Tag Archives: Downing Street

Daily Mail’s ‘Crush The Saboteurs’ Front Page Prompts Backlash

Theresa May on Wednesday distanced herself from the tone taken by some newspapers in covering her decision to call a snap election, which some have labelled “chilling” and “bitter and twisted”.

The Daily Mail sent shudders across social media with its front page featuring a close-up of the prime minster with the headline: “Crush the saboteurs”.

Continue reading Daily Mail’s ‘Crush The Saboteurs’ Front Page Prompts Backlash


Cameron: UK won’t pay £1.7bn EU bill next month

David Cameron

David Cameron has angrily insisted the UK will not pay £1.7bn being demanded by the European Union by next month.

“If people think I am paying that bill on 1 December, they have another thing coming,” the prime minister said in Brussels. “It is not going to happen.”

He said the demand was “totally unacceptable” and no way for the EU to behave – and he wanted to examine how they arrived at the amount.

EU finance ministers have agreed to the UK’s request for emergency talks.

The demand from Brussels would add about a fifth to the UK’s annual net EU contribution of £8.6bn.

‘Lethal weapon’

Mr Cameron said he was “downright angry” and said the British public would find the “vast” sum “totally unacceptable”.

“It is an unacceptable way for this organisation to work – to suddenly present a bill like this for such a vast sum of money with so little time to pay it,” he said.

“It is an unacceptable way to treat a country which is one of the biggest contributors to the EU.”

He added: “We are not going suddenly to get out our cheque book and write a cheque for 2bn euros. It is not going to happen.”

He sounded like a prime minister unleashed; by turns scornful and furious, lectern thumping, downright angry.

It seemed he was doing exactly what UKIP leader Nigel Farage demanded – refusing the European Commission any money at all.

But David Cameron was well in control.

He said he would not pay on 1 December, but did not rule out paying later.

He accepted the principle of a fluctuating EU budget that meant bills went up as well as down.

After that performance he cannot, and surely will not, pay what the Commission demands.

But by how far can he negotiate down the bill? Half of £1.7bn, a quarter, a third; all represent big money.

Were he to refuse to pay whatever the Commission finally demands, could he still persuade EU leaders in vital, future negotiations?

For a party leader battling Mr Farage, the pictures on the TV news tonight will be perfect.

If his diplomats can’t do a decent deal, they will come back to haunt him.

Mr Cameron said his position was backed by several other European leaders whose countries are also being tapped for more money, claiming his Italian counterpart Matteo Renzi had described the demands as a “lethal weapon”.

He said that he first heard about the EU’s demands on Thursday but acknowledged that the Treasury knew about it last week.

But addressing who had known the details first, he said “you didn’t need to have a Cluedo set to know someone has been clubbed with the lead piping in the library”.

There has been anger across the political spectrum in the UK at the EU’s demand for additional money, which comes just weeks before the vital Rochester and Strood by-election, where UKIP is trying to take the seat from the Conservatives.

Drugs and prostitution

The surcharge follows an annual review of the economic performance of EU member states since 1995, which showed Britain has done better than previously thought. Elements of the black economy – such as drugs and prostitution – have also been included in the calculations for the first time.

George Osborne: ”It’s unacceptable to be presented with a multi-billion pound demand with six weeks to pay”

The UK and the Netherlands are among those being asked to pay more, while France and Germany are both set to receive rebates. The UK is being asked to pay the most.

Several Conservative MPs have said the UK should refuse to pay the sum, describing it as “illegal”.

EU diplomats told Reuters that finance ministers would meet to discuss the issue, while Downing Street is pressing for “a full political-level discussion” well before 1 December.

It is not clear whether there will be a separate meeting or whether the issue will be discussed at a scheduled meeting of EU finance ministers next month.

‘Thirsty vampire’

Labour said Mr Cameron had failed to explain how long it had known about the EU proposals, suggesting he had delayed making it public over fears about how it would go down with voters.

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls said it was wrong that an “unfair” bill had been “sprung upon” the UK but suggested that the Treasury should have acted sooner.

“The prime minister says he wants a meeting of finance ministers next month. He should have done this last week,” Mr Balls told the BBC News Channel.

He added: “I want this bill to come down and a deal should be struck.”

