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Category Archives: Ed Miliband
Rolling coverage of all the days political developments, as immigration causes the prime minister multiple headaches ahead of his weekly Commons questions Continue reading…
Rolling coverage of all the days political developments, including the launch of the northern high-speed rail report and David Cameron facing MPs to explain the EUs demand for £1.7bn
Meanwhile in the Lords, peers have overwhelmingly voted against plans by the justice secretary, Chris Grayling, to restrict the ability to launch a judicial review.
Chris Grayling’s plans to curtail judicial review suffer crushing House of Lords defeat by 247 to 181 – majority 66
Labour is also seizing on former cabinet ministers Ken Clarkes swipe at Cameron this afternoon, when he made it clear the prime minister should have known about the EU bill. Chris Leslie, the shadow chief secretary to the treasury, said:
Ken Clarke has pulled the rug from under David Camerons claims. When even a former Conservative Chancellor admits the government would have known about it for the last five months, its clear that the Prime Ministers story does not stack up. David Cameron and George Osborne must finally come clean and admit when the Government first knew Britain would be hit with this bill and why they failed to do anything about it for so long.
Labour has reacted to our story from this morning based on a Dispatches investigation about Universal Credit. It revealed a jobcentre whistleblower saying the computerised benefits scheme is unworkable, poorly designed and out of date.
Chris Bryant, Labours shadow minister for welfare reform, said:
This is further proof that Universal Credit is in crisis under the Tories, with huge delays and mounting waste. The increasing backlog of claims for Universal Credit are shocking, yet David Cameron and Iain Duncan Smith remain in complete denial, insisting that everything is going to plan.
Heres a quick round-up of all the developments this afternoon:
The Guido Fawkes blog has unearthed the Facebook page of the man who collided with Cameron this morning:
Here is a fuller account of the Archbishop of Canterburys words on immigration by Rob Hutton, of Bloomberg. This is one good quote from the story:
The language we use must reflect the value of the human being
Cameron has now confirmed some British officials knew about the exact figure almost a week before he did, on Friday 17 October. Treasury officials drew up a memorandum on the Tuesday, and the prime minister himself did not find out about it until the Thursday – the day of the summit itself. This is what he told MPs:
The key meeting was an officials meeting in Brussels on the Friday, the week before the European council. That was the first time the numbers were seen. The Treasury drew up a memorandum on the Tuesday, which you would expect the Treasury to look at those estimates and work out an action plan to deal with them. Then, of course, the prime minsiter was told.
Cameron insists people are judging his ignorance about the £1.7bn EU bill on the basis of a false understanding. The figures were only confirmed at the European council and any earlier reports were a leak, he says.
The PM has just made his first joke about the jogging collision, saying he thought the moment of maximum danger had probably passed when he left the HS3 meeting in Leeds attended by John Prescott…
A quick update on Camerons collision with the jogger earlier: the Met and West Yorkshire police have launched an urgent inquiry into how this was allowed to happen.
Earlier, Mark Pritchard, Conservative MP, called for a full investigation.
Ken Clark went for a jog to the gym and accidentally ran into David Cameron.
Several MPs are using the discussion about the European Council to stake out their positions on the European Arrest Warrant – the next headache due to descend on the prime minister in the coming weeks.
The controversy has arisen because Theresa May, the home secretary, buoyed eurosceptics by deciding to opt out of 133 of EU justice and home affairs measures. However, the coalition then struck a deal to keep 35, including the controversial EAW.
Joe Grice, chief economist at the Office for National Statistics, partially backed up Camerons position on the BBCs World at One programme. He said the ONS had not foreseen the demand for an extra £1.7bn because it was not given access to the calculations of other countries.
Its a little bit more complicated than that as well because the calculation not only depends on what Gross National Income is looking like, but what everyone elses Gross National Income is looking like. And just as we have made in the UK some significant revisions to the figures over the last 11 years going back to 2002, so of course have the other member states.
The UKs figures go back many months… The final figures we submitted to Eurostat, the statistical office for the European Union, at the end of September.
Here is that tremendous quote from Ken Clarke poking fun at his party leader:
May I first of all sympathise with the prime minister for being taken by surprise on a subject which everyone in the Foreign Office and the Treasury must have know was coming along for the last five months. British officials did this huge revision of the GNP… But I congratulate him on choosing the sensible point now, which is how to challenge the methodlogy and get the size of this reviewed.
George Eaton, political editor of the New Statesman, has tweeted a picture of the letter showing the Treasury was giving high priority to the EU budget adjustments in March
The letter from Nicky Morgan cited by Miliband, which said the Treasury was giving “high priority” to GNI changes. pic.twitter.com/Zr2RX01Usa
David Cameron has finally given a clearer answer on his willingness to pay the sum. He will not pay 2bn or anything like that.
