10 Downing Street opens up to Google Street View

Few members of the public are allowed inside Number 10 Downing Street, with the Prime Minister’s residence one of a handful of British landmarks that has remained off-limits to tourists.

But online visitors can now virtually walk its halls after a partnership with Google allowed its famous halls and rooms to be included on Google Maps’ Street View.

Users will from today be able to navigate the 332-year-old building, including the Cabinet room, the Thatcher Room – used as the late prime minister’s main office – and the rose garden, where the first press conference of 2010’s Coalition government was held.

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Britain’s Jews Embrace Appointment of Pro-Israel PM Theresa May

British-Jewish and pro-Israel groups are congratulating Home Secretary Theresa May for winning the leadership of the Conservative Party and replacing outgoing United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron, who resigned following the U.K.’s decision to leave the European Union (EU) in the Brexit referendum last month.

May takes over the role after all other candidates for the Conservative leadership exited the race earlier in the week, and after Cameron expedited his resignation to Wednesday, July 13 (he initially gave himself a three-month deadline for leaving office). May now becomes the U.K.’s second female prime minister after Margaret Thatcher. Her ascension to the post has been viewed positively by the Jewish and pro-Israel communities due to her record of support for those sectors.

Theresa May has repeatedly shown herself as “a committed and conscientious friend to both Israel and Jewish communities in the U.K.,” Paul Charney, chairman of the Zionist Federation of the United Kingdom, told JNS.org.

“We have no doubt that should the safety of either [community] come under threat, she will stand firm in our defense. Under David Cameron, the relationship between Israel and the U.K. remained warm and open, and we look forward to that positive relationship continuing under May,” he said.

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Socialism Works Until You Run Out of Other People’s Money, Then All Money

Margaret Thatcher famously said that Socialism works until you run out of other people’s money. Venezuela has run out of money. Period.

The speaker of Venezuela’s opposition-controlled National Assembly said Wednesday the legislature cannot pay lawmakers or employees because the government has failed to allocate its budget.

Leading opposition figure Henry Ramos Allup told journalists the legislature has run out of money, the latest victim of the crisis gripping the recession-racked country.

“There’s no money to pay salaries this month… because the government isn’t sending us the funds,” he said.

“Lawmakers and employees should know that if we can’t issue their paychecks, they should go to the finance ministry and the presidential palace to collect their salaries,” he added sarcastically.

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Ed Miliband is a blancmange in a hurricane

In the past 10 days the Prime Minister has been busy. As well as responding with maturity, proportion and resolution to the jihadist atrocity in Woolwich, he has been advancing on a broad front. He has secured a major negotiating success in the EU – allying with France to lift the arms embargo that hindered Syria’s democrats. He has also secured the opening of 102 new free schools designed to help children in need, ensured gay men and women at last enjoy full equality before the law and won an endorsement for his economic strategy from the IMF and the OECD – as inflation and the deficit both fell.

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Jo Johnson beats Boris to No 10

MORNING BRIEFING – By Benedict Brogan (Daily Telegraph).

Good morning. Westminster awakes to the news of a Johnson in Downing Street, at last. There are plenty of gags around, and quite a bit of excitement, on the back of Dave’s internal re-engineering of the No 10 policy machine. The appointment of Jo Johnson to run the policy unit, and alongside him a policy board of interesting MPs (including Peter Lilley), tells us that the parliamentary party is winning its long-running campaign to get Dave to pay more attention to what his backbenchers want. “The appointment of the Orpington MP is one of a series of moves designed to build bridges with the Prime Minister’s backbench critics and to capitalise on the legacy of Margaret Thatcher,” reports the Times.

 

As a measure of where power lies, it could be said to tilt it further towards the ’22 membership. But as one MP texted me last night, “when will Dave realise it’s leadership we want, not go-betweens?!” You can see the point: put the Jo J appointment alongside John Hayes as “senior” parliamentary adviser, and even the purpose-built Cabinet table extension Sue Cameron mentions, and there’s a lot of tinkering going on that gives No 10 an increasingly patchwork air. Or does if you are among those who view the shake-up with scepticism: another Old Etonian Bullingdon Oxford graduate, and – really dubious, this – a former journalist to boot.

