POLITICS

Mehdi's Morning Memo: Meltdown Over Muslims

08/06/2014 10:12 BST | Updated 08/06/2014 10:59 BST
PA/PA Wire
Undated file photos of Education Secretary Michael Gove and Home Secretary Theresa May. May's closest aide has quit and Gove has been forced to apologise as the Prime Minister attempted to end the damaging dispute at the heart of his Cabinet.

Here are the five things you need to know on Sunday 8 June 2014...

1) MELTDOWN OVER MUSLIMS

The fallout from the May-Gove row shows no signs of subsiding. The Mail on Sunday's splash headline - "Tory bloodbath over Muslims schools fiasco" - and standfirst - "Cabinet meltdown as Gove is humbled and May aide fired" - pretty much sums up how severe it all is.

From the Observer's splash:

"A furious Cameron cracked the whip on the education and home secretaries four days after the two stunned Westminster by abandoning any pretence of cabinet responsibility and went public to voice bitter disagreements over who was to blame for failings on one of the most sensitive issues of government policy. Following an unusually swift inquiry by the cabinet secretary, Sir Jeremy Heywood, Downing Street issued a statement on Saturday night saying Gove had written to the prime minister and to Charles Farr, the Home Office's security chief whom he had criticised, to apologise for his behaviour. At the same time No 10 said that Fiona Cunningham, May's special adviser at the Home Office and most loyal lieutenant in her four years as home secretary, had resigned her post for negative briefing against the Department for Education. Cunningham is currently in a relationship with Farr."

Did Cameron take too long to crack the whip? And has May gone from Tory leadership frontrunner last weekend to 'cabinet minister most likely to be sacked next' this weekend? Did she breach the ministerial code?

William Hague told the Andrew Marr show this morning that the PM has dealt with this "disciplinary matter" in a "very firm, clear way". Hmm...

Meanwhile, the Independent on Sunday reports on the coming reshuffle - and says Gove and May are both safe:

"David Cameron is to carry out a 'ruthless' reshuffle within days which could see several senior and long-serving cabinet ministers lose their jobs. The Prime Minister is expected to work on a coalition shake-up when he returns from European talks in Sweden on Tuesday evening. Whitehall is braced for a reshuffle at the end of this week or the start of next. Some of the ministers being considered for the sack are among the most senior ranks, and the reshuffle's timing, coinciding with the start of the World Cup, could lead it to be dubbed 'the night of the long dives'. Senior ministers who are thought to be nervous about their position include Andrew Lansley, the Leader of the Commons; the Chief Whip, Sir George Young; the Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson; Ken Clarke, the Minister without Portfolio; and the Tory chairman, Grant Shapps."

2) 'MY BLOOD IS BOILING'

So, what of the alleged 'plot' itself and the government's planned response to the inquiry into it? The Sunday Telegraph's Andrew Gilligan reports:

"Teachers and governors involved in the alleged “Trojan Horse” Islamic takeover plot face life-long bans from all schools in Britain under new powers being taken by Michael Gove. Mr Gove, the Education Secretary, wants to use the new powers to ensure that anyone found to have been involved in the plot – allegedly designed to Islamise secular state education in Birmingham – is prevented from working in schools elsewhere in the country. He is also considering removing all state schools in Birmingham from the local education authority’s control..."

Gove will also address the Commons on the issue. Meanwhile, the Observer's Daniel Boffey has paid a visit to the school at the heart of the controversy - Park View in Birmingham - and questions some of the more hysterical and fear-mongering claims made by politicians and the press. Boffey writes:

"If anyone has been radicalised in recent weeks it might be Helena Rosewell, 56, the head of music at Park View, who admits her 'blood is boiling'. Rosewell, a teacher for 15 years, has been at Park View for four of those since joining from a local grammar. She voluntarily submitted testimonies to the council condemning the 'absurd' allegations that children were in some way radicalised or even being segregated in classes. 'As a white, non-Muslim, female teacher in charge of music at Park View school for a number of years, I have no hesitation in wholeheartedly opposing the claim that there is any kind of movement in place to either segregate or radicalise our students,' she wrote."

3) JUNKING JUNCKER?

The Observer also reports on the latest EU 'crisis':

"David Cameron will hold crisis talks in Sweden on Monday with Angela Merkel in a further high-risk bid to persuade the German chancellor to drop support for the federalist Jean-Claude Juncker as the next European commission president. Downing Street said that the prime minister, who will also be joined by the anti-Juncker prime ministers of Sweden and the Netherlands to discuss the impasse, would be open to new names coming forward, and the idea of a woman taking the job for the first time in the commission's 62-year history. Juncker, the former prime minister of Luxembourg, was under increasing pressure in Brussels to withdraw in order to prevent the row over his candidacy from pushing the UK closer towards the EU exit door, triggering months of inter-institutional warfare within the EU itself."

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR...

Check out this video of a really, surprised cat. Check out the eyes. And mouth. You know you want to.

4) WAS RACHEL KNOCKING ED?

From the Sunday Times:

"A senior Labour frontbencher has warned that traditional Labour voters are 'abandoning' Ed Miliband because the party has taken them for granted. Rachel Reeves, the shadow work and pensions secretary, admitted that 'the people who the Labour party was set up to help' are flocking to UKIP because they 'don't see us as the answer'... Speaking at a One Nation conference at Queen Mary, University of London, on Thursday, Reeves said that while 'middle-class, public sector, well educated young graduates' are still voting Labour, 'the people who the Labour party was set up to help [are] abandoning us'."

5) 'THE BRAVEST AND TOUGHEST PARTY'

That's Nick Clegg's verdict on... wait for it... the Lib Dems! Surprised, eh? From the Independent on Sunday:

Nick Clegg will attempt to shore up the dwindling power of the Liberal Democrats tomorrow with a speech telling rival parties that he is 'not interested in coalition at any cost'. The Deputy Prime Minister will launch the Lib Dems' campaign for next year's general election by announcing the first of his party's manifesto pledges. Mr Clegg will remind David Cameron and Ed Miliband that he will still be kingmaker next May if the nation votes for a hung parliament, warning that the Lib Dems are 'the bravest and toughest party in British politics'."

I guess you have to be pretty brave and pretty tough to endure your ninth lost deposit (see Newark, last Thursday) in a single parliament and still be standing.

PUBLIC OPINION WATCH

From the Sunday Times/YouGov poll:

Labour 37

Conservatives 33

Ukip 14

Lib Dems 7

That would give Labour a majority of 44.

From the Observer/Opinium poll:

Labour 35

Conservatives 31

Ukip 19

Lib Dems 6

That would give Labour a majority of 42.

900 WORDS OR MORE

Matthew D'Ancona, writing in the Sunday Telegraph, says: "David Cameron has walked away from a spot of blue-on-blue bovver."

John Prescott, writing in the Sunday Mirror, says: "Michael Gove is the REAL extremist interfering in our schools."

John Rentoul, writing in the Independent on Sunday, says: "Does the result in Newark confirm Ed Miliband as a Neil Kinnock?"

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