MORNING BRIEFING – By Benedict Brogan (Daily Telegraph).
It is proving to be a difficult spring for George Osborne. Today he faces sniping from his own side and questions from Lord Leveson. The Chancellor will be on display – and potentially not in a flattering light – at the inquiry (he’s on after Gordon Brown who starts at 10am).
This morning’s headlines are uncomfortable for him. A small but vocal number of Tory MPs are pursuing a campaign against him which, they claim, reflects the disillusionment of a wider number of backbenchers who think the Chancellor no longer cuts the mustard. Following his intervention on Sunday when he warned that the euro crisis was putting Europe at risk of long term stagnation, his colleagues have attacked him for using the euro as an excuse for his poor performance.
Outspoken Eurosceptic Douglas Carswell started it with a blog post on his website Talk Carswell titled “The Chancellor has it 180 degrees wrong”. The Independent has an interview with him in today’s paper. Mr Carswell makes some further stinging rebukes of Dave and George’s administration – but also of Parliament calling it “supine, spineless, dominated by spivery and spivs”.
David Ruffley, another Tory MP and member of the Treasury Select Committee also added his concerns: “We can’t just say the eurozone is destroying confidence in the UK and nothing can be done.”
The Treasury will doubtless point out that Mr Carswell hardly represents the Tory mainstream, but that would be to miss the point: his latest outburst is the public tip of a bigger iceberg.
We’ve put “Stop blaming the eurozone crisis, Tories tell George Osborne” on the front page – as has the FT with “Osborne told to stop using eurozone alibi”. The story is also carried in the Mail and Guardian. The Mail has put a column by Alex Brummer beneath its story on this, saying “He can’t blame Europe for all our problems”.
The Chancellor gives his Mansion House speech on Thursday, which gives him a chance to turn things around. And it gets worse: have a look at what Grayson Perry says about him in Mandrake.
Leveson will be gripping this week, at least for those in the village. Today it’s one of Westminster’s longest running grudges marches in parade, with Gordon Brown and Mr Osborne both up.
And this is while the Coalition tensions bite again. On Dispatches, Lib Dem Lord Oakeshott said “Clearly Mr Hunt should have resigned some time ago” – you can read our report here.
Vince Cable, however, seems to have gone in for some compromise. The FT reportsthat he will pledge to make it easier to fire people today through ‘compromise agreement’ rather than the ‘no fault dismissal’ plans laid out in the Beecroft report.
And there’s more bad news for George, the Times (£) has splashed on a poll showing that 80 per cent Brits want a referendum on Europe – with 50 per cent of those thinking it should happen straight away.
But is it good for us? In a surprising turn, the Guardian reports that Open Europe – a Eurosceptic think tank – believes we should stay in the EU. An exit would pose “unpredictable political and economic risks.
And Tory MP George Eustice agrees. In a piece for the Guardian, he argues that it’s better to reform the EU from the inside.
Labour could be profiting from this news run today, but instead there are few embarrassing stories about them.
The Mail reports that the Shadow Chancellor ordered a survey – costing thousands of pounds – into whether or not people like him.
Labour party sources said the results found that Mr Balls is still seen as a turn-off by many, both politically and personally. The Mail on Sunday commissioned its own survey – and it showed that Mr Balls is seen as ‘uninspiring, untrustworthy and unlikeable’. Oh dear.
MAKE BRADFORD LABOUR?
Ed Balls will be relieved that Ed Miliband also looks silly. The Guardian reports that he visited Bradford on the Saturday to speak to those who switched from voting Labour to Respect.
He met with a group of Muslim women, one of whom had been on the TV show “Make Bradford British” – a much-criticised reality TV experiment that stoked racial tensions in the West Yorkshire city. He responded “Great!” He’d clearly not watched it.
MAY V JUDGES
Theresa May has clearly regained her mojo after the dates debacle – today’s she’s making a statement on immigration rules in the House at 3.30pm. The Mail says she’s “declared war on judges who refuse to deport foreign criminals because of their human rights” and the Guardian says she’s “ready for showdown”.
They report that she would seek the backing of parliament to give priority to deportation above the right to family life enshrined in article 8 of the European convention on human rights.
LEAVING NANCY BEHIND
And finally, perhaps Dave should be ‘chillaxing’ more – the stress of the job is clearly getting to him. The Sun has splashed on a story about how he left his daughter Nancy behind in a pub on the weekend.
An “insider” from the pub said: “You’d have thought someone would have done a headcount or something.”
TWEETS AND TWITS
PPS Conor Burns tweets:
“@Conor_BurnsMP: Just having a drink with Lady T and going through the Sunday papers”
Wonder what she made of George’s ‘blame the eurozone’ piece in yesterday’s Telegraph?
Latest YouGov/Sunday Times: Conservatives 34%, Labour 42%, Lib Dems 7%, UKIP 9%
The Independent has splashed on a poll that shows
In The Telegraph
Boris Johnson: Hail Mayor Mike and the paper cups that will not runneth over
Andrew Gilligan: London Olympics 2012: get set for the gridlock games
Leader:Michael Gove is right: we must do better
Leader: The world is watching
Best of the rest
Alex Brummer in the Mail: George Osborne can’t blame Europe for all our problems
George Eustice in the Guardian: Britain can do better than leave the EU. We can change it
Mary Ann Sieghart in the Independent: A referendum is coming. So why doesn’t Cameron take the lead?
Ian Birrell in the Guardian: The Tories are becoming the ‘nasty party’ on immigration
Today: Parliament returns from break.
Today: Annual conference of the GMB union. Brighton Centre.
10am: Gordon Brown and George Osborne at Leveson Inquiry. The Royal Courts of Justice, The Strand, London
2.30pm: Defence questions.
3.30pm: Theresa May makes a Commons statement on immigration. House of Commons.