Morning Briefing – The Telegraph

Good morning. The European Union has handed Britain a £1.7 billion bill after a recalculation of members states’ fortunes. “EU makes Britain pay for recovery” is our splash. “EU orders Britain to pay £1.7bn surcharge” says the Times. “Brussels Asks UK For More Cash” rages the Mail. “Brussels demands €2bn from UK after economy outpaces EU rivals” is the scrupulously exact angle taken by the FT.

The figures are calculated from 1995, which means that crisis-hit Greece is among the nations handed a bigger bill from the EU while Germany will receive a €0.78bn rebate. As you can imagine, Downing Street are absolutely thrilled. Similarly cheesed off is Mark Rutte of the Netherlands, also handed a bigger bill at the eleventh hour, who is considering legal action. The PM will seek to build an alliance against the charge.

It’s only darkened the mood around an already acrimonious summit. Also on the agenda: getting the 18 European nations who have given less to the fight against Ebola than Ikea and the overall hike in the European budget for 2015. (Matt Holehouse has the details) But with clashes already to come over the European Arrest Warrant, probable defeat in Rochester & Strood, the last thing the PM needs is another Brussels-induced headache.

COMING OVER HERE

Closer to home, European discomfort is also available in a tasteful shade of red. Ed Miliband has pledged a five-point plan to tackle immigration on the campaign trail in Rochester & Strood. Border checks on arrival and departure, tougher regulation of the labour market to prevent abuse and a requirement that all public sector workers are among the plans. “Immigration, immigration, immigration” is the Indy’s splash. None of the announcements are new, but there’s a perception, fairly or unfairly, that when the Shadow Cabinet talks tough Ed Miliband doesn’t mean it – hence the anguish over the Labour leader’s reiteration of policies already laid out by Yvette Cooper.

It’s re-opened the Opposition’s internal divisions over immigration. “From thinking the unthinkable to reannouncing the unworkable,” a Shadow Cabinet source tells me, while Diane Abbot tweets that Labour will fighting the election “on Ukip’s turf”.

THE WOOLF AT BAY

Nick Clegg backed Fiona Woolf’s ability to head the child abuse inquiry on his LBC phone-in yesterday. Ms Woolf could use some more friends. With the inevitability of an unloved season, Keith Vaz has entered the scene. His select committee is writing to Ms Woolf to “about how much time she has to do this very important job,” he told the World at One. “If she feels that she doesn’t have the confidence of the victims and others, then I’m sure she will make her decision in her own way.”

A BLIND EYE

Parents should be able to take their children on holiday during school terms without being threatened with fines or arrest, the Local Government Association said yesterday. The body, which represents councilors and other officials, says that while it agrees with the Government’s conviction that every child should be in school ever day, there were occasions when parents’ requests should be considered: such as religious festivals, weddings, funerals or a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity”. Chris Hope and Peter Dominiczak have the story.

NICK CLEGG VERSUS THE WORLD

A chorus of anger is growing at the release of police killer Harry Roberts, who was jailed for life in 1966 after murdering three police officers and has now been granted parole. Theresa May, Boris Johnson and the head of the Met, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe are among those calling for “life to mean life” in this case and for the parole board to think again. But the DPM has defended the process to release the 78-year-old. “It’s not about my feelings, it’s about how the justice system works,” Mr Clegg said, “If you want to run the system according to the latest emotion you feel, fine, but that would be a disaster.”

PRIMARY COLOURS

Kelly Tollhurst, a local councilor, has been selected as the Conservative candidate in the open primary to pick a standard-bearer in the battle against Mark Reckless in Rochester & Strood, winning by just 50 vote, Laura Pitel reports in the Times. The party will be disappointed by the fact that just 5,668 voters participated in the contest between Ms Tollhurst and Anna Firth, a former barrister, suggesting a lack of enthusiasm locally for the campaign.

MORE GLAMOUR FOR GEORGE

Another celebrity endorsement for the Chancellor. Hot on the heels of Sol Campbell, who is now considering a permanent transfer to the Conservative Party to oppose Labour’s plans for the mansion tax, Russell Brand has come out for the lowest rate of corporation tax in the G8. “With a 20% profit tax on Tesco per quarter, you could build a hospital in Leeds,” Mr Brand told the Guardian’s Owen Jones.

Internet chiefs told to curb Islamists online

Internet providers have been warned that the Government will force them to remove extremist material, as it emerged that a British hate preacher had influenced the man behind the attack on the Canadian parliament.

Senior British executives from Twitter, Google and Facebook were summoned to Downing Street on Thursday and told to do more to take action to curb the online activities of extremists.

