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.”
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.