POLITICS

Mehdi's Morning Memo: Is The Government Hiding Its Pro-EU Study?

13/02/2014 08:24 GMT | Updated 13/02/2014 08:59 GMT
Stefan Rousseau/PA Archive
Prime Minister David Cameron makes a speech on Europe, in central London, where he promised an in/out referendum on the UK's membership of the European Union by the end of 2017, if the Conservatives win the next general election.

Here are the five things you need to know on Thursday 13 February 2014...

1) IS THE GOVERNMENT HIDING ITS PRO-EU STUDY?

Whoops! It turns out the EU isn't so bad after all - according to the government's own internally-commissioned studies. That wasn't the answer they were supposed to produce, of course. From the FT:

"Downing Street will today release official reports concluding that the balance of powers between Westminster and Brussels in key policy areas is broadly correct. The eight Whitehall studies find that Britain's EU membership has bolstered trade, created wealth and brought benefits in areas from legal co-operation to the growth of football's Premier League - not the answers eurosceptics want to hear. So Number 10 has ordered a low-key release for the reports, which include a strong endorsement of the commercial advantages of Britain's EU membership, fearing they might provoke another row with anti-Brussels Tory MPs."

The Guardian's report on the reports adds:

"David Cameron was accused of using the floods to 'drown embarrassing news' after the government announced it is publishing a raft of reports on Britain's relationship with the EU, one of which concludes that the single market is vital to the UK economy. In one of the most eye-catching findings of the eight volumes, easyJet says it would not exist were it not for the EU's single market."

2) DAVEY VS THE CLIMATE CHANGE DENIERS

As David Cameron prepares to chair the first Cabinet committee on flooding today, and reiterates his offer of £5,000 to households affected by the floods, his Lib Dem energy secretary Ed Davey is set to launch an attack on climate change deniers (sorry, sceptics), many of whom are members of the Conservative Party - in a speech to the IPPR, the BBC reports Davey will say:

"From the right, fringes of the Conservative Party and UKIP are parroting the arguments of the most discredited climate change deniers, seizing on any anomaly in the climate data to attempt to discredit the whole. This is undermining public trust in the scientific evidence for climate change, overwhelming though it is. This type of climate change-denying, conservatism is wilfully ignorant, head-in-the-sand, nimby-ist conservatism."

Ouch.

3) FORWARD GUIDANCE, THE SEQUEL

Good news for borrowers and businesses - no rate rises this side of the general election. My HuffPost colleague Asa Bennett reports from yesterday's Bank of England press conference:

"Mark Carney has radically overhauled the Bank of England's flagship forward guidance policy, dropping the 7% unemployment threshold as a target at which Bank officials would start considering raising interest rates. This comes as the falling unemployment rate, which slipped to 7.1% in December, blew a hole in the credibility of the Bank's forward guidance as policymakers were repeatedly forced to insist that interest rates would not need to rise in the near future. In response to a question from HuffPostUK, Carney said: "The objective is not to have forward guidance forever. The objective is to have a recovery that moves into sustainable and balanced expansion."... Despite the Bank upgrading its growth forecast for 2014 to 3.4% from 2.9%, Carney warned that the recovery 'as yet is neither balanced nor sustainable'."

Asa adds:

"Policymakers will now assess whether to raise interest rates on four factors: how robustly wages were growing, how quickly productivity recovers in the economy, the sustainability of the recovery and how it decides to wind down its quantitative easing programme, which has so far injected £375bn into the economy in stimulus. However, the Bank stressed that Britain's economy was too weak for interest rates to rise in the near future, which would mean millions of borrowers would not suffer a rise in mortgage repayments."

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR...

Watch this video of Samuel Jackson blast a US news anchor for confusing him with fellow black actor Laurence Fishburne.

4) IS OSBORNE A BULLY?

On this occasion, I'm not so sure. From the Mirror:

"George Osborne was accused of bullying after warning that an independent Scotland risks losing the pound. In a speech in Edinburgh today, the Chancellor will say: 'I want Scotland to keep the pound and the economic security it brings. I hope passionately the people of Scotland choose to stay within our family of nations.' But Scotland's Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: 'People won't take kindly on the Westminster establishment ganging up to bully Scotland in the decision we're being asked to take on the referendum.'"

I think it's a fair point from Osborne, and not just from Osborne but from his Lib Dem and Labour counterparts, Danny Alexander and Ed Balls. It just happens to make life difficult for the Yes campaign - hence the SNP's bullying jibe.

5) BORIS VS CLOONEY

The mayor of London has decided to take on one of the world's best-known actors - from the Telegraph:

"Boris Johnson has hit back at Hollywood star George Clooney for suggesting London should return the Elgin Marbles to Greece. The capital’s mayor was angered by Clooney calling for the 2,500-year-old sculptures to be returned to Athens while publicising his new film, Monuments Men, which tells how artworks stolen by the Nazis were rescued and returned to their owners. The Mayor said: 'Someone urgently needs to restore George Clooney’s marbles. Here he is plugging a film about looted Nazi art without realising that Goring himself had plans to plunder the British Museum. And where were the Nazis going to send the Elgin marbles? To Athens! This Clooney is advocating nothing less than the Hitlerian agenda for London’s cultural treasures. He should stuff the Hollywood script and stick to history.'"

We await Clooney's response...

PUBLIC OPINION WATCH

From the Sun/YouGov poll:

Labour 39

Conservatives 32

Ukip 13

Lib Dems 8

That would give Labour a majority of 86.

900 WORDS OR MORE

Peter Oborne, writing in the Telegraph, says: "Yes, the floods are awful, but we must keep a sense of proportion."

Tim Montgomerie, writing in the Times, says: "Bureaucrats and politicians must look over their shoulders in case the TaxPayers’ Alliance has them in their sights."

Mary Dejevsky, writing in the Independent, says: "No more US interventionism. No more Washington

as the world’s policeman. What’s wrong with that?"

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