POLITICS

Mehdi's Morning Memo: Cameron's Message To Scotland

07/02/2014 08:33 GMT | Updated 07/02/2014 08:59 GMT
Paul Faith/PA Archive
Conservative Party leader David Cameron, receives a standing ovation after addressing the Ulster Unionist Party conference in Belfast.

Here are the five things you need to know on Friday 7 February 2014...

1) CAMERON: SEND A MESSAGE TO SCOTLAND

David Cameron is calling on the people of England, Wales and Northern Ireland to send a message to Scotland as it prepares to vote in the independence referendum: "We want you to stay."

In a speech at the Olympic Park in London, the Prime Minister will channel the patriotic spirit of the 2012 Olympic Games to argue that the whole country will lose out if Scotland votes in this September's referendum to leave the UK.

While accepting that the decision on September 18 is a matter for Scots alone, Cameron will urge the English, Welsh and Northern Irish to do whatever they can to influence the outcome, telling them: "You don't have a vote, but you do have a voice."

Independence would be bad for Scotland but would also leave the United Kingdom "deeply diminished" and would "rip the rug from under our own reputation" in the world, Cameron will say.

2) 'F*CK THE EU'

"F*ck the EU". That was reportedly the conclusion not of a eurosceptic Tory backbencher, but of the top US diplomat for European and Eurasian affairs,Victoria Nuland. Audio of Nuland making the remark to the US ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt leaked yesterday.

As The Guardian reports, the state department’s spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that Nuland, who made the disparaging remark about the EU, “has been in contact with her EU counterparts and of course has apologised for these reported comments”.

White House spokesman Jay Carney pointed the finger of blame for the leak at Moscow. “I would say that since the video was first noted and tweeted out by the Russian government, I think it says something about Russia’s role,” he said.

3) LORD SMITH OF SOMERSET

The chairman of the Environment Agency will today visit the Somerset Levels for the first time since it was hit by floods, as more residents were urged to evacuate their homes overnight.

Royal Marines who had been in the region building sandbag defences were drafted in to assist with the evacuation of residents in the village of Moorland this morning. Another night of heavy rain overwhelmed local flood defences and the water level began to rise. Residents from nearby Northmoor, Fordgate and Saltmoor on the Levels had already been warned to evacuate last night.

Environment Agency chairman Lord Smith will arrive in the region amid criticism of claims he made in a newspaper interview that Britain may have to choose whether it wants to save "town or country" from future flooding because it is too costly to defend both.

The agency has also been under fire from some residents who believe river dredging could have helped reduce flooding. The Daily Telegraph reported that days before the recent winter storms, the EA is said to have told peers that it could not act to protect the railway line at Dawlish, Devon, from the sea until it had studied the impact of any improvements on local birdlife.

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4) GOOD NICK AND WICKED NICK

Nick Clegg is riven by an internal battle between his "good" and "wicked" sides over schools reforms, the Education Secretary has claimed. Michael Gove said the Deputy Prime Minister had an angel sitting on one shoulder that backed the controversial shake-up while a "bad" force was urging him to indulge radical Liberal Democrats.

Relations between Clegg and Gove have appeared strained for sometime, with the Liberal Democrat leader criticising the use of unqualified teachers and blocking plans to allow nurseries and childminders in England to look after more children.

He told the Daily Telegraph: "Good Nick, the angel one on shoulder, is saying: 'What Gove is doing is socially progressive, socially mobile, and in tune with good old Gladstonian principles'.

"Wicked Nick, sitting on his other shoulder, is saying 'Yes! But some of your more radical activists dislike it, so pander to them'," he said. "He will have to decide whether it's the good or the bad Nick that he indulges."

5) GRAYLING: BBC 'UNBALANCED'

The BBC has a "cultural leaning to the left" and needs to work on its impartiality, a Tory Cabinet minister has claimed.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said the BBC did things that were not "right and proper" for a public broadcaster, saying the problems were not just confined to current affairs programmes but also affected entertainment shows.

He said: "I think there's still an inclination to cover issues in a way that is very much about the culture of a slightly left-leaning, metropolitan group of people who are disproportionately represented there."

The BBC has come under fire from senior Tories over the way it has reported the Government's benefits cuts, and recently the corporation insisted that a description of an ''incoherent'' Mayor of London which featured in an episode of Sherlock was not an attack on Boris Johnson.

In an interview with The House magazine Grayling said: "They've been on the wrong side, they've been unbalanced in the debate over the years about immigration, about Europe. And I think they've wised up to that.

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