Morning Briefing – The Telegraph

Good morning.

Theresa May’s backing for the expansion of Heathrow airport drove Zac Goldsmith last night to go through with his promise to resign his seat and prompt a by-election over the issue. He sought to go out with a bang by furiously denouncing the decision in the Commons, warning that it would be a “millstone around the Government’s next for many years”, although Michael Deacon was left thoroughly underwhelmed. “As protests go, this was meeker than Ovaltine,” he writes. “[Transport Secretary] Grayling may have feared he would be savaged by a pitbull. Instead he was nibbled by a lamb.”

Goldsmith has been one of Parliament’s most prominent anti-Heathrow campaigners, and has pledged to use the Richmond Park by-election as a “referendum” on airport expansion. But there may not be much debate given that his main rival, the Liberal Democrats’ Sarah Olney, agrees with him on the issue and the Tories are not fielding anyone against him, so there won’t be a pro-Government pro-Heathrow option. So this may mean other issues rise up the agenda, like Brexit, which the Lib Dems are eager to exploit in the hopes of taking back the seat they represented from 1997 to 2010. “We threw the kitchen sink at Witney,” one senior Lib Dem source told me, “and now we’ll throw the rest of the house in too.”

Team Goldsmith will want to do all it can to avoid fighting the by-election over Brexit as Richmond Park is fervently pro-EU. The area was the 20th strongest for Remain in the referendum, and it is estimated that as many as 77% of its residents voted to stay in the European Union. This doesn’t necessarily spell electoral doom for him as he was elected twice to represent Richmond Park, both times when residents would have known what he thought about the EU, but the Lib Dems will hope that casting a spotlight on his views will make him look out of step with his constituents.

Tim Farron’s troops will be cock-a-hoop this morning over the Guardian’s report of fresh pro-EU remarks made by Theresa May before the referendum in which she conceded that “a lot of people will invest” in Britain “because it is the UK in Europe”. They will be undoubtedly preparing to make good use of these quotes on their by-election leaflets. In the meantime, if you want to be up-to-date with the reaction to this report over the day – and at PMQs – just follow our liveblog here.


The Heathrow Decision Is Supposed to Show Britain Is Open for Business. It Says the Opposite

It was a decision over 50 years in the making. The British government today gave its approval to the expansion of Heathrow Airport, one of the world’s largest and long one of its most congested by air traffic. The construction of a third runway at the airport on London’s western flank is forecast to cost £18 billion ($22 billion), but analysts say it could give the British economy a £147 billion boost.

The main alternative plan under the government’s consideration had been to expand Gatwick Airport, a far smaller facility in London’s southwest, and one much further from the city’s center than Heathrow. That cheaper and less ambitious proposal would have mainly benefited the European tourists who currently fly into Gatwick, and not the airlines and other businesses who have been pleading with the government to expand the country’s main air hub for a generation. Heathrow airport’s runways currently operate at 98% capacity, which restricts air traffic and makes costly delays more likely.

The Transport Department said the government’s approval “underlines its commitment to keeping the U.K. open for business now and in the future and as a hub for tourism and trade.” And on the face of it, this seems like just the message for Britain to be sending to international markets, as the country prepares to leave the European Union: Look how we’re still willing to listen to the business community, and make the big decisions to keep Britain booming. But this decision arrived at its destination after years and years of delays, and faces many more years of debate before the first spade digs into Heathrow’s turf—if it ever does. It may end up sending another kind of message altogether.

Source: for MORE

Morning Briefing – The Telegraph

Good morning.

Theresa May will confirm today that her Government is backing the expansion of Heathrow airport over Gatwick, we report, in a bid to show that Britain is “open for business” after Brexit. This decision comes after nearly two decades of delays by successive Governments over the issue, and it won’t come without controversy as several ministers and Tory backbenchers are expected to kick up a fuss. You can follow the airports news, and reaction, as it happens on our liveblog here.