Eurosceptic backbencher Bernard Jenkin calls for a parliamentary vote if the UK has to hand over any more cash. The PM dodges this issue (he obviously wont want to risk that).
Europhile former cabinet minister Ken Clarke has just made an exceptionally unhelpful intervention for the prime minister, stating that the both the Foreign Office and Treasury must have known about the EU bill for months. During Clarkes meandering speech on the subject, Camerons face is an absolute picture of irritation.
In answer to a tangential question on Michael Fallons comments about the swamp of immigrants, David Cameron gives his defence secretary a gentle but firm admonishment:
We should always choose our language carefully. He said this morning he wished he chose his words differently and I agree with him.
David Cameron laughs at the idea that Ed Miliband suggests there was a failure of communication between No 10 and No 11. He mocks the difficult relationship between Miliband and his shadow chancellor Ed Balls, as well as the divisions in Scottish Labour
Miliband has a letter with him from Nicky Morgan, the former economic secretary, showing that her officials knew about the revisions seven months ago. The Labour leader touches a real nerve when he accuses the prime minister of failing to get on top of the detail:
Months and months when he doesnt do the work, followed by last-minute pyrotechnics when it goes wrong…. For all his bluster, he has been asleep at the wheel and it is the British people who have paid the price.
In reply, Ed Miliband says the European Commissions handling of the matter has been cack-handed.
However, he demands to know whether Cameron did proper due diligence. Miliband says it is not credible that Downing Street did not know about this.
This is simply not the case… The scale of these changes shouldnt have taken anyone in government by surprise.
David Cameron is still only ruling out handing over 2bn – leaving the door open for paying a lesser sum. He says the UK will find a way not to stump up this amount:
We will crawl through this in exhaustive detail.
David Cameron is giving his statement in the Commons on the European Council. He starts by congratulating the troops returning from Afghanistan.
He talks briefly about the developments on climate change and now hes moving on to the £1.7bn bill.
What has never happened is for 2bn euros to be demanded… It is simply not acceptable for the EU to make these kind of demands and to do this through a fast-track process lasting barely a month.
There is no pressing need for the money to be paid.
These are the quotes from Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, who told lobby journalists over lunch that hes extremely worried about language being used by politicians to talk about immigration in UK.
We have a very, very long tradition in this country of welcome for those coming from overseas, and its always been controversial.
Do I worry about the language? I do, I really do. Weve got 9,000 clergy working in 16,000 parishes, living in these parishes, weve got better reports from the grass roots than almost anyone. What were seeing is an upsurge in minor racist, anti-semitic, anti-Islamic, anti-foreigner, xenophobic… not major things, just comments being made, but which are for people who come from this background seriously uncomfortable, really quite frightening.
The language we use must reflect the value of the human being and not treat immigration as just a deep menace that is somehow going to overwhelm a country that has coped with many waves of immigration and has usually done so with enormous success.
The prime minister is due in the Commons shortly to give a statement about last weeks disastrous European Council. If MPs are in a challenging mood, they might like to ask some of these unanswered questions about the £1.7bn bill:
- When exactly was the figure of £1.7bn mentioned to any UK official or minister?
- Given that the UK knew the adjustments were coming, had the government made any estimates about how much it might be?
Either David Cameron sought this battle or he was asleep on the job. It is hard to say which is worse
It sounds like the Archbishop of Canterbury has been making some extremely interesting comments about the political climate around immigration at a press gallery lunch in the House of Commons. My colleagues are furiously typing up the quotes, but here is a flavour of what he said:
Justin Welby warns about the language used about immigration. Says it’s not simply a ‘deep menace that is going to overwhelm the country’.
In light of Lord Freuds comments about the disabled, Michael Fallons words about the swamp of immigrants and Lord Tebbits ideas about the young unemployed picking ragwort, its worth reading this piece by Armando Iannucci in the Evening Standard about the way politicians cast around for scapegoats:
In straitened and uncertain times, people look for bogeymen. Eurocrats and immigrant workers are usually the first against the wall but theres another chunk of society quietly being singled out for a more sinister denunciation. Be careful everybody in todays Britain, woe betide you if youre on welfare.
Over in the Commons, Nicky Morgan, the education secretary, is having her regular bun-fight with Labours Tristram Hunt, who attacks her for allowing a rising number of unqualified teachers.
She brushes aside his concerns, saying he needs to look at outcomes and claims only 3% of teachers in schools are unqualified.
My colleague Mark Tran has written a story about the jogger colliding with David Cameron, although the man doesnt look particularly like he is exercising.
