David Cameron turns 49 today, and he’s celebrating his birthday by having Angela Merkel around to Chequers for dinner and to talk about his EU renegotiation bid. Will the Chancellor have a present to offer her British counterpart? The noises from Berlin suggest Merkel would love to, if only she knew what was on his wish-list. “Germans like to know exactly what the details are. Then we can tick the boxes,” one told this newspaper.
Faced with resistance from other countries like France, Merkel will be a key ally for Cameron in his fight for EU reform. “Mr Cameron needs to talk frankly with Mrs Merkel about reclaiming British sovereignty and the UK’s freedom to compete,” we say. However, the migrant crisis has demanded more of her attention, so progress has been limited. After months discussing the principles of EU reform, Britain is expected to start detailed renegotiations after the Polish elections on October 25.
Meanwhile, a new pro-Brexit campaign – “Vote Leave” – has sprung up, which is backed by major business people, Conservative donors and MPs from across the political divide. Reebok founder Joe Foster said he supports the campaign as he fears Britain’s ability to “trade globally…is being severely constrained by its membership of the EU”. Many Tory MPs are backing it, including Steve Baker and Owen Paterson, while Kate Hoey is leading the Labour cohort and Douglas Carswell has added his support. The group has stolen a march on those who want Britain to stay in the EU, who are set to launch their campaign shortly. It also risks sparking divisions among Eurosceptics as it takes on the Ukip-dominated group “Leave.EU” in the race to become the official “leave” campaign for the referendum. After Carswell’s failure to back this group led to him being rebuked by Nigel Farage for his “residual loyalties” to the Conservatives, his support for a rival campaign will only fuel tensions between Ukip’s two biggest figures.
The “Vote Leave” campaign has released a new ICM poll to mark its launch, which found that most (53%) voters will back a campaign to leave the EU unless Cameron brings back a good enough deal. However, another poll – by Survation – suggests that very few voters (27%) think he can win a good deal for Britain. The Prime Minister will be striving to prove his doubters wrong.
“We have sent billions to the EU each year and got little in return.” Reebok founder Joe Foster
Corbyn’s Big Mo
Senior Labour MPs have warned a new campaign group set up by supporters of Jeremy Corbyn, called Momentum, is a “threat to sitting MPs”. Meanwhile, a poll has found that a third of voters think the Labour leader – who now gets access to secret briefings as part of the Privy Council – has a “security-threatening, terrorist-sympathising, Britain-hating” ideology. This shows that attacks on Corbyn’s patriotism are hitting home, I’ve argued.
Hunt: Twitter Isn’t Britain
Tristram Hunt is preparing to lay into Jeremy Corbyn by warning that his leadership, and his followers’ reliance on social media, risks luring Labour into “being the relentless outsider”.
Gears Of War
Nato said it was prepared to send troops to Turkey to defend its ally after violations of Turkish airspace by Russian jets bombing Syria, as Britain scolded Moscow for escalating a civil war that has already killed 250,000 people. This comes as US officials claimed four cruise missiles fired at Syria from a Russian ship in the Caspian Sea had crashed in Iran.
Hunting For Witches
Boris Johnson, who has overall charge of the Metropolitan Police, has asked Britain’s most senior policeman to explain the “completely unacceptable” delay in telling the widow Lord Brittan that he had been cleared of a rape allegation. “The pursuit of wrongdoing should not degenerate into a witch hunt more appropriate to Salem town in 17th century Massachusetts.,” Norman Lamont writes in today’s paper.
Michelle Thomson – the Edinburgh West MP whose property dealings are the subject of a police investigation over potential mortgage fraud – was due to play a “starring role” alongside Nicola Sturgeon and John Swinney winning over the business community at next week’s SNP conference, Labour has said.
David Cameron risks a “double betrayal” of Scotland if his government fails to make urgent changes to the package of new powers for Holyrood, Gordon Brown has warned.