06/10/2013 05:47 BST | Updated 06/10/2013 05:48 BST

Mehdi's Morning Memo: Tory Divisions On Europe? Again? Really?

Shadow Minister for Innovation and Science, Adam Afriyie during the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester.
Shadow Minister for Innovation and Science, Adam Afriyie during the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester.

The five things you need to know on Sunday 6 October 2013...


Every time the Tories think they've achieved a position of unity and consensus on Europe... a Tory comes along and, y'know, kinda, ruins it.

This morning it's backbencher Adam Afriyie, long touted as a 'stalking horse' leadership challenger to David Cameron, who calls for an early referendum on quitting the EU in the Mail on Sunday:

"I believe there should be an EU referendum before the next General Election. It’s in our national interest to resolve this issue as soon as possible to create the certainty and stability our country needs for the future... That’s why tomorrow I will be tabling an amendment to the European Union (Referendum) Bill to bring the date of the referendum forward to October 2014."

Last night, a panicked James Wharton, the backbench Tory MP who is sponsoring the referendum bill through Parliament on behalf of his party leadership, told BBC Five Live the Afriyie's amendment could "kill" his legislation altogether:

"My concern is that any amendment, no matter how well-meaning it might be, is going to make the progress of the bill more difficult and it'll make it easier for those MPs who want to use procedural techniques to slow it down and stop it... that bit more possible.

"I don't want to see that. I'd like to see my bill go through and I think this harms the chances of that happening."

Meanwhile, the Sunday Express reports:

"Nick Clegg will this week accuse David Cameron of 'playing with fire' by promising a European referendum to appease 'hardliners' in his party.

"The Deputy Prime Minister will warn the 2017 vote is little more than a 'short-term political calculation' designed to neutralise the Ukip threat and silence backbench rebels.

"He is due to insist the Prime Minister's bid to claw back power from Brussels is doomed to failure because it will never be enough for Eurosceptic Conservatives."

Clegg's got a point. He really does.


Wow. Politicians don't normally sue each other. But, it seems, Labour's shadow health secretary - and former health secretary - Andy Burnham has had enough of the constant personal attacks on his record in government from the current incumbent, Jeremy Hunt, and decided to take legal action against him over a tweet - well, according to the Sunday Times splash:

"Labour is threatening to sue a Conservative cabinet minister over accusations of a cover-up about NHS failures.

"In a dramatic move, Andy Burnham, the shadow health secretary, is preparing libel proceedings against Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, over remarks made on Twitter. Labour party lawyers yesterday wrote to Hunt demanding that he remove the comments from the social networking site or face further action.

"Hunt last night insisted he would not back down, raising the spectre of a court case."

Watch this space.


From the Sunday Times:

"The extraordinary threat [of libel action] is the latest evidence of the Labour leader Ed Miliband's determination to challenge what he sees as unjustifiable attacks and smears against members of his family and frontbench team. It comes after he went to war with the Daily Mail newspaper over an article claiming his late father, Ralph, 'hated Britain'... A YouGov poll for The Sunday Times today shows overwhelming public support for Miliband's stance against the Mail, with 78% of those questioned saying he was right to complain. His aides insist the confrontation was about laying down a marker ahead of the next election, which they believe will be the nastiest in a generation."

In fact, according to YouGov, a majority of supporters of every major party, plus a majority of Daily Mail readers, say Mail editor Paul Dacre should apologise to the Labour leader.

So, is the Mail-Miliband controversy dying down? The Observer splashes on the story but it's a pretty weak splash:

"The headteacher of one of the country's top private schools has accused the Daily Mail of setting an appalling example to young people as the paper faces a barrage of fresh criticism from leading figures in education, the church and media over its attack on the late father of Labour leader Ed Miliband.

"'If the Mail speaks for Britain, it is not a Britain I want to be part of,' [Anthony Seldon, master of Wellington College] said. Referring to the paper's original article on Ralph Miliband eight days ago, which appeared under the headline 'The man who hated Britain', he added: 'It sets a very bad example to young people to belittle someone who is dead. I think it is nasty, it lacks taste and decency, and I worry about antisemitism.'"

There's one particular reason why #mailhategate isn't going away anytime soon - from the Independent on Sunday:

"The Privy Council is scheduled to reveal on Wednesday which of two competing systems of press regulation - one already approved by Parliament, the other an update of the old self-regulation model - should be passed to the Queen for automatic royal approval. Insiders expect the government scheme, backed by all three major parties in Westminster, to be endorsed.

"However, the revelation that one of the two options may not have been fully investigated is likely to fuel criticism of the way the Government has dealt with press reform and seems certain to provoke a call for judges to review the way the process has been dealt with. Any such delay is likely to is likely to fuel criticism that the Government is allowing the issue to be kicked into the long grass. Critics will argue that by failing to be seen to scrutinise the plan backed by the Daily Mail Group, Telegraph Media Group and News International, it is open to the charge of unfair dealing."

Regardless, the Mail's odious and self-destructive behaviour in recent days will give much-needed ammo to those campaigning for greater regulation of the press...


Join 450,000 other people and watch my 'rant' against the Daily Mail on BBC1's Question Time on Thursday evening. Guess what? The Mail don't like very much now. But my offer to write a weekly column for them still stands. :-)


I guess the US government is not 'fully' shut down - from the BBC:

"US special forces have carried out two separate raids in Africa targeting senior Islamist militants, American officials say.

"In Libya, US commandos captured an al-Qaeda leader accused of the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

"Anas al-Liby was seized in the capital Tripoli.

"And a leader of the al-Shabab group was targeted in southern Somalia, but that raid appears to have failed."


Finally. From the Independent on Sunday:

"David Cameron is preparing to increase the number of women in his government this week to meet his pledge of having a third of female ministers by 2015.

"While one or two cabinet ministers may see their jobs change, the main shake-up, expected tomorrow, will be in the junior ministerial ranks, with Liz Truss, Anna Soubry and Helen Grant tipped for promotion, along with Jessica Lee, a relatively unknown MP who is parliamentary aide to Dominic Grieve. The Prime Minister was heavily criticised a year ago for a reshuffle which saw the number of women in the Cabinet decrease from five to four.

"... Once the government reshuffle is complete, Ed Miliband will carry out his own shake-up, with Rachel Reeves, Stella Creasy and Gloria de Piero seen as overdue for promotion."


From the Sunday Times/YouGov poll:

Labour 38

Conservatives 33

Ukip 13

Lib Dems 11

That would give Labour a majority of 58.


@paulwaugh On #Marr, @tom_watson says he will support Adam Afriyie move for an early EU referendum

@iainmartin1 Afriyie seems to have forgotten already is referendum next autumn, in Scotland on the survival of the UK. His one on EU wld be gift to Nats

@davidschneider Either the Tories aren't really "for hardworking people" or NHS staff aren't hardworking people. Must be the latter. Tories wouldn't lie.


Andrew Rawnsley, writing in the Observer, says: "Weirdly it is the Tories who are sounding most like Marxists."

John Rentoul, writing in the Independent on Sunday, says: "Taking on press barons isn't brave, even in the Sir Humphrey sense."

Adam Boulton, writing in the Sunday Times, says: "Bungling assassins make Ed the man to beat."

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