WORLD NEWS TOMORROW – David Cameron came under renewed pressure from the Tory Right today, with MPs attacking him over foreign aid, tax cuts and Europe.The Standard has learned that dozens of backbenchers are to launch a new pressure group at Westminster to campaign full time for an in-out referendum on the European Union, which the Prime Minister has refused to hold.
The group, which has 50 names so far, is inviting Labour MPs to join as well. Last year 81 Conservatives rebelled on the issue and organiser John Baron said: “We are not going to walk away from this issue.”With antagonism mounting between Downing Street and backbenchers after last week’s reshuffle, a former defence minister has attacked Mr Cameron’s plan to spend billions more on international aid, saying it had almost zero support among MPs.
Sir Gerald Howarth said there was increasing concern about cuts in the military budget. “I have yet to meet a Conservative who thinks we should be spending more money on overseas aid and slashing our Armed Forces,”
Dozens of Tory MPs are unhappy with Mr Cameron’s vow to spend 0.7 per cent of GDP on aid, a formula which will see the total contribution soar from £9.1 billion to a record £12 billion next year. New aid minister Justine Greening is rumoured to agree privately it is too generous in austere times, though her office denies that this is her view.
Former defence secretary Liam Fox, a standard bearer for discontented Thatcherites, called for a “totemic shock” to the economy, including a three-year holiday from capital gains tax and tougher welfare cuts. He told The Times: “If we don’t take some risks we’ll not get growth and if we don’t get growth we’ll not get re-election.”
Separately, a senior MP delivered a stinging attack on the Leveson inquiry set up by the Prime Minister to probe media standards, saying it had turned into a platform for people with “grudges”.John Whittingdale, chairman of the culture, media and sport select committee, said: “Leveson has almost encouraged anybody who has a grudge against the press over many years to come and unburden themselves.”
A petition calling for an EU referendum was handed in to No 10 this morning by independent MEP Nikki Sinclaire and former Apprentice star Katie Hopkins.Ms Hopkins said: “We work hard, pay our taxes, abide by the laws of the country, and fulfil our obligations as voters. Yet, we still have not earned the right to a say.”