Cameron on the rack over Panama Papers
The papers keep up the pressure on the Prime Minister, suggesting that his “carefully worded statement” on his tax affairs may fail to end speculation. In particular they draw attention to his studied use of the present tense. He does not exclude the possibility that he or his family members may have benefited in the past, or may benefit in the future, from funds held in off-shore tax havens. His “Put up or shut up” comment makes the headlines – but maybe he needs to take his own advice.
The Telegraph headlines: “PM Panama mystery deepens: Cameron’s carefully worded statement may not end speculation”. The Mirror devotes its front page to a headline “How many people think you’ve come clean about tax, PM?”.
As I said yesterday, this is not directly a referendum issue (surprising perhaps that rather few EU big-wigs seem to be mentioned in the Panama Papers). But to the extent that it tends to discredit the Prime Minister, it may also undermine his Remain campaign.
“Jihadists flooding in amongst Migrants”
The Mail headlines “Staggering number of European Jihadists: EU’s own agency admits terrorists are exploiting migrant crisis as illegal border crossings hit 1.82 million”. (Question: how come we can count them, but we can’t stop them? And how accurate is the count?). It quotes the EU Border Agency Frontex as saying that the Paris attacks proved that terrorists were exploiting the migrant crisis. Frontex admitted that it had no clear idea of how many illegal migrants there were in total in the EU, and had no way of tracing their movements within the EU.
The Mail also reports a new ECJ decision which could prevent the UK from deporting criminals within the EU.
The Express focuses on the raw numbers: “Illegal migrants flooding into the EU: record 1.8 border breaches in one year”, helpfully adding that this represents a six-fold increase on the previous year. It quotes Matthew Elliott of Vote Leave saying: “The EU is an outdated institution and is incapable of solving the global problems that it faces. Britain pays £350million a week to Brussels and is rewarded by losing control of its borders. The only safe option in light of the EU’s inability to deal with the migrant crisis is to vote leave”. The Telegraph also covers the story, speaking of “porous borders” which mean we can never hope to control incoming terrorists.
Port Talbot rescue?
The FT reports that Sanjeev Gupta of Liberty House has a plan to rescue the Port Talbot steelworks – but it would involve closing the blast furnaces. And he sets out stiff terms for government assistance. But Mr. Gupta expresses confidence in the rolling mills and downstream businesses, and hopes to be able to protect jobs in the business, saying he would only proceed on that basis. The same story is carried in the “i”.
Today’s Dutch Referendum
The Times reports that Dutch voters are set “to give the EU a bloody nose” in today’s referendum on the proposed EU/Ukraine deal. The story features a picture of Nigel Farage campaigning in Holland earlier this week. If the Dutch give Brussels a bloody nose today, let’s make sure that the Brits deliver the coup de grace in June. More news tomorrow.
Radical Clerics in Islamic schools in Britain
The Times reports that schools run by the UK’s largest Islamic sect are to be investigated after ministers expressed concerns at reports that a radical cleric and terrorist sympathisers had been active.
First day of deportations goes quietly
We were told that maybe 750 migrants – or perhaps “less than 500” — would be deported from the Greek islands to Turkey on the first day of deportations under the EU/Turkey deal. Al Jazeera (and the Guardian) report that the actual figure was 202, almost none of whom were Syrians. But ominously, a local official is quoted as saying “These were the easy ones”. Trouble is anticipated when Syrians currently in detention centres on the islands are moved.
Al Jazeera is also very critical of the process, arguing that the EU is not solving the problem, but simply relocating it. If thousands of refugees in Greece constitute a crisis, asks Al Jazeera, how is that less of a crisis if they are moved to Turkey? OK, guys. But it’s less of an EU problem.