Monday News Review

There’s life in the old dog yet

David Cameron was forced to issue a vote of confidence in his Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, yesterday as ministers search for an NHS reform blueprint acceptable to both parts of the Coalition. There has been growing speculation over Mr Lansley’s future since his plans to overhaul the NHS were dramatically halted by Mr Cameron and Nick Clegg in the face of a rebellion from health professionals. The Health Secretary, who has spent years drawing up proposals to restructure the service, has made it clear he would quit the Cabinet rather than move to another post. There were also reports yesterday that the Prime Minister would be prepared to accept his resignation on the grounds that a new face would be needed to make the case for the heavily modified plans. – the Independent

Downing Street has moved to quash growing speculation that health secretary Andrew Lansley will quit if the government’s review of proposed health reforms ends in wholesale changes. It has been reported that David Cameron and Nick Clegg have been discussing how to handle Lansley’s cabinet future when the review by Professor Steve Field concludes in mid-June. Downing Street issued a statement of support for Lansley, saying: “The speculation in the papers is nonsense. Andrew Lansley is doing an excellent job.” In a sign Lansley has become fed up with horsetrading over his plans, he has said: “I’ve stopped being a politician – I just want to get the NHS to a place where it will deliver results. I don’t want to do any other cabinet job. I’m someone who cares about the NHS who happens to be a politician, not the other way around.” – the Guardian

Fox hits out at MOD leaks

Liam Fox has said the leaks which have hit his department in recent months are “unethical and unprofessional”. The defence secretary’s comments come after reports earlier this month that he believes a Cabinet colleague may have been responsible for the most recent leak. A letter from Dr Fox to David Cameron, seen by members of the Cabinet on the national security council, in which he questioned Britain’s overseas aid spending raised eyebrows in Whitehall. It followed a similar leaked letter last year in which Dr Fox warned against drastic cuts to the armed forces in the comprehensive spending review. “You never know and that’s the whole thing with leaks,” he told BBC1′s The Andrew Marr programme. – politics.co.uk

Earlier this month, another of Dr Fox’s private letters to the PM was leaked. It questioned whether the UK’s commitment to spend 0.7% of GDP on overseas development aid by 2013 should be enshrined in law at a time of severe defence and other cuts. He made it clear he could not support the proposal “in its current form”. Putting the 0.7% commitment on the statute books “could limit HM Government’s ability to change its mind about the pace at which it reaches the target”, he said. It has been suggested Dr Fox – regarded as one of the most right-wing Tories in Cabinet – believes another member of the National Security Council is responsible for the leaks, although he has ruled out Conservative colleague William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, as the culprit. Yesterday, asked if a Cabinet colleague had leaked his letters, he replied: “You never know. That’s the whole things with leaks,” which he labelled “unprofessional, unethical and cowardly”. – Daily Herald

Cash incentives for weekly collections

The Government is to announce a deal under which councils will be offered financial incentives to collect household rubbish every week. A similar plan using government grants was successfully introduced to encourage local authorities to freeze council tax this year. The policy is expected to be announced as the centrepiece of a review of waste policy being conducted by the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra). A source close to the review said the funding plans for councils to restore weekly bin collections – estimated to be about £100 million a year – had been agreed and the scheme will be unveiled within the next fortnight. More than half of councils are thought to have abandoned weekly bin collections over the past few years, depriving more than 18 million people of the service. – the Telegraph

Cameron symbolically cuts ties with Jewish charity

David Cameron has resigned as a patron of a top Jewish charity in a move hailed by pro-Palestinian campaigners. The Prime Minister has cut ties with the Jewish National Fund, which describes itself as Britain’s leading Jewish charity. Downing Street insisted the decision was taken as part of a wider review of the Prime Minister’s involvement with charities. But the move is a break with convention, as Tony Blair and Gordon Brown both stayed on  as patrons while at Number 10. Mr Cameron has already experienced controversy when it comes to affairs in the Middle East – on a trip to Turkey last July he caused huge offence by calling Gaza a ‘prison camp’. – Daily Mail

Forget D:Ream, Adele is a Labour girl

Adele has branded David Cameron a “wally” – ­dashing hopes she might back his Big Society idea. A Government insider said: “We are looking for big names to back the Big Society, but there aren’t many takers right now.” The ­singer said: “Wally… I’m a Labour girl through and through.” She also slammed his policies on taxes, trains and schools. – Daily Mirror


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