

  • "Prisoners are to keep on getting housing benefit — while squaddies’ families will lose out under Government reforms." - The Sun
  • Three new £650m spy planes cannot refuel in mid-air - Daily Mail

And the newspapers respond:

  • "Mr Cameron cannot have it both ways. Either he must restrain his ambitions and accept that Britain is destined to become just another middle-ranking European power, or he should use the next defence review in 2015 to develop a more ambitious strategy that builds on the unrivalled skills of our Armed Forces." - Daily Telegraph leader
  • "Nobody disputes that cuts must be made across Whitehall – and the MoD, with its vast and incompetent bureaucracy, was always a prime target. ... But to cut front-line numbers, while entangling our Forces in another country’s war, is simply indefensible." - Daily Mail leader
  • "If it looks as though the pessimists are right and the Government is wrong about the effects of cuts on the military, they will have to be reversed. Opting out is not an option." - Times leader
  • "The continued slashing of our troop numbers looks more and more baffling." - Sun leader

> Yesterday:

Tony Blair backs David Cameron's stand against al-Qaeda in north Africa

Blair"We cannot afford to allow large areas of our world, no matter how remote or inhospitable they might seem, to fall under the control of those determined to export their brand of violence and hatred. ... I wish I could say it was straightforward, or that there will be no more tragedies. ... But David Cameron is right to warn that this is a battle for our values and way of life which will take years, even decades. ... It is also a battle we cannot shirk." - Tony Blair, The Sun

  • "The new War on Terror won’t be won by armies, but by helping moderate Muslim governments defeat extremism" - Paddy Ashdown, The Times (£)
  • "The choice in the Sahel is not between doing nothing, and intervening with British and other Western nation’s combat forces. There is a wiser and more effective response that combines diplomacy, development, politics and security." - Douglas Alexander, Independent
  • "Only a political settlement, guaranteed by regional African forces, can end the conflict." - Seumas Milne, Guardian

> Yesterday's video to WATCH: David Cameron: "This evolving threat demands an international response"

George Osborne faces Cabinet "revolt" over further cuts

Osborne"George Osborne on Tuesday faced a cabinet revolt over spending cuts, as senior ministers warned their budgets were already at their limits and that he should look elsewhere for savings. ... Theresa May, the home secretary, Vince Cable, the business secretary, and Philip Hammond, the defence secretary, urged the chancellor to reconsider his strategy for reducing the budget deficit." - Financial Times (£)

Fears for Britain's AAA rating, after underwhelming fiscal data...

 "Britain's coveted credit rating was hanging by a thread last night as the country sank deeper into the red. ... Official figures showed the Government borrowed £15.4billion last month, up from £14.8billion a year earlier, fuelling fears that Britain will be stripped of its gold-plated AAA credit rating." - Daily Mail

  • "Britain forked out almost £520million a day on benefits last month — as debts soared to a new high." - The Sun

> Yesterday on ToryDiary: Welcome to Gloomsville, George Osborne

...although Mervyn King reckons there's cause for hope

"The economy is springing back to life and there are ‘good reasons to suppose a gentle recovery is under way’, the governor of the Bank of England said last night. ... Delivering his most upbeat speech since the financial crisis, Sir Mervyn outlined a set of policies which he said could ‘roll back the dark cloud of uncertainty’ hanging over the economy." - Daily Mail

> Yesterday on the Deep End: For economic growth you first need to have the potential for growth

The Independent writes up Greg Clark's article for ConservativeHome yesterday

Weekly letter"A Treasury minister has warned the Conservative Party not to divide the British people into 'shirkers and strivers' as it defends the Government’s squeeze on the welfare budget. ... Mr Clark said that 'worklessness is a complex problem' and that 'talk about "shirkers" is too simplistic.'  Writing on the ConservativeHome website, Mr Clark said there is nothing wrong with being a 'striver' but argued that not everyone wants to be one." - Independent

  • Get religious groups on board with Work Programme, think tank urges - Independent

> From yesterday, Greg Clark MP's latest letter from a Treasury minister: It’s not all about ‘shirkers’ and ‘strivers’ – we must be the party of ordinary working people 

Anna Soubry suggests that people from poor backgrounds are more likely to be overweight

"'When I go to my constituency, in fact when I walk around, you can almost now tell somebody’s background by their weight,' she said. 'Obviously, not everybody who is overweight comes from deprived backgrounds but that’s where the propensity lies.'" - Daily Telegraph

Oliver Letwin to publish plans for press regulation

Letwin"Oliver Letwin is expected this week to publish his proposals for press regulation backed by a royal charter in an effort to flush out an agreement between the main political parties in the wake of the phone hacking scandal. ... The Cabinet Office minister’s decision to put forward a royal charter rather than new legislation comes as cross-party talks between Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Labour politicians hit a stalemate." - Financial Times (£)

  • Labour wants vote on Leveson report proposals within two weeks - Guardian
  • A Sun reporter and a former police officer face corruption charges - Daily Mail
  • "Brussels was accused of a ‘flagrant attack on Press freedom’ last night after a major report proposed giving the EU draconian powers to control the media and even sack journalists." - Daily Mail