 

Once we’ve finished with the gags about a Johnson in No 10, there’s also the Boris thing. It’s tempting to wonder if putting the MP for Orpington in a central role in the machine isn’t a deliberate tweak of the Mayor’s tail. Those Johnsons are very competitive, they say. It will be worth finding out if Johnson J will be put in charge of the manifesto, a critical position for the 2015 election. And where will he fit alongside Lynton Crosby, who has the PM’s undivided attention, and is now working nearly full time to streamline what Dave does down to a few core issues?

 

At the mid-way point of the Parliament, the policy-making focus shifts naturally back towards party HQ and preparations for the election and a second term. In No 10 the focus should be on implementing existing ideas, not necessarily cooking up new ones. Jo J has impressed his colleagues by being thoughtful, bright, smart. He’s one of a handful tipped for great things by other peers, and some talk of him as a better leadership bet than his brother. His friends are working on improving his people skills. The question for Dave, though, is one of practical politics: he may be good, but he’s new and untested. He’s investing a lot of hope and responsibility in Johnson J, for an uncertain return. Given the need to improve the No 10 operation, and give it some edge, it’s worth a try.

 

TRIPLE DIP?

 

The countdown has begun. At 9.30am the ONS will publish GDP figures for the first quarter of this year. If they are negative, George is in serious trouble. “A triple-dip recession,” the PA reports, “would take the UK into uncharted economic waters not even encountered during the dark days of the 1970s.”

Understandably, the Chancellor and the Treasury are “desperate to announce measures to restart growth,” reports the FT (£). But George is struggling to find a game changer: an extension of the Funding for Lending scheme is the latest flop.

“…if Mr Osborne thought the nation’s experts on credit supply, lending and the economy would be grateful, he had another thing coming. In a display of rare unanimity, economists and Bank of England insiders thought the scheme was welcome, but would have only a marginal effect.”

Good thing that the Chancellor is as tough as old boots. His biographer Janan Ganesh writes in the FT: “It is hard to think of a politician more indifferent to hostility – which is just as well, for surveys find him to be the least popular in the UK. If a man is already seen as rich and cocky, and then let it be known that he supports Chelsea football club, he cannot be fussy about his own public image.”

But what can be done to encourage growth? Well, David Cameron’s official spokesman, we report, says it would help if stay-at-home mothers returned to work. It’s “good for the economy” that the Coalition is helping parents to pay high nursery fees, apparently. The campaign group, Mothers at Home Matter, says the Government is “obsessed” with GDP at the expense of family life. In an hour, we’ll be reminded why.

‘DISASTROUS’ NHS

Millions of NHS patients are being forced to attend hospital A & E departments because their GPs won’t treat them outside normal working hours. In a speech this afternoon, Jeremy Hunt will say this cushy set-up for GPs is “disastrous” – and that it’s the “biggest operational challenge” facing the NHS. Our splash has the details:

The NHS is conducting a review of out-of-hours care which may lead to GPs again taking responsibility for looking after patients outside normal working hours.

Controversial changes to GPs’ contracts made under Labour in 2004 allowed them to opt out of treating patients outside normal office hours. The review could see that policy reversed.

The Health Secretary says there has been a “fundamental failure” by the NHS to care for elderly patients with long-term health conditions.

MEET MRS MILIBAND

Ed Miliband has “reached for the emergency card,” says Quentin Letts in the Mail – namely, his wife Justine, on a media-friendly visit to her old school. Quentin is impressed: “Think Cherie Blair with turbo boosters (but better ankles).” But does she risk upstaging the Labour leader? We report that she was a bit cooler than Ed at school: “During the school visit Mr Miliband was told that his wife had once jumped out of a window in order to avoid a teacher spotting her with lipstick. She also received a number of detentions for wearing a purple coat instead of the regulation black one.” Wild thing!

UKIP WARNING

Start taking Nigel Farage seriously or you’re finished. That’s the message from Plymouth University election experts, reported in the Times (£). They say Ukip is the “most serious fourth party incursion in English politics” since the Second World War and that it could take 6 per cent of the Tory vote in 2015. In the short-term, the anti-EU party “could double its councillors in the county council elections on May 2 and scupper Tory chances in hundreds of other seats”. Peter Oborne is enjoying this “marvellous chaos”: Ukip, he says, has “become a symbol of national protest against the political class and its now bankrupt methodologies of triangulation, voter targeting, focus groups, eye-catching initiatives and advertising gimmicks”.

