UK and the EU
The Telegraph’s headline is “One step closer to quitting Europe”
Britain has moved a step closer to leaving the European Union after David Cameron declared “war” on Brussels over the nomination of Jean-Claude Juncker.
Keeping Britain in the EU “has got harder”, the Prime Minister said, after he was outvoted by 26 to two in his attempt to prevent Mr Juncker becoming the European Commission president.
The result emboldened Eurosceptic MPs and UKIP supporters who want to leave the EU. However, Mr Cameron said he would wage a “long, tough fight” to reform Brussels before campaigning for Britain to remain in the EU in an in-out referendum he has promised to hold in 2017.
Has Mr Cameron not yet understood that the EU will not reform to suit his needs? Daniel Hannan tries to rationalise it all with his leader “Juncker is named President of the European Commission – Britain’s days in the EU are numbered”
The game is up. No one will now believe that the United Kingdom can deliver a substantively different deal in Europe. The FCO’s ploy of doing a Harold Wilson – that is, making some piffling changes and presenting them as a significant new deal – has been discredited almost before it began. If David Cameron couldn’t prevent the appointment of Jean-Claude Juncker as President of the European Commission, no one will believe that he can deliver a more flexible EU, with more freedom of action for its member nations.
The Telegraph also reports from Cardiff with “Mosque hardliners gave extremist lectures at school”
A hardline mosque accused of helping to radicalise the Cardiff youths filmed in a jihadi propaganda video delivered regular extremist lectures to pupils at the state school they attended.
Cathays High School allowed regular Wednesday lunchtime sessions in its main assembly hall with Ali Hammuda, a hardline preacher from Al-Manar mosque in Glynrhondda Street.
The sessions, entitled “Reminding Cathays High”, included teaching pupils that music and “free-mixing”, contact between boys and girls, were “not permitted in Islam”. In a separate lecture at the mosque, Mr Hammuda described music as a “sickness”.
The Independent also reports on this.
Cameron and his Bad Boys
Not just Coulson, but The Telegraph reports that “Cameron aide Patrick Rock charged over child abuse images”
One of David Cameron’s closest aides has been charged with making and possessing child abuse images. Patrick Rock, 63, who was one of the government’s advisers on policy for online pornography filters, was charged today by the National Crime Agency.
He has been charged with three counts of making an indecent photograph of a child in August 2013. He has also been charged with possession of 59 indecent images of children.
David Cameron wanted to pose as the Lone Ranger of Brussels going down in a blaze of glory in a principled battle over the EU. But the Prime Minister’s posturing and spin could not disguise his abject failure to stop Jean-Claude Juncker taking the helm of the powerful Commission. His humiliation was another reminder of the terrible judgment that has damaged Mr Cameron at home and abroad.
He misjudged Vladimir Putin before the Ukraine crisis, Andy Coulson over phone hacking and now Angela Merkel over the EU. Nigel Farage is rubbing his hands in glee at the prospect of President Juncker handing UKIP a poll bounce. Tories will now step up their demands for real reform of the EU ahead of the referendum on membership. But by upsetting his natural allies like Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands, Mr Cameron has made it harder to deliver that.
Iraq and Isis
The Guardian leads on the insurgency in Iraq with “Isis onslaught in Iraq claims terrible toll of victims on both sides of divide”
Vengeful Shia militias add atrocities to Sunni-led militant group’s brutal killings with casualties crossing sectarian lines… the country threatens to break apart – with Kurds preparing to go their own way – under the onslaught of Isis backed by Sunni tribes in the north. Nouri al-Maliki, the Shia prime minister, stands accused of pursuing sectarian policies that have allowed Isis to exploit Iraq’s traditional Shia-Sunni divide. Maliki is being urged by the US and others to step down for a less divisive figure, but he has brushed aside calls for a government of “national salvation”. As Maliki digs in his heels, the prospect of civil war looms. The human cost is already high.