Boris Johnson will highlight the Cabinet divide by making clear his opposition to Heathrow shortly after the announcement, and arguing that it is a “mistake”. Justine Greening, the Education Secretary, will also make clear that she remains opposed. They are able to speak out because Mrs May gave them the right to do as part of what the Government called its “mature” approach to the debate. Ministers may be allowed to criticise the decision, but they are banned from being critical of the decision-making progress and from “actively” campaigning against it. They also cannot speak against it in the Commons.

Tory backbenchers won’t have such problems, and between 20 to 30 Conservatives are expected to vote against Heathrow. The SNP is enthusiastically supporting it though, and Labour MPs have been given a free vote. Zac Goldsmith is expected to go through with his decision to stand down as an MP and re-fight his Richmond Park constituency as an independent over the issue, and he is supported by his local association and some Tory MPs. The Prime Minister also faces a judicial review from four local authorities if she pushes ahead with Heathrow, including her local council of Maidenhead.

Theresa May can at least count on support from William Hague in plumping for expanding Heathrow, which he says is a choice that shows “common sense”.But he suggests that she shouldn’t stop there, and sketches out a “bigger plan to show the British economy is a good bet” for her to consider: continued corporation tax cuts, a renewed drive to cut bureaucracy post-Brexit, more support for science and an embrace of infrastructure projects like Crossrail, HS2 and HS3. “If businesses large and small, from San Francisco to Shanghai, heard these four plans they would be less likely to leave Britain out of their investment decisions,” he writes in today’s paper. “They might even be inspired. And you can’t inspire others without being bold, confident and certain yourself.”

Cameron salutes Thatcher ahead of funeral

MORNING BRIEFING – By Benedict Brogan (Daily Telegraph).

BREAKING NEWS: David Cameron has told the Today programme that “we are all Thatcherites now…the big arguments she had everyone now accepts”. He added that Baroness Thatcher was “partly” the reason he joined the party and was a “force for good”. He pointed out that her achievements arrived “step-by-step-by-step”, a pointed remark given the calls for him to adopt a more reforming programme.

“George Osborne put it very well in saying that we all live in Margaret Thatcher’s shadow…we should embrace that.”

He added that protesters to “show respect” at “a fitting tribute to a great prime minister respected around the world.”


Good morning. The Coalition won last night’s planning vote, but narrowly. Carrying a majority of only 27, it defeated an amendment to the Growth and Infrastructure Bill which would have given councils a veto over the policy of allowing homeowners to build extensions of up to 26ft without planning permission. There were 16 rebels on the Tory side including Zac Goldsmith, Nick de Bois and Tracey Crouch. A further eight Lib Dems including former minister Paul Burstow also refused to back the Government (a full list is available over at the Spectator).

As we report, in order to save the day Eric Pickles was forced to promise MPs a revision to the existing plans. Appealing for the “help” and “assistance” of the backbenches to take these reforms forward saw them through, but former Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan’s remarks were instructive – “I am afraid we are not going to believe what you say at that dispatch box until we see it in black and white”. With the May council elections likely to see the Tories lose hundreds of seats, this was a timely reminder that while the public eruptions of discontent with the party hierarchy may have quietened down, the backbenches have become a little more submissive.


Overnight mourners have been camping besides St Paul’s Cathedral to participate in the public mourning of Baroness Thatcher. Her funeral arrangements were denounced by Lord Mandelson last night, as the New Statesman reports. New Labour “over-inhaled” Thatcherism, he told the audience at a Policy Exchange event where he appeared with Michael Gove. Still, the disapproval of the Left wouldn’t leave Lady Thatcher “the slightest bit upset”, as William Hague pointed out in a speech last night. As the Mail reports, he used his address at the Lord Mayor’s Easter Banquet to call for Britain to rediscover the “firmness of purpose” it exhibited in her era.

George Galloway’s attempt to prevent the cancellation of PMQs came to naught last night, although he did win the backing of 14 Labour MPs. But while parliamentarians have no excuse for not attending, the USA has discovered plenty. President Obama had declined an invitation even before the Boston bombing and the presence of both Dick Cheney and Henry Kissinger in the delegation masks the absence of any current politician of the front rank, as the FT (£) reports. So much for the special relationship. Eleven serving prime ministers will attend, though, ranging from Canada’s Stephen Harper to Mario Monti of Italy.