QATADA GOES NUCLEAR

Kaboom Qatada is the Sun’s splash today. Dave is “drawing up explosive plans to ram a new law through Parliament to kick out” the radical cleric, the paper reports. But this nuclear option could “spark a huge row with Nick Clegg and his Lib Dem MPs — and may even run the risk of bringing down the Coalition”. Meanwhile, in the Commons yesterday, Theresa May told a joke. Michael Deacon sketches the momentous occasion:

Mark Reckless, Tory MP for Rochester & Strood, had been huffing and puffing about the gross injustices of the European court in Strasbourg, whose mania for human rights had foiled the Government in its efforts to deport Qatada. We couldn’t let them “move the goalposts”, he growled. The last word must go to our own Supreme Court.

Mrs May rose. She had to operate within the law, she told Mr Reckless, effortlessly teeing up her punchline. Because to break the law would be – “dare I say it” – a “reckless” move!

Reckless! Like his name! Mark Reckless!

LABOUR CIVIL WAR

Red Ed suffered a fit of rage yesterday, after Len McCluskey said he was being “seduced” by the Blairites in his shadow cabinet. Unite’s general secretary told the New Statesman: “If [Ed Miliband] gets seduced by the Jim Murphys and the Douglas Alexanders, then the truth is that he’ll be defeated and he’ll be cast into the dustbin of history.” As the Guardian reports, Ed has given him both barrels in return: “This attempt to divide the Labour Party is reprehensible. It is the kind of politics that lost Labour many elections in the 1980s. It won’t work. It is wrong. It is disloyal to the party he claims to represent.” Ouch.

CABINET TABLE AMENDMENT

Superb detail from Sue Cameron’s column. The Cabinet room is so crowded on Tuesday mornings that No 10 is having to upscale the furniture. She’s not kidding.

With 32 crowding into Cabinet, it was so hard for everyone to find a perch that some ministers had to squeeze up on the clerks’ table at the end. Now a 4ft-long section has been made to fit perfectly on to the coffin-shaped Cabinet table, originally commissioned by Harold Macmillan more than half a century ago.

TWEETS AND TWITS

A superb #accidentalpartridge from Labour’s Jonathan Reynolds:

@jreynoldsMP: There is only one thing that will improve the day I’ve had… #classic

TOP COMMENT

In the Telegraph

Peter Oborne: Ukip has thrown British politics into marvellous chaos

Nicholas Hytner: Art subsidies and War Horse

Sue Cameron: Let’s make more leg room at the Cabinet table

Allison Pearson: Nurses shouldn’t carry the bedpan for the NHS

Telegraph View: The Abu Qatada farce is scripted by our judges

Telegraph View: Labour’s welfare legacy

Best of the rest

Janan Ganesh in the FT (£): Myths surround the austerity chancellor

Chris Giles in the FT (£): A more nominal view of the UK economy

Steve Richards in the Times (£): Reheating Thatcherism won’t save Cameron

Samantha Callan in the Times (£): Strong families should lead the war on poverty

 

Martin Kettle in the Guardian: Salmond is giving unionism a shot in the arm

 

Luke Johnson in the Mail: Google is a gigantic parasite

 

THE AGENDA

 

09.00 Nick Clegg’s phone-in on LBC 97.3.

 

09.30 **Q1 GDP figures published by the ONS.** Convocation Hall, Church House.

1030 Tony Hall, the BBC’s DG, and Beeb chairman Lord Patten appear before the culture, media and sport select committee.

13.30 Eugene Kaspersky, CEO of Kaspersky Lab, gives cyber crime speech, The Connaught.

 

15.30 Jeremy Hunt speech on long-term health conditions. Church House Conference Centre, Westminster.

 

A side of Margaret Thatcher we’ve never seen

In researching the first volume of the authorised biography of Margaret Thatcher, Charles Moore conducted extensive interviews with Lady Thatcher herself, her family, friends and former colleagues, many of whom had never before spoken on the record about her. But one of his most revealing discoveries was a cache of more than 150 letters written by Margaret to her sister Muriel, most between 1940 and the early 1950s. From them emerges not just the intense student with political ambitions, but a portrait of a passionate young woman who cared about clothes and – as the extracts reproduced here show – had sometimes complicated relationships with men that she chose never to mention in later life

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A slippery slope for soapbox Ed

MORNING BRIEFING – By Benedict Brogan (Daily Telegraph).