The UK Independence Party likened the EU to a “thirsty vampire” and said the demand strengthened its case for exiting the EU.


Analysis by economics editor Robert Peston

Now to be absolutely clear, none of this is a surprise to the Treasury or chancellor. British officials have known for some time that the inflammatory demand from Brussels was coming.

What did catch them by surprise was what it sees as a deliberate leak by EU officials of the news last night – which they see as an attempt to embarrass David Cameron, as he meets other EU leaders to discuss, among other things, his controversial hopes of being able to restrict migration of EU nationals to Britain.


UKIP leader Nigel Farage said the UK already paid £55m a day to be a member of the EU and suggested it would have no option but to pay the supplement.

“To be asked for a whole load more and be given a few days in which to pay it, is pretty outrageous and I think people will be very very angry,” he said.

“And it just leaves Mr Cameron in a hopeless position. Remember one of his big claims is that he cut the EU budget. The result of that cut is that our contribution had gone up a little bit and now it has gone up a lot.”

UKIP leader Nigel Farage says David Cameron is in a “hopeless position”

The additional payment was requested after the European Commission’s statistics agency, Eurostat, reviewed the economic performances of member states since 1995, and readjusted the contributions made by each state over the past four years based on their pace of growth.

The BBC’s head of statistics Anthony Reuben said prostitution, drugs and tobacco smuggling were not included in national income before 2002 when they should have been, under accounting rules.

In contrast, prostitution was included in Germany’s own national accounts and given EU budget contributions are based on national income, this partly explains why the UK has been underpaying and Germany overpaying, he added.

The UK has received rebates in the past as a result of this process.

The Commons European Scrutiny Committee is to investigate the proposed increase in the UK contribution to the EU’s budget.

Committee chairman Sir William Cash said: “I expect a Treasury minister to appear before the Committee early next week.”

Cameron calls for broad constitutional reform after Scottish vote

David Cameron

David Cameron held open the door for sweeping constitutional reform of the UK, pledging greater powers for English MPs over English legislation after Scotland voted decisively to remain part of the United Kingdom.

The No campaign won a more comprehensive victory than the opinion polls had suggested, by a margin of 55.3 to 44.7 per cent . But the impact of the vote will trigger a major constitutional upheaval for the whole of the UK.

After an army of “silent” No voters defeated an unprecedented challenge to the 307-year union a relieved Mr Cameron declared Scottish independence was now off the table “for a generation”, possibly a lifetime.

But while Alex Salmond’s dream of independence was defeated on Thursday night, the UK prime minister acknowledged Scots had made clear they wanted to exercise more powers closer to home.

Alex Salmond, first minister of Scotland

That in turn is expected to lead to a new constitutional settlement for the entire UK, with more power for English MPs over their own affairs and a transfer of money and power from Westminster to big cities.

Addressing the nation outside Downing Street, Mr Cameron said “the settled will of the Scottish people” was to stay inside the UK and that he would “honour in full” a pledge to deliver new powers over tax and welfare for the Scottish parliament.

Yes campaign supporters in George Square, Glasgow

But he said new powers for Scotland had to be accompanied by a deal that gave English MPs more of a say over their own affairs. “The question of English votes for English laws requires a decisive answer,” he said. The “millions of voices of England must now be heard”.

Investors reacted with relief, with bank shares up sharply after the market opened. Royal Bank of Scotland shares were up 3.5 per cent at 366p, Lloyds Banking Group shares rose 1.5 per cent to 772p and Standard Life shares were up 1.7 per cent at 424p. The FTSE 100 was up 0.6 per cent to 6,858.

Pro-union supporters

Earlier Mr Salmond, the leader of the Scottish National party, conceded defeat in a rousing and at times defiant speech to supporters. Hailing the turnout of 86 per cent and the estimated 1.6m voters who had backed independence, Mr Salmond said Scotland would expect the recent pledges of further devolution to be “honoured in rapid course”.

“I don’t think that we’ll ever go back to business as usual in politics again. We have seen a scare and a fear at the heart of the Westminster establishment as they realise the mass movement of people that was going forward in Scotland.”

He also held out the prospect of Scotland attaining independence in the future. Scotland had by a majority decided not “at this stage” to become an independent country, Mr Salmond said.

