Posts Tagged ‘Bill Cash’

Tuesday News Review

11/01/2011, 06:30:18 AM

Europe set to haunt the Tories again

David Cameron faces a serious rebellion from his backbenchers tonight when a bill on the referendum lock goes before the Commons. MPs will debate amendments to the bill, with veteran eurosceptic Bill Cash putting forward a series of radical changes. Tory backbencher Douglas Carswell branded the bill, which would ensure a referendum in the case of a “significant” EU treaty, “smoke and mirrors”. “This bogus EU bill is no substitute for the referendum we were promised. Nothing in this bill will cause the permanent British representatives in Brussels, who really decide Europe policy, to change course,” he wrote on his blog. Mr Cameron originally promised the referendum lock in opposition, when it became clear that his promise of a referendum on the Lisbon treaty would not be possible. But Tory backbenchers have been dismayed by the moderate tone adopted towards the EU from the prime minister and his foreign secretary, William Hague, since they arrived in office.
Combined with the unconcealed pro-European credentials of the Conservatives’ Lib Dem coalition partners, many eurosceptic backbenchers are intensely uncomfortable with the way Britain’s relationship with the EU is being managed. Labour is unimpressed by the law, especially the judicial review aspect, which they say hands power to judges which should be in the hands of elected representatives. “Even the foreign secretary must know this bill is a dogs dinner,” said shadow foreign secretary Yvette Cooper. “This bill is about failed Tory party management not the issues that matter for Britain in Europe. Instead of concentrating on things like growth, exports or cross border crime, William Hague is wasting time trying and failing to keep his eurosceptics happy.” –

Angry Conservatives last night intensified their revolt over Britain’s membership of the European Union ahead of crucial Commons votes tonight. MPs are due to debate the full details of the Government’s European Union Bill. It is designed to prevent any further surrender of power from Westminster to Brussels without a national referendum. But Eurosceptic Tories are threatening to side with Labour in a bid to make the measures far tougher. Bill Cash, Conservative MP for Stone, Staffordshire, last night added an amendment to the Bill seeking to make clear that Britain’s sovereignty lies with Parliament. Despite the growing discontent on Tory backbenches, Government whips were last night relaxed about the debate. One Tory source said: “It does not feel as if this rebellion has really caught alight.” The European Union Bill includes a “sovereignty clause” introducing the so-called “referendum lock” promised in the Conservative election manifesto. This would oblige any future government to hold a referendum before agreeing to a treaty that transfers sovereignty to Brussels. – Daily Express

Cameron defeated over bank bonuses

Downing Street has accepted that it cannot halt large bonuses for bankers and is instead negotiating to make employers disclose how many are given more than £1 million. Despite public anger at the prospect, it admits it holds little sway with banks which are not partly stated-owned. A No 10 source said last night: “Whatever the bonuses are – if they are £7 billion or £3 billion – they will be too big. We are going to get flak and we accept that.” Some Liberal Democrats in the Coalition, including Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, had hoped that the Treasury would look at another bank tax to discourage the bonus culture. But No 10 regards last year’s levy as “a one-off”. Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, accused the Coalition of giving banks a tax cut by not renewing the levy imposed by the last government. The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said that, while the Government wanted restraint, David Cameron would not “micromanage” the banks. “We are not going to set bonus pools for individual banks. We are not going to set pay policy for individual members of staff,” he said. – Daily Telegraph

David Cameron was humiliated yesterday by bank chiefs who insisted he does NOT have a veto over their pay. The PM threatened to torpedo a £2.5million bonus for Stephen Hester, head of Royal Bank of Scotland – a bank saved with £20billion of taxpayers’ cash. The PM boasted in a weekend TV interview that he ¬“absolutely” had a veto over RBS bonuses. But 24 hours later, the bank insisted he does not have the power to stop Mr Hester ¬pocketing the bonus. An RBS spokesman said: “There isn’t a formal veto.” He added that RBS agreed to let the body set up to run the nationalised banks decide the total bonuses paid to its workforce last year in return for extra government support. But the arrangement was a “one-off”, he stressed. Shadow treasury minister Chris Leslie said Mr Cameron had landed himself in an “embarrassing muddle”. – Daily Mirror

Miliband is forced to defend Johnson

Ed Miliband insisted yesterday that Alan Johnson DOES know what he’s talking about – as a furious bank bonus row erupted. The Labour leader’s vote of confidence in his bungling Shadow Chancellor came as it emerged ministers are thrashing out a deal with bankers to be more open. Mr Johnson said employers paid National Insurance at 21 per cent. The figure is 12.8. He has also admitted needing an “economics for beginners” primer, seemed confused about when Labour’s cuts were due to start and unsure how long it will take to reduce the deficit. With Mr Johnson at his side, Mr Miliband told a press conference: “Alan clearly knows about these things. It’s the big things that matter in politics. The things that matter are your instincts.” – The Sun

Ed Miliband yesterday backed Shadow Chancellor Alan Johnson despite his National Insurance gaffe. The Labour leader said he would trust Mr Johnson’s judgment “any day” over George Osborne’s. He was speaking after Mr Johnson was caught out on TV wrongly saying the rate of NI contributions was 20% when it is 12.8%. It was his second slip-up in a week, prompting questions about whether he is the right man for the job. Last week Mr Johnson had to correct himself after he forgot the date by which Labour hoped to halve the deficit. Asked about the comments, Mr Milband said: “Alan clearly knows about these things. It’s the big things that matter.” – Daily Mirror

Labour lead by eight points

Labour has opened up an eight-point lead in the latest ComRes survey for The Independent as the Conservatives start to feel a backlash over spending cuts and the rise in VAT. It shows Labour on 42 per cent, up three points since the most recent ComRes poll for The Independent on Sunday three weeks ago, the Conservatives on 34 per cent (down three), the Liberal Democrats on 12 per cent (up one point) and other parties 12 per cent (down one). This is the biggest Labour lead, and the Tories’ lowest share of the vote, in any poll since last May’s general election and the largest Labour lead since ComRes began polling for The Independent in 2006. The figures would give Labour an overall majority of 102 at the next election if it were fought in the current first-past-the-post system. According to ComRes, the Tories trail Labour among voters in every age group below 55 and in every region of Britain except the Midlands. Labour enjoys a narrow one-point lead among the AB top social group. – Independent

Minister in fishy embarrassment

Fisheries minister Richard Benyon has been caught out by TV chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall after the politician revealed his lack of knowledge about Britain’s most common fish. Benyon was able to pick out only cod and monkfish from 12 of the most obvious fish and, after a second chance, managed to identify pollock too. However, he was unable to identify favourites such as halibut, haddock and plaice. Fisheries minister Richard Benyon could identify only three of 12 common fish. The minister makes the gaffe on the TV quiz show Hugh’s Fish Fight, which screens on Channel 4 tomorrow. He was clearly nervous about his level of knowledge when presented with the task. ‘Oh God, this is so cruel. I’m a landlubber,’ says Mr Benyon. – Daily Mail

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