Mehdi's Morning Memo: Banging On About Europe

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 06: Conservative MP David Davis waits to give a television interview near Parliament on April 6, 2010 in London, England. Prime Minister Gordon Brown has called the general election for May 6, 2010. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 06: Conservative MP David Davis waits to give a television interview near Parliament on April 6, 2010 in London, England. Prime Minister Gordon Brown has called the general election for May 6, 2010. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
Oli Scarff via Getty Images

Here are the five things you need to know on Sunday 25 May 2014...


The European election results will be revealed from 10pm onwards tonight. Guess which party is expected to come top? Yep, you guessed it: Ukip. And guess which party is going to have a collective breakdown in response? Yep, you guessed it: the Tories. In fact, it's started ahead of the results - from the Sunday Times splash:

"David Cameron faced demands yesterday to hold an early referendum on Europe... In an article for The Sunday Times, David Davis, a standard bearer of the Tory right, warned that Cameron's policy position on the European Union lacks 'both clarity and credibility'. He urged the prime minister to bring forward his planned EU referendum by a year to 2016 to convince voters who have defected to UKIP that he is serious. Adam Afriyie, the MP for Windsor who has been accused of manoeuvring against the prime minister, said: 'Two-thirds of people want an EU referendum sooner than 2017 and it is right to reflect on bringing the date forward.'"

Remember how Dave won the Conservative Party leadership back in 2005 with a pledge to keep the Tories away from "banging on about Europe"? Well, those days are long gone. The Sunday Telegraph reports that the PM himself "is drawing up new immigration laws in response to rising anger over the number of EU migrants moving to Britain, The Telegraph can disclose... The plans represent a concerted attempt to combat the rising popularity of the UK Independence Party."

Meanwhile, the Observer splashes on the news that "Nigel Farage's Ukip is to target at least 20 parliamentary seats at the next general election, using his party's success in Thursday's council elections as the launch pad for an all-out assault on the House of Commons, party officials have revealed. In a move that will further unnerve the Tories, Labour and the Liberal Democrats – all of which have suffered from the Ukip surge – senior party officials said the next move would be to identify specific, mainly marginal, seats, where it now has a strong base of councillors. It is imitating the tactics that established the Liberal Democrats as a strong parliamentary force in the 1990s... Among the seats it is likely to target are a batch in Essex, plus Rotherham, Great Grimsby, Great Yarmouth, Portsmouth South, Eastleigh, Broxtowe, North Thanet and South Thanet."

On a side note, despite all the claims that Ukip poses an equal threat to the Conservatives and Labour alike, a poll from Tory peer and former donor Michael Ashcroft yesterday revealed that more than half of Ukip voters on Thursday were ex-Tory voters; only 15% were ex-Labour voters.


The Lib Dems were almost wiped out in Thursday's local council elections losing over 300 councillors. They're expected to take a beating in the European elections, too. Will this be the moment they decide to dump Nick Clegg? From the Independent on Sunday's splash:

"The Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, faces a showdown with Liberal Democrat MPs who are demanding that he consider his position as party leader in the wake of the disastrous European and local election results. A block of unnamed MPs are poised to demand his resignation, according to party sources, paving the way for the Business Secretary, Vince Cable, a possible "unity candidate", to take over in a "coronation" before next year's general election. Some are considering going public within days over their demands before the state opening of Parliament on 4 June. They would be adding their voices to a swelling number of parliamentary candidates, councillors, activists and former MPs who have signed a petition calling on the Deputy PM to step down."

Tim Farron, the party president, and Cable's likely rival in any Lib Dem leadership election, appeared on BBC1's Andrew Marr show to defend the Lib Dems' awful performance on Thursday and will have relieved Camp Clegg by saying it would be "weird" for the party to "change the direction" just as the party is being "vindicated" on the economy. He called on Lib Dems to "stand proudly" behind their leader.

Meanwhile, the quote of the day comes from Lib Dem backbench MP John Pugh: "It does not follow that because the captain should go down with the ship, that the ship has to go down with the captain."


The No campaign continues to ramp up its attacks on the pro-independence side in Scotland. From the Mail on Sunday:

"Alex Salmond's plans for independence are 'like borrowing money from your credit card to put into your savings account,' Alistair Darling said yesterday. The Better Together chairman derided the First Minister's plans to fund Scottish independence with North Sea oil. Mr Salmond wants to create a giant savings scheme from the proceeds of North Sea oil revenues. But Mr Darling said there would not be enough money to cover Scotland's public services bill, let alone create an oil fund. As a result, an independent Scotland would have to borrow hundreds of millions of pounds just to set up the fund."



Andrew Gilligan must be crying into his cornflakes this morning - from the BBC:

"Tower Hamlets Bangladeshi mayor Lutfur Rahman has been re-elected, greeted by about 2,000 supporters. The former Labour leader of Tower Hamlets, standing independently for Tower Hamlets First, received 43.38% of first preference votes. He addressed supporters outside Troxy theatre in Stepney, east London, after the result at about 02:00 BST. He said an investigation ordered by the Communities Secretary Eric Pickles had been 'politically motivated'... Inspectors have until 30 June to report their findings."


Putin has hit back against the Prince - from the Sunday Telegraph splash:

"Vladimir Putin yesterday launched a withering attack on the Prince of Wales, accusing the heir to the throne of 'unacceptable' and 'unroyal behaviour' for comparing him to Adolf Hitler. In an escalation of hostilities between the Kremlin and Clarence House, the Russian president made his first personal intervention in the row five days after the Prince was said to have likened him to the German Nazi leader. Mr Putin accused the Prince of being 'wrong' over the comments, which he was said to have made on Monday on a Royal tour of Canada. He also said that the Prince was speaking out of turn and his behaviour was not befitting of 'what monarchs do'."


Peter Kellner, writing in the Sunday Times, says: "The three ghosts ‘weird’ Ed must exorcise if he is to reach Downing Street."

Peter Hain, writing in the Observer, says: "Don't write off Ed Miliband – he's on course to lead the biggest party after the election"

Jane Merrick, writing in the Independent on Sunday, says: "Cops today, country tomorrow: Theresa May is on the rise."

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