MORNING BRIEFING – By Benedict Brogan (Daily Telegraph).
Dave jets off for the Gulf this morning on a mission to build bridges with the region’s rulers and then sell them 100 Typhoon fighter jets. An estimated £6bn of arms contracts could be up for grabs when the Prime Minister inspects British jets with the rulers of the United Arab Emirates at Al Minhad airbase this afternoon. The Guardian reports that he will be accompanied by only two newswire reporters, a cameraman, a producer and a photographer. Number 10 claims it had difficulties chartering a plane for the trip, but in the Lobby there is suspicion that Mr Cameron – and specifically Dr Dre – are intent on keeping denizens of the Burma Road away from foreign trips because they cause too much trouble. Those organisations that have reporters in the Gulf to cover the tour had to make their own arrangements, and keep out of Saudi Arabia, which is the second stop on his itinerary.
US ELECTION GOES TO THE WIRE
Downing Street has largely kept its nose clean in the race for the White House, despite strong suspicions that if Number 10 had a vote, it would be going in the Democrat column. As ever, though, Iain Duncan Smith has positioned himself to the right of his leader, attacking the “appalling demonisation” of Mitt Romney in the British media. Speaking on Pienaar’s Politics, IDS also pointed out that under Barack Obama, the US deficit had “gone from something like 4-500 billion dollars to three or so trillion dollars,” ITV reports.
Mr Romney is at least getting a better show in the British press as the final day of campaigning gets under way. In the Times (£), Tim Montgomerie argues that David Cameron will have lessons to learn whoever emerges victorious:
“The most important will be the danger of demonising your opponent and that opponent then confounding the caricature in the election debates. Elected four years ago on a visionary ticket of hope and change, Mr Obama has run one of the most negative re-election campaigns yet seen…If Mr Romney does eventually win it will because these attacks were monstrously over the top.”
Catch up with all our coverage of the election here.
MORE TROUBLE AFOOT IN THE LORDS
I mentioned last week a contretemps in the Lords involving the Lib Dems. The Government has suspended plans to proceed with its electoral registration Bill while it tries to work out what the Lib Dems are up to and why they are intent on helping Labour defeat the Government on the boundary review. This one is getting messy.
NO MORE BLUE SKY THINKING AT NUMBER 10
Steve Hilton is unlikely to be returning to the Prime Minister’s side any time soon, the Times (£) reports. The strategy guru had sounded out friends on the idea of returning to London to open a Hungarian restaurant, but will now stay on the West Coast of the USA for the time being, extending his one year sabbatical.
EU’RE BECOMING A BORE
The maneuverings over the EU drag on still. Over the weekend an anonymous minister was reported to have been close to resignation after Dave refused to back calls for a budget cut. IDS has hinted at a future in/out referendum in his weekend interviews, as the Telegraph reports. Support for such a move will be bolstered should the Mail‘s prediction that British growth will eclipse continental growth over the next two years. In the Sun, Trevor Kavanagh writes that Britain is on the way out, but Mr Cameron must leave quietly:
“Britain is surely on the way out, but it cannot afford to be blamed for bringing the roof down as it goes. We need a relationship with our European trading partners once the crisis has burned itself out. We need to pick our moment.”
RELAUNCHING THE LIFEBOATS
In any case, the Coalition are keen to show that they don’t just do European division. They do progressive social policy, too. Hence Nick Clegg’s ‘nannies for everyone’ programme trailed on the front page of today’s Telegraph. Mr Clegg told supporters that the state will step in to ease the “nightmare” costs of childcare in an informal letter to party supporters. Dave, meanwhile, is to “announce the creation of new NHS bi0tech brain clinics”, the Mail reports. Meanwhile in many of the papers, the Fire Brigade Union tries a rebranding exercise of its own, with an unflattering picture of Dave n’ George beneath the headline: “they slash, you burn”. No prizes for guessing their attitude to the cuts, then.
VON ROMPUY SNUBS SNP
When even Herman Van Rompuy doesn’t want to know, you’re in trouble. In a Q&A broadcast, the EU President warned Alex Salmond and co that “nobody has anything to gain from separatism”, the Guardian reports. Sources close to the President also confirmed that Scotland would definitely need to re-apply for EU membership in the event of a ‘yes’ vote, by no means a foregone conclusion given Spanish hostility to independence north of the border. A sobering warning for Scottish nationalists then, they wouldn’t just lose the English, it would be Belgians, Hungarians and Latvians too…
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: SUNDAY BEST
From Andrew Rawnsley’s Observer column
“It is an interesting fact about Mr Miliband that, more than two years into his time as Labour leader, he has not made a single speech about Europe. Allying himself with the Tory rebels did not mark a radical new departure in Labour thinking. There was an opportunity to defeat the government and hurt the prime minister that was just too tempting to resist.”
From James Forsyth’s Mail on Sunday column
However, some of those close to Cameron argue that once the constraints of Coalition are off, the level of his Euroscepticism will end up surprising us. A Minister who knows him well says: ‘We have become more Eurosceptic in Government.’ Every day Cameron and co confront the problems thrown up by the current terms of Britain’s EU membership.
From Matthew D’Ancona’s column in the Sunday Telegraph:
Away from the banana skins, however, Downing Street was forging quiet links with the Romney team, mindful that what Cameron and Obama call the “essential relationship” between the two nations is too important to jeopardise in any way. John Major did so when Conservative researchers tried to help George Bush Sr win re-election by investigating Bill Clinton’s past as an Oxford student. The lesson has been learnt.
TWEETS AND TWITS
Michael Fabricant socialises with the enemy:
@mike_fabricant: “Having been bought a drink by the #Corby UKIP team, am I corrupted? Oh, I do hope so!!”
In The Telegraph
Malcolm Moore – All change in China
Boris Johnson – Listen up, Mitt – because I’ve got the key to the White House
Charles Moore – The wit and warmth of our royal correspondent
Telegraph View – A ‘living wage’ must be earned, not imposed
Best of the Rest
Trevor Kavanagh in The Sun – We’re on way out of EU but PM must rein in the rebels
Melanie Phillips in the Daily Mail – Millions of lonely people: the tragic legacy of the Left’s war on families
Tim Montgomerie in The Times (£) – Vote Mitt: the world needs this deal-maker
Jackie Ashley in The Guardian – Labour must not let Britain drift into a European exit
09:00 am: Mayor of London, Boris Johnson to announce the new London Living Wage. The mayor will be joined by employers, borough leaders and representatives of the Living Wage Foundation to announce the new rate. The Chamber, City Hall, The Queen’s Walk.