The Daily Telegraph can disclose that the Home Office and Crown Prosecution Service are in talks about using court orders to ensure that internet providers such as BT and Virgin immediately remove extremist propaganda.

More…

EU makes Britain pay for recovery

David Cameron is fighting to stop Britain being forced to pay an extra £1.7 billion to the European Union due to the success of the British economy.

The Prime Minister was ambushed with a demand from the European Commission for the extra cash because Britain’s economy has performed better than other economies in Europe since 1995.

The bill is due on December 1 and Mr Cameron is particularly enraged because Brussels accountants are also preparing to give France back £790 million as its economy performed less well than Britain’s.

More…

Lord Tebbit: Unemployed youngsters should pull up roadside weeds for benefits

Unemployed youngsters should pull roadside weeds in exchange for benefits, a former Conservative cabinet minister has said.

Lord Tebbit said East Anglian landowners were plagued by ragwort and suggested Neets – people not in education, employment, or training – should help tackle the problem.

The controversial proposal came in a letter to Buglife, an environmental charity which has raised concerns about ragwort, and has been branded “Victorian” by one Labour MP.

More…

UK: Political Earthquake Next May?

The United Kingdom Independence Party [UKIP] not only managed to halve the Conservative vote, but also the Labour Vote and the Liberal Democrat vote.

UKIP stands for small government, low taxes, and preservation of Britain’s identity and sovereignty, values that appeal to Conservative voters; and it wants to pull the United Kingdom out of the European Union. UKIP also stands for strong policies on law and order and immigration, which appeal to the traditional old Labour heartlands.

Strategically, to pick up Labour votes, UKIP would need to move to the left, but examples in France, Switzerland, Denmark and Geert Wilders’s PVV in the Netherlands, show that it is possible to attract voters from both the left and the right.

More…

What China Sees in Hong Kong

Democratic evolution in China was being seriously considered. The failures of U.S. support for democracy in Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt and Libya gave new food for thought to those opposed to democracy. Lastly, the United States did not strongly oppose the anti-democratic coup d’état that overthrew a democratically elected government in Thailand.

On the other hand, Russia — dominated by Vladimir Putin, a new autocrat determined to stifle democracy in Russia — provided a new model.

The whole of Eastern Europe and most of Latin America, formerly in the clutches of dictatorships, are now efficient democracies. This seems to indicate that while democracy cannot be parachuted into a country, there is a broader, longer-term global trend toward democracy and that its growth depends on local conditions.

As economic development needed careful planning, political reforms need even greater planning. The question remains: is China preparing for these political reforms?

More…

Morning Briefing – The Telegraph

Good morning. Is it all over in Rochester & Strood? A new ComRes poll has Ukip 13 points clear of the Conservatives, who will announce the winner of their postal primary today. The numbers are: Ukip 43% Conservatives 30% Labour 21% Greens 3% Liberal Democrats 3%. The usual health warnings apply about one-off polls: but it comes off the back of the increasing bullishness from Ukip about their chances of adding a second MP to their ranks in as many months. Remember, too, that ComRes’s detailed poll of Scottish Borders called the referendum result correctly for that region.

Below the headline figures are more causes for Conservative misery. Voters are divided 4 in 10 Tory voters from 2010 are now supporting Ukip. Ukip voters divide 65% to 30% against the proposition that a vote for Ukip might mean Ed Miliband becomes Prime Minister. Just 30% of Ukip voters by the PM’s referendum pledge against 68% who don’t believe it. But it’s not all good news for Labour, who have lost 30% of their 2010 vote to Ukip against 39% from the Conservatives. (57% of the Ukip vote comes from non-voters; James Kirkup crunches the numbers around those who stayed at home in 2010 here)

But forget the old parties, what about that Nigel Farage, eh? He must be feeling pretty chipper, eh? Not so fast. ComRes polling confirms that it’s not just Rochester where Ukip is usurping the Tories – the People’s Army are now seen as the nastiest party by a plurality (32%) of voters. A slew of poll results suggest that support for a British exit from the European Union is waning, with IpsosMori showing support for the EU at its highest level since 1991. YouGov’s EU referendum tracker continues to show a small average lead for the status quo – it’s 40% – 39% this month.

That Ukip might do more harm than good to the prospects of the Out campaign has been a long-time fear among its supporters – here’s Dan Hannan from July of this year – and those worries now look to be justified. If, as looks increasingly likely, Ukip continue to flourish, their most significant impact may be a movement of British popular opinion towards Europe and Ed Miliband in Downing Street.

