Monthly Archives: March 2013

Jim Pickard

Speculation is growing in Westminster that Gordon Brown may hang up his boots as an MP in 2015 after taking a back seat in the Labour party.

Mr Brown’s spokesman, when pressed, said the former prime minister was “not proposing to stand down”. But I did not get a simple yes-no answer to one specific question of whether Mr Brown “will stand for Parliament in 2015.”

Two well-placed sources have told me that they do not expect the former Labour prime minister to remain the MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath after the end of this Parliament.

Mr Brown has been a rare speaker in the House of Commons and has left his former protégée Ed Miliband largely alone since he replaced him as leader.

Other allies of Mr Brown, however, claim not to have heard anything about this. And Charlie King, his spokesman, has tried to dismiss the speculation, telling me that “Mr Read more

Elizabeth Rigby

A few weeks ago over a long lunch, a senior Tory warned that Cameron was going to end up cornered over press reform after Lord Puttnam rather unhelpfully decided to add Leveson-friendly amendments into the defamation bill.

The person said the amendment to introduce a cheap arbitration service between newspapers and the public meant that Leveson could end up being “put into law through the back door”. He added:

It is going to cause Cameron a huge problem when the bill comes back to the Commons.

 Read more

Kiran Stacey

I’ve updated this post at the bottom in light of this afternoon’s parliamentary debate on the issue.

As the Tories contemplate the fallout from coming third in the Eastleigh byelection, different ministers have been floating different ideas for recapturing the votes lost to Ukip. One such idea is banning newly-arrived migrants from accessing certain benefits and NHS services.

Polls suggest immigration is a major reason for voters choosing Ukip, and Conservatives worry that trend will only accelerate when limits on movement from Bulgaria and Romania to elsewhere in the EU are removed.

A cabinet sub-committee has been convened to look into the policy options, but in the face of EU rules forbidding discrimination between citizens of different European countries, is there anything they can do, or is this empty populist rhetoric? Read more

Kiran Stacey


Jeremy Forrest, the teacher extradited from France last year

Jeremy Forrest, the teacher extradited from France last year

We revealed this morning that the first battle that Nick Clegg intends to pick in the coalition after his party’s victory in Eastleigh is over the European arrest warrant.

The EAW is one of a number of measures involved in the European crime and justice framework, which the Tories want to leave altogether. The prime minister has won plaudits among his own party for saying he would pull out of the 130 measures agreed among EU countries, but he needs the support of his coalition partners to do so, as it must go to a vote in the Commons.

Negotiations between the two parties are being led by Danny Alexander and Oliver Letwin, and according to sources close to the talks, have pretty much broken down altogether. Read more

Jim Pickard

The biggest irony of Eastleigh is that voting was dominated by an anti-immigration surge on precisely the same day that statistics showed that net migration to the UK had fallen by a third.

The anti-EU, anti-immigration Ukip came second and almost seized its first ever by-election success. Had the party poured more resources into the contest – and perhaps fielded leader Nigel Farage as candidate – it could have had its own Galloway/Bradford moment.

And yet as voters went to the polls in the nondescript Hampshire town yesterday, new ONS data showed net migration at 163,000 in the year to June 2012. That was a big fall from the peak of about 250,000 in late 2010.

The coalition is still failing to hit its promise to bring down annual net migration to “tens of thousands” – but this pledge was only for 2015, so ministers can argue they are on track.

But has the public noticed? These statistics are almost certainly lost with voters, many Read more