The debate continues in this morning’s papers over Lady Thatcher’s legacy. The Mail‘s leader argues “Cameron must learn from the Lady”, while the Times‘ (£) leader argues that it, and modern Fleet Street, owes its existence to her reforms. Contrast that with the threats Harriet Harman is making over press regulation at present (see below), and you’ll see how far British politics has shifted since she left the stage. In the Mail Robin Harris argued that because she “slew the dragons” of economic inefficiency, she needs no heir, indeed”the meek can inherit the earth”. Writing for us, Robin Renwick argues that Lady Thatcher played a key role in ending apartheid. In the Times (£), Danny Finkelstein makes the point that her generation was the last in British politics whose outlook was informed by World War Two, hence its combative nature. While those arguments will continue for many years, let’s hope that the nation can bid its farewell today with order, decorum and dignity.


In an age where economic jousting between the opposing frontbenches consists largely of listing third-party supporters, the apparent defection of the IMF to Ed Balls’ side of the House is a cause for concern for the Chancellor. Yesterday’s statement was a carefully qualified one – “in the face of very weak private demand, it may be time to consider adjusting the original fiscal consolidation plan” – but as Philip Aldrick notes, it signifies an end of the love affair between George and the IMF.

As the FT (£) notes, Treasury sources are pointing out that the fiscal consolidation plan is not particularly demanding, in fact it is less severe than that of the Obama administration in Washington. The Chancellor’s allies say the economy has turned a corner and that positive business confidence numbers recently will start to show up in the growth figures by the end of the year. If so, the IMF may owe their old friend an apology.


What a difference a week makes. In the last seven days, the Labour lead has slipped from 14pts to 7pts according to a Sun/YouGov poll. The new numbers put the Tories on 33pc with Labour on 40pc and Ukip out-polling the Lib Dems by 1pt on 11pc. Coming on the back of yesterday’s Guardian/ICM poll which put his personal rating at a record low of -23pc, it’s hardly a ringing endorsement for Red Ed (and nor are the words of the unnamed senior party member who tells us that the party’s welfare policies are “complete nonsense”).

What can he do to reverse the trend? Lord Ashcroft has some timely advice on ConservativeHome this morning. Listen to the New Labour critics, find and articulate a message, and show you understand the fear of reckless borrowing, he writes. One more thing – “what are you going to do about Ed Balls? Since he was part of the Brownite team who were in charge when it all went wrong – to put it as neutrally as possible – it is hard for you to claim Labour have learnt the right lessons and moved on while he remains Shadow Chancellor.”

But it isn’t all bad news. The Times (£) reports that Ed and Mr Tony will be meeting up to build bridges in “the next few days” while, as Mary Riddell writes, there are some on the Left who believe that “Titanium Ed” can pick up where the Iron Lady left off and be a champion for bold ideas in British public life:

“Mr Miliband buys the argument, made by Jon Cruddas and others, that Labour had become decoupled from the nation’s past and ceded patriotism, history and heritage to the Tories. Hence his mission to reshape Britain’s high streets and to give local power back to the small businessmen, councillors and aldermen whose writ once prevailed in Thatcher’s Grantham.”


The press reforms following the Leveson report are becoming increasingly shambolic. As we report, Maria Miller told the Culture, Media and Sport Committee that some papers and magazines may choose to remain outside of the regulatory system, a situation which Philip Davies called “a farce…you have set up this system and nobody is signing up for it.” But wait! Harriet Harman then appeared and told the committee that Labour would back “full-on statutory regulation” if papers did not sign up to the compromise deal, as the Times (£) notes. Who’s in charge? It’s tempting to think that Mrs Harman’s clout is at least as great, given that, of the pair, she was involved in finalising the form of the Royal Charter in that late night session with Ed, Nick and Oliver Letwin.


Britain’s greatest design icon? As Twitter followers will know, I’m a Shard fan. The building-cum-weather gauge lost out in the recent Designs of the Year awards, though. Instead the winner of the annual award was…the website. As the Independent reports, it also beat off competition from the Olympic Caulderon and Louis Vuitton.


