Refendum

Most of the media have stories on one or other aspects of the Prime Minister’s attempt to win favourable terms for the UK in advance of the expected Brexit referendum.

ITV reports that Mr Cameron asked the other EU countries to work with the UK to find a solution.

Prime Minister David Cameron has insisted that the UK is “an open nation” while making his final push for a reformed European Union during a major speech in Hamburg.

Mr Cameron, who was giving his last speech before crunch EU talks next week, told the gathering that Britain will not “pull up the drawbridge and retreat from the world” and his aim is “to keep Britain inside a reformed European Union”.

But he insisted that the EU needed to change.

Mr Cameron called on Germany to work with the UK to reform Europe in a way that can “deliver prosperity and security for us all.”

The BBC claims the Prime Minister has said the UK is an ‘island nation’.

David Cameron has said Britain will never “retreat from the world” and it is in Europe’s interests for the UK to stay in a reformed European Union.

Speaking in Hamburg, the PM said changes he was seeking to UK membership would make Europe “more outward-looking, competitive and dynamic”.

He said if he got what he wanted he would campaign “unequivocally” for the UK to stay in.

Campaigners for EU exit have said the PM’s renegotiation is a sham.

And Sky News says he has support from Germany’s Chancellor Merkel. 

In a speech attended by the Prime Minister in Hamburg, the German Chancellor gave her strongest endorsement yet to the UK Government’s proposals.

Mrs Merkel said: “These concerns that David Cameron has raised with the European Union are not only understandable – but we even support them.”

She told dignitaries: “We are at one in saying that in the European Union much more needs to be done for competitiveness, more transparency and cutting red tape.”

And in clear reference to the PM’s demands to restrict benefits to EU migrants she said that “social systems ought to be protected against abuse”.

But the Express lists 10 ways in which Mr Cameron has failed to get a good deal.

DAVID Cameron’s farcical attempts to reshape the UK’s membership of the EU have achieved nothing of value, Brexit campaigners have said.

The Vote Leave campaign said the Prime Minister has secured nothing more than “cosmetic” changes in his much-vaunted negotiations with Brussels.

They highlighted ten broken promises which Mr Cameron made over the years but shelved during his talks.

They seized on forgotten pledges to rein in European courts, kick out failed jobseekers and make changes to restrictive treaties.

Several of the commitments were in Tory manifestos, but never came true after Mr Cameron was elected.

In a furious attack the Vote Leave chief executive also accused the Prime Minister of exaggerating the significance of the concessions contained in his draft deal.

In a continuation of what has been described as ‘Project Fear’, the Guardian claims Mr Cameron has said we must stay in EU to unite against aggression.

Britain should stay in a reformed European Union so countries can stand together against the aggression of Russia, North Korea and Islamic State, David Cameron has said.

At a dinner in Hamburg hosted by Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, the prime minister gave his strongest comments yet about what he sees as a need to stay in the EU for national security reasons.

He made the remarks in his final set-piece speech on the EU before he meets other leaders for a summit on 18-19 February to agree Britain’s renegotiation demands in Brussels.

Cameron needs all 27 EU leaders to back the deal hammered out with the European council president, Donald Tusk, who has cleared his diary to hold pre-summit talks with some of the doubters, including France’s François Hollande, Greece’s Alexis Tsipras, Romania’s Klaus Iohannis and the Czech premier, Bohuslav Sobotka.

The Independent has a similar story.

The world would be a more dangerous place if Britain voted to leave the European Union, David Cameron has claimed, as he travelled to Germany in a final effort to enlist the backing of Angela Merkel for his renegotiation demands.

In a speech in Hamburg, Mr Cameron said it was “vital to keep Britain in a reformed EU” to face down “dangerous and murderous ideologies” and stand up for democracy and the rule of law.

His address was a final set-piece event before meeting other EU leaders in Brussels next week, where he will need to win the backing of all 27 other member states for his demands. He was due to hold talks with Chancellor Merkel on the fringes of the event, hoping to win her support in preventing key British demands from being watered down during the summit.

And in Breitbart, former UKIPDaily editor Donna Edmunds reports that the Prime Minister has been warned to listen to his grassroots or face destruction of the party.

More than 130 Conservative Party councillors have written to the Prime Minister, David Cameron, warning that he risks destroying the Party if he continues to ignore Conservative grassroots opinions on Britain’s membership of the European Union (EU).

The signatories have called upon Conservatives across the country to back a British exit from the European Union at a referendum to be held on the matter this summer, arguing that Mr Cameron’s proposed renegotiation of the terms of the UK’s membership had failed as it meets none of the criteria set out in the party’s last manifesto, the Telegraph has reported.

In their letter, the 132 councillors have told the Prime Minister that campaigning to leave the Union is the “only honest and responsible thing to do” in light of the poor outcome of his renegotiation.

The Guardian says our own party leader, Nigel Farage, is working hard to fill the ‘leave’ campaign’s coffers.