Human Rights Watch on Friday said Isis killed between 160 and 190 men in at least two locations earlier this month when they captured Tikrit, the northern city and birthplace of Saddam Hussein, the former dictator.
The paper also reports that “US flying armed drones in Iraq”
The Guardian also report negatively on their poster boy Blair with “Tony Blair accused of conflict of interests in Middle East”
Iraq’s latest bloody crisis and its links to the 2003 war brought Tony Blair back into the headlines this week, along with calls for him to step down as a Middle East peace envoy – but new evidence has emerged that his private business interests in the ever-volatile region are expanding.
Aides to the former prime minister confirmed that he was actively considering opening an office in Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates, which is in the frontline of the struggle against political Islam. But a spokesperson denied suggestions by a leading Arab economist that he was being considered for a job advising Oman on its long-term development, after his controversial £27m consultancy project for the Kuwaiti government in recent years.
Retired diplomats and political enemies united to demand Blair be sacked as the envoy of the Quartet – the UN, US, Russia and EU – after achieving little to promote Israeli-Palestinian peace in seven years.
The Independent reports on dissatisfaction in Union ranks with “‘Two million’ school and council workers to go on strike after GMB and two other unions vote yes”
Britain is about to face one of its largest walkouts of public sector staff, the GMB union has said, after as many as two millions workers agreed to go on strike.
The trade union has announced that its members in councils and schools, which make up part of its 620,000-strong membership, have voted three-to-one to stage a mass walkout over pay and conditions on 10 July.
Ukraine, EU and Russia
Buried well down in the paper is this report in The Independent: “Ukraine crisis: Putin warns Ukraine faces ‘serious consequences’ after signing EU deal”
Russia has warned there could be ‘serious consequences’ for Ukraine after its President Petro Poroshenko signed up to a trade and economic pact with the European Union, in a deal that has been central to the crisis in the country.
The signing of the partnership agreements, hailed by Mr Poroshenko as the “most important day” for Ukraine since it gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, comes as a shaky cease-fire between government troops and pro-Russian rebels is due to expire.
Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Mr Putin, told Russian news agencies that the Kremlin would respond to the EU-Ukraine accord “as soon as negative consequences arise for the economy”.
The EU is not learning, either.
Interest Rates and Housing
The Mail reports on Carney’s promised interest rate rise with “Rate rise will increase your mortgage by £2k: Bank of England interest rates will increase by 2.5 per cent by 2017”
The cost of a typical mortgage could jump by nearly £175 a month over the next three years, homeowners were warned yesterday. The Bank of England suggested interest rates are likely to rise to 2.5 per cent by early 2017 – five times the current level of 0.5 per cent.
Such an increase would add £174 a month – or £2,088 a year – to a typical £150,000 standard variable rate mortgage. Although the move would benefit the millions of savers who have been hit by record rock-bottom rates since March 2009, many cash-strapped households are ‘vulnerable’ to higher borrowing costs.
The Express looks at the other side of the coin on housing with “House gap widens in two-tier market”
House prices shot up 18.5 per cent year-on-year in London in May but rose by only 0.9 per cent in the North-east and 1.3 per cent in the North-west. Overall in England and Wales prices were up 6.7 per cent from May 2013 to May 2014. This equates to a £960 rise every month on the average home, the fastest annual rate since summer 2010.
The data, from the Land Registry, shows the typical home now costs £172,035. London prices increased at their fastest annual rate in more than 11 years in May, pushing average values in the capital to £439,719.
Flexible Working Hours
The Mail reports on an absurdity of the new regulations on flexible working hours: “Now everyone has the right to demand flexible working hours: And parents and carers could lose out to colleagues who simply want a lie-in”
Britain’s 30million workers will have the right to demand flexible hours from Monday – even if they just want a lie-in or time off to pursue a hobby. They will not have to give a reason why they want to be off at certain times and companies have been told they cannot judge requests on merit. It means parents and carers – who already have the right to ask for flexible working – could lose out to those with less pressing responsibilities.