Good Morning. Its leader might be a soapbox politician these days, but Labour’s head-and-shoulders lead over the Tories is being slowly pulled back. A succession of poor polling performances, with the party’s lead cut in both YouGov and ICM polls, was capped by last night’s Evening Standard/Ipsos MORI effort which found that only 24pc believe Ed is up to the job of being prime minister. The result is up from his 17pc rating last year, but it franks the findings of the Guardian’s ICM poll earlier in this week which put Ed’s personal popularity at an all time low. If the Independent‘s report that the two Eds will promise to outspend the Coalition plans should Labour win in 2015 were true, it would hardly help, given that polls consistently show that it debt and deficit are most salient issues for voters. But that’s a big “if” – Ed Balls’ mob call it “total rubbish”, a spin on an upcoming Fabian report and not party policy which won’t be settled until nearer the time as “‘it would be irresponsible to do otherwise, who knows where economy and public finances will be in two months’ let alone two years’ time?”

But without headline policies for the here and now, other than opposition to welfare cuts of all stripes, the party gives the appearance of twisting in the wind. This morning’s papers prove the point. The Mail reports on an interview Ed gave to a Left wing website in which he positioned himself as the heir to Margaret Thatcher’s “utter consistency of ideas” and attacked David Cameron’s “lack of consistency”. However, in a speech at Labour’s Scottish party conference in Inverness today, he will pledge to tear up Lady Thatcher‘s legacy of “deregulation; the dominance of finance over industry; allowing large private sector vested interests to flourish; government getting out of the way in the economy,” as we report. Where’s the consistency with the Ed who was going to “save capitalism from itself” only last September? Besides which, as a Compass report, noted in the Guardian, explains this morning, “there is yet to be [public] intellectual ferment around responsible capitalism or reformed social democracy.” What ails voters is the deficit.

Next week may be more difficult still for the Labour leader. The re-emergence of activist trade unionism is a gift to the Conservatives at a time when the party needs little excuse to indulge one of its periodic transformations into a 1980s tribute band. The Times (£) reports that union backed candidates have secured the “plum [Labour] seats” in the future European Parliament elections. That looming presence, plus the threat of a General Strike being called at next Wednesday’s meeting of the TUC General Council, may yet give the Tories the opportunity to reprise one of their greatest hits. One way or another, we may soon find out just how red Ed is.

OSBORNE THOROUGHLY IMF’D

Under promise, over deliver. That’s clearly Mark Carney‘s strategy prior to taking up the keys to the Bank of England vaults. As we report, the next governor placed the UK in “the pack of crisis economies” being left behind by a resurgent America at a fringe meeting around the IMF and World Bank spring meetings in Washington yesterday. “Can central banks provide sustainable growth? No,” he continued. “They can help with the transition, but they can’t deliver long term growth. That needs to come through true fiscal adjustments and necessary structural reforms… Sustainable growth comes from the private sector.” It’s an endorsement of the Chancellor’s fiscal vision, but it suggests that his hopes for a monetary bounce in the meantime may be overdone.

Before Mr Carney takes his post, there is the small matter of June’s annual visit by IMF officials to be negotiated. Relations between the two would not have been helped by Christine Lagarde’s speech yesterday, which the Guardian reports included her assertion that she “vividly remembered” the Chancellor’s shame at the size of his deficit. The FT (£) believes the Treasury are up for the fight, noting that “George Osborne is to go toe-to-toe” with the IMF if they call for an end to his deficit reduction strategy. As Jeremey Warner writes, the Chancellor feels that Ms Lagarde’s position is on shakier ground than those cheering her on from the opposition benches might suppose:

“Why is the UK being asked to go back to fiscal expansionism when there are no such demands made of Germany? Why, too, is Britain being told to let rip when much harsher fiscal consolidation is being urged on countries in the eurozone with smaller fiscal deficits. It makes no sense, unless explained as traditional French Anglophobia…”

Even allowing for Anglo-French rivalry, the Chancellor’s supporters have a tougher task on their hands now. Polly Toynbee argues in the Guardian that the statistical errors in the model of Harvard economists Professor Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff have “blown the austerians case out of the water”. With the academics discredited and the IMF deeply sceptical, one by one, the stilts holding up the house which George built are being gradually kicked away.