SUPERMASSIVE BLACK HOLE (1)

The NHS needs an £8bn funding boost, major reforms and a “radical upgrade” in unhealthy lifestyles to survive into the 21st Century, NHS supremo Simon Stevens has said. Among the plans: a breakdown of the separation between hospitals and general practitioners, with consultants and mental health professionals playing a more active role earlier on in treatment. “NHS needs £8bn extra, says chief (some of it to lose weight” is our take. “Price of saving the NHS: £8bn extra by 2020″ is the Guardian’s splash. “NHS: the £8bn black hole” warns the Times’ frontpage. It’s Mr Stevens’ calls for the NHS to pay obese people if they lose weight that has caught the Mirror’s eye, though: “NHS Will Pay Fat People To Lose Weight” is their headline.

WORKING MOTHERS

“Osborne gets mothers back to work” is our splash. Hundreds of thousands of stay-at-home mothers will be encouraged to get back to work under government plans to reform childcare and give Britain one of the highest rates of female employment in the world. The number of women in paid work has increased by more than 771,000 since 2010 to a record 14.4 million. Laura Perrins, a former barrister and now part of the Mothers at Home Matter campaign group, isn’t pleased: “Only a bean counter would make it government policy.” “No woman should have to choose between their career and their family,” Nicky Morgan says.

SUPERMASSIVE BLACK HOLE (2)

The three main political parties are not being honest with voters about the costs of austerity, the IPPR, a left-leaning think-tank, warns. Labour has detailed only “a very small proportion” of the cuts needed to eliminate the deficit by 2020 – the freeze in child benefit is worth a mere £100m according to the IPPR – while their additional tax plans have largely been allocated to additional spending. The Conservatives’ conference announcements leaves that party with “a bigger job to do on deficit reduction than they had at the beginning of the conference season”, the IPPR says. The full details are here.

PM’S PLANS, JUNCKED

Jean-Claude Juncker says he is “not willing to compromise” on the issue of free movement in a direct threat to the PM’s pledge to make control of migration a red line in his renegotiation with the European Union, Bruno Waterfield and Peter Dominczak report. M Juncker said: “I am not prepared to change. If we are destroying the freedom of movement other freedoms will fall. I am not willing to compromise.” Meanwhile, the UK accepts three times the amount of non-EU migrants than any other member state, Duncan Robinson and Gavin Jackson say in the FT.

BUDGET BATTLES

The PM will demand “downward pressure” on the EU’s budget today at a meeting of the European Council, after the European Parliament voted to ask for an additional 6.4 billion euros for the 2015 budget, the Times reports. “The EU appears impervious to reform of any sort,” our leader growls, adding, “in such circumstances, it is hardly surprising that anti-EU parties…are making such headway.”

SMITH TALKS

The Smith Commission, the all-party group tasked with agreeing the shape of Scotland’s increased powers, has met for the first time in discussions that Lord Smith, the commission’s head, described as “constructive”. There will be a media black-out on the progress of the talks, with only the full agreement, if one is forthcoming, announced towards the end of November. James Cusick has the the details in the Indy.

BAD WOOLF

“Oops! Silly Me!” is the Mail’s splash. A photograph that appears to show Fiona Woolf with Lady Brittan at an awards ceremony in October 2013 will increase the pressure on Ms Woolf, who had told MPs that she had had no social contact with the Brittans since April 2013. Meanwhile, a legal challenge is being mounted by abuse victims to her appointment as head of the inquiry into historic child sexual abuse, the Guardian reports.

SQUIFFY RETURNS

The great-grandson of HH Asquith, the first Prime Minister to reform the House of Lords will sit as a Liberal Democrat peer following a by-election after the death of one of the remaining 92 hereditary peers. The Earl of Oxford and Asquith succeeds Lord Methuen, who died in July. Jamie Ross handily explains the contest over at BuzzFeed.

CALYPSO COOLER

Controversial earworm “the Ukip calypso” has been withdrawn from sale at the request of Mike Read, the composer and performer, who apologised for “unintentionally causing offence” with his fake Jamaican accent and references to “illegal immigrants in every town”. But Ukip’s attempts to find an alternate home for the revenue have led them into a confrontation with the Red Cross, who have said they will not take the money as the song is party political, Georgia Graham reports. “As a neutral organisation, we cannot benefit from something which overtly supports one political party,” a spokesperson said, “In addition, the Red Cross has a proud history of helping refugees and asylum seekers who are negatively referred to in the lyrics.”

PHILIP DAVIES FEELING FOR SNOW

Philip Davies has described a confrontation between him and veteran broadcaster Jon Snow behind-the-scenes at Channel 4 News. “You’re past your best,” the MP for Shipley said. “At least I had a best,” Mr Snow replied. Anita Singh has the story.