Politics Summary: Thursday, October 29th

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Gordon Brown told the House of Commons: “If Tony Blair comes forward as a candidate [for President of Europe] we will be very happy to support him.” The Times report that France had won lukewarm backing from Germany for Mr Blair but that neither country was prepared to provoke an EU split over the matter. A shadow Cabinet member who deals frequently with European governments told the Telegraph: “The message is clear: you can have President Blair and five years of internecine warfare with Britain over Europe; or you can have another president and a good working relationship.” Meanwhile David Miliband has told the FT that the Conservative position on Europe is “dangerous to Britain, dangerous for our influence, dangerous for our interests.” Miliband and William Hague debated Europe on the Today programme.

MPs who stand down at an election will lose their £60,000 “golden goodbyes” as part of reforms to the expenses regime. They may also lose a £10,400 budget that can be used to communicate with their constituents. The Guardian reports that senior MPs have threatened to defy Gordon Brown’s plan to impose wholesale reforms unless they are given five years to adjust to the radical new regime. Sir Christopher Kelly received pleas from 17 MPs who did not want him to ban them from employing relatives. The Telegraph report that David Cameron and 10 other members of the shadow cabinet are among those referred to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards after using expenses to make payments to their constituency associations. Meanwhile, an open primary will be used in Gosport to choose the Conservative candidate to replace duck house MP Sir Peter Viggers. But David Cameron is facing a grassroots campaign, coordinated by ConservativeHome’s co-editor Jonathan Isaby, to foil his plans for all-women shortlists.

The BNP could be invited on to Question Time up to once a year if it maintains its current level of support. BBC director general Mark Thompson said Griffin could appear “on any of the programmes the BBC broadcasts which deal with UK-level politics in a way where we try carefully to reflect opinion across the spectrum.” Griffin renewed his attack on senior army officers on a Scottish radio station: “They should do something useful instead of meddling in politics.”

Alcohol and tobacco are more harmful than many illegal drugs according to a paper from a drugs expert. Professor David Nutt, chairman of the government’s advisory committee on the misuse of drugs, said: “Alcohol ranks as the fifth most harmful drug after heroin, cocaine, barbiturates and methadone. Tobacco is ranked ninth … Cannabis, LSD and ecstasy, while harmful, are ranked lower at 11, 14 and 18 respectively.”

The postal strike will continue for three further days after Royal Mail and the Communication Workers Union failed to reach an agreement. Brendan Barber, the general secretary of the TUC who chaired the negotiations, said: “A great deal of positive work has been done in the negotiations, which have been conducted in a positive spirit on all sides throughout. It is crucial that the progress that has been made is not lost.” David Frost, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, told the Telegraph: “This madness is set to continue. No one is benefiting from ongoing industrial action and hard-pressed businesses are the innocent victims.”

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