Following the Irish referendum on the Lisbon treaty, and imminent ratifications by Poland and the Czech Republic, the Conservative party are on a “collision course” with their Eurosceptic right with Boris Johnson arguing that the British “deserve a say” on the treaty. The Express suggests that “dodging” David Cameron was under “intense pressure” as he “refused to make clear what would happen if the Tories came to power next year with the Lisbon treaty in force.” Instead, David Cameron wants Britain to opt out from the social chapter and demand greater power over justice and home affairs.
The Telegraph write “Sickness benefit cheats to face tough Tory test” as David Cameron announced he would impose a £25-a-week benefit cut on as many as 500,000 incapacity benefit claimants to fund a £600m back-to-work programme. Yvette Cooper, the work and pensions secretary, described Cameron’s plans as “a rehash of what we’re already doing, but without the investment needed to make them work.” Lib Dem Steve Webb said: “This is yet more Tory posturing … Much of what David Cameron is proposing is happening already. But the central assumption – that unemployment is simply about the workshy not applying for jobs – is ridiculous in the middle of a global recession.”
Gordon Brown will hold talks today in Northern Ireland with Peter Robinson, the First Minister and leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, and Martin McGuinness, Sinn Fein’s Deputy First Minister. Fears are growing over when, and if, policing and justice powers will be devolved to Belfast.
The Scottish National Party has threatened legal action if Alex Salmond is forbidden from participating in the proposed television debate between the main UK party leaders. Labour described the SNP’s option of going to court as a “sinister threat”, and claimed, along with the Liberal Democrats, the Nationalists were attempting to bully broadcasters.
Amid scenes of jubilation, Greek socialists were last night swept into office with a resounding victory after more than five years of conservative rule. With 98% of the votes counted, the centre-left Pasok party was leading with 43% – giving it a majority of 160 seats in the 300-member parliament – while the centre-right New Democracy party had 34%. Pasok have been commended by David Miliband for internal party reform including new “engaging and deliberative party structures.” The extent of the defeat led to the immediate resignation of 53-year old prime minister and conservative party leader Costas Karamanlis.
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