Gavin Shuker asking the big questions of our time:

@gavinshuker:Anyone had a good experience of reusable nappies? Asking in a wholly professional capacity, as Shadow Waste Minister, obviously.


In the Telegraph

Mary Riddell – What Titanium Ed Miliband and the Iron Lady have in common

Tim Stanley – Boston Marathon bombings: America the vulnerable

Robin Renwick – Margaret Thatcher’s vital role in ending apartheid

Telegraph View – Human decency will always win through

Best of the Rest

Daniel Finkelstein in The Times (£) – Today we bury the last prime minister of WWII

Robin Harris in the Daily Mail – She slew dragons. Now the meek can inherit the earth

Richard Venn in the FT (£) – Cameron cannot revive Thatcherism

Seamus Milne in The Guardian – It’s time to bury not just Thatcher – but Thatcherism


Today: Baroness Thatcher’s funeral. Coffin leaves Palace of Westminster by hearse at 10:00; arrives at St Clement Danes 10:15; transferred to gun carriage at 10:25; leaves St Clement Danes at 10:33 when processional minute gun firing begins at Tower of London. Funeral service starts at 11:00 and is due to finish at 11:55. Guests begin arriving at Guildhall reception around 12:10. St Paul’s Cathedral, Saint Paul’s Churchyard, London.

Cameron relaunches in crime

MORNING BRIEFING – By Benedict Brogan (Daily Telegraph).

Employment is up, inflation down, positive GDP numbers on the horizon and the opposition internally split over its attitude to cuts. The last thing the Government should need is a relaunch, yet this morning’s criminal justice announcement by David Cameron feel like an attempt to stop the rot. It shouldn’t have come to this, and the fact that the machinery of Number 10, rather than the policy direction it wishes to take, is now the story, is symptomatic of chronic problems with news management.

The catchily titled ‘tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime’ ‘tough but intelligent’ programme marks the last rites for Mr Cameron’s ‘hug a hoodie’ phase, something he will underline today by saying “retribution is not a dirty word”. The Telegraph reports that the Prime Minister will also announce new policies include fining private prisons when former inmates reoffend, stopping inmates from watching Sky TV, and legislating to make possessing a handgun with an intent to supply an offence.

Mr Cameron wants to be personally associated with the new, harder stance on criminal justice. Given the mauling his leadership style has taken over the weekend, he will be desperate to project a more forceful image to the electorate. Many remain to be convinced. Tim Montgomerie in the Mail argues that the Prime Minister has failed to capitalise on good economic news so far and now must pin his hopes on the GDP numbers coming on “turnaround Thursday” changing the public perception of his party. Stronger still, Iain Martin, writing in today’s Telegraph, asks whether Mr Cameron is simply out of his depth:

“Mr Cameron has long emphasised pragmatism to the point where many wonder what, if anything, he believes. This means that when he encounters difficulties – as Prime Ministers tend to, especially mid-term – there is not a cadre of Conservatives keen to defend him. If they felt he was engaged in a great mission to restore the country to health they might be more inclined to overlook errors.”

Given this, the Conservatives will hope there is no truth in the Guardian story that one of Mr Cameron’s aides has admitted that there is no money available to back up today’s calls for longer sentences and more rehabilitation. If that were true, the Prime Minister would be guilty of announcing an uncosted policy which would then need to be retracted or substantially amended by his juniors in the days that followed. Difficult to imagine, I know…


The Tories desperately need the relaunch to go well. Policy content and the direction of the economy have been positive in recent weeks, but Government competence is now up for question. This morning’s Times (£) leader describes the government as “self harming”, and as the Independent reports, Conservative MPs are howling for Number 10 to “get a grip”, with Andrew Percy one of a number breaking cover to criticse publicly the lacklustre manner in which the party machine handled the Thrasher affair. Gate-gate has undoubtedly left a party more divided than ever, with the Mail one of a number of papers to trace the Cabinet fault lines which emerged, pitching Mr Cameron and Michael Gove against Theresa May and the backbenchers.