Michael Gove primes the new A-level examinations

"Under the radical plans, pupils who start their courses in September 2015 will no longer sit simpler AS-levels after one year of their course as a stepping stone to A-levels. ... Mr Gove has written to exams watchdog Ofqual revealing that he has secured the backing of the  Russell Group of top universities, including Oxford and Cambridge, to oversee the new A-levels." - Daily Mail

  • "Thousands of head teachers defied Michael Gove and closed their schools yesterday despite a warning from the Education Secretary that they should do “everything” to ensure children were being taught throughout the cold spell." - The Times (£)
  • Academy to spend £32,000 of taxpayer cash to send teachers and pupils to New York - Daily Mail
  • MPs criticise schools’ career services - Financial Times (£)

Eric Pickles highlights the cost of "problem families"

Pickles"Layabout problem families are costing taxpayers up to £100,000-a-year each, figures show today. ... Communities Secretary Eric Pickles will today declare councils can save billions of pounds a year tackling the issue." - The Sun

  • "Why our work on troubled families is so important" - Eric Pickles, Daily Telegraph

Bill Bratton tells No.10: Come and get me

"The American 'supercop' who David Cameron would like to see take charge of Scotland Yard said last night that he was ready and able to take on the biggest job in British policing." - The Times (£)

Ministers want to shake-up the honours system

"Ministers have ordered a shake-up of the honours system amid fury that Mo Farah did not get a knighthood and Jimmy Savile cannot be stripped of his. ... Tories are amazed that the civil servant at the Department of Education who is responsible for picking those who get honours was himself granted an gong this year." - Daily Mail

Nick de Bois warns that our best talents are leaving Britain

NdB"The Coalition Government is picking up the pieces of the last government’s failure, and I would suggest that it is crucial that policy experts and strategic thinkers pay close attention to this issue. Work needs to begin on keeping people here and not relying on importing others to fill the gap." - Nick de Bois MP, Daily Telegraph

Tories are miles behind Labour when it comes to support from women - Daily Mail

"A gay businessman who quit the Tories over their attitude to homosexuality is hoping to become an MP for the party." - Daily Mail

  • "Edward Leigh, the Tory MP, is calling for a change to the Equality Act to prevent a repeat of the case of a Christian housing trust manager who was demoted for airing his views on gay marriage on Facebook." - Daily Telegraph

"The Conservative group leader at Cornwall council has quit her post over the use of 'lie detector' tests on people claiming benefits." - Guardian

  • "The number of ‘snooping’ powers available to town halls and public bodies has risen despite Coalition pledges to rein them in" - Daily Mail

Nick Clegg warned that he's opening a "Royal Pandora's box" with succession changes

Nick Clegg"The Deputy Prime Minister told the Commons that rules giving precedence to men and the ban on heirs marrying Roman Catholics belonged to a ‘bygone era’. ... But MPs said the Succession to the Crown Bill was being ‘rushed’ through Parliament." - Daily Mail

  • "First-born daughters of British aristocrats should be able to inherit their fathers’ titles, one of only two female hereditary peers in the House of Lords has said." - The Times (£)

Danny Alexander says there's no need for a like-for-like Trident replacement

"In an interview with the Guardian, Alexander said MPs from all parties and senior officers in the military should accept there are 'credible and compelling alternatives' to continuous at-sea deterrence, and he warned that the Treasury did not have 'a magic pot of money' to pay for a new generation of Successor submarines." - Guardian

  • Read the full interview here
  • "Trident will not protect us" - Nick Harvey, Guardian

Labour go on the attack over social care

"David Cameron is in danger of acting in an 'extremely foolish' manner if the government introduces a cap of £75,000 on the costs of long-term care for the elderly, Labour has warned. ... the shadow social care minister, Liz Kendall, says ministers must implement a 'carefully balanced package' drawn up by an independent commission." - Guardian

  • "Fear of the grey vote has turned our politicians into cowards" - Mary Riddell, Daily Telegraph

MPs are racking up over £4 million a year in travel expenses - Daily Mail

SNP ministers want "extensive" powers over universities - Daily Telegraph

The suicide rate among men aged 45 to 59 is at its highest level for 25 years - Financial Times (£)

And finally 1)... David Cameron avoids an open mic disaster

Mic"When David Cameron last appeared at the National Television Awards, he shocked the film crew by discussing sensitive political matters with his fellow Conservative guest David Davis. The Conservative leader had to be reminded that he was on an open microphone and everyone on set was sworn to secrecy. ... Happily, no such calamity can befall the Prime Minister on Wednesday as his appearance on the awards show, which will be screened by ITV, has been pre-recorded." - the Daily Telegraph's Mandrake column

And finally 2)... is Joe Biden positioning himself for a shot at the Presidency?

Joe Biden"Joe Biden in 2016? The inauguration is barely over but the vice president already is dropping plenty of hints that he might have another political act. ... Biden packed his schedule with events and receptions attended by party stalwarts throughout the long weekend of inauguration festivities, stoking speculation he may be laying the groundwork to carry the torch from President Barack Obama." - Daily Mail

  • "Obama is far better at hope than at audacity" - Daniel Finkelstein, The Times (£)

> Yesterday on International: Thirteen thoughts on the future of American conservatism

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