Tuesday News Review

Vince: I could bring down the government

Vince Cable has privately threatened to “bring the Government down” if he is “pushed too far” during fractious discussions with his Conservative colleagues, The Daily Telegraph can disclose. The Business Secretary also claims that David Cameron will seek to scrap or reduce the winter fuel allowance paid to pensioners from next year. He believes that policies are being rushed through by the Conservatives and that ministers should be “putting a brake on” some proposals, which are in “danger of getting out of control”. Mr Cable says that, behind the scenes, the Tories and Liberal Democrats are fighting a “constant battle”, including over tax proposals. Likening the conflict to a war, he says he can always use the “nuclear option” of resignation. His departure from the Government would spell the end of the Coalition, he claims. – The Telegraph

What on earth did Vince Cable think he was doing being so frank with two people he had never met who turned up in his constituency? They were from the Daily Telegraph and now he’s all over its front page. Was there an element of showing off? Perhaps. But for him to have unburdened himself, as though he was on the psychiatrists couch, is a little odd. He understands that he is the glue in the coalition, rather than Nick Clegg. Cameron simply cannot afford to lose him. If Vince were to go then this government would struggle to survive. Cable isn’t threatening to walk right away, just making it clear that he has the power to disrupt and destroy the coalition if it comes to it. But beyond his potentially explosive “I’m so tough I could bring the government down” comments, Vince Cable’s answers contain some fascinating and revealing insights. – Wall Street Journal

Lyndon Johnson famously said of J Edgar Hoover that it was better to have him inside the tent p***ing out, than outside the tent p***ing in. I wonder if David Cameron still feels the same way about Vince Cable after his latest gaffe? Of the senior Lib Dems included in the Cabinet, Cable has proved to be the least impressive. He manages to combine a ludicrously inflated sense of his own political importance – “I can walk out of the government and bring the government down” – with a lack of core political skills. Listening to him drone on at Cabinet meetings must be nigh on unendurable. – The Telegraph

Cameron meets union leaders

Union leaders told the PM that ConDem cuts were “dangerous and divisive” during a mince pie summit at Downing Street yesterday. It was the first meeting for 25 years between a Tory government and leaders of Britain’s biggest unions. TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: “We warned the Prime Minister that next year promises to be even bleaker for millions.” The unions also took David Cameron to task over Royal Mail privatisation and public second pensions. Mark Serwotka, from the Public and Commercial ­Services Union, said: “We’ll not be drawn into accepting cuts with the occasional promise of tea and a cosy chat in Downing Street.” Unite’s Len McCluskey, who missed the meeting due to the weather, threatened a “general strike” over cuts. But he was slapped down by Labour leader Ed Miliband for “overblown rhetoric”. – The Mirror
Threat of Tory rebellion over high speed rail

Ministers announced a series of changes yesterday to plans for a £12bn high-speed rail link from London to Birmingham in an effort to avert a Conservative rebellion against the scheme. The connection, to be built between 2016 and 2026, will cut the journey time between the two cities to less than 50 minutes. A second spur would eventually link Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds by the 2030s.The proposed scheme has provoked fury among Tory MPs with constituencies along the proposed route. Critics include Cheryl Gillan, the Welsh Secretary, and David Lidington, the Europe minister, as well as John Bercow, the Commons Speaker. Philip Hammond, the Transport Secretary, insisted there was no prospect of the plans being dropped. “It is my view that a high-speed rail network would deliver a transformational change to the way Britain works and competes in the 21st century,” he said. “It will allow the economies of the Midlands and the North to benefit much more directly from the economic engine of London.” – The Independent

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