This is the analysis of the latest EU referendum negotiations in tonight’s Evening Blend email, a free round-up of the day’s political events. Click here to subscribe.
Today in brief
- The EU renegotiation entered its endgame, with European Council president Donald Tusk saying he will publish proposals for a draft deal tomorrow at noon…
- …as eurosceptics continued to attack the plans for an emergency brake on in-work benefits for migrants.
- The British Medical Association announced next week’s junior doctors’ strike will be going ahead.
- A committee of MPs blasted the ‘catastrophic’ conditions that failed charity Kids Company had been allowed to operate in – read Miles Goslett’s original scoop exposing the charity for the first time here.
- Downing Street said ‘no decisions have been made’ on deploying British troops to Libya.
- Parliamentary expenses watchdog Ipsa announced an investigation into Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk.
Listen again to all the big political developments with our round-up of today in audio.
Are EU ready?
Donald Tusk might have walked out of Downing Street last night saying there was ‘no deal’ in his talks with David Cameron about the EU renegotiation, but the European Council president has just tweeted that he will table a proposal for a new settlement at noon tomorrow. He did say there are ‘still outstanding issues’, though both Tusk and Downing Street have said progress has been made in the last 24 hours of talks, and there will be further details in tomorrow’s papers.
There has already been what Number 10 last night described as a ‘significant breakthrough’ in the talks on the emergency brake for in-work benefits paid to migrants, even though this was a proposal that Cameron himself once dismissed. But whether or not the proposals that Tusk plans to table will be signed off by other EU member states is another matter. Former Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski told the World at One that the Polish government would pay a ‘high political price at home’ if it doesn’t put the brakes on that emergency brake. Privately, even pro-reform ministers aren’t particularly impressed with the emergency brake, pointing out that it is not a brake on immigration itself, but on the in-work benefits paid to migrants, and that the government’s own living wage will be a considerably more powerful pull factor to workers from poorer EU countries. But it’s likely that Tusk would be tabling anything at noon if he wasn’t confident that the deal will be approved at the European Council meeting on 18/19 February. And if that is the case, then Cameron’s June referendum is on.
In terms of internal Conservative politics, Cameron was boosted by Mark Pritchard’s announcement over the weekend that he would be campaigning for Britain to stay in the European Union, which has promoted a number of Outers to wonder whether Number 10 and the whips are mounting an operation to entice eurosceptics over to the ‘Remain’ side by dangling the promise of a promotion in front of those MPs. But Pritchard insisted to Coffee House today that ‘there was no coercion or incentive from Downing Street’ and that he’d made up his mind on the matter in March 2015. It will be interesting to see how many other reluctant Inners emerge from the cohort of MPs who campaigned for the referendum in the first place, as Pritchard did. And will the chaos in the ‘Leave’ camps at the moment deter more eurosceptics? This should be the stage that’s easiest for those campaigning for Britain to leave: they can slam Cameron’s renegotiation as a cosmetic exercise that is shrinking in ambition. But instead, they are slamming one another.
Today in audio
Releasing a report into the Kids Company fiasco, Bernard Jenkin accused other select committees of ‘putting people up against the wall and shooting them’
- 09:30 Annual figures on alcohol-related deaths in the UK in 2014 are to be released by the Office for National Statistics
- 09:30 Final figures on UK greenhouse gas emissions in 2014 are to be released by the Department for Energy and Climate Change
- 11:30 Chancellor George Osborne is to give a speech at the Federation of Small Business policy conference
- 10:30 Justice Secretary Michael Gove is to give evidence to the House of Lords EU Justice Sub-Committee on the impact of repealing the Human Rights Act, which the government wants to scrap and replace with a British Bill of Rights
- European Council President Donald Tusk is expected to publish the text of a deal on the UK government’s EU reform
Some vital statistics
- Which candidate will win the US Republican presidential nomination? The chances, as implied by bookies’ odds (and the change on last week): Donald Trump 46% (+1pt), Marco Rubio 29% (+1pt), Ted Cruz 11% (-3pts), Jeb Bush 9% (-1pt), Chris Christie 3% (no change), John Kasich 2% (+2pts)
- Oil price (barrel of Brent crude): $34.40 (down 4.4% on the day, down 35% on the year)
- Government borrowing cost (10-year bond yield): 1.62% (up 0.06pts on the day)