Nigel Farage is seeking to drum up support among anti-EU donors by saying that Ukip and its allies offer the only guarantee of a unified referendum campaign, which could spend up to £12m, matching or even outpacing the remain side.

Amid continuing bickering between anti-EU groups, the Ukip leader said the campaign to take Britain out of the European Union would be jeopardised if the rival Vote Leave became the main campaign group. It may only be able to spend £7m in the referendum campaign.

Farage, who consulted lawyers before explaining his thinking, is telling donors that few people seem to have noticed the significance of the Electoral Commission’s funding rules, which could hand a major advantage to the leave side.

If donors back Ukip and its allies, Leave.EU and Grassroots Out (GO), who are funded by the Ukip donor Arron Banks, they could spend up to £12m in the campaign.

Junior doctors

The Guardian claims hospitals may refuse to impose Jeremy Hunt’s new contract on junior doctors.

Hospitals may go it alone and refuse to impose the new contract on junior doctors proposed by the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, on NHS trainee medics from August.

The Guardian has established that none of the 152 foundation trust hospitals in England will be obliged to force their junior doctors to accept the deal and can instead offer them better terms.

The disclosure of an opt-out for top hospitals threatens to derail the health secretary’s controversial push to impose new terms and conditions on all 45,000 junior doctors that has sparked their bitter and long-running dispute.

The Independent has a similar story. 

Foundation hospitals in England – which are not controlled by central government – could decline to impose the controversial new working hours

Hospitals across the country could refuse to impose Jeremy Hunt’s new contract on junior doctors.

The Health Secretary announced in Parliament on Thursday that he would “unilaterally” impose the new contract on junior doctors after they failed to reach an agreement over working hours and Saturday pay.

Junior doctors say the new contract – which re-defines what is considered “anti-social” working hours – is unsafe for patients as it will reinforce doctors’ working longer hours.

In some Scottish NHS trusts,junior doctors are reportedly asked to work 100 hour weeks.

But it has now emerged that none of the 152 foundation trust hospitals in England will not be obliged to force their junior medical staff to accept the deal.

Spending claims

In other news, the police are looking at the election expenses incurred in the recent Newark By-election amid claims the winning Conservatives spent too much, says the BBC.

Nottinghamshire Police is considering evidence relating to accusations of overspending by the Conservative Party during the 2014 Newark by-election.

The move follows claims by Channel 4 News that some bills were not included in local spending returns during the poll and two other by-elections.

Labour’s defeated candidate in the Newark poll, which the Conservatives won, has called for an investigation.

The Conservatives say all spending was recorded in accordance with the law.

Speaker spends

The Mirror reports extravagances incurred by the Parliamentary speaker.

John Bercow splashed out tens of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ cash wining and dining fellow MPs – and spent nearly £2,000 on beeswax candles – it has been revealed.

The Commons Speaker laid on lavish dinners, lunches and receptions at public expense, including a £2,000 retirement dinner for his former deputy and a single meal with his Australian counterpart costing £1,954.

Other extravagances include hundreds of postcard-sized photographs of the Speaker that are “sent out on request”, and hundreds of pounds spent tuning the grand piano in his official residence.

The details have emerged in a full breakdown of spending charged to the Speaker’s official House account over the last three-and-a-half years, obtained under freedom of information rules.

Burying bad news

The Mirror lists five stories the Conservatives would rather bury.

Yesterday saw MPs depart for a week’s holiday and, as usual, the Government used it to take out the trash.

While the attention was focused on Jeremy Hunt’s decision to impose the new contracts on junior doctors, ministers quietly buried other bits of bad news.

Cuts to public health funding, court closures and more welfare cuts were all slipped out on the last day of Parliament.

The Tories have form here.

Before the Christmas break they released a blizzard of announcements many of which were embarrassing to the Government.

Union Jacket

The Mail says council officers told a pub landlord to remove his Union Jack jacket because it might offend people.

Pub landlord Jason Mawer has twice been asked in public to remove his treasured Union Jack jacket – for risk of it being ‘offensive’.

He was told to take off his valuable Mod-style Barbour jacket – designed in honour of legendary rock band The Who – by officials who appeared to be council enforcement officers.

On the second occasion the female official warned him: ‘Would you mind removing your coat it might offend somebody.’

Pensions

The Telegraph reports that millions of people face a retirement crisis over a raid on pensions.

Millions of middle-class workers will face a “retirement crisis” if George Osborne pushes ahead with a multi-billion pound raid on pensions, a new analysis has found.

The Chancellor is considering plans to end more generous rebates for higher rate taxpayers on pension contributions and replace them with a flat rate of relief which could be as low as 20 per cent.

An analysis by Hymans Robertson, one of Britain’s biggest pension consultancies, found that two thirds of higher rate taxpayers – equivalent to 3.2 million people – are currently not saving enough for their retirement.

It said that a decision to scrap higher rate tax relief on pension contributions would “penalise” middle class savers even further and discourage them from putting aside sufficient money for their retirement.

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