The ten things you need to know on Wednesday 3 July 2013...
1) '20 YEARS OF AUSTERITY'
Britain's top civil servant, Sir Jeremy Heywood, has warned that the government is engaged in a "20-year generational battle" to restore the economy. The cabinet secretary told an audience of civil servants at the Civil Service Live event yesterday (the mandarin's version of a party conference) that there was still an "enormous amount of work to get that deficit down".
The Daily Telegraph leads on the story this morning, reporting that Sir Jeremy made it clear George Osborne's cuts had not gone far enough: "Five years on from the bottom of the recession we have still not even near recovered all the output we lost in that terribly deep recession that we suffered in 2007-08. Those are really daunting numbers that just show the size of the challenge; there is no alternative.”
Today's Memo is edited by Ned Simons as Mehdi Hasan has been put on 'special measures'.
2) FOOD BANKS
Welfare minister Lord Freud caused a stir in the Lords yesterday (it takes quite a lot do that) after he suggested there was "no evidence of a causal link" between the government's welfare reforms and spending cuts and the increase in the number of food banks. The story makes the front page of The Independent today, which reports on charity outrage at the comments. Chris Mould, of the Trussell Trust, which runs 325 food banks, said: “The only people who seem unable to accept there is a social crisis driven by the cost of living is the government.”
3) 'FEEBLE' EU REFERENDUM POSITION
It's prime minister's questions today and while it is not immediately obvious what Ed Miliband will lead on - although food banks have been a favourite topic in the past - we can be sure David Cameron will crowbar references to the Labour leader's troubles with the unions in to any answer. The prime minister is also likely to repeat his mockery of Miliband's position on an EU referendum.
Yesterday during a Commons statement, Cameron noted: "He has said he is not in favour of a referendum, the shadow chancellor has said it's pretty stupid not to have a referendum and his chief advisor has said its 'conceivable' they might have a referendum."
The prime minister was referring to Lord Wood, one of Miliband's top advisers who told The Huffington Post UK last week Labour may decide to promise a referendum close to the 2015 general election.
4) LABOUR 'GRAVEYARD'
Former home secretary David Blunkett warned Ed Miliband yesterday that a failure to stand up to the unions would leave Labour as the “party of the graveyard.” As The Daily Mirror reports, Blunkett spoke out as Labour tried to contain a row over the selection of a candidate for the Falkirk seat in Scotland. The party has been forced to suspend the process and put the constituency in “special measures” amid accusations the Unite union tried to fix the selection.
The story also makes the front page of The Times, which reports Labour has seized control of 14 of its constituency parties as a result of attempts to manipulate selections and exert unfair influence. However the Labour Party has suggested the Times' story is "seriously misleading" because 12 of the 14 constituencies were placed in special measures pre 2005.
5) 'MARKER IN THE SAND'
MPs are hopeful they will be able to force the government to allow parliament to block any decision to arm the Syrian rebels. Despite repeated reassurances from ministers including William Hague, many backbenchers simply do not trust the government.
A cross-party group of MPs led by Tory John Baron and supported by former Lib Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell and former Labour cabinet minister Peter Hain yesterday petitioned the backbench business committee for a debate to be held before 18 July - the summer recess. The idea is to place a "marker in the sand" over whether or not there will be a vote.
Under the plan, as HuffPost UK reports, MPs would be asked to debate and then vote on the following motion: "This House believes no lethal support should be provided to anti-government forces in Syria without the explicit prior consent of parliament."
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6) MORSI REJECTS ULTIMATUM
Britons are being advised not to travel to large parts of Egypt as deadly political unrest continues to grip the country. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is recommending against all but essential travel to Egypt, following widespread protests.
At least 23 people have been killed and more than 200 injured following clashes between supporters of president Mohammed Morsi and those who want him removed. Morsi, who a year ago was inaugurated as Egypt's first freely-elected president, last night rejected an ultimatum by the army that the country's leadership crisis be resolved by today, pledging to protect his "constitutional legitimacy" with his life.
His vow not to resign came hours before a deadline to yield to the demands of millions of protesters or see the military install a new leadership.
7) SNOWDEN MAKES FLIGHT?
Last night a plane carrying Bolivia's president home from Russia was sensationally diverted to Vienna amid suspicions NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was onboard. The Guardian reports France and Portugal were accused of withdrawing permission for the plane, carrying the president, Evo Morales, to fly through their airspace. The decision has caused quite a bit of upset among other South American nations, The Guardian has a good liveblog of the situation here.
8) STOP SPYING ON US PLEASE
MEPs will today debate the PRISM programme revealed by Snowden amid fury in Brussels over revelations the US spied on EU missions in Washington and New York. MEPs are expected to stress the need to speed up the reform of EU data protection rules. They will also vote on a resolution on Thursday 4 July. MPs asked David Cameron about the controversy during a Commons debate yesterday, however the prime minister refused to be drawn. Other EU leaders however have suggested the spying revelations could damage prospects of a EU-US free trade deal.
9) LEGAL AID GRILLING FOR GRAYLING
The justice secretary faces a grilling by MPs on the justice committee today over his controversial plans to overhaul legal aid. Chris Grayling has announced a raft of reforms in his ''transforming legal aid'' consultation to save £220 million a year.
Solicitors and barristers believe the plans, which include paving the way for lawyers to compete for contracts and introducing a household disposable income cap, could destroy the ''world-renowned'' justice system in England and Wales. The session comes after the Justice Secretary indicated that he is preparing to rework one of the most heavily-criticised aspects of the reform package.
In a letter to the Justice Committee, he said he expects to make changes to a proposal to remove the client's right to choose a solicitor when receiving criminal legal aid.
10) ROMNEY VOTED AGAINST ROMNEY
Over the Christmas break of 2010, Mitt Romney and his family took an internal poll on whether he should run for president once more. Twelve family members cast ballots. Ten said no. One of the 10 was Mitt Romney himself.
The doubts that the former Massachusetts governor harbored before ultimately launching his second unsuccessful bid for the presidency are one of several attention-grabbing details in "Collision 2012," the newest book on the 2012 campaign.
Written by The Washington Post's Dan Balz, the book is set to go on sale Aug. 6, 2013 (pre-order your copy here). The Huffington Post obtained a copy on Monday.
140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
@andrew_hough BREAKING Koala held by Prince Charles during visit to #South Australia last year has been stolen from #Adelaide home
@David_Cameron: The sky over Downing St a little grey right now. Let's hope it clears up for @Andy_Murray to win at #Wimbledon.
@davidschneider As part of the reciprocal deal, during Ramadan mosques throughout Britain will broadcast Countdown five times a day.
900 WORDS OR MORE
Chris Grayling in The Daily Telegraph: Don’t be tempted by Ukip's nice Nigel Farage: An opposition leader could well win the next general election if the Tories let down their guard.
Simon Jenkins in The Guardian: To rein in top pay, keep MPs poor and furious.
Mary Riddell in The Daily Telegraph: Ed Miliband hopes his tortoise will prevail over the David Cameron hare
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