Today’s papers are not reassuring for the “get a grip” brigade. The Telegraph reports that Mr Cameron’s deputy chief of staff has confessed on US television that he is frequently surprised by the daily news agenda which he discovers by listening to the Today programme. Many Tories argue that is the problem, the party should be setting the agenda, not following it. Maybe that’s about to change, though. The Times (£) reports that Lynton Crosby, Bo-Jo’s election mastermind, has been asked to take over the Conservative election campaign. If he takes the role, he will need to get Conservative MPs singing from the same hymn sheet. This looks easier said than done at the moment. As Roland Watson writes elsewhere in the Times (£), forcing the new intake to behave has been like trying to herd cats:

“Even before they tasted Mr Mitchell’s blood, the new intake had flexed its muscles. Jesse Norman and Nadhim Zahawi had postponed their ministerial careers by at least a year in leading the revolt over reform of the House of Lords. Meanwhile, Kwasi Kwarteng has agitated for a fourth runway at Heathrow while Zac Goldsmith has threatened to quit if there is ever a third.”


Conservative efforts to win the ‘stivers’ will step up a gear with the launch of a new group called Blue Collar Conservatism, a movement which has so far attracted 40 MPs. The Telegraph reports that the group will attempt draw parallels with Harold MacMillan’s 1959 election win which saw an Old Etonian buoyed by the working class vote beat a Hampstead intellectual in Hugh Gaitskell.

In the meantime, Labour will push for the same ground. The shadow cabinet will meet tomorrow to discuss putting One Nation at the heart of everything the party does, the Independent reports. The campaign is likely to include the sensitive issue of immigration as Labour seeks to reconnect with the white working class voters it lost at the last election.


Theresa May has been slow to build a bridge over the troubled waters of the Atlantic following her refusal to extradite Gary McKinnon, the Telegraph reported at the weekend. Five days after Mrs May intervened to prevent Mr McKinnon being tried in the US, she has still not spoken to the Attorny General Eric Holder, who is apparently too angry to take her calls. Commenting in today’s Telegraph, Con Coughlin argues that a lack of trust in the special relationship puts us all in danger:

“[The British] intelligence lifeline is at risk if Britain cannot guarantee that sensitive information shared by the Americans is safe. Indeed, there is already evidence that Washington has reduced the quality of information it provides to London.”

Closer to home, the FT (£) reports that Germany is threatening to cancel next month’s EU budget sumit if Dave sticks to his guns on a spending freeze. Angela Merkel sees the gathering as pointless if the Prime Minister continues to show no interest in her proposed compromise deal which would cap EU spending at 1 per cent of continental GDP. Dave and Angie have a tete-a-tete scheduled for early November, but with British diplomats emphasising that Mr Cameron’s position is final, this may be the only time they see each other that month.


The Civil Service will face an inquiry into its future as a result of tensions between officials and ministers, the Times (£) reports. Relations between the Conservatives and public servants are at an all time low with Bernard Jenkin urging a cross-party parliamentary commission be called to address a “crisis of competence” in Whitehall, and rumours circulating that Lib Dem ministers are being manipulated by civil servants into blocking policy changes. You wouldn’t have thought they would need the encouragement…


The Government will write a “blank cheque” to the nuclear industry in an attempt to cover the costs of building a new generation of reactors, according to a group of academics whose letter is published in today’s Independent. All parties have spoken out against nuclear subsidies in the past, but with Chinese money absenting itself from the latest bidding round, there is a growing sense that only the Government will be able to take on the balance sheet risk for projects bound to be delivered late and over-budget.


Only 11 weeks before George Osborne’s child benefit cuts are due to take effect, the Institute of Chartered Accountants has warned that most of the 500,000 people affected, many of whom will need to fill out tax self-assessment forms for the first time, are completely in the dark, the Telegraph reports. HMRC have still not written to the families concerned, and accountants warn that the taxman will be left trying to claw back overpaid benefit, rather than simply paying out less. Obviously, this will all go a long way towards salvaging that reputation for competence…


…says John Prescott, aged 74 ¾. Writing in today’s Times (£), he says he wants the role so he can be “tough on the causes of crime”. Obviously he’s taking a leaf out of Dave’s book. Prezza captures the mood on the police commissioner elections saying:

“As someone who has contested 11 elections since 1966, I have never seen such a poorly thought-out one as this.”