Leader of the Better Together campaign, Alistair Darling

Alistair Darling, leader of the Better Together campaign, said many pro-union supporters had been cowed into silence and that this was their victory: “The silent have spoken,” he said. “Some people have felt unable to speak except through the ballot box.”

Sterling initially gained in reaction to the result, rising 0.3 per cent higher to $1.6442, but later falling back against the dollar.

Yes supporters held their heads in their hands as it became increasingly clear through the night that Mr Salmond’s passionate campaign had failed to convince wavering Scots to break their links with the rest of the UK.

Mr Salmond secured victory in Glasgow – the city voted Yes by 53 to 47 per cent – and also won in Dundee. But the margins of victory were not as great as he had hoped and those victories were offset by heavy defeats elsewhere in the country. The No campaign won Edinburgh, by 61 to 39 per cent.

Supporters from the Yes campaign sing outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh

Overall, the referendum turnout of 84.6 per cent is approaching a record for the era of universal suffrage. Wales saw similar levels in the general elections of 1950 and 1951 but for Scotland and the UK as a whole, the last time this figure was surpassed was the general election of January 1910, when 86.8 per cent of an all-male electorate voted.

The Queen, who was said by aides to be following the referendum “very, very closely” at her Scottish residence Balmoral, is expected to make a written statement on Friday on the implications of the vote for the UK.

Business leaders welcomed the result of the referendum, while also voicing concern over continuing political uncertainty.

Pro-union supporters react with joy as Scottish independence referendum results come in at a Better Together event in Glasgow

“There can be no doubt that many businesses will breathe a sigh of relief that the prospect of a contentious currency debate and prolonged economic negotiations have been avoided, and yet we know that significant changes are still on the cards,” said Simon Walker, director-general of the Institute of Directors in London.

A member of the Radical Independence Campaign cries as referendum results are announced at the Royal Highland Centre in Edinburgh

“As negotiations commence on a future settlement for Scotland, the focus must be on ensuring that any new powers are used to boost Scotland’s economic competitiveness, unleash enterprise and attract further investment.”

RBS confirmed it would not be moving its headquarters south to England in the wake of the poll. The bank had warned if the Yes vote won, it would look at it shifting its domicile.

Labour leader Ed Miliband at a rally in Glasgow after Scotland voted to reject independence and remain part of the union

“The announcement we made about moving our registered head office to England was part of a contingency plan to ensure certainty and stability for our customers, staff and shareholders should there be a Yes vote,” the bank said.

“That contingency plan is no longer required. Following the result it is business as usual for all our customers across the UK and RBS.”

Scottish turnout in national polls

James Sproule, chief economist and director of policy at the CBI, the employers’ federation, said: “My immediate reaction is pleased and relieved. I didn’t think [independence] was going to be a good deal for the Scottish people or Scottish business.”

Hundreds of Yes supporters accepted defeat in central Glasgow as their ranks began to thin in George Square, the main gathering point, as dawn approached.

Ballots are counted at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre

One kilted man with blue face paint held his head in his hands for several minutes, motionless. A red-headed girl was in tears. Others kicked the chunks of glass that littered the ground in disgust.

Walking home after a night on George Square, Robert Lindsay, a Yes supporting pensioner, said: “I’m pretty down but a lot of people have been mobilised and politicised by this. There were a lot of us.”

Supporters from the Yes campaign react as they sit in George Square in Glasgow, Scotland

Scottish Independence ‘Yes’ Campaign Takes Narrow Lead in Latest Polls

The Queen and Prince Phillip at yesterday's highland games in Braemar, Scotland. (Getty)

51% of Scots intend to vote for Scotland to become an independent country, according to YouGov poll

The pro-independence ‘Yes’ campaign has pulled ahead for the first time in polls on the Scottish independence vote.

Some 51% of Scots intend to vote for Scotland to become an independent country in the September 18 referendum, with the ‘Yes’ campaign having overturned a 22-point lead for the pro-unionist ‘No’ campaign.

Of those polled, 49% said that did not want Scotland to become and independent country.

The YouGov poll conducted for the Sunday Times excluded undecided and abstaining voters.

The momentum seems to be with the ‘Yes’ campaign, led by the Scottish National Party’s first minister Alex Salmond, to break Scotland’s 300-year union with England.