David Camerons speechwriters: I bumped into a man in Leeds the other day is a gift of an opener.
Heres some bad news for the prime minister ahead of his appearance in the Commons to explain the EU budget bombshell.
Jacek Dominik, the European budget commissioner, has warned there is no possibility of an extension, adding that he was surprised by the Camerons angry reaction because the UK knew all about it.
From the video footage, it certainly looks like David Cameron was shoved as he left the Leeds event. The police arrested the male jogger and later released him, saying it was a case of someone in the wrong place at the wrong time. Regardless, its quite a lapse of security.
Heres a quick round-up of the days events so far:
Leaving the HS3 event, the prime minister was reportedly jostled by a protester, although his aides say he was not touched.
Prime Minister David Cameron confronted by a man outside Leeds Civic Hall. Video shows man pushing PM before police step in
The senior Tories have finished speaking on HS3 in Leeds now. This is a fuller version of David Camerons comments:
I am delighted to be here today because I am passionate about high speed rail. I think it is so important for our country that we make sure that high speed rail works for Britain in the way that it is working for other countries.
I really think it is a great report and it is fully justified, getting you to look again at HS2, looking at amendments [to] give us a vision of the future. Thank you, also, for giving me an example of a graphic where it says thee blue team is beating the red team.
One highly unlikely political story around this morning is that Russell Brand, the comedian and would-be revolutionary, could run for London mayor. Boris Johnson, the outgoing mayor and would-be Tory MP for Uxbridge, has said he would be thrilled to see Brand stand – partly because the comedians critics seem jealous and partly because he seemed like a nice chap. Writing in the Telegraph, he said:
Russell Brand may be about as convincing as a political theorist as a toaster made by Russell Hobbs, but he is at least engaging his left-wing audience with something they can recognise as passion
David Cameron has put an estimated price tag on HS3. He reckons it would cost roughly the same per miles as HS2, leading to a total of £6bn to £7bn. I believe its affordable, he adds.
Campaigners argue it is even more costly that than HS2 line connecting London to the north. Stop HS2 campaign manager Joe Rukin said:
Typical of the Government, with HS3 they have come up with the highest cost solution. At £175m per mile, it would be even more expensive than HS2.
Anyone been wondering what happened to the Ukip calypso songs chart debut?
Media Monkey reports it was a flop – after former BBC Radio 1 DJ Mike Read asked for it to be removed from sale.
George Osborne has now said HS3 is the biggest ever collective investment by any government in the north of England. (Except the point of actually committing any money is still a very long way off).
Labour mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson has just challenged the government to make sure his city is fully involved in HS3, arguing it must be careful not to let two norths develop.
Not an entirely packed room for Camerons HS3 speech, it would seem, from this picture taken by a Yorkshire Post reporter.
David Cameron has finally appeared on stage in Leeds to talk about the HS3 northern rail report. He told the audience:
Im delighted to be here because I am passionate about high-speed rail. I think it is so important for our country that we make sure it works for Britain in a way that it works for other countries…
[Such plans] are not always popular but I profoundly believe it is right.
My colleague Helen Pidd sends this dispatch from the HS3 event in Leeds – except we shouldnt strictly be calling it that.
An official from the HS2 team has just admitted to me that its nonsense for the government to call the new proposed cross-Pennine rail line HS3. For a railway to be considered high speed it needs to be capable of travelling at speeds of 250km/h or more. Given how short the distances are between the northern cities, and the number of stops in between, the trains would never be able to get up to that velocity. So really we should probably start calling the line northern crossrail or the super duper quite fast but not high speed transpennine line.
David Cameron might be in Leeds talking about very important infrastructure for the north of England but its his refusal to wear Elles feminist t-shirt that is getting the commentariat in a lather.
David Cameron – officially, not a feminist. In case you were uncertain: http://t.co/zv6swzG8Nz
Heres a quick summary of what Sir David Higgins is recommending for HS3:
Theres an unexpected guest lying in wait for Cameron and Osborne at the launch of their HS3 report. Lord Prescott, the former deputy prime minister, says theyve nicked his plan and it is a decade too late.
Our political editor Patrick Wintour points out the link between the Tory leaderships plans for HS3 and their promise of tax cuts for middle to higher earners.
HS3. Pie-in-the-sky tax cuts and now pie-in-the-sky train tracks.
Heres some breaking news on the race to lead the Scottish Labour party. Sources have told the BBC and Sky that Anas Sarwar, the interim leader, will not stand. He was favourite to take over so this clears the path for other contenders like shadow international development secretary Jim Murphy (who hasnt announced his intentions yet).
Osborne and Cameron are about to join Sir David Higgins in Leeds for the launch of the high-speed rail report.