It is hard not to agree with him. An 18.5 per cent turnout is predicted by the Electoral Reform Society, and today’s FT (£) makes the case for an information gap with voters largely unaware that there is an election on. Lord Blair, the former Metropolitan Police commissioner, is actively urging people not to vote in order to strangle the scheme at birth. It’s unlikely that will happen. With candidates like Prezza and Mervyn Barrett, who today’s Independent reports has just seen his entire campaign team resign en masse owing to funding concerns, in the hunt, the public is bound to get interested sooner or later.


That was “a bad week to bury good news”, as the Sunday Telegraph’ s leader put it. The Tory tendency to snatch serial defeats from the jaws of victory dominated the Sunday comment sections. The machine, rather than the pilot took most of the flack. Martin Ivens’ column in the Sunday Times (£) called for some thug life to be injected into Number 10’s operation: “I don’t advise him to adopt new Labour’s cynical spin-doctoring — it disguised a lack of substance in Blair’s first years of government and its moral inadequacy eventually became a bad news story in itself. But he does need to change the way No 10 operates and get a grip. It can be done even now.”

“I like the conspiracy theory that his resignation was timed to distract from George Osborne’s Great Train Snobbery, but to believe that is to assume a level of organisational skill on the part of this government that it is conspicuously lacking,” wrote Andrew Rawnsley in the Observer. He adds that it was wasn’t the Sun or the Telegraph which hammered the final nail into Thrasher’s column, it was…Bruce Forsyth.

“This dog of a coalition government has let itself be given a bad name and now anyone can beat it. It has let itself be called a government of unfeeling toffs…The abiding sin of the government is not that some ministers are rich, but that it seems unable to manage its affairs competently. The Blair government was scarcely rocked by the discovery that the deputy prime minister, John Prescott, had exercised his droit de seigneur by fornicating with a civil servant on his office desk during working hours. This government has difficulty in managing a non-story about the chancellor upgrading his ticket on a train, or the stupidity of the former chief whip (who is no toff) behaving like a saloon-bar bore,” Norman Tebbit let rip in the Observer.

Janet Daley in the Sunday Telegraph wrote that history has come full circle: “Because [Margaret Thatcher] was from the most despised social caste – the lower middle class – she owed no loyalty in the war of attrition to either the sentimentalised proletariat or the arrogant born-to-rule elite. So powerful and liberating was her effect on the political dynamics of the country that Labour had to reinvent itself too, and become a champion of ambition and mobility rather than entrenched class defensiveness. Well, that’s all over now. Here we are again (almost), back where we started. Policemen are told that they should know their place and a Prime Minister who considers himself to be the embodiment of modern social attitudes shrugs it off – until the pressure overwhelms him.”

Finally, a stark warning from Nadine Dorries on ConservativeHome: “George Osborne and David Cameron surround themselves with a hand-picked coterie of well-bred and well placed MPs. The jobs for the boys system which allowed both men to progress through the party based not on what but who they knew is already in place to bring through the next generation of little Dave’s and George’s. Many MPs in the modern party find this behaviour both arrogant and unacceptable in a modern, meritocratic Britain. Unfortunately, it is that brooding resentment which may lead the party into even darker waters yet.”


Brooks Newmark gets all tribal:

@TweetBrooks: “Did all we could to help the Mackems! 10 men (Tiote sent off) and scored both goals (incl Ba OG) @ Sunderland Ended Sunderland 1 Newcastle 1”

Today’s Morning Briefing was edited by Thomas Pascoe.


In The Telegraph

Iain Martin – Out of his depth?

Con Coughlin – We keep Gary McKinnon but lose the trust of Americans

Charles Moore – How technology will create true democracy

Nick Gibb – Soon history will come alive again in class

Best of the rest

Tim Montgomerie in the Daily Mail – The real problem isn’t class… it’s just incompetence

Libby Purves in The Times (£) – Take away the dish marked ‘free money’

Edward Luce in the FT (£) – Shadow of 9/11 towers over the US election

Nigel Farage in The Sun – David Cameron’s Euro pledge is a load of Brussels spouts

Bonfire of Red Tape

MORNING BRIEFING – By Benedict Brogan (Daily Telegraph).

