POLITICS

Mehdi's Morning Memo: Hester Insists He Was Not Forced Out

13/06/2013 08:48 BST
Getty
Stephen Hester, chief executive officer of Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc (RBS), speaks on his mobile phone as he walks through Westminster in London, U.K., on Monday, July 16, 2012. Hester plans to scale back lending and bolster the Edinburgh-based bank's balance sheet before the government sells its 82 percent stake. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The ten things you need to know on Thursday 13 June 2013...

1) THE £5.6M GOODBYE

Royal Bank of Scotland shares plunged 5% today as the City reacted badly to yesterday's surprise departure of chief executive Stephen Hester. The bank is also expected to announce 2,000 job losses today. The subject of numerous 'fat cat' headlines, Hester is guaranteed 12 months' pay and benefits worth £1.6 million and the potential for a £4 million shares windfall from a long-term incentive scheme. But he will receive no bonus for 2013.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme this morning, Hester said he was not feeling "bent out of shape" by leaving the bank. He added: "I'm not being prised out in any way reluctantly".

"In the end I feel it was a persuasive argument that while of course I was ready to take the bank through privitisation for me that would have been the end of a journey. If the bank can attract a good CEO for whom it is the beginning of the journey that is the best way around," he said.

So now HMG has to find someone else to take on the job...

Today's Memo is edited by Ned Simons as Mehdi Hasan is filling out his application form to take over RBS

2) GOOGLE WHACKED

MPs have called on HM Revenue & Customs to "fully investigate" Google, after finding that the internet giant uses "highly contrived" tax arrangements with the sole purpose of avoiding corporation tax on its multibillion-pound revenues in the UK.

In a scathing report, the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee dismissed as "deeply unconvincing" Google's claims that its UK sales activities take place in low-tax Ireland and found that the company's account of its operations made "absolutely no sense".

Committee chairwoman Margaret Hodge branded the company's arguments "brazen" and said the only way for Google to repair its damaged reputation was to arrange to pay a fair share of tax in the countries where it earns its massive profits.

3) LABOUR TARGETS MURDOCH

Harriet Harman is to suggest limiting the share of the newspaper market one person is allowed to own to below the "damaging" 30% mark, in what will be seen as a direct, renewed and not overly subtle attack on Rupert Murdoch.

In her speech at Westminster University this evening, Harman will say while the Leveson Inquiry dealt with complaints against the press, it did not address "the invincibility that came with too much power concentrated in the hands of one man".

"Too much power in too few hands hinders proper debate. Plurality ensures that no media owner can exert such a damaging influence on public opinion and on policy makers. It ensures that no media company can have so much influence that it feels itself immune, above the rule of law. It ensures no private interest can set itself above the public interest."

Harman will also call on culture secretary Maria Miller to join cross-party talks on media plurality. Which is sure to delight the newspapers, who were so happy with the last cross-party agreement on the press.

4) TAKE OFF THAT SHIRT (OR RATHER, COVER UP)

Speaking of Murdoch owned titles. Yesterday Caroline Lucas cause a minor stir by wearing a 'No More Page Three' t-shirt during a Westminster Hall debate on sexism in the media. The Green MP was forced to cover it up with her suit jacket as it broke the dress code. However the crafty campaigner did manage to sneak into PMQs wearing the shirt - although was unsuccessful in getting the slogan more TV time as she was not picked to ask a question.

Lucas has also written to the House of Commons authorities to ask that The Sun be banned from parliamentary shops until the tabloid binned the naked ladies.

5) 'THE SHAMING OF NICK CLEGG'

That is the headline on the Daily Mail this morning. The papers reports that a "humiliated" Nick Clegg has had to admit he did not respond well enough to a series of sexual harassment complaints against Lord Rennard.

The report into the allegations against Lib Dem chief executive, and how the Lib Dems dealt with them, found: "Mistakes were definitely made. They were made by Nick Clegg, Danny Alexander and Jo Swinson." The report also included the easily (and with good reason) mockable flow diagram of how the Lib Dems work - or don't work.