A Buckingham palace source told the Times that the Queen does not support Scottish independence, and that “there is now a great deal of concern” over prospect of the dissolution of the union, with the monarch asking for daily updates on the progress of the campaign.

Secessionist campaigners urged their side to remain focussed.

“While this poll puts us marginally ahead, other polls show that we still have more progress to make if we are to win,” said ‘Yes’ campaign chief executive Blair Jenkins.

Polls show a tight race

Alistair Darling, leader of the Better Together campaign said that the polls show that the vote “will go down to the wire”.

“It is not the Battle of Britain,” he added, “It is the battle for Scotland, for Scotland’s children and grandchildren and the generations to come. This is a battle we will win,” he said.

Responding to the poll, chancellor George Osborne said that in the next few days new plans will be revealed to hand more powers to the Scottish parliament.

He told the BBC: “You will see in the next few days a plan of action to give more powers to Scotland, more tax powers, more spending powers, more powers over the welfare state.”

“That will be put into effect the moment there is a ‘No’ vote in the referendum.”

However, a poll conducted for the ‘Yes’ Scotland campaign put the pro-unionists ahead by 52% to 48% when undecided voters were excluded.

A Downing Street source told the BBC that Prime Minister David Cameron believed that there was “only one poll that matters” and that he would “strain every sinew” to make the case for the Union.

David Cameron warns ‘Don’t Make Same Mistake with Putin as we Made with Hitler’

putin cameron
David Cameron has told Europe not to make same mistakes with Putin as they did with Hitler

David Cameron has warned that the mistakes made in appeasing Adolf Hitler during the 1930s must not be repeated in the treatment of Vladimir Putin.

Speaking behind closed doors at an EU summit in Brussels, the prime minster warned European leaders that Putin must be prevented from seizing all of the Ukraine to avoid the situation that led to the start of World War II, 75 years ago today.

Cameron compared the current crisis in Ukraine with former prime minister Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement of the Nazi leader in Munich in 1938. This approach allowed Germany to invade Poland the following year, which triggered Britain’s declaration of war on 3 September 1939.

Cameron is quoted by Italian newspaper La Repubblica as saying: “We run the risk of repeating the mistakes made in Munich in 38. We cannot know what will happen next.

“This time we cannot meet Putin’s demands. He has already taken Crimea and we cannot allow him to take the whole country.”

Downing Street declined to confirm whether Cameron really said the remarks regarding Putin. However it did not refute the accuracy of the comments.

Cameron’s reported comments were published after Putin allegedly told the outgoing president of the European commission, Jose Manual Barroso, that he could “take Kiev in two weeks” if he wanted.

According to reports, Barroso asked Putin about the presence of around Russian troops in eastern Ukraine. Nato believes there are currently 1,000 Russian troops who have invaded the country, with Ukraine puting the figure closer to 1,600.

“The problem is not this, but that if I want I’ll take Kiev in two weeks,” Putin is reported to have said, according to La Repubblica.

Putin’s senior foreign policy adviser, Yuri Ushakov, said the comments were “taken out of the context” and criticised Barroso for leaking the conversation.

“This is incorrect, and is outside all the normal framework of diplomatic practice, if he did say it. This is simply not appropriate for a serious political figure” Ushakov said, according to the Russian Interfax news agency.


Elsewhere, Ukraine president Petro Poroshenko has claimed that a “permanent ceasefire” has been reached between Russia and eastern Ukraine.

Poroshenko tweeted: “As a result of my telephone conversation with the Russian President we reached an agreement on a permanent ceasefire on Donbass [Eastern Ukraine]. Glory to Ukraine.”

However, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov denies a ceasefire has been reached as “Russia is not a party in the conflict”.

US President Barack Obama said no deal between the nations would be reached if Russian continues to send troops in Ukraine “disguised as separatists”.

He told a press conference in Estonia: “We have consistently supported the effort of President Poroshenko to achieve a meaningful ceasefire that could lead to a political settlement of the conflict.

“So far it hasn’t helped, either because Russia hasn’t been serious about it or has pretended that it’s not controlling the separatists.”

William Hague to step down as foreign secretary

William Hague has stepped down as foreign secretary, paving the way for a far-reaching cabinet reshuffle on Tuesday as David Cameron moves to bring more women and younger faces into his top team.