Today’s “bonfire of red tape” kicks off a week in which the business department – freshly bolstered by Right-wingers Michael Fallon and Matthew Hancock – will try to show it’s serious about boosting growth.

Vince Cable and Mr Fallon are appearing together in White Bear Yard, London, at 9.30am, to announce a war on red tape, which will see 3,000 rules scrapped including health and safety inspections for offices, shops and pubs (more details are available in the FT).

The act of unity provides a fitting contrast with tensions building over the weekend.

Mr Cable told Marr:

“The problem of growth is that we have a very serious shortage of demand. It’s nothing to do with those supply side measures basically. It’s a demand issue.”

While Mr Fallon told Murnaghan that:

“What we’ve got to do now is accelerate our agenda. We’ve got to show that we’re supporting British business, and cutting red tape to allow business to get on and create the jobs we need.”

Doesn’t sound like they’re on the same page, does it?

The measures announced today will be scrutinised for what we might call “Toryfication”. In the Mail the phrase “grand bargain” is used to describe the accommodation between Lib Dems and Tories, but again it is hard to see accommodation breaking out where there is already war.

The Guardian assures us that Mr Cable “reasserted his control” over policy, which is not quite the script the reshuffle writers imagined. Mr Cable talked about learning from the spirit of the Olympics, but any comparisons will look unflattering if it emerges that the Government is not trying as hard as an Olympian prepared to risk all.

The Mail’s leader wishes Mr Fallon well, but warns: “he will need every ounce of it if he is to overcome his obdurate Lib Dem ‘boss’ and ensure that fine words are translated into desperately needed action.”


And the intrigue over the Lib Dem “boss” doesn’t end there. He shared the Marr sofa with Ed Balls who heaped praise on him before adding: “I would be very surprised if Nick Clegg fights the next election for the Liberal Democrats, and I don’t think it’s in the Liberal Democrat or in the national interest.”

Mr Cable is unimpressed by the courting. The Times quotes an ally, saying: “Talk about overcooking the turkey… Vince was inching away like a dame not wanting to be kissed.”

I don’t imagine that’ll stop the text messages coming…


Meanwhile, the story about a plot to overthrow the PM is whipping up interest. Tales of two tea room plots have emerged.

The first comes as a result of Boris Johnson meeting with Zac Goldsmith to discuss their opposition to Heathrow expansion. Boris’s aides confirm that the meeting happened, but insist that plans for Mr Goldsmith to step aside for Boris to re-enter parliament were not discussed. The Times says it was discussed, but not taken seriously. The pair “laughed” at the suggestion.

The second is Tory MP Colonel Bob Stewart’s revelation that he was asked by two backbench colleagues to stand as a “stalking horse” to trigger a leadership election against the PM. The Colonel told them to get lost because he was loyal to the present regime.

But as Tim Bale points out in the Guardian, there’s no need for a stalking horse:

“those supposedly behind the putative plot to persuade Bob Stewart to stand as a stalking horse don’t seem to have a clue about the Conservative party’s rules for hiring and firing its leaders – one of the many reasons he was well-advised to send them packing.”

All that’s needed is 46 Tory MPs to write to the Chairman of the 1922 Committee. Neither, therefore, sound like a serious threat. The stories are summer confections, but they speak to David Cameron’s internal weakness: that such rumours circulate and are discussed publicly by his own side tells us his position is not quite as strong as it should be. AsPeter McKay put it “There would be no report about London Mayor Boris Johnson plotting to succeed David Cameron as Tory leader if the Prime Minister was secure in his job.” One for Thrasher Mitchell.


But there is a plot Boris isn’t keeping secret. He’s holding a rival inquiry into the future of aviation capacity which will specifically exclude a third runway at Heathrow.

Bold. You can read more in the Telegraph here.