Still, not quite as bad a headline as when the paper asked in 2010: 'Is there ANYTHING British about Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg?' Possibly.

6) MAY ON MANOEUVRES?

Theresa May has stoked leadership rumours, again, by telling the Reform think-tank last night David Cameron needed to "reassure people about our motives and our values". The Daily Telegraph reports on a "wide ranging speech" that went far beyond her Home Office brief that one guest told the paper "prime ministerial in its canvas".

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR...: EDL's Tommy Robinson Is 'Great Guy' Says Fox News Presenter Brian Kilmeade (VIDEO)

7) IRAQ WAR COMMONS DEBATE

MPs will hold a debate this afternoon on the Iraq War. Not on starting it up again, but to mark the ten year anniversary. The backbench debate was pushed for by Caroline Lucas, Tory Rory Stewart (who worked for the Foreign Office in Basra during the war), Labour's Paul Flynn and Charles Kennedy.

"With ongoing delays to the reporting of the Chilcot Inquiry, it is critical that the public does not see Parliament just sitting back and ignoring the 10-year anniversary of this devastating conflict," they said.

The debate comes as MPs, including a substantial number of Tories, are pushing for David Cameron to grant them a vote before any arms are given to Syrian rebels. The prime minister has said the Commons will be allowed to "have its say". But suspicious backbenchers are not convinced this means a vote before action is taken. Expect Syria to feature heavily in today's Iraq debate.

8) TWITTER SPAT IN THE SENATE

Imagine if Commons committee chairs paused their sessions to respond to snarky tweets made by reporters in the parliamentary press gallery - they would never have time to get anything else done. But that is what happend in Washington yesterday. Slate reports how Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski extraordinarily interrupted a evidence session a hearing on Prism to respond to a tweet from BuzzFeed's Rosie Gray.

9) CAMERON'S 'LOAN SHARK'

The Independent reports this morning that Henry Angest - a friend of the Camerons and a former Tory Treasurer - is one of Britain's high cost lenders. According to the paper his lending company charges members of the public interest at an average 74.8 per cent APR on loans.

At the same time he gave the Conservatives a £5m overdraft facility shortly before the last General Election at an attractive interest rate of just 3.5 per cent.

10) COMING OVER 'ERE, STEALING OUR...

A major new study has sparked a furious debate by saying migrants are more likely to be in work since the financial crisis than men born in the country.

Despite a drop in overall employment during the economic downturn, male migrants in the UK have had higher levels of employment than "native-born men" from 2007 onwards, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has said.

Sir Andrew Green, chair of campaign group Migration Watch UK, said: "It is time for a thorough assessment of the impact of immigration on the employment of British workers that this report only touches on."

But Jonathan Portes, director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, told The Huffington Post UK: "It remains the case, of course, that there is little or no evidence of any adverse impact from immigration on employment for the UK-born."

140 CHARACTERS OR LESS

@RobDotHutton "I think I spoke to George two or three months ago." Hester confirms that bank firings are brutal in the public sector, too.

@YouGov Labour lead at 8 - Latest YouGov/The Sun results 12th June - CON 30%, LAB 38%, LD 11%, UKIP 12%

900 WORDS OR MORE

Peter Oborne in The Daily Telegraph: Lord Ashcroft and the Tory party must part company.

Lord Ashcroft on Conservative Home: (Another) response to Peter Oborne.

Tim Bale in The Guardian: The rise of Ukip - more blip than permanent shift?

Got something you want to share? Please send any stories/tips/quotes/pix/plugs/gossip to Mehdi Hasan (mehdi.hasan@huffingtonpost.com) or Ned Simons (ned.simons@huffingtonpost.com). You can also follow us on Twitter: @mehdirhasan, @nedsimons and @huffpostukpol