END OF THE ROAD FOR THE MOD SQUAD?

Senior ministers have urged Dave to ditch the modernisation project and emulate Margaret Thatcher by giving voters “red meat” on immigration and welfare, we report. That advice isn’t easy to square with Lord Ashcroft’s latest findings. As the Mail reports, he notes that only 16pc of non-white voters supported the Tories the last time around. Only 30pc of Asian voters believe that the Tories share their values, and 16pc of black voters. On the plus side, 51pc have never heard of Enoch Powell or the Rivers of Blood speech. Even so, with this segment of the electorate increasingly influential, the Prime Minister may have cause to think again before throwing any red meat on immigration to the Tory wolves.

SCHOOLS IN FOR SUMMER

It’s no wonder the Tories are opposed to votes at 16. Michael Gove’s speech at the Spectator Education Conference yesterday would have made him decidedly unpopular among the nation’s children. As we report, the Education Secretary called for an end to Britain’s “19th century” education system, a move which means extending the school day and curtailing school holidays.

If that causes long faces in the classroom, the good news is that there’s a sweetener. Britain’s best performing pupils will receive…a letter from David Willetts, the Times (£) reports.

CIVIL SERVICE FLYNN-FLAM

The Telegraph article by Sir Bob Kerslake and Sir Jeremy Heywood paying tribute to Baroness Thatcher which appeared last week has left Labour’s Paul Flynn very cross indeed, as the Times (£) reports. When the pair appeared at the Commons Public Administration Committee yesterday, an “incorrigibly vivid” (in Quentin Letts‘ words) Mr Flynn let rip telling them they had “prostituted” their office with their “entirely sycophantic” words. As Michael Deacon reports, he was most uncivil to the civil servants:

“Such was Mr Flynn’s disgust that he addressed the objects of his ire as ‘Mr Kerslake’ and ‘Mr Heywood’, even though the nameplates on their table clearly read ‘Sir Bob’ and ‘Sir Jeremy’.”

HEALTH TOURISTS CRACKDOWN

NHS numbers entitling non-UK residents to NHS care should be handed out far more sparingly, Jeremy Hunt tells the Mail. Instead, visitors should be issued with only a temporary number which would lead to them being charged for anything other than emergency care, the Health Secretary said. The Sun adds that a consultation is expected in the next couple of months.

ALLEGED PCC WHISTLE-BLOWERS ARRESTED

MPs have called on Theresa May to intervene after the arrest of a third person in Cumbria Police’s investigation into the alleged leak of PCC Richard Rhodes’ expenses to a local newspaper. As we report, Tim Farron and Jamie Reed have both called for protection to be extended to any whistle-blowers involved.

TWEETS AND TWITS

Tracey Crocuch has been making the most of the Commons dining subsidies:

@LiamFoxMP:Nothing says “I ate too much for lunch” than a midriff button pinging off your shirt…#chubbytummy

TOP COMMENT

In the Telegraph

Fraser Nelson: Will Gove’s schools revolution be just another false start?

Jeremy Warner: This is no time to go wobbly, Christine

Alistair Osborne: Has the world lost its lust for gold?

Telegraph View: Teaching unions put adults first, children last

Best of the Rest

Philip Collins in The Times (£): Small solutions should be Miliband’s big idea

Samuel Brittan in the FT (£): Thatcher was right – there is no such thing as society

Leo McKinstry in the Daily Express: So what would Mrs Thatcher do for Britain now?

Polly Toynbee in The Guardian: Osborne’s case for austerity has just started to wobble

THE AGENDA

08:30 am: Scotland Secretary Michael Moore is to deliver a speech at the Scottish Council for Development and Industry. RBS HQ, Gogarburn, Edinburgh.

09:00 am: Ed Balls on LBC 97.3.

09:00 am: Scottish Labour conference. Speeches from Labour leader Ed Miliband, Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander, former chancellor Alistair Darling and Scottish Labour deputy leader Anas Sarwar. Eden Court, Inverness.

09:30 am: Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) releases its lending estimate for March.