Grant Shapps – also known as Michael Green these days – has got off to a bumpy start in his new role of Tory Party Chairman. Not only has Google blacklisted a network of websites run by his family business for breaching copyright rules, he’s also been caught airbrushing his own Wikipedia page without revealing his identity (against Wikipedia’s rules). Mr Shapps tried to blot out his school record and details on private donations to his office.

Oh dear, Grant. You’re supposed to be fighting political fires in your job – but ideally not your own. You can read more in the Telegraph here.


“It isn’t so much about keeping an eye on Vince, as keeping both eyes on growth.” Michael Fallon interviewed in the Sunday Telegraph , where he also said: “We’ve got to get away from the politics of envy in this country, and salute those who risk their own money to create jobs for other people. They’re the Olympian champions.”

“When consulted about the reshuffle, Craig Oliver, Cameron’s communications director, requested that each department have at least one practised communicator in its ranks.” Matthew D’Ancona in the Sunday Telegraph. He also said Helen Grant was the minister who shed tears – of joy on being appointed.

“Incidentally, to sacked Lib Dem ministers, Nick Clegg offered the interesting explanation that he had to share jobs around because the Lib Dems would probably not be in power again.” Andrew Rawnsley in the Observer.

“There have been (polite) tensions about Labour’s conference in Manchester…I understand Balls thought the conference theme should be how right he had been on the economy, while Miliband thought that it should not be, but did not provide a clear alternative.” John Rentoul’s latest on Ed v Ed in the Independent on Sunday.


And finally, just in case you missed it in Saturday’s papers, Tory MP Sir Tony Baldry crashed his Mercedes into the wall of Poundland in Banbury, Oxfordshire. The Metro reports that Sir Tony emerged from the damaged car, which was covered in blue toilet paper from the loo, shaken but uninjured.

You couldn’t make it up.


Tory MP Glyn Davies‏:

“@GlynDaviesMP: While all have watched closing ceremony, I’ve been writing article on dairy farming for the Tory Conference House Magazine. Pleased with it.”

We wait with baited breath, Glyn.


Latest YouGov/Sunday Times results: Conservatives 33%, Labour 43%, Lib Dems 10%, UKIP 7%

Overall government approval rate: -38

It’s not been looking good for the Tories for a while, but the YouGov poll in today’s Mirror will not make happy reading for No 10. It claims that two-thirds of people have lost confidence in the Government to keep them safe after budget cuts to the police.


In The Telegraph

Boris Johnson: Britain shines as a beacon of enlightenment in the world

Sean Worth: Let us face down the enemies of social reform

Peter Stanford: The can-do Games have lit a flame

Leader: This glorious summer merits a golden autumn

Best of the rest

Tim Bale in the Guardian: Conservatives may be sharpening their stilettos, but this is not a poleaxe moment

Owen Jones in the Independent: Supporters of the NHS should fear Jeremy Hunt

Ken Macdonald in the Times: Chris Grayling will need soul, not a law degree

Tim Leunig in the Financial Times: People power – how to transform UK energy


Today: The TUC host their annual conference. Brighton Centre

9.30am: Michael Fallon announces a “radical action plan on deregulation”. 2nd Floor, White Bear Yard, 144a Clerkenwell Road, London

10.30am: Embargoed briefing for OECD’s Education at a Glance report. The Work Foundation, 21 Palmer Street, London

12.30pm: The new Green Party leader, Natalie Bennett, takes part in a question and answers session at the Green Party Conference. The Council House, College Green, Bristol

2.30pm: Work and Pensions questions

3.30pm: The Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude gives evidence to Commons Communities Committee on the Co-operative Council. Wilson Room, Portcullis House, London

4.05pm: Sir Richard Branson and FirstGroup chief Tim O’Toole give evidence to House of Commons Transport Committee over Government’s decision to award West Coast main line rail franchise to FirstGroup. Grimond Room, House of Commons

4.15pm: Foreign minister Alistair Burt gives evidence about the negotiations on an arms trade treaty to the Commons Committee on Arms Export Controls. House of Commons, London

4.45pm: The Prime Minister hosts a reception at the QE2 for all Team GB and ParalympicsGB athletes