08/04/2014 04:37 BST | Updated 08/04/2014 04:59 BST

Mehdi's Morning Memo: Miller's 'Plague'

Here are the five things you need to know on Tuesday 8 April 2014...


Maria Miller appears increasingly isolated within the Conservative Party this morning amid the ongoing row over her expenses claims. On Monday evening Esther McVey, the Tory employment minister widely tipped to be promoted in the next reshuffle, became the first minister to openly criticise Miller. She told ITV's The Agenda programme that Cameron had "the final say" on what happened but indicated she was not overly impressed with her government colleague. "I can honestly say it wouldn’t be how I would have made an apology. But different people have different styles and do things in different ways," McVey said.

One Tory MP told The Huffington Post UK: "Any expenses scandal is a plague on all our houses. Backbenchers of all parties. It fills us full of dread, because it just drops the whole standing of parliament another notch with our electorate. It doesn't look good. There is no mention of 649 MPs whose expenses weren't under scrutiny in the last week. We are all tarred with the same brush."

As the knives come out for Miller within the Conservative Party, it has been suggested that she has only survived so long because Cameron is loathe to fire one of his few female cabinet ministers. A Conservative backbencher told HuffPost UK: "I do wonder if her name was Mark Miller something different might happen. Colleagues think he would have been gone a week ago."


English cities and regions would get increased control over housing, transport and skills under plans for a major expansion of devolution being proposed by Ed Miliband. The Labour manifesto will promise to at least double the funding in local hands to cut the "productivity gap" between London and the rest of the country and create jobs, he will say. In a speech in Birmingham, he will promise to "reverse a century of centralisation" by rebalancing the economy away from the capital.


Jeremy Browne, the former Lib Dem minister, has let it be known he is not the biggest fan of the direction his party is heading in. In an interview with The Telegraph, Mr Browne said that under Mr Clegg his party exists "to moderate the views of people who have views" and needs to return to the "bold" values on which it was founded. "Nick Clegg took a risk to take us from being party of protest to party of government, but we look like we've turned into a party of protest in government," he said.

"We are the diluting agent. The party shows resilience and fortitude given the battering we have had. But we have defaulted instead to trying to cause the least offence to the most people. We have sold ourselves as a brake in government rather than an accelerator."



Staff in the House of Commons who are bullied by MPs are to get their own helpline for the first time, The Daily Telegraph reports. "The anti-bullying hotline was requested by unions after claims of MPs swearing, shouting, hurling office items and sacking employees by post it note. It is understood that MPs blocked previous attempts to launch the service amid fears it would be swamped with complaints However, the Speaker, John Bercow, has confirmed that the House of Commons Commission has now agreed to establish the the service for all staff working in Parliament."


Ed Miliband would govern Britain in the same "dark nightmare" way that Francois Hollande runs France only without the amusing affairs, an aide to Michael Gove jokingly predicted on Monday evening. "Just imagine your mind's eye, Miliband coming out on the back of a scooter. It just wouldn't happen. Maybe for the man who plays the Rubix cube it would have to be a Sinclair C5," the MP said.

"We'd have Hollande without all the good bits that made it kind of, not even worthwhile, but at least amusing. It would be pretty depressing. I don't know who would be at the other end. It wouldn't be Julie Gayet would it. Maybe, Polly [Toynbee]? Although it's a long way on a C5 from SW1 to Tuscany. It would be a miserable time."


Janan Ganesh in the Financial Times: Eurosceptic weak spot is vagueness.

Polly Toynbee in The Guardian: Let's face it, neither MPs nor the press are fit to regulate themselves.

Steve Richards in The Independent: Newspapers are crediting Maria Miller with too much power.

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