Mr Hague’s departure from the Foreign Office will trigger the first big changes at the top of the cabinet since Mr Cameron became prime minister in 2010. Other cabinet casualties were Owen Paterson, the environment secretary, David Jones, the Welsh secretary, Andrew Lansley, the Leader of the House, Dominic Grieve, the attorney-general, and Ken Clarke, minister without portfolio.

Philip Hammond, defence secretary, was expected to be named as Mr Hague’s successor.

Mr Hammond has struck a much tougher note on Britain’s EU membership than Mr Hague, saying last year that he would vote for Britain to leave the bloc unless significant reforms were achieved.

UK foreign minister William Hague steps down from post -UPDATED

Mr Hague announced he would step down as an MP at the next election after a cabinet career that has spanned 20 years.

He made it clear to Mr Cameron that he did not want to go to Brussels as Britain’s EU commissioner; instead he will play a political role as Leader of the House and the prime minister’s de facto deputy until the next election.

His decision to move aside at the Foreign Office will trigger a wider shake-up and leave room for Mr Cameron to make good on his promise to promote more women and elevate MPs from the 2010 intake to his top team.

The prime minister last night began a clear-out of middle-aged male ministers, in an extensive reshuffle intended to give the Conservative party a new face at the next election.

The generational change was symbolised by the retirement of Mr Clarke, whose cabinet career spanned 25 years. He left the front bench vowing to continue to fight from the backbenches to keep Britain in the EU.

While Mr Clarke was toasting his retirement with a glass of red wine and a curry at the Kennington Tandoori, Mr Cameron was delivering the bad news to a series of ministers from his office behind the Speaker’s chair.

Mr Jones, Welsh secretary, was the first to confirm he was being removed from the cabinet while Alan Duncan, the international development minister, said he was leaving the front bench voluntarily.

David Willetts, the science minister who was at the heart of talks with Pfizer in its aborted takeover bid for AstraZeneca, also lost his job and announced he would step down as an MP next year.

Two ministers pursuing policies that were once at the heart of Mr Cameron’s modernising drive also left the government: Nick Hurd, the “Big Society” minister, and Greg Barker, climate change minister.

Damian Green, the police minister whose office was raided by police when the Tories were in opposition, was another minister to lose his job.

Separately, it was announced that Sir Bob Kerslake is to lose his job as head of the civil service, marking a shake-up at the top in Whitehall.

Mr Cameron’s decision to conduct the cull in the House of Commons spared ministers the indignity of having to walk down Downing Street past the cameras to learn their fate.

By contrast, those winning promotion will walk to Number 10 to illustrate what Mr Cameron will claim is a more diverse ministerial team.

They are expected to include Nicky Morgan, Treasury minister, Esther McVey, employment minister, and Liz Truss, education minister, while other MPs elected only four years ago will be given a chance to prove themselves in government.

Mr Clarke told the Financial Times he had decided to retire before people started to wonder how to get rid of him and before he made “a pig’s ear of something”. He plans to write an autobiography.

Labour claimed the reshuffle marked the advance of the Tory right and the “massacre of the moderates” in the cabinet.

Yoko Ono Finds a Buyer for her $8.9 M. Downing Street Co-op

Yoko Ono (Patrick McMullan)

Most famous for her relationship with John Lennon, Yoko Ono has a considerable—if unusual—oeuvre of her own. In 1964, she performed Cut Piece, in which she appeared on stage draped with fabric that she invited audiences to snip away, leaving her nude. Later, she made experimental films centered on human buttocks, and installed Wish Tree in the sculpture garden at the Museum of Modern Art.

Maintaining an empty multimillion-dollar apartment in a Manhattan co-op building would seem a not-unlikely avant garde maneuver for Ms. Ono, and for years she did just that. Ms. Ono’s son Sean occupied the penthouse at 49 Downing Street, which Ms. Ono purchased in 1995, only briefly, but an October lawsuit against the co-op board suggested that the unit’s vacancy was not a performance art piece. (Ms. Ono claimed that the board arbitrarily blocked potential buyers because they preferred the penthouse empty, rather than occupied by a family with children.)

A spread fit for a king—and his noble steed.

Read more at http://observer.com/2013/11/take-two-yoko-ono-sells-downing-street-co-op-for-nearly-9-m/#ixzz2m9dJhlGH