There has not been a positive reception so far from Dr Richard Wellings, head of transport at the Institute of Economic Affairs:
The proposal for a new high-speed rail link in the north is little more than a costly vanity project. HS3 is an expensive and inefficient way to link northern cities, which are relatively close in distance. A high-speed rail line would make little difference to door-to-door journey times for most travellers, northern conurbations being geographically spread out to include numerous different towns.
HS3 may well be a good idea with an urgent need but at the moment we have no system in place to identify all future challenges to be able to judge them against each other and best enable us to future proof these decisions.
The way the we identify our infrastructure requirements can best be described as sketching in the dark. The UK needs an Infrastructure Authority to help shine some light on all the infrastructure challenges that as a country we need to address.
Back to Michael Fallon and swampgate for a second. Hes now withdrawn his comments, but stood by the thrust of his argument. He told the BBC:
I misspoke yesterday, I used words I wouldnt normally have used
Sorry to see Michael Fallon being made to retract sentiments widely shared by a significant number of voters in Britain
What does a feminist look like? Not a 48-year-old ex-Etonian inhabitant of 10 Downing Street, apparently. David Cameron has just been skewered by Elle magazine for declining to wear their feminist t-shirt. Not so Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband, who were both game.
We asked the Prime Minister five times if he would wear the Fawcett Societys iconic This Is What A Feminist Looks Like slogan T-shirt and send us a snapshot (it would only take 10 minutes). Five times, he declined. This is a shame on so many levels, especially given he knew Nick Clegg and [Ed] Miliband had agreed without hesitation, alongside many other influential men who were more than happy to call themselves feminists. It seems the Prime Minister still has an issue with the word feminist.
Our northern editor Helen Pidd will be covering the launch of the HS3 report live from Leeds at 10.30am.
In the meantime, heres a quick round up of the newspapers, which are dominated by the UK exit from Afghanistan, claims by the defence secretary that some towns are swamped by immigrants, and that ongoing row over the European Unions £1.7bn bill for Britain.
David Camerons public arguments for HS3 are somewhat different, of course. He sets out his thinking in an article for the Yorkshire Post:
High Speed 2 is already set to connect London and Birmingham with a 250mph railway. We are welcoming recommendations by HS2 boss Sir David Higgins for how we can maximise the benefits to the North as we extend high speed rail to Leeds and Manchester. And we are making a huge new commitment: to develop an East-to-West high speed link HS3 between Leeds and Manchester.
This will have an enormous impact on Yorkshire. Journey times from Leeds to Sheffield will fall from 41 minutes to just 17 minutes. To Birmingham they will be cut from just under two hours to under an hour. With HS3, passengers could travel from Leeds to Manchester in just 26 minutes.
Apologies to anyone who is seeing the first word crash into the time-stamp in todays posts. Im told by the tech team that we may have a bug in beta. It is getting fixed as soon as we can.
Its worth asking why George Osborne and David Cameron are so keen on this new northern rail line when its controversial predecessor HS2 has hardly got off the ground yet. Could it be that all the party leaders are desperately trying to show the north of England and its marginal seats some political love ahead of the election?
Osborne first started talking about his northern powerhouse in June. Shortly afterwards, Labour leader Ed Miliband said he would create regional economic powerhouses. Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg has also launched a new project called Northern Futures and called for a golden triangle of growth taking in Sheffield, Manchester and Leeds.
Sir David Higgins, head of the controversial HS2 project, went out to bat for the new northern rail line on the BBCs Today programme a little earlier. There are already questions over how much it would cost, the potential benefits and how long it would take to build. In the face of sketchy facts, he made a valiant effort to defend the idea in a round of broadcast interviews:
I cant see why HS3 would be more expensive than HS2. It would be a combination of upgrading existing lines, also some new tunnels… Theres no reason why it would be more expensive. Theres no doubt that particularly the first stage will improve commuter routes to London, but the other thing is it just makes the north so much more competitive just within itself. Theres 8m people in the crescent from Birmingham through to Leeds and 4m jobs. Thats going to make these cities much more competitive. It also means businesses should relocate out of London because of the cost structure. The London underground and the train system there allows London to draw skills from a huge area and thats what we need in the north.
Welcome to Politics Live on Monday 27 October. Im standing in for Andrew Sparrow today, as hes taking a well-earned rest after the non-stop action of the Scottish referendum, party conferences and Clacton byelection. The schedule is looking fairly busy already:
10.30 George Osborne and David Cameron are in Leeds for the launch of a report on another high-speed rail line in the north. Overnight, the newspapers have been briefed about the governments backing for a new HS3 line connecting Liverpool to Hull via Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield.
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